Misunderstood Day 5 God Helps Those Who Help Themselves: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Today is 2-for-1 Friday!
Check out God Helps Those Who Help Themselves!

The Questions

1) What does it look like to be a friend of the world? (v. 4)

2) 
James is calling out his readers in this passage, but he has one small, hopeful phrase in the middle of this section. What does James mean when he says “But he gives more grace.” (v. 6)?

3) James is explaining how to humble themselves. How were these instructions significant?

James 4:1-10

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 

Original Intent

1) What does it look like to be a friend of the world? (v. 4)
Being a friend of the world in the time of James meant desiring acceptance from the world more than fellowship with God (v. 5). The early church faced many pressures to look like those around them to find acceptance. Jewish Christians were tempted to keep the customs of their family and heritage. In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul explains that even Peter feared judgement from his Jewish friends because he was dining with Gentiles (non-Jewish people). He was so worried about what others thought that he acted hypocritically and withdrew from his new Gentile friends. Paul confronted Peter and reminded him that the way he was acting “was not in step with the truth of the gospel.” God desired the early church to stand out from the rest of the world by finding their acceptance in Him and by loving those around them no matter their cultural background.  

2) James is calling out his readers in this passage, but he has one small, hopeful phrase in the middle of this section. What does James mean when he says “But he gives more grace.” (v. 6)?
James brings the heat in verses 1-5! He is saying the hard things that they needed to hear, but then he pauses. James takes a moment to pull back and bring everything into perspective. No matter how much they had failed, even if they have been friends with the world, despite the pit of sin they may be in, God gives more grace. God’s grace is greater than all of their sin and shortcomings. They no longer had to make sacrifices. They no longer had to feel guilty. They no longer had to be a slave to the law. God’s grace is greater than all of those things.   

3) James is explaining how to humble themselves. How were these instructions significant?
James uses language reminiscent of the Old Testament. To approach Yahweh, the priests would cleanse and purify themselves (v. 8Exodus 29:4Numbers 8:6-7). Mourning over sin and disobedience to God is found throughout the Psalms (v. 9Psalm 51). But James take it a step further. He calls his readers to purify their hearts, too. He instructs them not to just go through the outward motions, but truly repent and humble themselves before God.  

Everyday Application

1) What does it look like to be a friend of the world? (v. 4
We face the same pressures to be friends with the world as the early church. Social media makes it harder than ever not to conform to the pattern of this world. One way this often plays out in our lives is to be a people pleaser. We spent our time, thoughts, and energy pleasing everyone around us. Sometimes this can lead to deeply rooted sins: addiction, sexual immorality, and unethical work practices. Sometimes people pleasing manifests in more subtle sins: not standing up for justice, a prideful heart, and a gossiping tongue. Verse 5 says that God is jealous for our spirit. He gave us life, salvation, and a spirit to love him with. He jealously yearns for us to desire Him over the world. Paul gives the Galatians an exhortation that is just as relevant to us today: “For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 

2) James is calling out his readers in this passage, but he has one small, hopeful phrase in the middle of this section. What does James mean when he says “But he gives more grace.” (v. 6)?
God still gives more grace for us today – it hasn’t run out nor will it ever! When we read this passage and any other book of the Bible, it can be easy to start thinking, “I need to be better at that” or “I really struggle with this” or “I should try harder in that area”. But guess what? Just like God had more grace for the sin of the first Christians, He still has more grace for our shortcomings. God has more grace than we have sin! We can’t out-sin God’s grace. Do we live in a way that shows we believe that?  

3) James is explaining how to humble themselves. How were these instructions significant? 
Have we felt our sin this deeply? Have we ever been moved to feel wretched and weep over our sin or even sin in the world? Or does our pride get in the way? True humility brings us to a place where we comprehend that we deserve death, but Jesus has paid our debt. This understanding allows us to feel the weight of our sin and honor God in our heart response.

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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