The Book of James shows us Christ’s standard and what new life in Christ Jesus is to be like. It is a standard that many people have thought was impossible to follow. For this reason many people avoid studying the book of James. However, James does not teach that New Covenant living and new life in Christ is something you have to imitate or produce by your own striving, or by willing it to be so. James never tells us to try harder to be a Christian, or to try harder to be like Jesus. Absolutely not! In fact, this idea goes against James teaching. But, James will never be understood in its depth through just a brisk reading. In order to receive the wealth of spiritual revelation in James, we must stop for a while, meditate upon its truths, and ask the Lord to give us revelation and understanding. James presents pearls of truth that offer gateways to something deeper than simply believing in God and giving mental assent to the truth of His word. James reminds us that the kind of believing that is simply mental assent to truth is the same faith that even the devil has.
The Process of Grafting
Let’s consider one of the many pearls of truth that James introduces us to. James explains that the Word of God is so powerful that when we receive and embrace God’s Word with our whole heart, His Word will become engrafted as a part of our whole being and has the power to save remake, renew, and transform our souls (KJV, James 1:20-21).
To understand James’ teaching, think about the process of grafting for a moment. Grafting is a method widely used in agriculture and horticulture where stems of plants are split and the tissues of one plant are tied to another plant with a cord so they can fuse together. The tissues that must connect with each other are the vascular tissues that carry food throughout the plant. As they grow together, they become one.
Implanting God’s Word in Your Heart
In the same way, we should read and meditate on God’s Word as our daily food and obey its teaching and hold fast to it in our mind and heart. As we hold it there, it begins to be engrafted into our very being until we become one with it. Paul agrees with James on the power of God’s Word saying, “The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” When we read and meditate on God’s Word, it has the power to pierce our heart and engraft itself in our soul. As we receive God’s Word in all humility, bow to His precepts and commandments, and let His Word wash through our souls, we will receive spiritual renewal, cleansing, and receive our spiritual food.
As the Psalmist reminds us, “Oh, the joys of those who delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about His law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper” (Psalm 1). However, James tells there is a condition to be met that will enable the Word to be implanted in our heart. James tells us that in order to enter into life, we cannot have a divided heart. We must “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”(James 1:20-21)
Jesus, The Word of God
But James eludes to an even a deeper meaning of the engrafted or implanted Word. At the time that the Epistle of James was written, many people could not read and did not have access to many books, if any. James was one of the first martyrs of the church, and many of the epistles that make up the New Testament had not even been written yet. So the truth of being transformed by the “implanted” or “engrafted Word” goes beyond just knowing and meditating on Bible verses. We learn from the pages of Scripture that Jesus is “the Word of God.”
While the Bible contains a record of His thoughts and His expressed will and purpose, Jesus Himself is still the “Living Word.” He calls us into union with Him. While today we are greatly aided in our meditation by God’s irreplaceable written Word, it is by the power of His indwelling Spirit that Jesus comes to take up His residence in our heart and makes our body His temple. His very Presence in the depths of our spirit totally transforms our life. As Paul reminds us, “The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). We can close our eyes in meditation on Jesus and His truth and instantly we are in a sanctuary. There with the eyes of our spirit, we behold the Excellency and the Glory of Jesus Christ and are changed into His image from glory to glory.
Holding Fast to God’s Way of Thinking
We come to know the depths of this oneness by holding fast to His way of thinking and doing things. One way we can learn these things is by meditating on the truths given to us in the Word of God which we can find recorded in the book of James. As a result, our minds are changed, our ideas and thoughts are renewed, and we will be changed to be more and more like Jesus, not by our own efforts, but by His power that works in us, knitting us together with Him. As a result, His ways becomes our way of doing things, His thoughts become our thoughts, and we become one like two plants that have been grafted together, and are one spirit and one mind with Him.