Dec 9, 2018 – He Will Exalt You
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 4:1-12 (ESV)
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 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. 5 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”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore 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, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched 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.
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
James speaks to us like a person who urges a friend being ruined by a toxic relationship to get out and get help.
1. Friendship with the world
- v4 “friendship with the world is enmity with God”
- v7 “resist the devil”
- v4 “adulterous”
2. Passions at war
- v1 “what causes fights and quarrels?”
- v1 “your passions are at war within you”
- vv2-3 “you do not ask… you ask wrongly”
3. Grace for the humble
- v6 “but he gives more grace”
- v10 “humble yourselves… he will exalt you”
- vv7-8 “resist… draw near”
Questions for Reflection
- Why do we fight, quarrel, go to war?
- How do our “passions” rule us? Which do you think is typically stronger in a person: what they want, or what they think is right? If there is tension between what a person wants and what they think they should do, which typically wins? Reflect on how this dynamic works.
- What does James mean by “friendship with the world”? How is this idea related to his charge of being an adulterous people, and his calling us to resist the devil and draw near to God?
- How do we live in the world as people meaningfully engaged in the world, without falling into the trap of “friendship with the world”?
- What is your understanding the devil? Who is he and what is he like? What does he do?
- How do you resist the devil? How do you recognize he is at work? What kinds of things should you do when you see this? How does this connect with the passions that are at war within you, and with the fighting and quarrelling in your life?
- Humility is a great attribute, but the process of becoming humble is quite difficult. How can the challenges of life shape you as a humble person of grace and faith, instead of hardening you and turning you against God and others? What makes the difference?
- What are some particular ways you can intentionally draw near to God? In moments of temptation, how do you resist the devil and draw near to God? What do you do?
- James says “he gives more grace.” Reflect on ways God gives more grace to you.
Prayer of Confession
O Lord, our God: we come in humility, as we always must. Our passions continue to be at war in us and we let them rule over us. We see this in our anger, our hostility, our bitterness, and our resentment. We are quick to blame, slow to take responsibility. We are guilty of the charge of adultery, having been unfaithful to you, our creator. We ask for your help, your forgiveness, your favor. Lift us up and restore to us your joy. We thank you for Jesus, who has drawn near to us – meet us now as we draw near to you. Amen.