7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James has been dealing with a couple of problems in the church. In 4:1-3 he deals with the subject of self-centeredness, and in 4:4-6 he deals with the issues of worldliness. He now turns to the antidote – that which can cure the problems of self-centeredness and worldliness – and tells us that it is genuine spirituality.
Submit Yourself to God – v7a
A. Voluntarily place yourself under God
B. This is not at all subjective
1. Obey His Word
2. Accept His dealings (the unchangeable)
C. Beware – it has been said, “In order to know the will of God, I must have no will of my own”; the contrary is actually true, “My will must be to do His will”
Resist the Devil – v7b – “Take a Stand Against” (military term)
A. Recognize that you don’t have to fall to him
B. Beware of his devices (“for we are not ignorant of… [2 Chron 2:11])
C. Avoid his contamination
1. Reject his appeals (subtle philosophy)
2. “Just say no” to his blandishments
Draw Nigh to God – vv8-9
A. Change your focus
1. Turn your attention toward
2. Set your affections on (involves thinking on)
3. The means are Bible study, prayer, church, etc.
B. Deal with your sin – “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners”
1. Ceremonial cleansing in view here
2. Symbolic of dealing with actual sinful actions
C. Deal with your mind-set – “Purify your hearts, ye double minded”
1. Get rid of what is behind your sinful conduct
2. Symbolic of dealing with your thinking – philosophy
D. Deal with your attitude – “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep”
1. Treat sin as something serious
2. Self-imposed sorrow that is wrapped up with repentance
E. Deal with your approach to life – laughter into mourning and joy into pain
1. Don’t be guilty of frivolous treatment of sin
2. Turn your self-satisfied joy to gloom (real joy comes after, as a result of changed in one’s approach to life)
Humble Yourselves in the Sight of the Lord – v10
A. This involves getting a proper view of yourself
1. See yourself for what you are
2. See the source of everything you have
3. Recognize what you are able to do (to fail to do so is to engage in false humility)
4. Recognize what you are unable to do (or not supposed to do) and stop trying to do it.
B. The result will be exaltation from God rather than self-advancement.
Spirituality is not a great secret! Biblical spirituality is not popular because it is very specific, and it is easier to make subjective commitments than it is to obey the specific commands of Scripture. Genuine spirituality will take care of self-centeredness and worldliness.