Submit To God.

The context of this James 4 passage today is clearly found in the Chapter before (remembering that chapters and verses are a later addition – to make it easier for us!)
“What causes fights and quarrels among you?” (4:1)

It is the “tongue”, described as a “fire” (3:6). Also those who “harbour bitter envy” and “selfish ambition” (3:14).

I can imagine when James asks the question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” (3:13), he is thinking that there is no-one who is “wise and understanding” because all he can see is “disorder and every evil practice” (3:16)

And so we get to Chapter 4 and James asks the question, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it…you kill…covet…quarrel…fight…do not ask God…ask with wrong motives…spend what you get on your pleasures.” (vs.1-3)

James goes on…calls them “adulterous people” (v.4). He accuses them of being an “enemy of God”, due to their “friendship with the world”(v.4).

These are terrible accusations. Imagine what a hard time we would give our leaders if they stood up and made these accusations against us!

But, isn’t there some truth in all this for us? I will ask that again in another way…are we not guilty (to some degree at least) of these very things? We might not kill, but we hate, especially when we are opposed, spoken to or our desires blocked….we covet what others have….we quarrel with others…fight…we do not ask God, and when we do it is often with wrong motives… we spend what we get on our own pleasures – before we think of others or of God.

Where is the hope for us in all this?

James gives us the answer. He says (to these very same people he has been addressing) “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…purify your hearts…grieve, mourn and wail…humble yourselves before the the Lord”

What about Ezekiel 32? Did you get through all that? God’s judgment on Egypt. We are reminded that evil forces are being overcome. One day God will overcome all evil, making the world as He initially intended. We are also reminded that God is sovereign over the world. Even the greatest leaders, like Pharaoh will bow before God.

The last word….”Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up”(v.10)

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3 thoughts on “Submit To God.

  1. Thank you Peter. I think that one of the dangers facing the church today is the temptation not to preach from Gods Word. Because if these so called accusations came to us from the front it is the Holy Spirit that would hopefully do the convicting and bring the congregation to repentance. A watered down Bible is not the Bible. Its not the voice of God its humanism. I need to hear truth so that then I can make a choice. God wants His church to grow up. To be mature so that He can bring in those who yet are not part of His Kingdom. Can you imagine the damage it would cause to new believers to see the Church bickering and fighting amongst one another? We need to pray for our leaders that they be bold and courageous in preaching Gods Word because our hearts are deceitful. The first rule of Spiritual Warfare is to submit to God. But far too often we get it round the wrong way. We put ourselves in Gods place and get ourselves into all sorts of trouble and then expect God to bail us out. Satan is very aware of any handles that we may have on our lives that He can use against us. If I have unforgiveness in my heart towards somebody he knows it and he can use this sin to come against me. Until its brought into the light and covered with the Blood of Jesus and repented of, I’m easy fodder for the Devil and his demons. To submit to God to me means that I willingly put myself under Gods authority and have a heart attitude that I desire to do things His way and not my own way. That may be a very simple way of putting it but to me its not meant to be complicated.

  2. Thx. Peter as you point out there does seem to something of a continuum in the sorts of sin described by James. I may only sin a “little bit” rather than a lot some of the time but the answer James provides still stands. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…purify your hearts…grieve, mourn and wail…humble yourselves before the Lord” The trouble is because we perceive our sin to be “little” we ignore it or are apathetic toward it. I need to be soft toward the Spirit who will make these “little” things much clearer.

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