How do you draw closer to God? We might not like the answer to that question. It means leaving the world behind and focusing on God. But we have to live in the world! Yes, we do. However, if we put God first, then everything else will fall into place. How do you do that? James explains…
James Chapter 4
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. 6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.” [Proverbs 3:34]
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.James 5:1-10 NLT
You don’t have because you don’t ask! Remember Jesus told us…
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”Matthew 7:7-11 NLT
James says, “you don’t have because you don’t ask.”
You say, “But I’m praying!”
OK, but do you have the right motives? I remember when I used to buy lottery tickets. I used to bargain with God, “God, if I can win, I’ll give 50% to the church and charities!” That never worked. It was the wrong motive. Now, I cheerfully tithe 10% of my income and God is providing what I need, when I need it.
Verse 10 is important…
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.James 4:10 NLT
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [Proverbs 3:34] It’s best if you humble yourself and not wait for God to humble you. I’ve been there — twice. It’s not fun.
The second part of v. 7 is also important…
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
To be friends with the world is to be enemies of God. The devil rules the world. Pride makes you an easy target. Your lustful desires — greed, coveting, envy, jealousy — asking for things that you don’t need — things that you want — actually separate you from God. Let’s continue…
Warning against Judging Others
11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
Warning about Self-Confidence
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.James 4:13-16 NLT
When I moved to Puerto Rico with my parents after college in 1979, I caught on to a phrase I heard a lot — “Si Dios quiere,” “If it’s God’s will,” or “If God wills it.” People say it all the time. Like, you’d say, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
And they reply, “If God wills it.” It’s so common, it loses it’s meaning.
It’s up to us to humble ourselves and ask God to show us what His will is for our lives. Then James ends this chapter with an interesting reminder…
17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.James 4:17 NLT
That’s what’s called a sin of omission. Rather than committing a sin, you know what you should do, yet you don’t do it. That, too, is a sin.
Resist the Devil
So, how do we resist the devil? With the Word of God. Studying the Bible is our preparation for battle. When we are in the Word — that is, reading and studying the Bible daily — we are armed and are able to stand our ground against the flesh (lusts), the world and the devil. We are at war!
Rid Your Life of Sin
Repent of your sins. Stop sinning! Give your life to Jesus right now! Invite Him into your heart.
Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!