James 4:6 begins with the words, “But he gives us more grace…” Surely that is comforting! The question is what provoked or caused the necessity for “more grace”? For the answer, we do not have to look very far. Begin to read from verse 1. Not a pretty picture… not a very good picture indeed!
Connecting the dots, we have on one hand our excessive sinning, even as Believers. On the other hand we have the excessive or “more” grace being given to us by God. At the outset, this seems like a very simple and uncomplicated relationship. I sin and God gives me grace. I sin more, and God gives me more grace. Simple enough, until we read Romans 6:1-2 – “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Not so fast big brother Paul… you just bowled a curve ball. The imagery of “dead” in our minds is when someone breathes their last breath on earth, their brain shuts down, their body become lifeless, and shortly after they are put in a box and buried or burnt in a crematorium. Following this thought, those who are “dead” to sin, cannot live any longer therein. But this is not an accurate imagery of what Paul is teaching. To prove it, he uses an oxymoron or two contradictory, opposing imageries when in Romans 12:1 he says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…”
Against this backdrop, returning to James 4:6-10, we are confronted with a simple reality. God has provided us with the “way”, but we must provide the “will”. Six actions are required of us, continually.
- The first is SUBMIT… to God (verse 7).
- The second is RESIST… the Devil (verse 7).
- The third is COME NEAR… to God (verse 8).
- The fourth is WASH… your hands (figuratively).
- The fifth is PURIFY… your hearts (verse 8).
- The sixth is HUMBLE yourselves… before the Lord (verse 10)
Be not deceived, It is impossible for us to “provide the will” in our own strength. But be not deceived, God is always standing ready, having already provided the way, to daily provide the strength for us to provide the will. Read Philippians 2:13. But don’t just leave it all to God. We must play our role, albeit, a relatively small, but very important role.
Finally, we have no difficulty resisting the Devil when we are tempted to murder, rape or any of a short list of other heinous sins. The problem comes when we are tempted to think, say or do things that are wrong, but that we actually enjoy… or used to enjoy. That’s where we need to focus our attention.
Here’s a little help. Supplement “will power” with Love for God. Consider whether what we enjoy is worth hurting God who loves us eternally. Then remember James’ “black and white” analysis, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org