Lesson 143: James 4–5

“Lesson 143: James 4–5,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 143,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 143

James 4–5


James counseled the Saints to resist the devil, to draw closer to God, and to patiently endure affliction while awaiting the Second Coming of the Savior. He taught that the sick should “call for the elders of the church” (James 5:14) to administer to them. James also taught about the importance of helping sinners repent.

Suggestions for Teaching

James 4

James counsels the Saints to draw closer to God and to resist the devil

Invite students to think of a family member or friend they feel close to.

  • Who did you think of? Why do you feel close to this person?

  • How did you become close to this person?

Ask students to ponder how close they feel to God.

  • How will our lives be blessed by having a strong relationship with God?

Invite students as they study James 4 to look for truths that can help them strengthen their relationship with God.

Summarize James 4:1–3 by explaining that James rebuked the Saints for giving in to worldly desires.

Invite a student to read James 4:4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the type of friendship James warned the Saints about. Explain that enmity means hostility or hatred.

  • What type of friendship did James warn the Saints about?

  • What do you think it means to “be a friend of the world”? (If necessary, explain that James’s counsel in verse 4 does not mean we should avoid associating with individuals who are not members of the Church. Rather, we should avoid embracing the false teachings and unrighteous desires, standards, and practices of the world.)

  • According to James, what happens to someone who befriends the world?

Invite students to read James 4:6–8 silently, looking for what James counseled the Saints to do.

  • What did James counsel the Saints to do?

  • How can submitting ourselves to God help us resist the devil?

  • According to verse 8, what must we do if we want to be closer to God? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: As we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.)

  • What can we do to draw near to God? (List students’ answers on the board.)

To help students understand one way in which we can draw near to God, point out Paul’s instruction to “cleanse your hands” and “purify your hearts” (James 4:8). Explain that as used in the scriptures, hands can represent our actions and the heart can represent our desires.

  • How do you think having clean hands and a pure heart helps us draw closer to God?

Invite a student to read James 4:9–12, 17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional counsel James gave the Saints to help them draw closer to God. Explain that the phrase “let your laughter be turned to mourning” (verse 9) refers to having godly sorrow for sin.

  • What additional counsel did James give that could help someone draw closer to God?

  • According to verse 17, what did James teach is a sin? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we know to do good but choose not to do it, we commit sin.)

  • Why do you think it is a sin to know the good things we should do but choose not to do them?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust, who served in the First Presidency:

Faust, James E.

“I fear that some of our greatest sins are sins of omission. These are some of the weightier matters of the law the Savior said we should not leave undone [see Matthew 23:23]. These are the thoughtful, caring deeds we fail to do and feel so guilty for having neglected them.

“As a small boy on the farm during the searing heat of the summer, I remember my grandmother Mary Finlinson cooking our delicious meals on a hot woodstove. When the wood box next to the stove became empty, Grandmother would silently pick up the box, go out to refill it from the pile of cedar wood outside, and bring the heavily laden box back into the house. I was so insensitive and interested in the conversation in the kitchen, I sat there and let my beloved grandmother refill the kitchen wood box. I feel ashamed of myself and have regretted my omission for all of my life. I hope someday to ask for her forgiveness” (“The Weightier Matters of the Law: Judgment, Mercy, and Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 59).

  • What good act did President Faust neglect to do as a young boy? How did he feel as a result?

  • What are examples of sins of omission that can prevent us from drawing closer to God?

  • What can prevent us from doing the good acts that the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to do?

  • When have you drawn closer to God by doing the good things you have been taught to do?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do to draw closer to God. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive.

James 5

James teaches the Saints to patiently endure affliction and instructs the sick to call for the elders

Summarize James 5:1–6 by explaining that James condemned the rich who misused their wealth and persecuted the just. He warned that misery and judgment awaited them.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from James 5:7–11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what James instructed the Saints to do as they faced affliction while awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

  • According to verses 7–8, what did James counsel the Saints to do as they awaited the Savior’s Second Coming?

  • According to verse 10, whom could the Saints look to for examples of people who patiently endured affliction?

  • What are examples from the scriptures of prophets who patiently endured affliction?

