James 4:7-10 is a powerful passage of scripture. Let me share it with you.
“Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up.”
From early in Genesis all the way through the entire Bible, we see that mankind is engaged in spiritual warfare with our adversary, the devil.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The root cause of every war, internal and external, is rebellion against God. At the beginning of creation, you behold perfect harmony, but sin came into the world, and this led to conflict. Sin is lawlessness, and lawlessness is rebellion against God.” The Apostle John wrote (I John 3:4), “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
Dr. Wiersbe goes on to ask, “How does a believer declare war against? (Answer) By being friendly with God’s enemies.” The Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2 wrote, “I beseech you brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
In James 4:4-10, he identifies three enemies that we must not associate with if we want to be at peace with God and please Him.
A. The first enemy that James identifies is the ‘world’.
“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).
James has in mind the world system, which is anti-God and anti-Christ. Satan is very sly and crafty. I have read that if you dropped a frog into a pan of boiling water, he would jump right out. But if you put him into a pan of cool water and turned the heat up, he would adjust to the change in the temperature and would cook to death.
Satan seeks to lead Christians into the world system gradually. He wants to lull us to sleep and not be alarmed by the changes in the world system. When we develop a friendship with the world system, several things happen.
· In James 1:27, we are told that we are to “keep ourselves from becoming spotted by the world.”
· Friendship with the world can easily cause us to love the world. 1 John 2:15-17
· If we love the world, we can easily become conformed to the world. Romans 12:2
· Those who buy into the world system will be chastened by the LORD so that they are not condemned with the world.” 1 Cor. 11:32
In James 4:4, the writer says that love for the world systems is like adultery.
The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:4 wrote, “Therefore my brothers, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” We as Christians are to see ourselves, “married to Christ.” If we become involved in the world system, Paul says we are being unfaithful to Christ and guilty of adultery. That is a very serious charge!
B. The second enemy James identifies is, “the flesh”.
In James 4:1, we read, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?”
It seems that James here has in mind the old nature that we inherited from Adam. That old nature tends toward sin and sin is rebellion towards God. In Romans 8:7 we read, “The carnal mind is enmity against God.”
The human body is not sinful, but the old nature, if permitted, will influence the mind to use the members of the body in ways that grieve or quench the Holy Spirit. James 4:5 says, “Or do you not think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously.” Our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. He jealously guards our relationship with God. He will do everything possible to influence us to think clearly and use our minds so that instead of honoring the flesh, we honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
C. Lastly, a third enemy that James mentions is the Devil or Satan.
In James 4:6-7 we read, “But He (the Holy Spirit) gives more grace. Therefore, He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Again, I like what Warren Wiersbe says at this point – “The world is in conflict with the Father; the flesh fights against the Holy Spirit, and the devil opposes the Son of God.”
It was pride that brought about Satan’s downfall. He wanted to be God and even led a revolt against God, but he failed. He was cast down to the earth and is very active doing everything he can to corrupt us and influence us to rebel against God. But I love what James says in verse 6 – “But He (the Holy Spirit) gives more grace to the humble. “We can live victoriously!”
D. The Keys to Victorious Living
1. We must submit to God. “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
The word submit is a military term. It means to get into your proper rank. Satan didn’t do that. He wanted to be God and thought he could be, but it didn’t work out as he planned. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:27 says, “Neither give place to the devil.” Satan will try to get just a toe-hold in our lives. If we let him do that, in time he will try to get a foothold. If that happens, bit by bit he will try to establish a stronghold and we will really be in trouble.
SO — WE NEED TO SUBMIT TO GOD. Give the LORD the oversight/rule of every area of your life.
2. James also says that we need to “Draw near to God.” (James 4:8)
We do this by making sure we have confessed all our sins to Him. We invite Him to enter and rule in every room in our lives – that there are no limit signs posted for Him. The great news is that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. How good is that! Listen to what John wrote in 1 John 1:7-9, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What great news!
3. Lastly, we are to humble ourselves. James 4:9-10, “Lament, mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up.”
The language that James uses here is very strong. Sin is not something to laugh about or condone. First and foremost, it is against God. If you think sin is something to laugh about, then remember Christ’s agony on the cross. He died for our sin! That is serious business. So – we need to:
a. Submit to God
b. Draw near to Him
c. Humble ourselves before Him
Get this – HE WILL LIFT US UP!
The Psalmist wrote, “The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
O beloved – let us do as James says and enjoy the richness of a life filled with the Holy Spirit.
By God’s grace,