“Unit 29, Day 2: James 4–5,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 29, Day 2,” New Testament Study Guide
The Apostle 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.
Think of a family member or friend you feel close to. Why do you feel close to this person?
How did you become close to this person?
Now consider how close you feel to God. How will your life be blessed by having a strong relationship with God?
As you study James 4, look for truths that can help you strengthen your relationship with God.
As recorded in James 4:1–3, James rebuked the Saints for giving in to worldly desires. Read James 4:4, looking for the type of friendship James warned the Saints about. The word enmity means hostility or hatred.
James’s counsel in verse 4 does not mean we should avoid associating with people who are not members of the Church. Rather, we should avoid accepting and following the false teachings and unrighteous desires, standards, and practices of the world. James taught that befriending the world (worldliness) would make us enemies of God.
Read James 4:6–8, looking for what James counseled the Saints to do.
Based on what you learned from James 4:8, complete the following principle: As we draw near to God, . Consider marking the words in James 4:8 that teach this principle. This principle is confirmed in modern revelation (see D&C 88:63).
- In your scripture study journal, make a list of what you can do to draw near to God.
One way you can draw near to God is to follow Paul’s counsel to “cleanse your hands” and “purify your [heart]” (James 4:8). As used in the scriptures, hands can represent our actions and the heart can represent our desires. Ponder how having clean hands and a pure heart can help you draw closer to God.
Read James 4:9–12, 17, looking for additional counsel James gave the Saints to help them draw closer to God. The phrase “let your laughter be turned to mourning” in verse 9 refers to feeling godly sorrow for sin.
According to James 4:17, what did James teach is a sin?
Why do you think it is a sin to know the good things we should do but to choose not to do them?
President James E. Faust of the First Presidency expounded on this truth. The word omission in this context refers to the good acts that we should do but that we neglect or leave undone.
“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).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some examples of “sins of omission” that can prevent you from drawing closer to God?
What is one thing you will do to draw closer to God? Commit to act on any promptings you receive that will help you complete this goal.
In James 5:1–6 we read that the Apostle James condemned the rich who misused their wealth and persecuted the just. He warned that misery and judgment awaited them.
Read James 5:7–11, looking for what James instructed the Saints to do as they faced affliction while awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
These verses show the relationship between trials and patience and how the faithful, like Job, respond to suffering and adversity. Notice in James 5:10 whom the Saints could look to for examples of people who patiently endured affliction.
List some examples from the scriptures of prophets who patiently endured affliction:
Consider what advice you would give a friend who said, “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 don’t know what else to do.”
Read James 5:13–16, looking for what James counseled those who were sick and afflicted to do.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “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).
Look again at James 5:15. In addition to the power of the priesthood, what else did James say would save or heal the sick?
One truth we can learn from James 5:14–16 is that through the prayer of faith and the power of the priesthood, the sick can be healed.
Elder Oaks taught the following about the prayer of faith and the healing power of the priesthood:
“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 trust in a talk my cousin gave at the funeral of a teenage girl who had died of a serious illness. He spoke these words, which first astonished me and then edified me: ‘I know it was the will of the Lord that she die. She had good medical care. She was given priesthood blessings. Her name was on the prayer roll in the temple. She was the subject of hundreds of prayers for her restoration to health. And I know that there is enough faith in this family that she would have been healed unless it was the will of the Lord to take her home at this time.’ I felt that same trust in the words of the father of another 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 you understand the healing power of the priesthood? Why do our faith and prayers need to be in harmony with God’s will? (See Bible Dictionary, “Prayer.”)
- Imagine that one of your friends or family members is sick. In your scripture study journal, write a letter to that person explaining what you have learned about the healing power of the priesthood. Be sure to explain why it is important that our faith in Jesus Christ does not depend on the outcome of a priesthood blessing. Include any examples of people you know who have been blessed through prayers of faith and the power of the priesthood.
James also compared the healing of the sick to the forgiveness of sin (see James 5:16).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that the humility and faith required for us to be healed physically are the same humility and faith required for us to receive forgiveness: “There are … sacred occasions on which men are privileged to ascend to those spiritual heights where they gain the justifying approval of the Spirit for their conduct and as a consequence are forgiven of their sins. James named the ordinance of administration to the sick as one of these. … 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. , 297–98).
This does not mean, however, that someone who is not healed when given a priesthood blessing is unworthy. All blessings are given according to God’s greater understanding, and we can feel His love and the peace of the Spirit confirming our worthiness.
As recorded in James 5:17–20, 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. Notice in James 5:20 the promised blessings that come to those who “[convert] the sinner from the error of his way.”
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied James 4–5 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: