Summary of James 4:1-10:
James says fights and quarrels are caused by our desires. You want something but don’t get it. And you do not ask God for it. If you ask with wrong motives, you will not receive.
If you are a friend of the world, then you are an enemy of God. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves to God and resist the devil. Come near to God and purify your hearts. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 3: James 4:1-10
6) Our desires. Asking God with the right heart.
7) Personal Question. My answer: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves to God and resist the devil. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
8 ) Personal Question. My answer: He always manages to knock me down when I get full of myself and show me the right way.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 3: James 4:1-10
Pray to align your will with God’s, especially as we battle the coronavirus. God has got this. Trust Him that He knows what He is doing.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 3: James 4:1-10
Covetousness leads to conflict (you lust and do not have). Anger and animosity lead to hatred and conflict (murder).
James looked back to the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus also used murder to express more than actual killing, but also as an inward condition of heart, shown outwardly by anger (Matthew 5:21-22).
“The word kill [murder] is startling and meant to startle; James sought to force his readers to realize the depth of the evil in their bitter hatred toward others.” (Hiebert)
This points to the futility of this life lived for the desires for pleasure. Not only is it a life of conflict, but it is also a fundamentally unsatisfied life.
Power of Prayer
The reason these destructive desires exist among Christians is because they do not seek God for their needs (you do not ask). James reminds us here of the great power of prayer, and why one may live unnecessarily as a spiritual pauper, simply because they do not pray, or do not ask when they pray.
God does not give unless we ask. If we possess little of God and His Kingdom, almost certainly we have asked little.
The purpose of prayer is not to persuade a reluctant God to do our bidding. The purpose of prayer is to align our will with His, and in partnership with Him, to ask Him to accomplish His will on this earth (Matthew 6:10).
Spend is the same verb used to describe the wasteful spending of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:14. Destructive desires persist, even if we pray, because our prayers may be self-centered and self-indulgent.
This is a rebuke presented in Old Testament vocabulary. God spoke this way in the Old Testament when His people were attracted to some form of idolatry (Jeremiah 3:8-9, Ezekiel 6:9, Ezekiel 16:32, Ezekiel 23:37, and Hosea 3:1). As James saw it here, their covetousness was idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and friendship with the world.
Better ancient Greek manuscripts only say you adulteresses. “He uses the feminine form deliberately, for one turn of special contempt and scorn in the ancient world was to call a community or group by some feminine equivalent.” (Moffatt)
God is the “husband” and we are His “wife” (as in Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:20, and Exodus 34:15-16).
“The Jews, because of their covenant with God, are represented as being espoused to him; and hence, their idolatry, and their iniquity in general, are represented under the notion of adultery.” (Clarke)
James recognizes that we cannot both be friends of this world system in rebellion against God, and friends of God at the same time (Matthew 6:24).
The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has a jealous yearning for our friendship with God. The Spirit will convict the Christian who lives in compromise.
Verse 5 is difficult to translate. Is it God jealously yearning for the devotion of our spirit which He put within us, or is it the Spirit within us jealously yearning for the full devotion of our heart? Either way, the sense is much the same.
James agrees with the many passages in the Old Testament that tell us God is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 32:16 and 32:21; Exodus 20:5 and 34:14; Zechariah 8:2). “The idea is that God loves men with such a passion that he cannot bear any other love within the hearts of men.” (Barclay)
One cannot find this exact quote (“The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”) in any specific Old Testament verse. James seemed to present an idea that is alluded to in several passages without quoting any specific passage.
The same Holy Spirit convicting us of our compromise will also grant us the grace to serve God as we should.
James reminds us that this grace only comes to the humble. Grace and pride are eternal enemies. Pride demands that God bless me in light of my merits, whether real or imagined. But grace will not deal with me on the basis of anything in me – good or bad – but only on the basis of who God is.
In light of the grace offered to the humble, there is only one thing to do: submit to God. This means to order yourself under God, to surrender to Him as a conquering King, and start receiving the benefits of His reign.
Spurgeon offers reasons why we should submit to God:
- Because God created us.
- Because God’s rule is good for us.
- Because resisting God is futile.
- Because submission to God is absolutely necessary to salvation.
- Because submitting to God is the only way to have peace with God.
We must stand against devil’s deceptions and his efforts to intimidate. As we resist the devil, we are promised that he will flee from you.
Resist comes from two Greek words: stand and against. James tells us to stand against the devil. Satan can be set running by the resistance of the lowliest believer who comes in the authority of what Jesus did on the cross.
“Resist, by faith, and the rest of the spiritual armour, Ephesians 6:13, 14
A famous ancient Christian writer named Hermas wrote, “The devil can wrestle against the Christian, but he cannot pin him.” (Cited in Barclay)
“When a soul sets out to seek God, God sets out to meet that soul; so that while we are drawing near to him, he is drawing near to us.” (Clarke)
Spurgeon explains what it means to draw near to God:
- In worship, praise, and in prayer.
- By asking counsel of God.
- In enjoying communion with God.
- Throughout your life
Results of Drawing Near to God:
- Helps you resist the devil.
- Helps you to become pure.
- Helps you to be sorry for sin.
- Helps you speak well of other people.
- Helps you think of eternal things.
- Helps you to be convicted of our sin.
The unmerited favor of God always lifts us up.
In this passage James has powerfully described both the duty and the blessing of repentance.