Sermon Notes June 29, 2014 FBCam
Instructions for Peaceful Living
James 4:7-10

Our study of James 4 has focused on the results of following worldly wisdom as opposed to godly wisdom. This theme of two kinds of wisdom was introduced in chapter 3.
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.” (James 3:14, ESV)
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17, ESV)

James informs us that the pursuit of worldly wisdom results in “fights and quarrels” (James 4:1) and discontentment. “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:2)

When James writes about “quarrels and fights among you,” he is giving a description of a church filled with people following worldly wisdom. James continues this theme and now informs us how we can follow heavenly wisdom which will result in restored relationships, peace with others, and contentment in our lives. James 4:7-10 is a series of ten rapid-fire instructions that provide God’s Ten Commandments for restoring peace in your relationships.

Worldy wisdom results in fights and quarrels, and dissatisfaction in our lives.
The Cure for this is to humble ourselves before God, and open ourselves to others.
Last week we discovered the importance of confessing our sin to others and ending the secret compartments in our lives. We also discovered the importance of input and feedback from others that will help us see the blind spots in our lives.

This week we are looking at James 4:7-10, which describes what humility before God looks like. When we follow these commands, God will restore peace and replace our discontentment with satisfaction.

It is only when Jesus is introduced into our lives that we can truly have peace with others. To illustrate this, I would like to attempt to make mayonnaise. I assure you that I tried this at home and it actually works! Mayonnaise is a combination of three basic ingredients: oil, vinegar (or some other acid like lemon juice), and egg yokes.

Normally, oil and vinegar do not mix. Although you can shake up oil and vinegar to make salad dressing, these two ingredients will eventually separate again. Relationships are much the same. Given enough time, every relationship will encounter some difficulty. It is because of our sinful nature. Sometimes we find temporary unity, but the oil and vinegar always separate. In scientific terms, we are Immiscible (incapable of being mixed).

The only way to truly make oil and vinegar into one is to introduce a new element into the mix. When we add an egg yoke to the oil and vinegar, the egg acts as an emulsifier. The egg yoke contains lecithin which has a feature that associates with the oil and a feature that associates with the vinegar (water). Thus the emulsifier (the egg yolk), acts as a bridge between both the oil and the water. When mixed together in the right combination, and in the right manner, a new dressing is made in which the oil and vinegar are completely unified.

In our relationships, Christ brings people together. He binds our hearts together. A change occurs so that we can love one another.

When we follow godly wisdom, we live at peace in our relationships.
Let’s look at God’s Ten Commands for peaceful living.

“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.” (James 4:7–10, ESV)

These are 10 imperatives.
Kurd Richardson calls these God’s “how to for repentance.” (Kurt Richardson, New American Commentary)


1. Submit to God.
The word here is hypotasso, “submit,” the opposite of antitassomai, “oppose” in James 4:6
James is telling us to stop resisting God!
Much like us, these Jewish Christians KNEW what God wanted them to do, but were resisting his will.
On this theme, I discovered 21 times when God asks his people HOW LONG we intend to continue in our sinful behavior. The most memorable is when Elijah asked the people of the northern Kingdom, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21, ESV)

As a first step, we must submit to God in order for our relationships to be healed.

2. Resist the Devil.
9 of the imperatives relate to God. This is the only one that relates to the Devil.
This should tell us that the most important person to focus on in our relationships is God.
We are aware of the Devil’s power, but when our focus is on God, Satan’s authority is vanquished.
Some of us try to RESIST the DEVIL without first SUBMITTING to GOD. Once we submit to God, then active resistance to the flesh is possible.

3. Draw Near to God
This can only be done through Christ. We draw near to God through Jesus Christ. “a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19, ESV)
Even though we are saved, we must DRAW NEAR to GOD

4. Cleanse your hands.
Greek word is καθαρίζω . We derive the word “cathartic” from this, as in a cathartic experience – a cleansing experience.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7, ESV)
Cleansing comes from the Word of God.
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18, ESV)
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9, ESV)
“Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3, ESV)

5. Purify your hearts.
Cleanse your HANDS relates to our ACTIONS
Purify your HEARTS relates to our INTERNAL DESIRES, attitudes, emotions.

When we are in conflict with others we think that if we ATTACK THEM, we will have victory and our conflict will end. We think that DEFEATING OUR ENEMY is the key to obtaining peace. But the NEXT 4 IMPERATIVES describe an ATTACK on our OWN HEARTS.
The key to peace is not found in obtaining victory over others, but in conquering our own heart.

These imperatives sound STRANGE in today’s Evangelical Church, where we are constantly told that God wants us to feel good about ourselves. Many American churches are like the beauty parlor. You come in, sit down, pay your money and leave saying, “man do I look good!” Some churches are filled with psychological jargon designed to make us feel better about ourselves. These churches don’t speak about the sinful nature, the coming judgement, or God’s demands for holiness.

God wants us to be JOYFUL, but our JOY in Christ cannot bypass true contrition of our souls.

6. Be wretched.
NIV “Grieve.” NAS “be miserable.” KJV “be afflicted”
This is the only time in the NT that this word is used as a verb.
Other usages:
Adj. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, ESV)
Noun. “in their paths are ruin and misery,” (Romans 3:16, ESV)\
Noun. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.” (James 5:1, ESV)

7. Mourn.
Same word used by Jesus in Matt 5:4 ““Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, ESV)

8. Weep
A physical demonstration of anguish over your sinful condition
Has your sorrow over sin brought you to tears?

9. Turn (turn your laughter into gloom)
Summary of the previous three commands
A popular expression, “I feel good about myself”
Apart from Christ, we have nothing good!
We need a LARGER DOSE of BROKENNESS over our sin!

10. HUMBLE yourself in the sight of the Lord.

The PATH to PEACE comes through a CHANGE in our own heart.

Only Christ can bring about this change

Jesus is the CHANGE AGENT to bring us together in Christ infused relationships.

Are you trying to find PEACE without first addressing the poverty of your own SOUL?