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.
The reader is first of all told in verse seven, “Therefore submit to God. (v. 7a).” It is unfortunate but true that Christ can be in our lives but not in control of our lives. Just as it took an act of our will to choose to accept Christ as our Savior it takes an act of our will to yield our lives to Him.
Make no mistake about it, you cannot follow Jesus without doing what he says. And if you as a Christian are still trying to call all the shots, still trying to run your life your way – you will end up a miserable, unhappy, unfulfilled and angry person.
Are you willing to let God be God? Are you willing to do whatever he pleases? Can you submit to his program for your life and his way of working things out in it? Does God have that right in your life? Doesn’t the Creator have the right to determine your circumstances, your health, your job situation? Is He the potter? And aren’t we the clay?
Although I have never thought of it in this fashion the remainder of verse seven gives us the flip side of the equation. In the second half of verse seven we are also told to, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (v. 7b) C. S. Lewis in his classic work, “The Screwtape Letters” maintains that there are two equally dangerous trends when dealing with Satan; that of either displaying either too much or too little interest in the subject. If we are over zealous we end up assigning to the operations of Satan, matters that can adequately be explained by the common sinfulness of man. The label of Satanic possession is attached to the actions of Christian’s which in are nothing more than their own sinful behavior.