God Gives Grace to the Humble
James 4:5 reads - "Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The spirit that dwells in us yearns jealously'?" There is a great deal of controversy regarding the proper translation and interpretation of this verse. Some scholars believe that the reference is not to the Holy Spirit but to man's spirit. Thus, they believe the meaning is this: "The spirit which is in you is a covetous and envious one." The context seems to support this. Their spirits were being exercised in envy and selfishness, contrary to the will of God. But, even though they were filled with jealousy and strife, they weren't without the hope of forgiveness!

4:6 - "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" God's grace is greater than man's sin (cf. Rom. 5:20), But, as long as a person continues to practice sin and fail to turn from it, then God's grace is not available to him! Those who are primarily concerned about themselves and their own desires are proud and self-centered. God will resist this type of person and will not forgive him until he humbles himself.

"Therefore submit to God" (4:7). Here is the key: submission is the path to God's grace! It is the remedy for pride, the solution for selfishness and worldliness, and the cure for religious division! Submit yourself to God. If people were more concerned about what God wanted and expected of them rather than what they desire, there wouldn't be bickering and verbal conflicts, there wouldn't be prayers of selfishness, and there wouldn't be spiritual unfaithfulness!

Submitting to God is a characteristic of humility. You must recognize in your heart that God is greater and more important than yourself. You must realize that He deserves to be served with all your might. Be His servant and esteem others as better than yourself (Phil. 2:3), then you will be humble. Since God resists the proud, make sure you put yourself under His rule! Live by the Scriptures. Develop the attitude that you will only think, say, and do those things which would please God (as revealed by the Bible).

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (4:7). That's easy to say, but difficult to do. We need to realize that to resist Satan is essentially to resist the world because Satan is the ruler of this world (cf. John 14:30). We can overcome any temptation--if we want to! God has provided a way of escape, but we have to look for it (cf. I Cor. 10:13). The devil no longer has the power to possess men as he did during the personal ministry of Jesus. In that day, a miracle was required to escape demon possession, but now if we will resist the devil, he will flee. God has limited Satan's power today to that of persuasion, not possession. He'll do his best to tempt us and lure us into sin, but, as we saw in 1:14,15, sin is only committed when we choose to give in to our desires and Satan's enticements.

James 4:8-10 states - "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." If we wish God to be near us, we must first draw near to Him. How can we draw near to God? James tells us: (1) cleanse our hands (i.e., live a pure life), (2) purify our hearts (i.e., don't be double-minded and try to mix worldliness with Christianity), (3) be sorrowful for sin and repent, and (4) humble ourselves before God. Friends, realize that you are God's creation and that you are here to serve Him, not yourself. Submit yourself to His will in every way and then you will truly be humble. This is how a Christian draws near to God; this is how a Christian removes sin from his or her life. In so doing, God will glorify such a one.

Let us summarize these powerful verses we have considered thus far in James 4. Conflicts arise because of improper desires. Some do not ask God for their needs; others ask, but for the wrong things. A person who is a friend of the world is at war with God. We should endeavor to resist the devil and show genuine penitence and humility before God.