Explain that James 5:13–16 records James’s counsel to the sick and afflicted. Invite a student to read aloud the following scenario:

A friend says: “I feel awful. I have been sick for over a week. I have visited a doctor and have been taking medication, but I still do not feel any better. I do not know what else to do.”

Ask students to ponder what they would say to this friend. Invite a student to read James 5:13–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what James counseled the sick and afflicted to do.

  • What did James counsel the sick and afflicted to do?

  • What did James instruct elders to do for the sick? (To administer to the sick by the authority of the priesthood and to anoint them with oil.)

Explain that Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “when elders anoint a sick person and seal the anointing, they open the windows of heaven for the Lord to pour forth the blessing He wills for the person afflicted” (“Healing the Sick,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 48).

  • In addition to the power of the priesthood, what else did James say would save or heal the sick? (“The prayer of faith” [James 5:15].)

  • What truth can we learn from James about how the sick can be healed? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Through the prayer of faith and the power of the priesthood, the sick can be healed. Write this truth on the board.)

To help students understand this truth, provide the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks as a handout. Divide students into pairs, and invite each pair to read the statement aloud together. Ask them to look for what Elder Oaks taught about the prayer of faith and the healing power of the priesthood.

Oaks, Dallin H.

“As we exercise the undoubted power of the priesthood of God and as we treasure His promise that He will hear and answer the prayer of faith, we must always remember that faith and the healing power of the priesthood cannot produce a result contrary to the will of Him whose priesthood it is. …

“… Even the servants of the Lord, exercising His divine power in a circumstance where there is sufficient faith to be healed, cannot give a priesthood blessing that will cause a person to be healed if that healing is not the will of the Lord.

“As children of God, knowing of His great love and His ultimate knowledge of what is best for our eternal welfare, we trust in Him. The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith means trust. … I felt that same trust in the words of the father of [a] choice girl whose life was taken by cancer in her teen years. He declared, ‘Our family’s faith is in Jesus Christ and is not dependent on outcomes.’ Those teachings ring true to me. We do all that we can for the healing of a loved one, and then we trust in the Lord for the outcome” (“Healing the Sick,” 50).

  • How do Elder Oaks’s teachings help us understand the healing power of the priesthood?

  • Why is it important for our faith in Jesus Christ to not depend on the outcome of a priesthood blessing?

Invite students to ponder experiences in which they or people they know have been blessed through prayers of faith and the power of the priesthood. Ask students to share how these experiences have strengthened their faith and testimonies. (Remind them not to share anything too personal or sacred.)

Point out in verse 15 the relationship between the healing of the sick and forgiveness of sin. The kind of humility and faith required for us to be healed physically is the same kind of humility and faith required for us to receive forgiveness (see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 297–98).

Summarize James 5:17–20 by explaining that James referred to the prophet Elijah as an example of someone who used the power of fervent prayer. He also counseled the Saints to help sinners repent.

Conclude by testifying of the truths taught in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

James 4:8. “Cleanse your hands … and purify your hearts”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how we can have clean hands and a pure heart:

“Hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better” (“Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 82).

James 5:15. “If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the connection between the healing of the sick and the forgiveness of sin:

“The person who by faith, devotion, righteousness, and personal worthiness, is in a position to be healed, is also in a position to have the justifying approval of the Spirit for his course of life, and his sins are forgiven him, as witnessed by the fact that he receives the companionship of the Spirit, which he could not have if he were unworthy” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 297–98).

James 5:20. “Hide a multitude of sins”

“James taught that when a sinner is converted and receives the ordinances of salvation, his sins are ‘hidden’—covered or forgiven—through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and he is saved from spiritual death” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 499).

Likewise, the one who helps another person become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ also receives great blessings. President Spencer W. Kimball taught the following:

“Through this missionary work of saving souls of others, one comes to the point of bringing salvation and sanctification to himself. …

“The proper motivation for missionary work of any kind, as for all Church service, is of course love for fellowmen, but always such work has its by-product effect on one’s own life. Thus as we become instruments in God’s hands in changing the lives of others our own lives cannot help being lifted. One can hardly help another to the top of the hill without climbing there himself” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 205).