Summary: In James 4:7-10, James gives us ten-point road map that shows us how to draw near to God. Let’s look at the first three stops in verses 7-8.
How To Draw Near To God (Part 1)
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
June 24, 2001
Introduction: Having spent the last three weeks studying what conflict looks like, the inevitable question that begs to be asked is, “So, what do we do about it? If God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, what must we do to establish authentic, biblical humility as part of our character? What must we do to live our lives in such a way so that we won’t find ourselves in opposition to a holy and righteous God?” Okay, so that was four questions.
Even though we touched on some of the things we can do to avoid conflict, specifically conflict with God, James hasn’t yet given us a plan to follow. But he does in verses seven to ten, in chapter four of his letter. Go ahead and turn there if you haven’t already.
In these four very precise verses, James gives us ten-point road map that shows us how to draw near to God. Theologians have attached all kinds of names to this passage of Scripture. It’s been entitled “The Gravity of Grace,” “A Recipe For Humility,” “Exercising For Humility,” and the list goes on. All of the ones I mentioned are accurate depictions of the passage’s message. For me it’s a road map for drawing near to God, and James is the navigator.
Believer and unbeliever alike can read this map. As is the case in other parts of James’ letter that we’ve studied, theologians differ in their opinions about which group James is writing to in particular passages. Is he addressing believers or unbelievers? Although I see the context leaning more toward a conversation with unbelievers, we can’t forget that the letter, as a whole, was written to spiritually young, Jewish converts.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the oft-quoted verse in Hebrews that talks about the Word of God being a two-edged sword. I wonder why the writer of Hebrews made sure to mention the two edges of the Sword. Could it be that although any given passage or verse of Scripture has but one meaning, it can impact multiple groups of people? I think so. I’ve shared that with you before.
And let’s keep in mind that a general theme throughout James’ letter is that he wants to see the genuineness of his readers’ faith, not hear lip service about how faithful they are. So as we study these four powerful verses in James’ letter—Christian, let its rich truth penetrate your heart. Use the ten points James makes as a spiritual check-up, one that leads to repentance. And if you are here and have never committed your life to Christ, listen carefully to what God’s Word has to say to you today as well. We will see in the words James uses that he is most definitely talking to you, too. With that, let’s see what James would teach us about drawing near to God.
The Tone of the Passage
Now, before we get too far into discussing the various steps James lays out for us in his road map, we need to understand James’ tone in these verses. We have seen James use various tones of voice in his letter. He has been the loving older brother. He has been sarcastic. He has been stern as well.
Here, however, in verses seven to ten, we see a level of intensity in James that we have seen glimmers of in other sections, but nothing that compares to what we have in the four verses we’re going to study over the next couple of weeks. What we have in this passage is not one command, but ten—ten commands fired at his readers in rapid, to the point, “let’s not play games” fashion.
Nothing that James says in this passage is offered in order to facilitate discussion, much less debate, between him and his readers. James issues all of the commands in what’s known in the Greek grammar as the aorist tense, which is much like the past tense of the English language. But James’ use of the aorist tense doesn’t only represent a time frame, but also a level of intensity. In this case, a great deal of intensity.
James is writing with a sense of urgency that is deeper than anything we have seen from him so far. Each and every command carries the same level of intensity. James wrote this passage as if lives depended on it. James had heard of the sin in the church. He had heard that there were those in the church putting themselves off as teachers when they weren’t. And there were those who were simply playing church. Their faith was a fake.