“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4: 7-10
God wants us to make the fervent attempt to repent, get right with Him and not lead a double life, trying to walk two contradictory paths. When we do we are being hypocritical, creating broken relationships, shattered lives and unmet opportunities. This leaves us in despair as the devil and our ways have no hope or purpose other than to steal what God has to give to us. We already have joy and completeness in Yeshua when our hearts and minds are centered on Him. The call is to submit and surrender to God, allowing Him to be our only Lord and direction. Then, He will lift us up beyond our greatest desires and plans, to a much greater plan and purpose in life!
Mourn/Lament/Grieve is a call to us for authentic repentance. When we do wrong, we will realize from the law written on our hearts that we did wrong. We will feel remorse and guilt.
Wail/Weep means to express grief for our sins! We must see the heinousness of our sin, and in humbleness and honesty, sincerely be upset so we can fully accept His grace and forgiveness. There was a connection in the ancient Jewish world between grief and self-humiliation. At funerals, families would wail loudly; when they tired out, they hired others to continue on, to pronounce to the community humiliation to show their grief. In the same way, they could show true repentance, as wailing was the cultural thing to do to prove, by self-humiliation, the mourning of one’s sins (Lev. 23:29; 26:41; 2 Kings 22:11; Joel 1:13-14; 2:12-13).
Repent means to completely and utterly turn away from our desires and deeds and toward His love and plan. Real, authentic repentance is sincere; we will regret our past behavior and be on guard in future relationships so that a moral and lifestyle change will result. It is God’s desire that we repent of our sins and come to His way (Matt. 4:17; Acts 17:30; 24:14; Rom. 2:4; 1Thess. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 2:5; 1 Pet. 2:22-24)!
Be Humble. This passage is quoting Proverbs 3:34, and is referring to submitting to the sovereignty of God. God’s plan for our life is far better than any desire, evil or good, we could ever have. It is logical and beneficial to be humble in Him (1 Pet. 5:5)!
He will lift you up. God alone deserves the right to be exalted and honored. This is an essential attitude before effective Christian character, maturity, and spiritual growth can be possible (Chron. 7:14-15; Prov. 3:34; 25:6-7; Isa. 2:11-12; 5:15; Matt. Mt 18:4; 23:12 Luke 11:43; 14:11; 18:14; 20:46; 1 Pet. 5:62).
When we accept Yeshua in our life, He needs to be Lord of our life. We are to take responsibility for allowing His conviction to touch us deeply; then we can let go of our ways and surrender to His way (Matt. 11:28; Luke 11:9-10). We must stop trying to manipulate God to give us our desires and needs, and concentrate on how we are to worship Him in all that we do, in total trust and total devotion. Let us stop combating with God, stop fighting within ourselves, and stop the hostility with one another and concentrate our efforts toward God’s glorification and worship. This means we are to recognize sin and its destructive nature. It may look good, but it will take us away from God and others and leave us bankrupt in our relationships, filled with bitterness and despair.
This passage is a roadmap of how to repent. God tells us both what to do and what not to do, which will lead to a victorious life from a life. The call is simple, for us to submit, come near, wash, purify, grieve, mourn, wail, change and humble ourselves. Each one leads to a closer relationship with God, and to a life that is bearing fruit, building character, and becoming more mature and effectual to others around us. This is exhibited and practiced by maximizing our time with God through the disciplines of the faith: Bible reading, devotions, prayer, and godly fellowship. It comes from trusting our Lord and His plan, thereby taking the focus off ourselves and the ways of satan and the world.
We are to be vulnerable in confessing our sins and drawing to Yeshua as LORD. When we are humble, God is glorified and He lifts us up. It is not about our way; it is all about HIS WAY (Prov. 24:3-4; Isa. 45:7; Jer. 29:11-14; Phil. 2:3-4)! When we chase the devil and/or our pride, we will sink below the tossing waves in a sea of despair, a life that boils over with trouble (James 1:6-8). The key to preventing that sinking is to allow God’s work in us and these commands to take root, so our lives reflect righteousness. When we remove our sinful attitude of pride, He is glorified.
What can I do? Do not laugh at sin; guard against it. Do not accept the worldliness of the world; rather, model maturity and character because you are being empowered by the Lord. We are to flee the world’s influence while being the influencers of it. We are to flee the devil while being on guard of his tricks and trade. You may be thinking that only the weak and cowardly would surrender themselves, even to God. The fact is, only a coward will refuse to allow the ultimate greatness in himself that is only achieved by yielding totally to Yeshua. He is greater than those who are His (John 3:30)!
1. Do we fight Him or do we glorify Him? How do we know?
2. How does this passage point us to honoring God and relating to people?
3. Why can’t we serve both our desires and God’s will?
4. Why do so many Christians try with all of their might to do as they want and seek God? What will this double mindedness give them?
5. The signpost is clear where we are to go; the direction we choose is up to us. So what does the signpost say to you?
6. How can you submit to and surrender to God? What would this mean? What would it look like? How will you go about it?
7. The devil does not have equal authority or power as the popular “Ying/Yang” philosophy states; rather, he has the power we give to Him, while God has absolute power. How does knowing this help you resist the devil and your desires?
8. What do clean hands and a pure heart mean to you? What would it mean to your church?
9. What needs to be cleansed from the dirt of the land (your deeds) and the dirt of your heart (your desires)?
10. What would real authentic repentance look like in your life? What can you do to stop combating with God, stop fighting within ourselves and stop hostility with one another? So, what will you do?
© 2004, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org