Misery and Humility (James 4:7-10)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Misery and Humility”

(James 4:7-10)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

March 18, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Hey, church, one of the things that God has truly blessed this world with is Chick-fil-a. Chick-fil-a is a sign of God’s good graces to us.

However, have you ever thought about how it can be challenging to know what to do at some walk-in restaurants?

Chick-fil-a restaurants are normally really busy. You walk in and it’s a mass of people just standing in a blob around the registers. You have to know what to do in order to survive and thrive in a Chick-fil-a.

You have to know these folks are waiting to order, these folks are waiting for their food, these folks are waiting for drink refills, these folks are waiting for their mobile order, these folks are waiting for their parents, and these folks are just waiting for a job.  In order to survive and thrive, you must know the process.

James is continuing to address this ongoing problem of the people of God living like the people of the world.

In these verses, James is going to give his readers three specific ways that they can live their faith.  He provides a process for how they can survive and thrive as the people of God.

Remember, the name of our entire series in the book of James is “Living the Faith.”

Let’s look at this passage together.

Read the Passage

Read James 4:7-10

7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

We see these ways that we can survive and thrive as believers.

In this passage, we have three steps we can take to live the faith.

First, we can . . .

Live the Faith By . . . [on screen]

I. Pursuing God (verses 7-8a) [on screen]

Ok, remember that verse 7 follow after verse 6.

We learned last week in verse 6 that God gives grace to the humble.

Now, there is a “therefore” in verse 7, so we must see what it’s therefore.

James says that God gives grace to the humble. Therefore, we must submit to God. Because He gives grace to those who humbly submit to Him.

Well, what does submission imply?

This implies that we have a spirit of humility.

This is a willful, intentional step to submit to God.

We should humbly come before our Creator and submit to Him!

As we submit to God and pursue Him, we must also take another strategic step: resist the devil.

(pause)

This is not just a mere ignoring of the devil. This is an active resistance.

Say to him, “Get away from me!  Flee from me!  Stop tempting me!”

And then what?  James says, “he will flee.”

The Word of God tells us that the devil will flee from us!

(pause)

One of the main problems is that we often don’t resist the devil.

We pretend like he’s not there.

We try to skirt around him.

Sometimes we even welcome him.

If we would resist the devil, so many of our problems would go away!

You can resist him!  You can withstand the temptation!

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.” [on screen]

You will be able to resist the devil, you will be able to escape temptation, and you will be able to honor the Lord and live for your Savior!

Remember, John tells us in 1 John 4:4, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” [on screen]

God will deliver us from the devil!  He has the power! The power of Jesus has conquered the power of Satan!

(pause)

James then says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

Do you want to feel God?  Do you want to experience the presence of God?  Draw near to Him!

In moments of darkness, in moments of hurt, in moments of confusion, we should not turn away from God; we should draw near to God!

Rather than being prideful, and being resisted by God (as we saw in last week’s passage), we should draw near to God, humbly, and He will draw near to us.

We purposefully submit to God, we purposefully resist the devil, and we purposefully draw near to God.

(pause)

Next, we live the faith by . . .

II. Mourning Sin (verses 8b-9) [on screen]

Look with me again at the passage.

Let’s pick it up in the second part of verse 8.

Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

James gives us these further instructions on how to draw near to God.

We are to, first of all, cleanse our hands.

Cleansing one’s hands was a form of ceremonial cleansing.

Remember, James’ readers were Jewish Christians and would have been familiar with the idea of ceremonially cleaning oneself to signify purity and devotion to God’s ways.

He calls them “sinners.”  Sin remains.

These are Christians and James calls them “sinners.”  He calls them out for not truly living for Christ.

Second, he tells them to purify their hearts.

He again refers to his readers as “double-minded.”

They are double-minded because they profess devotion to God but do not live lives devoted to Him.

(pause)

We are so often the same way.

James says, stop it!  Purify your hearts!  Commit yourselves to the Lord for real!

He then tells them to, “Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”

Well, that’s not exactly a motivational speech.

What’s going on here?

James is saying, “You shouldn’t be laughing right now, you should be weeping because of your sin and the sins of those in your church.”

Here’s the point: James is telling his readers that they are not taking sin seriously enough.

(pause)

This is not merely regret or feeling bad. This is genuine mourning and weeping.

Genuine repentance, genuine following of Jesus, will bring with it genuine mourning over sin.

(pause)

If we want to draw near to God and live for Him, one of the things we can do is to stop sinning!  We should mourn over our sin!

If we want to see revival in our church, we need to see mourning over our sins.

We should weep over the sins of the world, we should weep over the sins of our church, and we should weep over our own sins.

(pause)

Finally, you live the faith by . . .

III. Humbling Yourself (verse 10) [on screen]

How do you live the faith that God has called you to live?  Humble yourself!

Again, look at the word of God.  Look at verse 10.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

If we humble ourselves, God will exalt us!  How cool is that?

Do you want to be exalted in the best possible way?  Humble yourself before God!

(pause)

Some of us may desire the exaltation of the world. Let me remind you not to fall for that!

James 4:4 tells us that he who is a friend of the world is hostile towards God.

Forget the world’s exaltation. Let God exalt you!

He knows you.  He knows what you need. He knows your true value. He sees you all of the time.  He can really exalt you, so go to Him.

Don’t try to exalt yourself. Don’t try to find exaltation from others. Go to God. Humble yourself before the Lord and go to Him.

Remember, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. We learned that last week in verse 6.

So, if you think you have it all figured out and you can take care of your life the way that you want to, then you don’t really need God.

If you don’t need exaltation from God, then don’t worry about coming before Him humbly.

If you want to take your chances with doing it your way, or doing it the way of the world, then you don’t need God.

But don’t forget: If you come before God and tell Him that you don’t need Him, you will be resisted by Him. God resists the proud.

But if you come before Him humbly, He will give you grace and He will exalt you.

(pause)

We need God more than anything. He offers us everything. From Him, let’s hold back nothing.

Humble yourself before Him and He will lift you up.

(pause)

Folks, as James has been teaching us all along, the key is humility.

Concluding Thoughts:

From the very beginning of James’ letter, he has been teaching us about what it means to follow Jesus.

Now, as we creep towards the end of the letter, he’s reminding us again and again to seek humility.

We should be humble before God because of the ugliness of our sin and because He will lift us up when we come before Him humbly.

We live the faith by pursuing God, by mourning sin, and by humbling ourselves.

If we do this, we will survive and thrive in our faith.

Here’s our bottom line for this week:

Bottom Line: Humbly Pursue the Lord[on screen]

(repeat)

That’s what we should be doing, folks.

Flee sin, send the devil fleeing, and humbly pursue the Lord.

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

For the weekly challenge, identify these three things:

  1. Identify how you will pursue God this week.  [on screen]

What do you need to change?

What do you need to add into your life?

How will you pursue God?

  1. Identify where you need to repent this week.  [on screen]

What sign are you struggling with?

What are you still holding onto that you need to repent of?

  1. Identify how you will be humble this week.  [on screen]

How will you humble yourself before the Lord?

What must you do?

Identify how you will do so.

Closing:

In the end, the Lord will be sure that all of us are humble before Him.

Philippians 2:10-11 says, “. . . at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We can willingly come before Him in humility now, mourning over our sins; or, we will bow before Him at the final judgment as we prepare to be punished for our sin.

(Gospel Presentation)

Will you come to Him now in humility?

Will you submit to Him?

Give your life to Him!

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – The Savior is Waiting

Benediction:

Don’t forget about Easter signs and Easter invite cards.

Tonight we will join together again for our series called “On Mission Every Day.”

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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