James 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
The Bible tells us that man is in a position of conflict from the moment of conception. David wrote that he was conceived in sin in his mother’s womb. The nature of man is fallen from the moment of conception. A young child will soon demonstrate the sinful nature that he or she has.
James was directed by God to remind the recipients of this letter that the Bible does not speak vain words. There are too many false religions that teach that man is basically good and thus the majority of people will go to heaven at death. The Catholics developed their “infant baptism” as a means to wash away original sin and thus give the baby a clean slate. That teaching is a heresy, but it sounds good to many lost and gullible people and so they practice it. Other false religions also teach a similar lie. We need to remember that just because man develops some false theory, it does not supersede or cancel out God’s truth.
In verse 6 we are reminded of the grace of God that is needed for the child of God to live the Christian life. This grace is not the false grace that Calvinists and others believe is there to overlook sin in certain people. The grace spoken of here is the grace that Paul wrote about in Hebrews 4:16.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The true child of God needs God’s grace to help in time of need. That grace is a “helping” grace. God’s grace is not a license to sin, it is God graciously giving His help to the saved person who is seeking to walk humbly and faithfully with his Redeemer.
Proverbs 3:34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
The context of verse 6 shows us this. God resists the proud. The proud person is on their own. They cannot receive help from the Lord because they want to run the show. No man can tell God what to do or how to do it. God does not need to entertain fools. However, He is ready to help those who are humble servants of His. The true child of God is completely dependent upon the Lord at all times.
Joshua needed to learn this as the new leader of the nation of Israel. He listened to God and was successful in taking Jericho. Next came the small town of Ai. Joshua sent out men to spy out the situation. They came back stating that the place was small and there was no need for a full scale attack against it. Joshua did not consult with the Lord and the result was disaster for the nation of Israel. Joshua needed God’s direction to deal with the sin in the camp which he knew nothing about, but God knew all about.
The Bible tells us that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. As a result he could build the Ark to the saving of his family and all the creatures God sent to him. After the flood, Noah did not rely on God’s grace and got drunk. The result was not good for him nor for his son and grandson. It costs to ignore God’s grace. We need true humility to understand that we cannot make wise decisions on our own.
In verse 7 true saints are further reminded to submit themselves to God. To submit is “to arrange under, to subordinate”. It is always wise to submit to God. He knows what is right. King David learned this important lesson as a young man when he was led by God to fight against Goliath. He followed God’s direction in that short battle and won a great victory for the nation of Israel. After he became king, the Philistines wanted to overthrow him. He asked God for direction in fighting against them and God’s first command was to fight them in the conventional manner. The Philistines were defeated, but they came back again. David again asked for wisdom and God commanded David to use an unconventional method in knowing when to attack. David submitted to God’s law and followed His direction and was successful in battle again. The Philistines learned, over time, that they could not win against the God of king David. David submitted to God and God blessed him for doing so.
You notice in verse 7 that when a child of God submits to God, then he can resist the devil and he will flee from him. The Bible never teaches the child of God to command the devil to get lost. We do not have that authority from the Lord. It is the fear of God that causes the devil to flee. Jude reminds us that even Michael the archangel did not have the authority from God to rail against the devil. He trusted in the Lord to rebuke the devil.
In verse 8 we are further told to draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to us. God loves to have His children trusting in Him. He knows we cannot fight the devil off. Adam was created without sin, and yet he was incapable of dealing with the devil on his own. He chose to try that, but he failed miserably.
God further reminds true saints to cleanse their hands. God is not speaking of works salvation here. He is talking of those who profess to be saved, but are not walking humbly with the Lord. Cleansing the hands here is symbolic of cleansing ones body of the filth of the world. Jesus addressed this matter with the Pharisees, who were so pious that they thought they could attack the disciples for not washing their hands before eating. Jesus showed them they had a heart problem. We have already learned that the true child of God cannot be a friend of the world. The world does not want to be around a true child of God. They will put up with a compromiser at times, but they do not want a person who is seeking to honour God.
The heart of the double minded person needs to be purified. In chapter 1 James challenged those who lack wisdom to ask of God. He also reminded the brethren that if anyone was a double minded person, they would receive nothing of the Lord. A person who prays to God and claims to seek wisdom and direction, but then runs to an ungodly person for counsel as well will not find the help he or she needs. The world is at enmity with God and the child of God that will not trust the Lord for wisdom, will find out that they do not have the discernment needed to choose wisely because they are double minded. They are more content in trusting their own feelings, than God’s wisdom. We are not spiritually alert enough to be able to figure out the truth if we refuse to accept God’s Word as truth. That is the issue for those who doubt what God has to say.
We have the Scriptures. God blesses every generation with evangelists, pastors and teachers, who are there to help the saints to make wise choices. Godly evangelists, pastors and teachers do not grab at straws for direction. They study God’s word faithfully and they walk humbly with the Lord so that He can direct their steps to be able to help others to know how to walk faithfully with the Lord.
Again, we see the importance of a true local church. Many people get their “spiritual counsel” from the internet. They see some “successful” Bible teacher there and they like what they hear so they confide in them. They do not know the man. Maybe over time, they discover something in that person that they do not agree with but they may tolerate it because they like the person in a general sense. God designed the local church to have a pastor who is a God-fearing individual who loves the Lord and will demonstrate that love to all. A person can observe this person in many different settings and determine if he is actually a man of God.
God never tells us to follow any man blindly. We follow the man as he follows Christ. There is a responsibility for the saint to be a student of the Word so that he or she can discern if the evangelist, pastor or teacher is telling them the truth. God is good and He will guide His child in the right way.
It is sad to see so many gullible people who choose a deceiver as their counsellor. They refuse to take God at His Word, but choose rather to pull verses out of their context and make up new and strange doctrines. Rightly dividing the Word of Truth will guide the true child of God into the truth.