Summary: Most Christians understand “grace” as it applies to salvation that is that Jesus did something for them that they could never do for themselves. We tend to get a little fuzzy when it comes to grace as it applies in the Christian life.
Living in Uncommon Grace
Most Christians understand “grace” as it applies to salvation that is that Jesus did something for them that they could never do for themselves. By his death on the cross in our place, He paid our sin debt. He gives us a new standing before God the Father. He made us spiritually alive so that we could enjoy an intimate relationship with the Father.
We tend to get a little fuzzy when it comes to grace as it applies in the Christian life. According to James what we need is “more grace” (v. 6). God stands willing to give us all the grace that we need to meet the challenges of our lives. In fact he stands ready at any moment to assume control of our lives, meet our needs – to become everything that we need for life. The problem lies in that we look in all the wrong places for the answer we need.
In verse 4 God accuses us of being “Adulteresses!” He goes on in v. 4 to say, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “The Spirit who dwells in us?”
The accusation of adultery sounds pretty stern in our modern ears. It is not as if we consciously betray God. We don’t intend any unfaithfulness to God. Adultery occurs in a marriage when one of the partners looks outside of the exclusive relationship of marriage to get their needs met. A third party is added to the relationship that does not belong. IN much the same way spiritual adultery occurs when Christians look outside their relationship to God to get their needs met. A third party, the world, is invited into the relationship.
We do this in many subtle ways. When we believe what daytime television gurus tells us over what the Bible says, we demonstrate our unfaithfulness. When our leisure interest greatly exceed out time given to the Lord, we need to ask the question, “Who really has our allegiance?”
In verse 6, James gives the answer, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, God is opposed to the proud, but give grace to the humble.”
God gives grace to the humble – to those who admit their helplessness and begin to look to God to meet their needs. Instead of continuing in a course of independence, arrogantly refusing to admit the impossibility of a satisfying life apart from God, they begin to walk in dependence upon Him for everything.
God hates arrogance, and independent living. That is why he “resists the proud.” Independent living is what sin is all about, and God will not support His children in such a lifestyle. He forces us to choose between the world and Himself.
Beginning in verses 7-10, James gives a series of ten commands which constitute an urgent call to return to God. These commands like military commands, demand decisive action. They reflect the seriousness with which James views the problems that he sees within the church. It is first and foremost a call to repentance. In verse 7 James sets forth the basic requirements and subsequent verses lay out what is involved in a whole-hearted return to God.
I. Basic Requirements
• First, Submit to God, (v. 7a)
o “Submit therefore to God.”
o It is unfortunate but true that Christ can be in our lives but no in control of our lives.
• Second, Resist the Devil (v. 7b)
o “Resist the devil and he will flee form you.”
o Whether we realize it or not “resisting the devil” begins with rejecting the lies and accepting the fact that we can’t have real life apart from God.
o Resisting doesn’t mean yelling and screaming at the devil, it means drawing close to God.
o Have you ever wondered why the Devil would “flee” from you when you “resist” him?
o The devil flees because our resisting means God is drawing near to us and the Devil cannot stand in the presence of God.
• The overriding principle here is that God must be given control of our lives.
II. The Necessities to Giving up Control
• There must be a whole-hearted return to God. (v. 8)
• We are told in verse 8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
• When James tells us to draw near to God he is reminding us that however close we have been drawn to the world, we have been drawn equally away from God.
• We must return in order to have an intimate relationship with God.
• There must be a personal cleaning (v. 8)