Author: Ron Graham

Challenge and Change

Grace to the Humble
—James 4:6-10

A sermon from James 4:6-10 showing the need to be humble. There are three challenging things James tells us to do. He promises that these will change our lives.

This passage from James was written in a very serious circumstance. Christians were quarreling; committing murder and adultery; living by lust, greed, and envy. They were making themselves enemies of God, denying the Spirit who dwelled in them, and embracing the world and its ill-gotten pleasures (James 4:1-5).

Having reprimanded them for this, James tells them, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

James wipes the smiles off their faces: "You sinners, cleanse your hands. You double-minded purify your hearts. Be miserable and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to grieving, and your joy to gloom. (James 4:8-9).

In the course of this rebuke, James offers three things for those sinners to do, so as to revolutionize their lives and mend their relationship with God. We may not be in the fallen state they were in, but these three things are not reserved for apostates and reprobates. Even the best Christians ought to do these things, because they promise the avoidance of sin as much as they promise its rectification.

I don't stand before you today accusing you of the sins with which James was confronting some of his readers. But I do urge upon you, as a means of preventing sin and growing spiritually strong and steadfast, these three commandments with promises from our wise brother James.

1 Resist the Devil

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7).

Now here is something wonderful. You can resist the devil. Did you realise you have that power? Well you do. The grace of God grants it to you —if you are humble about it (1Corinthians 10:12-13). The devil’s reaction may not be to scamper off immediately. He may tempt and try you a bit harder at first. But if you consistently resist him, he will fear the power of God in you, and he will flee. He may come back again another time, but he can't win if you keep resisting him with the power God’s grace supplies you.

2 Draw Near to God

"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8).

Here's something more wonderful still. You can draw near to God. Did you realise that you have that privilege? Is it possible to be close to a God far away in heaven, "who dwells in unapproachable light" (1Timothy 6:15-16)? Well of course you cannot go into heaven (yet) and meet with God. James however mentions "the Spirit dwelling in us" (James 4:5). We have access to God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18) and "The Spirit intercedes for us" (Romans 8:26). So we can draw near to God and be near him all the time —so long as we go to him humbly.

3 Humble Yourselves

"Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and he will exalt you" (James 4:10).

This is perhaps the most wonderful thing of all. God will exalt those who come to him humbly. Peter says the same (1Peter 5:6). Some translations say that God will “lift you up” but I'm inclined to think “exalt” is more what God has in mind. We come to God with no pretensions, seeking his grace, and he blesses us "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3), and grants us "his precious and magnificent promises" (2Peter 1:4).