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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 14, 2012

James 4:7-10

  1. Last week we discussed how James reminded the church that there are two kinds of wisdom in the world. One type of wisdom is worldly and the other is spiritual. The worldly wisdom is that point of view that is taken by many in the world. This type of wisdom says if it feels right do it. This type of wisdom seeks pleasure over purpose. This type of wisdom lacks consideration and seeks personal gain as its preeminent goal. Basically a "what is in it for me" type of philosophy (see Psalm I). On the contrary spiritual wisdom that comes from God is not self-seeking, but is considerate. This wisdom that comes from God is not partial but impartial. It doesn’t show favoritism. This wisdom also seeks peace and not discord. James began chapter four admonishing the church for having so many quarrels and fights which was a sign that they were doing things the world’s way and not God’s way. Their selfish desires and evil motives were at the root of many of their conflicts. These unspiritual desires and motives were indicative of people who have chosen the world’s way versus God’s way. Often times in scripture, God’s way is juxtaposed with the way of the world or the way of the evil one or the way of the flesh. Choosing the way of the world is often characterized as following the way of the devil or evil one, or the way of the flesh. Those that followed God were called humble because they choose to live under God’s rules, whereas those who followed their own independent way were called the prideful because they thought they could live without heeding God’s way for their lives. The prideful were described as those who love the world. James tells the church that loving the ways of the world was contrary to God’s will for the church. We cannot allow ourselves to be squeezed into the mold of the world (see Romans 12:1-2).

  2. Verses 7-I0. 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. The issue is who are we taking our "cues" from. Whose authority are we following? Are we following God’s authority or our own? Just because I want to do this kind of behavior does not mean that it is God’s will for me. I might want to knock your block off, but God might want me to use a more intelligent approach. Do I submit to my flesh, my desire, or do I submit to God? God doesn’t want me weak, but he does want me meek, which means to have my strength under control, being patient and gentle.

    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).). I am not to entertain my sin, but to flee it. Too often we roll out the red carpet for our weaknesses rather than slamming the door on our weaknesses.

    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). The idea here is that we spend quality time engaged in the things of God that edify our lives. This could include prayer, bible study, worship, or just simple fellowship with other like-minded believers who can encourage you to stand strong in God.

    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. If you want to be inconsistent in your spiritual walk, try to be spiritual and worldly 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 about sin in our lives. The point here is to not get comfortable with aspects of our lives which are not in accordance with the standards of God. If you get comfortable living under your potential in God or living in a way that is destructive, you will have very little motivation to change.

    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).

    9. All of these things lead the believer to see life through spiritual lenses as opposed to worldly glasses. When we live for the world we seek pleasure over purpose, stuff over character.

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