Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
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Read His Words Before Ours!

James 4:7-10

7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable 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.

The Original Intent

1) In verse 7, James begins with “therefore”, what was James writing about in the previous verses that he wanted us to tie together?

When we see “therefore” in Scripture, we should take note as it usually references something the author has already spoken about in previous verses. In studying this passage, it is important to understand the entire context of what James is wanting to convey to his readers. “Therefore” provides a strong signal to look back, study well, and connect the teachings together.

James wrote this letter to people who were already believers in Jesus; they were dispersed and living far from home. (James 1:1In the previous verses of chapter 4, James warned about friendship with the world which stems from arrogant, selfish desires and leads to a turning away from God.

James wanted the dispersed, persecuted believers to recognize their self-oriented behavior and understand that God desires a humble heart of obedience and loyalty to Him. This is the pathway of wise living that honors the Lord. (James 4:1-6)

The Everyday Application

1) In verse 7, James begins with “therefore”, what was James writing about in the previous verses that he wanted us to tie together?

The entire letter of James provides a glimpse of everyday life as a believer. The trials that come, and the goodness of God in the midst of those trials, are revealed as having exquisite value. (James 1

Leading up to chapter four, James challenges the reader to be a doer of God’s Word, allowing faith to become action in every area of our life from speech to the way we treat people who cross our path. (James 2) James implores us to seek God first and the wisdom that comes only from knowing Him and in that wisdom we are able to submit to God. (James 3)

Walking through trials with our attention on the Lord, learning to actively submit to God’s Word, patterning our lives after God’s way of wisdom, and allowing our lives to be shaped by God all require the humility James points to in verse 7 when he calls us “submit to God”. 

All the pieces of James’ teaching connect and build on one another when we choose to submit to the Lord; studying “therefore” gives us the wide-angle lens to watch the teachings coincide. God gives abundant grace and it’s in this grace we begin to look and act more like Him while we submit to His Spirit at work in us.

The Original Intent

2) What does it mean to submit to God? (verse 7)

The New Testament, where James’ book is found, was originally written in Greek. Our English word translated “submit” in verse 7 originated as a Greek verb meaning to subordinate, subject, obey, submit to one’s control, or to yield to. (studylight.org) When we consider this word’s origin, we gain a greater understanding of the intent behind James’ use of this word. He is wanting us to fully grasp what it means to break the bonds of sin in our life and yield our control to God.

There is no room for self-will and selfish arrogance to creep in; every aspect of our lives is meant to be lived out in the beautiful submission to God. Amazingly, in so doing, do we find true freedom for it is sin that enslaves! “For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

The Everyday Application

2) What does it mean to submit to God? (verse 7)

Submission to God is a willful decision to commit your life to the Lord, humbling yourself under God’s authority and surrendering your will to His. (1 Peter 5:6)

He desires to break every bond of sin in our life and He gives freedom from its chain without condemnation. When we commit to the Lord, He provides a new identity found in Christ Himself. In His resurrected life, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God once we are in Christ! That change of position from slave to free empowers us to be “more than conquerors” in this world. (Romans 8:1-11, 37)

The Original Intent

3) What promise does James give the reader in verse 8?

In verse 8, James teaches us of the Father’s heart-desire for us to be near to Him. Remember, James is writing to those who are already saved-from-sin Believers. Still, James reminds them of God’s desire to be near them. Christ’s sacrifice has atoned for these men and women and they have been brought near to God through Jesus’ blood. “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)

Still, even in this state, James insists they can come near the Lord, knowing Him ever-deeper. With precious invitation James writes, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…”. (verse 8) God lovingly pursues us and as we draw near to Him and accept Him as Lord of our life, He not only directs our paths for everyday living, but also gives us the comfort of knowing Him in greater ways the more we draw near to Him. (Proverbs 3:1-12)

The Everyday Application

3) What promise does James give the reader in verse 8?

How comforting it is to reflect on the invitational promise James writes of as he teaches us that God draws near to us as we draw near to Him. (verse 8)

When we draw near to God, He creates a new heart in us (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) and, as a result, we desire to please Him more and more. (Hebrews 11:6) He transforms every part of us and begins to work in our lives to empower us to look more like Him. (Philippians 1:6Colossians 3:8-10) When we are led by the Spirit we are no longer slaves to the sin of this world, rather we are adopted, having become children of God. (Romans 8:14-17)

We are invited into a community of brothers and sisters in Christ who endeavor to walk together with us in this journey of becoming more like Jesus. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

The Original Intent

4) How do each of the commands given by James in this passage connect?

The first command James gives in this passage is to submit to God, and in that submission, we can resist the devil and gain strength from drawing near to God. What was humanly impossible (victory over sin), becomes possible not by our power, but in our surrender to the One who holds all power and authority.

As we continue to make this choice to place ourselves under the Mighty hand of God, our sin becomes even more evident to us in our pursuit of God’s holiness. This causes lament and mourning over our sin and an ever-increasing desire to be like Jesus.

Praise God that He invites us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in Him!”. (Psalm 34:8)

By exalting God in our everyday lives, we are humbled in His presence as He takes His rightful place as Lord of our life, breaking the bonds of sin. His victory results in true transformation in our life. (Romans 12:1-2)

The Everyday Application

4) How do each of the commands given by James in this passage connect?

Humility and submission are necessary as we pursue Jesus, but He doesn’t ask us to do something He was unwilling to do Himself. Christ modeled submission for us when He chose to lay aside His rights as God and became obedient to death, even death on the cross in order to save us. (Philippians 2:6-8)

James conveys the depth of our sin and its deadly impact on our relationships and our everyday life decisions by pointing out that only by submission to God can we live in His victory. Sin distracts us from worshipping the Lord with our whole hearts and we can neither afford to be indifferent to it nor double-minded about its damaging effects. (James 4:8)

In humility, we are called to stand before a loving God weeping over our sin and the bondage it creates in our life when we become enslaved to it through selfish arrogance. (James 1:14-15) We are to acknowledge these sinful desires, cast them to the Lord, and draw near to Him, reviling our sin. Here, God draws near to us! God has provided the means for this nearness by offering the free gift of forgiveness and freedom from sin through Jesus Christ who has broken the bond of sin and granted us eternal life. (Romans 6:20-23)

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