Western Trail Cowboy Church
Know Your Place to Get God's Grace
- IntroductionIn the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn't a technology problem like radar malfunction--or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship's presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late. (http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/h/humility.htm).This is the pride and arrogant attitude that James is speaking of in this section. He is telling us that all pride does is bring us down and make us trust in our selves more than another.Pride makes us hate others because they are not as good as us or maybe we hate them because they are better and our pride will not allow us to admit that.Pride not only does this to us, but it makes us play God. It makes us do this because we begin to believe we do not need anyone else, even God.One commentator stated, “Pride says, “God, I don’t need you. I can handle things quite nicely by myself, thank you very much.” At the very least, it is to claim credit for what God has done for us. Self-exaltation—that’s pride.” (Anderson, David R.. Triumph Through Trials: The Epistle of James (p. 173). Grace Theology Press. Kindle Edition.)When we seek the worlds wisdom that James has told us not to become friends with, we are prideful. We are because we are rejecting the creator for the created.God desires all of us to not be prideful. He hates pride. Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes” which is pride and arrogance, is number one, and lying, murder, wicked plans, desire to do evil, false witness, and then those who are troublemakers follow closely. Each of these are from pride. We do not become jealous and bitter and hateful unless we are prideful. Therefore in Proverbs 16:5 it says that, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”We can be assured that God hates pride and arrogance because pride and arrogance is an attitude of independence from God. We can do it ourselves and we do not need him.Which is why James wrote this section of Scripture between why we fight and why we should not speak evil of one another. It is all pride and only pride that causes this grief.Let us see what the word of God says this morning in James 4:6-106 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 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.The first thing we see in this text is that we find...Grace and Strength Through Submission (6-7)God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. This is great news to those who have suffered under the pride and arrogance of another. It is amazing news to us all because we know that grace can be ours if we get rid of our pride.We can remove pride when we are saved and secure in the Lord Jesus. When we have believed in Him for our salvation, we can remove pride because of His power working in and through us. We can also ask God for more and more wisdom regularly because He will give it to us freely.But we can only do this through resting in the Lord and not ourselves.So, we see in this section that...Grace is BetterGod gives more grace than we deserve, that is for sure. We are all evil and wicked people and most everyone wants their own way. Pride is the cause for our adultery with the world and friendship with it. It is the cause of our bitter fights and quarrels with others.Pride is the cause of most all of our problems and issues in the world today. It is because, “Pride is the dandelion of the soul. Its root goes deep; only a little left behind sprouts again. Its seeds lodge in the tiniest encouraging cracks. And it flourishes in good soil: The danger of pride is that it feeds on goodness.” (David Rhodes. http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/p/pride.htm)God’s grace is greater than this though. His grace gives us the ability to uncover pride and expose it so we can ask for help to get rid of it. When we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us we can discover the seeds of pride and remove them.Pride is nothing more than the appearance. It is not real it is us making an appearance of being above another.Much like the man who has to always top everyone elses stories. This guy does not care what you have done, he has done it too and far better than you. So, you won the top horse at the WRCA finals. He won top horse and top hand.That is pride. But it is only an appearance. We do it because we are not comfortable with who we are. We are not comfortable with who we are because we are not finding our identity in Jesus Christ who loved us so much He died for us. That is your identity when you are a believer. It is only in that identity that we can do the next important thing which is...Taking a stand through SubordinationSubmission/subordination. This is putting ourselves under the Lord. We admit He is our protector and we are under His umbrella. When we decide to step out on our own, we get soaked and feel the “full force of the storm” (Anderson, Triumph, 168. Kindle).When we do this we open ourselves up for the attack of Satan and his minions. When we submit to God we say in effect, “I cannot do this I need you and your strength. Help me Lord. Help me make it through the day. Help me not be arrogant and prideful. Help me to stand against the attacks of Satan.”We give. We surrender. We admit we cannot do it. We admit we cannot pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We admit we are nothing but Christ is everything. This is submission.When we do this we can then stand firm against the devil and his attacks. That is what this section means. It means we resist the devil’s sin, pride, the devil’s beckon call to the sinfulness of independence and self-exaltation.When we do this, he will flee because we have the power of the Lord shining forth and darkness cannot stand in the light.Think of it like this, when you flip on a light switch, the darkness disappears. It cannot stay with the light shining. When we are in subordination to the Lord, we are standing firm in the light and we will make the darkness flee from us.Not only this but in that subordination we are becoming more and more like the Lord and...Likeness Brings Nearness (8-9)When we are subordinate to the Lord we are drawing near Him. That is the only way to be subordinate to someone. You may know you are to be subordinate to another, but if you are not near them, you cannot know how to be subordinate.James here in verses 8-9 tells us exactly how we do this.We draw near to the Lord. We do this only by being cleansed and pure. We can only do this by being washed by the purification of Jesus Christ.As the author of Hebrews 10:22 stated it, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”We have this through the cleansing work of Jesus and through honest confession