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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 7, 2012

James 4:1-10

  1. Verse 1-3. In the final verses of chapter three the church is reminded that people who seek God are peace loving as opposed to drama keeping. When we seek God we seek His will for our lives. This God-centered mindset allows one to begin to seek the things of God instead of the things of this world. Our seeking of God begins to help us learn how to find satisfaction in God’s provision for our lives. Seeking God shows us what is really necessary and what is really unnecessary. As we seek God our desires change and our prayers change. As we seek God our internal satisfaction goals become much different from the world. On the flip side when we don’t seek God, we end up seeking the things of this world, its lust and its passions. The main problem with seeking the things of the world is that the things of this world can never really satisfy the deep needs that all of us have. James decides to use hyperbole or exaggeration to make his point. He will use terms like war and murder to exaggerate his point of the danger of jealousy and envy. James is telling us that our selfish inclinations that bubble up from our pride are causing divisions, destroying our relationships, and giving our Lord a bad name. Our warring attitudes come from the war we have within our very own hearts and minds. We are seeking the world's wisdom and ways and not God's way. It may not be popular to seek real Christ-centered wisdom, as the world's wisdom tends to be more appealing just as it was in James' time (James 2:14-26; 3:13-18). But, what will that get you in life and in eternity? Because the things of the world leave us discontent we take out our frustration on one another. Division and drama are the direct results of warring passions that are internal and external. James explains that the real cause of fights and quarrels is internal discontent brought on by uncontrolled passions and lust. We fight because we are really jealous and envious. We also allow jealousy and envy to cause us to hate instead of celebrate one another. So instead of being happy for someone we actually become jealous and despise them for what they have. James teaches us that if we really trusted God we would know that if we need it God will provide. The main problem is that people in the church were praying not from a God mindset, but from a worldly mindset. There were some in the church that were upset their prayers were not being answered, and James has to tell them that their prayers are not being answered because they are asking God for things that are just to please their flesh. Their prayers were more about the stuff they wanted from the world than what they could do to become more like the savior. Their prayers were flesh-driven and self-driven not God-driven.

  2. Verses 4-6. Our struggle is not just with the flesh – our inner cravings and desires – it is with the world and with Satan as well. In verses 4 and 5, James rebukes his readers for their worldliness – their improper attachment to the world, with its values and desires (Matthew 6:24)(John 15:18-20). (John 17:14-16). (1 John 2:15-17). James wants his hearers to be clear that God desires them to seek him and him only. When the people of God try to seek the world and God, James uses hyperbole again and calls them adulterous. Adulterous means to break covenant. We have an exclusive covenant with God, and when we chase after the world it is like cheating on your spouse. God and the world are at odds with each other. You cannot love God and the world. We are called to love God with all of our hearts and to love him fully. Our love is demonstrated in our complete trust that God knows what is best for us. When we resist the plan God has for us we become independent of God and this is what the bible calls pride. Pride is that desire to go independent of God. When we decide to do things the world’s way we are living independent of God. The reason people in the church were not getting their prayers answered was because they were actually living independent of God when it suited them, but when they needed something they called on God. James lets the church know that God resist that type of person. On the contrary the person who depends on God receives grace and favor from God. God will increase our faith when we develop more dependence on Him and less dependence upon ourselves. To get to this, we must abandon ourselves to Christ as LORD. Our desire must be to see Christ supreme in our lives (Col 1:18). This is where our interests are surrendered to His, and His interests will be mine (Romans 1:1; Gal. 1:5; 2:20-21). We will not even want our own pleasure because it is more gratifying to serve Him (John 15:13; 1 Cor. 9:22; 2 Cor. 12:15)!

  3. Verses 7-10. James gives the prescription for those who have found themselves too often in love with the world:

    1.  Submit to God. Submit means to obey! It is our surrender to God in His will. We are urgently called to accept the absolute authority of God.

    2. Resist the devil. This means to flee the devil's kingdom, his values, and his wisdom and embrace God's kingdom, values and wisdom. This has more to do with moral values than spiritual warfare. The devil does not have equal authority or power as the popular "Ying/Yang" philosophy states; rather, he only has the power we give to Him, while God has absolute power. The devil is not invincible; he is easily thwarted when we put on God's armor, so we can disregard his temptations and flee from him. We evade the lusts of our heart and world by running from it, not toward it (Eph. 6:11-18; James. 3:15, 17; 4:4; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).

    3. Draw near to God means purification, developing your personal relationship with God through the disciplines of the faith (Ex. 30:19; Matt. 7:7; Rev. 3:20).

    4.  Cleanse your hands /Purify your heart. refers to Psalm 24:4, "clean hands and a pure heart." Our inner purity guards us against moral defilement. This is an illustration of how a priest cleaned his hands and feet at the bronze basin before he approached God at the Tabernacle/Temple. This is about motives and actions. The heart is the motives and the hands are the actions that follow the motives. The key is to constantly examine your motives to see if they are pure.

    5.  Don’t be double minded. We should not even give room for ideas that are inconsistent with what we know is God’s plan for our lives. We cannot have a carnal or worldly mind and a spiritual mind at the same time.

    6. Mourn/Lament/Grieve is a call to us for authentic repentance. When we do wrong, we will realize from the law written on our hearts that we did wrong. We will feel remorse and guilt.

    7.  Wail/Weep means to express grief for our sins! We must see the heinousness of our sin, and in humbleness and honesty, sincerely be upset so we can fully accept His grace and forgiveness.

    8.  Humble yourself. This passage is quoting Proverbs 3:34, and is referring to submitting to the sovereignty of God. God's plan for our life is far better than any desire, evil or good, we could ever have. Thus, it is logical and beneficial to be humble in Him (1 Pet. 5:5).

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