Grace for the Humble and Repentant

James 4:1-3 ESV

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

James is speaking to Christians who are living in spiritual adultery against the Lord, some of whom could have been Christians in name only and who never did come to know Christ in truth. For there appears to be a fine line between those making false professions of faith in Christ and those living in spiritual adultery against the Lord. But the same truth applies to both. If we walk in sin, ultimately we will die in our sins, and we will not have eternal life with God unless we repent and we walk in obedience to our Lord.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:23-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

So, evidently these Christians (or in name only Christians) were fighting among one another. But these were not simple little arguments, for it appears, from what this says, that some of these quarrels were leading to them putting one another to death. That is serious! Or perhaps he means that they were murdering each other in their hearts. That is still serious. And they went to this extent in order to gain something they did not have.

Can you identify? Do you fight and quarrel with others to get what you do not have, but that you lust over? Do you fight and quarrel with other Christians because they have something you don’t have but that you want, or because they have something you don’t have but that you don’t want, like a close walk with the Lord Jesus? And so you dispute with them out of jealousy? Or out of resentment and bitterness?

No matter what you are going after, though, if this is where you are, James said the root cause is the passions that are at war within you. You desire and do not have and so you fight and quarrel and murder and do evil to one another of all kinds. But another cause of all of this is that you are going about it all the wrong way. You are trying to get what you want by your own resources instead of taking your requests to the Lord in prayer.

But even if you do take your requests to the Lord in prayer, if your thinking is wrong, and you are just asking for things you don’t need or that are not good for you to have or that are not in the will of God for you to have, or with the wrong motivations so that you can spend whatever God supplies on your fleshly passions, then you will not receive anything from God. Yet it seems so many people have this idea of God as though he is a genie in the sky or a doting grandfather there to grant our every wish and desire.

James 4:4-5 ESV

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’”?

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, not only are we crucified with him in death to sin, and raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, in walks of obedience and righteousness, but we enter into a marriage covenant with Jesus Christ, our Lord. He now becomes our husband, and we become his bride. Yet our marriage to him will not be consummated (completed) until Jesus returns for us, his bride, and he takes us to be with him for eternity, and only provided that we continue in him steadfast to the end in walks of obedience and in righteousness.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:31-32; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 8:24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; Gal 5:16-21; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6;24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

So, if we are unfaithful to our Lord, and we walk in sin, and not in righteousness and holiness, it is critical that we repent and that we return to our Lord, for if we continue to live in sin and not in walks of obedience to our Lord, it will end in death, not in life eternal. And that unfaithfulness is called “adultery,” because we are cheating on our Lord with other gods, the gods of this world, and with fleshly appetites which are contrary to Christ and to the teachings of his word.

So literally, when and if we are living in adultery against our Lord, we become enemies of God and we are no longer his friends. And what do we read about that elsewhere?

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

James 4:6-10 ESV

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Now, God’s grace is not free license to continue living in sin. God’s grace, which is bringing us salvation, instructs (teaches, trains) us to renounce (say “No” to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts and passions, and to live self-controlled, godly, and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return. For Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (See Titus 2:11-14; cf. Ephesians 2:10).

So, God gives grace to the humble, and to the repentant, who submit themselves to the Lord, and who resist the devil that he might flee from them. So the counsel here is to draw near to God, to repent of your sins, and to purify your hearts, by God’s grace. Mourn over your sin, and desire to walk with the Lord in purity of devotion to him. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. Don’t try to exalt yourselves. It will not go well for you. Surrender your all to Jesus Christ today.

Pray, Pray, Pray

An Original Work / September 6, 2012
Based off Various Scriptures

Pray that eyes may enlightened be,
So they may know Christ.
Pray that they may Him better know,
Strengthened by His pow’r.
Pray that they may grasp
How wide and long
And high and deep
Is Christ’s love.
Pray that they may be filled
To the fullness of God’s love.
Pray with thanksgiving.

Pray for an open door for me,
So I may share Christ.
Pray when the gospel is proclaimed –
Shared with clarity.
Pray words are given me so
I declare the gospel fearlessly.
I pray for you to be active
Sharing your faith, too.
Pray continually.

We oft not know for what to pray,
So we ask for help.
The Spirit intercedes for us –
Words cannot express.
Just keep on praying for the saints
With all kinds of requests to God.
Pray they may have faith to
Please their God in ev’ry way.
Pray with joyfulness.

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