Draw Nigh to God (4:1-17)
Chapter 4 of the book of James is full of wonderful thoughts. We could truly spend many days looking at each aspect of this passage. However, the main theme is for Christians to get closer to God. With that in mind, we will break the chapter down all in this one post.
Fighting Each Other (vs. 1-2)
James starts the chapter with a question about why they are fighting with one another. Many time, even in 2019, we as Christians seems to fight each other more than we fight the world. James is quick to point out that the fighting comes from lust. Remember from earlier that lust brings death.
Praying for our Lusts (vs. 3)
James continues talking about the problem of our lusts by pointing out that they are the reason that many prayers go unanswered. We need to not just ask God for things that we want, but more importantly, the things that He wants us to have.
Choose God (vs. 4-10)
The next several verses of this passage talk of getting closer to God. Verse 4 tells us that if we are of the world we are enemies with God. This echoes what Christ told us when He said, “no man can serve two masters.” I definitely do not want to be an enemy to the all-powerful Creator of the Universe.
Verses 6-7 tell us the importance of being humble (reference Proverbs 3:34), submitting to God, and resisting Satan. Many Christians struggle with submitting to God and then question why they have a difficult time resisting Satan. The submission comes before the resisting in the verse, and it must come first in our lives.
Verse 8 is a very familiar verse, but one that must be looked at carefully because there is so much in it. The phrase “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” should make every Christian want to get close to God. What a thought: that God will get closer to us if we get closer to Him! The next phrases, I believe, tell us the first steps in getting closer to God. Cleanse your hands – this is to repent and turn from the wrong things in our lives. Purify your hearts – this is to make sure our hearts (whether our motives, thoughts, etc.) are clean and in tune with God and seeking His guidance and direction.
Verse 10 once again reminds us to be humble. Humility is a trait that many Christians lack. I’m sure that is why it is mentioned in verse 6 and again in verse 10. I’ve heard it said that it’s better to humble yourself before God has to do it. I believe that is a true statement. Many times when God has to humble us, it is not very enjoyable.
Looking to the Lord’s Will (vs. 13-16)
The example is given of someone who says he will go into the city for a time and buy and sell and get gain. Yet, the point is made that we don’t know what the future holds for our lives. James points our that we need to look to what the Lord’s will might be in the situation. He may have very different plans for our lives.
With that same thought in mind, we are told to not rejoice in the things we have done. Notice what that rejoicing is called at the end of verse 16: EVIL. When I think of evil, I tend to think of terrorism, serial killers, and the like. I don’t normal think of rejoicing in what I’ve done as evil, but that is how God sees it.
Do what you know to do (vs. 17)
God tells us that if we know to do something, not doing it is a sin. Let’s apply this simply – and perhaps bluntly. Do we know that we need to read God’s Word? Do we know that we need to attend church? Do we know that we need to give tithes? Do we know that we need to tell others about Christ? The answer is “Yes”. So, for us to not do those things is a sin.
As we contend for the faith we need to draw nigh to God. This chapter is a great place to start in a journey of closeness to God.