“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
“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.” James 4:8-9.
James 4:7 was covered in the last post on 11-7-20. It has been included here to maintain context, this post will cover James 4:8-12.
To begin with the words, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” is an open invitation to anyone who sincerely seeks Him.
In drawing near to God it is necessary to, “cleanse your hands, you sinners”, just as the thief on the cross confessed his sinfulness, so those seeking Christ and the Christian need to confess and forsake their own sinfulness.
Worldly Christians today do not realize that even though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross cleansed them from all sin, they still sin, and this needs to be confessed.
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” I John 1:8-10.
The reason this needs to be confessed is to keep short accounts with God and not allow sin and its deceitfulness to come between ourselves and our Father.
Here is the problem; if we allow unconfessed sin into our lives it then becomes necessary for God to correct us to bring us back into line with what a Christian is supposed to be, holy before God and men.
You can save yourself a lot of grief by confessing known sin and forsaking it. In this manner we cleanse our hands; the hands being symbolic of what we do.
“…purify your hearts, you double-minded.” This is the act of repenting of our worldly viewpoint and seeking God’s will for our lives.
But you must admit, the thrust of this phrase is very strong, “purify your hearts”, indicates a complete change of heart, not, “Don’t do that again”. Purifying your heart or your mind comes from studying God’s word and the company you keep. Philippians 4 has a beautiful list to show you how to adopt a godly mindset.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8.
In time we shall all come to realize just how much it cost our Lord Jesus to pay for the sin which men commit so flippantly and the depths of the mire of filth we were rescued from. And then we will mourn.
“Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4:9.
Do you see the power in these statements? This is true repentance.
Everything you do affects another; this is true of the loner, addict, concerned father, drunk, or genius, they all affect someone, whether their parents, children, business associates, or friends.
And know this too, you are being watched, particularly if you make some claim to being a Christian. People watch you to see if you are true to your own statements as to who you are; they notice your language, and your gestures.
If a Christian lives for himself it is possible for those he loves to die unsaved; the wife who never saw a Christian example or heard the gospel.
Children who grew up in such a home, learning only of the world’s way of dealing with things through drugs and alcohol fomenting rebellion, causing estrangement from their family, distancing them even more from the hope of hearing God’s word from even their fathers.
Many a Christian will stand next to Christ on Judgment Day and watch as friends, neighbors, and loved ones are cast into the lake of fire, in part because they were too busy living for themselves to tell others of the love of God.
“For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:7-8.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10.
Only this true and heartfelt repentance, cleansing our hands, which are our deeds, and purifying our heart, turning it back and centering it on Christ the true lover of our soul, will bring us to this place of humility in the sight of the Lord.
“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4:11-12.
This passage is quite confusing and apart from the obvious fact that we are not to judge our brethren it becomes a bit obscure, hopefully it will not be after this.
The Lord Jesus has already spoken to us about judging in Matthew 7.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5.
What does it mean, with what judgment you judge with, you will be judged by?
Let us suppose you become fed up with the speeders on the road and say to yourself, “I will never drive over 65 miles per hour on the freeway.”
You then grumble to yourself “There goes another one” each time you are passed on the road, judging them, hoping they will get a ticket.
Then one day you are late for a dentist’s appointment, and you say to yourself, “It is only this once, this is important!” You see, you have broken your own law. Will you grumble if you get a ticket?
Getting back to our passage, the J. B. Phillips Version of the New Testament may help a little in its interpretation.
“Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers. If you do you are judging your brother and setting yourself up in the place of God’s Law; you have become in fact a critic of the Law. Yet if you start to criticize the Law instead of obeying it you are setting yourself up as judge, and there is only one judge, the one who gave the Law, to whom belongs absolute power of life and death. How can you then be so silly as to imagine that you are your neighbor’s judge?” James 4:11-12.
F. W. Grant’s take on this passage though really seems to nail it down.
He says if you speak evil of your brother and judge him, you judge the Law and take away from God, to whom it is given to judge, and put yourself in His place as judge. God is the only one who qualifies as a just and righteous judge, since He knows the thoughts and intents of the hearts of those who come before Him.
The judgment that is given into our hands, is to judge our own motivations, not another’s.
While it is true that we are to judge blatant evil among our brethren and turn away from it, judgment still belongs to God. When the full impact of the picture being described here hits you, you will see just how sinful judging another can be for it robs God of His rightful place.
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12.
Resist the Devil, James 4:7-12 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 9-28-11, updated on 11-11-20.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.
World War I ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918. One hundred and two years ago. Never forget!