James 4: 7-10
Step 6: Allow God to smash the substance out of your life that hinders your growth, character and Fruit.
God wants us to make the fervent attempt to repent and get right with Him. He does not want us to lead a double life in trying to serve two contradictory paths in life because 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 Christ when our hearts and minds are centered on Him. So, the bottom line of this passage is the call 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! Thus, commit to smash the substance from your life that hinders your growth, character, and Fruit.
- Mourn/Lament/Grieve is a call to us for authentic repentance. When we do wrong, we will realize it because of the Law written on our hearts. We will feel remorse and guilt. This recovery process hurts; it is opening us up to the past. But keep in mind; the results are far better and worth the effort than the moments of pain we experience as we grow through it.
- 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)!
- Humble. This passage quotes Proverbs 3:34, and refers 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. Thus, 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/or 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).
· We are adopted into God's family and made new. So, because of what Christ has done, we should be willing to be obedient (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 5:1; Col. 3:1-4, 1 Pet. 1:2-3, 22). Obedience means that as Christians, we are to submit to what God requires of us; we are to follow His precepts regardless of the circumstances (Deut.13: 4; 1 Sam. 15:22; Prov. 19:16; Acts 5:29; John 14:14; 15:14; 2 Cor. 10:5; Heb. 13:17; 1 John 1:7).
When we accept Christ in our life, He needs to be Lord of our life. We are to take responsibility for our addiction and dependence, 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). Then God will remove your defects of character! 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. So, let us stop combating with God, stop fighting with 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, leave us bankrupt in our relationships, and fill us 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 us to a victorious life that is transformed in Him. The call is simple: we are 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 the ways of Satan, the world, and us. We are to be vulnerable in confessing our sins and drawing to Him 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 these commands to take root and God's work in us so our lives reflect righteousness. When we remove our sinful attitude of pride, He is glorified.
So, 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. But, the fact is, only a coward would refuse to allow the ultimate greatness in himself that is only achieved by yielding totally to Christ. He is greater than those who are His (John 3:30)!
1. What does obedience mean to you? How have you demonstrated it? Can you recall a situation in which you were not obedient and why?
2. How is obedience a call to action? How could your personal and spiritual life be improved with the ability to move faster in your recovery?
- Have you struggled with relapses?
- Do we fight Him or do we glorify Him? How do we know?
- How does this passage point us to honoring God and relating to people?
- Why can't we serve both our desires and God's will?
- Are you willing to have God remove your defects of character? Now pray that he does so!
- Why do so many Christians try with all of their might to do as they want and also seek God? What will this double mindedness give them?
- 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?
- How can you submit to and surrender to God? What would this mean? What would it look like? How will you go about it?
- The devil does not have equal authority or power as the popular "Ying/Yang" philosophy states; rather, he has only the power we give to Him, while God has absolute power. How does knowing this help you resist the devil and your desires?
- What do clean hands and a pure heart mean to you? What would it mean to your church?
- What needs to be cleansed from the dirt of the land (your deeds) and the dirt of your heart (your desires)?
- What would real authentic repentance look like in your recovery? What can you do to stop combating God, stop fighting within yourself, and stop hostility with one another? So, what will you do?
- How can the exercise of self-control and obedience help you submit to what God requires of you and His precepts-regardless of your circumstances? What can you do to help yourself in recovery? Can you think of specific instances or situations?
- Commit to smash the substance from your life that hinders your growth, character and Fruit! How will you do this? With whom? When? Where?
Mediate on these passages for the next week or more: Gal. 5:16-22; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 2:14-15; 4:15
© 1990, 2004, 2008, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org