James was also the brother of Jesus, the leader of the Jerusalem church after Christ’s resurrection, and the writer of the book of James. James’ direct involvement in the church is documented in Acts 15:13-21, and 21:18-25. In both cases, James is concerned with the law of Moses and its continuing significance for the believer. He understood that the Law’s character was abiding because it reflected the abiding character of God. His concern was for the holiness of the church. This is also evident in his letter to the church at large. True faith and the flesh cannot continue to and should not begin to be allowed to coexist. James’ concern is evident in his opening exhortation:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (Jas. 1:5-8 ESV)In the above paragraph is introduced the central target of James’ letter, that of double-mindedness in the church. Faith in Christ and adopting the goals and ethos of the world and the flesh are ultimately mutually exclusive. James saw the new Baal for what it was, a false god who was tolerant of faith in Christ in so much as it was a dead faith.
Similarly, Elijah served Israel at a time when this sort of syncretism was alive and well.
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word. (1 Kings 18:21)
So what do we want from James Elijah Hamlin? We want him to be conformed to the image of Christ in such a manner as to become more-and-more a man of single-minded purpose. We want him to put his sin to death, even culturally acceptable sins, as sin will otherwise be killing him. We also want him to courageously work for the holiness of the church, even if in such work, he may be called a “troubler of Israel” (18:17) “so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” (Heb. 12:13).
What will he need for this task but confidence in and reliance upon our Lord Jesus Christ? In contrast to the double-minded prayer described in chapter 1, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (Jas 5:16-18)