Draw Near to God
The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh, Senior Pastor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE. The text has been edited and condensed by IHCC staff for use as a Bible Study aid.
Intro - James has sternly rebuked his readers for their friendship with the world in 4:4-6. They need to understand that involvement with the world makes them guilty of spiritual adultery.
Friendship with the world puts us in a relationship of hostility with God. When we are entangled with the world, we stand opposed to God and what He wants to accomplish in our lives.
At the base of all this is the fact that we are fallen, sinful human beings. As such, our spirits have an intense craving to envy or jealousy (v.5). At heart we are intensely selfish beings.
The hope in all of this is the marvelous grace of God. His grace is greater than all our sin. His grace gives victory over the lusts and cravings of our sinful hearts.
While God stands opposed to the proud, He is always ready to meet the needs of the humble.
James now demands that his readers change their proud and selfish ways which have put them in opposition to God. In 4:7-10 James gives ten imperatives that form a clear call to repentance: submit, resist, draw near, cleanse, purify, be miserable, mourn, weep, be turned, humble. These commands (all aorist imperatives) convey a sense of urgency and demand immediate obedience.
Submit . . . to God - This first command states the theme of verses7-10. The word submit (hupotagete) means "to align one's self under the authority of another." The picture is one of an army in orderly arrangement under its commanding officer.
Resist the devil - The military metaphor continues with the word resist (antistete), which means "to oppose," "to stand against." The readers must take their stand against Satan who is their real enemy.
he will flee from you - This promise assures victory. The power of Satan should not be underestimated, but neither should it be overestimated.
This victory is based upon what Christ accomplished on our behalf on the cross. Satan has been defeated, and now as believers in Christ we share in that victory (cf. John 12:31; 16:33; Eph. 6:10-17; 1 Pet. 5:6-9; 1 John4:4; 5:4,5).
Pride and selfishness allow the devil to assert his influence in our lives and set us in opposition to God. We must submit to God and stand against the devil.
He will draw near to you indicates that this separation from God is a result of their choice.
Drawing near to God will demand purity in heart and life. The following commands address this issue:
Paul admonished the Corinthians with a similar challenge in 2 Corinthians7:1. See also Heb. 10:19-22).
Be miserable (talaiporesate) - Paul used this word of his own condition in Romans 7:24 when he said, "Wretched man that I am!"A true grasp of the awfulness of our sin will lead to true sorrow and grief.
The command that laughter and joy should be turned to mourning and gloom shows the insensitivity that sin breeds in a life. These Christians have become involved in the frivolity of the world and are totally insensitive to the tragedy of their sin.
This does not mean that Christians should be gloomy people, but we should always have a deep sensitivity to sin. Our response to it should always be grief and mourning.
The light and indifferent attitude of many believers in the face of sin is an indication of a selfish pursuit of a relationship with the world. We should remember that the pleasures of sin are short-lived (Heb. 11:25).
Man always puts himself and his desires at the center of his world. It is the arrogant desire to be god that is really being demonstrated.
But God will exalt those who humble themselves before Him. This is the consistent emphasis of Scripture (Matt. 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; Phil.2:5-11; 1 Pet. 5:6).
This pattern of humbling and exaltation begins at salvation. When a person bows before God and believes in Jesus Christ, he is exalted to the position ofa son of God (Gal. 3:26).
God also promises the added glory of rewards in His presence if we faithfully serve Him in this life (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
Our challenge as believers is to be living in submission to God and standing firm against the attacks of the devil.
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Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.