and hatred of sin.That is what verse 9 is talking about. In it we are told to mourn and grieve and weep, basically Lament, over our sin. We are not to have joy or laughter in our sins.How often do we laugh over sin though? How often do we place sin in a category that makes it not sound so bad but actually sound good?Let me illustrate it like this. We call Las Vegas “Sin City.” We do not do this as a pejorative but as a title of praise. Like this restaurant I read of that, “markets itself with the word [sin]. Sinful Burger boasts of its “evilly delicious” hamburgers. In this restaurant, where “being bad never tasted so good” you can enjoy burgers named Greed, Lust, Pride, and Sloth.” (Raymond, Erik. Is hell for real?: And other questions about judgment, eternity and the God of love (Questions Christians Ask) . The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.)And we talk about deserts being “Sinfully Delicious.” We talk like sin is a good and delicious thing rather than mourning and weeping about sin and the evil it is.Not only this but we laugh and rejoice when someone tells someone off. We celebrate when someone gets what they have coming. I am not talking about justice being served for an evil crime, but where we take matters into our own hands. We become angry and let our pride well up and come out in a torrent of words that would burn the grass off the field. We do this rather than mourn over their sin and lament over the evil that has been done.We do this because we have not made sin out to be the evil and vile thing it is. We have celebrated it too much rather than mourned over it.All of this is pride and letting our pride defeat us. When we draw near to God more and more through our submission, we learn true humility.Remember Jesus did not 1 Peter 2:23 (NLT)23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.This is what it means to draw near and be in submission to God. The closer we draw to God the more we see just how riddled with sin we are and how little we actually know.So, when we are not mourning over sin we are in denial of sin and that means we are not in submission to God. When we do this we are cut off from our only way to the bottom of humility. If we deny or encourage sinful behavior, we are not being humble nor are we dealing with our sinfulness.We are in fact embracing it. If we embrace any form of sinful activity we are not in submission to God, at least not fully. We will struggle and wonder why. That is why the psalmist prayed to God, Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”When we do this then we will begin to...Get Down To Get Up (10)We have all heard the saying “before you can walk you must learn to crawl.” Well, here James is saying like John Michael Montgomery ‘s song “Life’s A Dance.” In this song he sings, “you might have to crawl even after you walk.”This is what humbling ourselves before the Lord is. It is admitting that we cannot do it alone. That we are not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, that we can’t do it without the Lord.True humility is not degrading yourself or the gifts that God has given you, but admitting they are from Him and you can only do it because of Him.When we do this we are professing our complete dependency in Him alone.An illustration will be beneficial.Look at John the Baptizer. He had people flocking to him out in the wilderness where he was preaching. He had nothing out there of any comfort or prestige, yet the people flocked to him daily. Not just once or twice a week, but daily.He had all the reasons to become arrogant and prideful. People asked him if he was the messiah, the prophet, or the word, and all he said to this was ‘I am not worthy to loosen His sandals, I am just the voice crying in the wilderness.”John made an even deeper statement when he said “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).This was the man chosen to set the path for Christ. He was a man who was proclaiming Christ to come and had many people flocking to him. Yet, he exerted great self-control because he was submitted to the Lord. He had given himself fully over to the Lord. He was not doing anything for his glory but for the glory of the Lord.That too can be what you do. You can do this if you submit to the lord. If you crawl again after you began to walk.When we give it all to the Lord we can overcome pride and failings. We can be faithful and submitted followers rather than people who try and be God.It is through this that we will be exalted. Like the tax collector in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The tax collector was meek and humble and was therefore exalted. The pharisee was not because of his pride and arrogance.John the baptizer was exalted by Christ saying there was “no one greater than John the Baptist.” (Matt. 11:11). He received this title because he was humble. You too can be exalted by the Lord when you release any pride and self-exaltation you may have.Remember, you may have to crawl even after you walk.ConclusionI want to end with this.Picture that you are sitting in your office or even in bed. Somewhere you do not want to be disturbed. Then the door opens ever so slightly. Your young child slips through ever so gingerly. You see that he is scared but you do not want to be disturbed.So you ask, “Son what do you want? You are supposed to be in bed.” He just looks at you through those precious child eyes and says, “Daddy, I don’t want anything but I want to be close to You.”What do you say to that? Other than “come over here to me.” You hold out your arms and allow him to run to you and you draw him near to you.That is what this is about. It is about us saying to the Lord, “I know you are busy, I know there are a million other things happening that are more important. But my life is difficult and painful right now, I am scared, I don’t want anything but I want to be close to you.”When we do that, God will envelop us in His arms. He will pull us close to Him. Then we will feel the safety from Him and we will realize how pathetic our attempts to make it on our own are. We will see our pathetic sinfulness and realize His perfect holiness. We will let Him have control and take care of us.When we let God take over, we can release our pride and conflicts. We can become strong faithful followers who are living the abundant life in Christ because we have our identity in him. We know who we are and what we are. We know we are who Christ made us to be. We are His and complete in Him alone.We will be able to resist the devil and the desires he places before us. We will be able to draw near to God and live a life that is full of grace and strength, a life of likeness of God, and a life that gets down to receive exaltation.
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