Summary: Too often we want to steer the ship. Only when we let God lead us to we arrive at the destination He plans for us.
Submission to God – James 3:13-4:12
Today we look at what may be the key in “Practicing Our Faith”. James deals with our yielding or submission to God. Let’s pick our way through this passage. There is much we could cover in great detail, but we’ll give you some thoughts to consider and much of it you can take home as homework for your weekly devotions.
In verse 13 we again have an exhortation to live out our faith – “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
It’s the way we live our faith, not the way we talk our faith that demonstrates wisdom.
In verses 14 - 16 James goes on with what we looked at last week regarding the tongue. When we boast about being wise or try to make ourselves sound better than someone else, that isn’t wisdom. It’s prideful and of the devil he says. Selfish ambition brings about evil practice. Why? Because we are not loving others when we think only of ourselves. How do we demonstrate our resurrection to new life – We love the brethren (1 John 3:14)
Verses 17-18 tell us of the substance Godly wisdom is made of – purity, peace-loving, considerate nature, submissiveness, mercy, good fruit, impartiality and sincerity. These compliment the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians.
As we get into chapter 4, we begin to zero in on the subject of submission. James first challenges our current condition. There is in-fighting, coveting, and greed going on. In verse 4 James uses the phrase – “You adulterous people”. I want you to remember that as we dissect this subject of submission.
Verse 7 – Now we get to the heart of the message. “Submit yourselves, then, to God.”
What does it mean to “submit” to God? The word used here is the same word used in Colossians 3:18, “Wives submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
Numerous times the believer and the church are referred to as the bride of Christ. There is something beautiful in that picture. (Elaborate on the wedding ceremony, the picture of the bride coming down the aisle and giving herself to be the wife of the husband. A perfect picture of submission as the wife promises to love, honor, and obey her husband in good times and bad, in sickness and in health and forsake all others.)
So submitting to God is a picture of a person willingly setting aside their own selfish motives and desires and entering into a covenant relationship with God.
Here’s how the early years of a marriage go (sometimes early weeks). (In a loving funny way), “Honey, what can I make you for breakfast” Oh, sweetheart, that’s so kind of you to cook me breakfast. Is there anything I can do to help you?” Later – “Hey, what’s for breakfast?” “Whatever you’re going to cook!”
We go from living totally to make our spouse happy, to “What have you done for me lately”, attitude. When selfishness creeps into a marriage, other problems creep in also. So it goes in our relationship to God. When we begin thinking selfish thoughts, our spiritual lives begin to deteriorate and the loving relationship we once had becomes bitter and unfruitful.
Let’s backup to verse 4. Do you now see why James calls Christians that have selfish ambition an adulterous people? When we think only of ourselves and not of God then we are cheating on Him. And in verse 5 we see that God is a jealous God – the Spirit “envies intensely”.
What can we do to get our relationship with God back where it should be? How do we “submit” ourselves to God?
I. Give Up!
a. Quit fighting against God.
i. In 4:1 James asks what causes all the fights and quarrels among you? The warrings and fightings come about because we want to have our own way. They come from the selfish desires deep within us. We fight for our own way just like spoiled children do over a toy another child is playing with.
II. Die to self
a. Gal 5:24 “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
b. Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.”
c. Even when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Cor. 10, Paul talks about the Lord’s Supper and how our M-A-N-Y-ness becomes One-ness when we join together in participating at the communion table. When we take the Lord’s communion unworthily we provoke the Lord’s jealousy. He wants total submission.
III. Resist Satan