The book of James, like many other books of the Bible, contains some very practical and helpful ways to live a life that is glorying to the Lord. As I’ve been studying James over the last few weeks, I’ve been tremendously blessed to see how God has been working in my life to focus on the things above (Colossians 3:2) rather than earthly things.
Today, I’m looking at James 4:1-12, which in the ESV translation of Holy Scripture is entitled “Warning Against Worldliness”. James starts off this chapter in his letter to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion (James 1:1):
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
This verse is better understood by looking at Galatians 5:17 – For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
What James means by this verse is that there is a war raging inside of us because what the Spirit of God wants is the opposite of what the world wants. James 4:2 tells us that because we desire something but do not have it, we’ll do anything we can to get it, even to the point of stealing and murdering. James is telling us that there is a true longing and deep emptiness that the world cannot fulfill in us that only God can compete within us. When we desire for the things of the world, as James 1:15 says, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. So when we desire for fleshly, worldly pleasures for our complete fulfillment… it will always end up falling short in the end.
Verse three goes on to state that even when we ask God for our desires, we can be asking with the wrong heart and motives for these desires, therefore we do not receive. 1 John 5:14 explains this beautifully,
“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.”
There are key words in this verse that have such a profound impact… “according to His will”. This means that when we desire the things from Heaven, loving the Lord, obeying Him, caring for others… in other words, seeking to glorify Him in all that we say and do, then when we ask for things, they will be within His will and God promises us above, that He hears us in our prayers.
Now, if we look at verses four and five, we get to some strong language:
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
James calls his audience “adulterous people” or “adulteresses” — to me, I don’t think I’d really want to continue reading a letter from this guy if he was insulting me… however, here comes the sweetest part of this whole passage (to me):
James 4:6 — But he gives more grace. James drops the bomb on sin right now… But He gives more grace. Period. What beautiful words these are! God gives more grace, but in order for Him to give us this sweet grace, we must humble ourselves and submit to Him (v6-7).
No matter what we done in our lives, no matter how filthy we are, as long as we humble ourselves before the God of creation, the Maker of Heaven & Earth, He will grant us saving grace that results in an everlasting, never-failing love and fulfillment in and through Him. We will be received as a child of God and a recipient of the gift of eternal life and fulfillment with His Son, Jesus Christ. John 1:12 tells us that all who received Him (Jesus Christ), He gave the right to become children of God.
So no matter what your circumstances are, no matter what you’ve done or what you’re doing right now, if you humble yourself, recognizing that you need a Savior to rescue you and pull you out of darkness, and call out the Jesus Christ, He will save you. He will draw near to you if you draw near to Him (James 4:8). If you realize that you must fall on your knees in need and humility, Jesus will exalt you, verse 10.
If you are in need of anything or have further questions on how to become a Child of God, please let me know… I’d love to talk to you.