James Chapter 4

April 10, 2014

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on James. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

James 4:1-17 (NIV)
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor? 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

James 4:1-5

Our motivation is really important. Why are we doing what we are doing? None of us has completely pure motives, so we need to be thinking about our motives all the time. Are you motivated by fear? Guilt? Greed? Ego?

Our motivation for life needs to be LOVE.

John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

It is the only motivation that will help us in trying to do the next right thing. Loving God, loving others, loving ourselves.

What are some of the things you are doing with wrong motives?

You need to think about this. What are you doing that is motivated by fear? What are you doing that is motivated by guilt? What are you doing that is motivated by greed? What are you doing that is motivated by ego?

James 4:1-3 (NIV)
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Anything that is in your life that is not motivated by love needs to looked at and dealt with.

When James talks about friendship with the world he is talking about the world system, the worldly values, attitudes, and passions that characterize the brokenness of our culture.

The big problem, the big question, “But if I don’t look out for #1, who will?” Who will? He will. Once you accept that you can trust Him to look out for you, then you can love well and take your part as an adjective in His story.

James 4:6

James 4:6 (NIV)
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humility – A personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.

Humility allows us to see our own constant need for the grace of God, and then allows us to give grace to the people all around us.

James 4:7

James 4:7 (NIV)
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Submit yourself to God and resist the evil one.

How to submit

You cannot submit to God without humility. Having a humble and submissive heart is a choice we make. It’s what we talk about all the time in living by doing the next right thing.

How to resist

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Part of being a follower of Christ is that we are engaged in a very real spiritual battle. We also live in a broken world on a fallen planet. We can get frustrated and give in to our selfish desires and quick fixes, or we can realize that this is a battle. But we are not alone in this battle. God is with us and for us and we have a large arsenal for the battle.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

James 4:8-10

James 4:8 (NIV)
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Being double minded is being deceitful, it is willing two things and not one thing. Purity of heart is about living lives of integrity. Integrity is about singleness of heart, as opposed to duplicity, or a divided heart.

Integrity is living in a way that what you say you believe is how you are trying to live your life, or trying to live by doing the next right thing.

A man who regularly attended church and his son were driving down a country road and saw a watermelon patch a little way off the highway. The man told his son to keep a lookout while he went to get a melon. He snuck into the patch, took a melon and called to the boy, “Is anyone coming? Look both ways.” The boy wisely responded, “But Daddy, shouldn’t we look up too?”

How can we live in integrity?

Live like someone is watching

Proverbs 15:3 (NIV)
3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

It is not a bad thing to live like someone is watching, it is actually very freeing. God is watching and it is OK to be who we are in front of Him. We don’t have to pretend to be something we aren’t, and life is better when we are trying to live by doing the next right thing.

Live a life that pleases God

1 Thessalonians 4:1 (NIV)
1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

To be people of integrity, we need to live lives that are pleasing to God. This type of living is not possible without God’s help. We need to know that He is with us and for us. That He loves and forgives us. That when we mess up He will forgive us and empower us by His spirit to do the next right thing.

“Henri Nouwen once asked Mother Teresa for spiritual direction. Spend one hour each day in adoration of your Lord, she said, and never do anything you know is wrong. Follow this and you’ll be fine.” ~John Eldredge, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers

James 4:11-12

James 4:11-12 (NIV)
11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?

Anytime I judge somebody else, I’m considering myself superior, and in effect I am playing God. Since I don’t really know what people are going through, I don’t know their background, or their story, when I am critical I am playing God. The problem is that being critical of others often makes us feel better about ourselves. We think we build ourselves up by putting other people down.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain — and most fools do.” ~Dale Carnegie

James 4:13-17

Sin is not just doing what is wrong, it is also sin to not do what is right. That is why it is so important to live by trying to do the next right thing.

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