Summary: Eighth in a series on the book of James. Concern how to live a life of uncommon grace.
A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JAMES
Sermon # 8
“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 four God accuses us of being “Adulterers and adulteresses!” He goes on in verse four to say, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (5) Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
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. In the New Testament, the Greek term for “world” is kosmos and is ordinarily used to mean “the world apart from God!”
We do this in many subtle ways. When we believe what daytime television gurus tells us over what the Bible says, we demon-strate our unfaithfulness. When our leisure interest greatly exceed our time given to the Lord, we need to ask the question, “Who really has our allegiance?”
In verse six, James gives the answer, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives 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 every-thing.
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 seven through ten, James gives a series of ten commands (aorist imperatives) which constitute an urgent call to return to God. These commands like curt 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 seven James sets forth the basic requirements and subsequent verses lay out what is involved in a whole-hearted return to God.