James 4:1-17 Who Is Your Best Friend



                                    WHO IS YOUR BEST FRIEND

            James 4:1-17                                      August 23 2009


            In this chapter we are directed to consider, Some causes of contention, besides those mentioned in the foregoing chapter, and to watch against them (James1-5). We are taught to abandon the friendship of this world, so as to submit and subject ourselves entirely to God (James 4: 4-10). All detraction and rash judgment of others are to be carefully avoided (James 4:11,12). We must preserve a constant regard, and pay the utmost deference to the disposals of divine Providence (James 4:13-17).


1.     Some causes of contention , besides those mentioned in the foregoing chapter , and to watch against them (James 4:1-5)


James 4:1   What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 4:2   You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 4:3   When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4:4   You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 4:5   Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?


            Desires. The Greek for this term is the source of our word “hedonism.” Kill . Figurative (hyperbole) for “hate.”

Adulterous people. Those who are spiritually unfaithful, who love the world rather than God. For spiritual adultery (Jer 31:32. WORLD. James 1:27). Scripture. The passage James had in mind is not known. The spirit. . . envies intensely. The words “the spirit he caused to live in us” refer to God’s creation of man (Gen 2:7). Because of the fall, man’s spirit “envies intensely,” but God’s grace (James 4:6) is able to overcome man’s envy. Regarding the two alternative translations, the meaning of the first is that God jealously longs for our faithfulness and our love (James 4:4). In this case the Scripture referred to may be (Exodus 20:5). The second capitalizes “Spirit” and makes him the subject. It is the Holy Spirit who longs jealously for our full devotion. If this is the correct translation, it is the only clear reference to the Holy Spirit in the letter.

            It should kill these lusts to think of their disappointment: "You lust, and have not; you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain, (James 4: 2). You covet great things for yourselves, and you think to obtain them by your victories over the Romans or by suppressing this and the other party among yourselves. You think you shall secure great pleasures and happiness to yourselves, by overthrowing every thing which thwarts your eager wishes; but, alas! you are losing your labour and your blood, while you kill one another with such views as these.” Inordinate desires are either totally disappointed, or they are not to be appeased and satisfied by obtaining the things desired. The words here rendered cannot obtain signify cannot gain the happiness sought after. Note hence, Worldly and fleshly lusts are the distemper which will not allow of contentment or satisfaction in the mind.


2. We are directed how to act towards God, in our becoming submissive to God, (James 4:6-10.


James 4:6   But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 4:7   Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 4:8   Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 4:9   Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 4:10   Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.


            ( 1Peter 5:5), which also quotes (Proverbs 3:34).

 (James 4:7-10) These verses contain ten commands, each of which is so stated in Greek that it calls for immediate action in rooting out the sinful attitude of pride. (James 4:7) Resist the devil. (Eph 6:11-18; 1Pe 5:8-9). Wash your hands. Before the OT priests approached God at the tabernacle, they had to wash their hands and feet at the bronze basin as a symbol of spiritual cleansing (Exodus 30:17-21). (Psalms 24:4) for the imagery of “clean hands and a pure heart.” Grieve , morn and wail. Repent. (Matt 23:12).


            We are taught to observe the difference God makes between pride and humility. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble, (James 4: 6). This is represented as the language of scripture in the Old Testament; for so it is declared in the book of Psalms that God will save the afflicted people (if their spirits be suited to their condition), but will bring down high looks (Psalms. 18:27); and in the book of Proverbs it is said, He scorneth the scorners, and giveth grace unto the lowly, Prov. 3:34. Two things are here to be observed:-


3. All detraction and rash judgment of other are to be carefully avoided (James 4:11,12)


James 4:11   Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 4:12   There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you —who are you to judge your neighbor?


            Speaks against his brother. . . Speaks against the law. (James 2:8; Exodus 20:16; Psalms 15:3; 50:19-20; Prov 6:16,19). To speak against a brother is to scorn the law of love.


             We are cautioned against the sin of evil-speaking: Speak not evil one of another, brethren, (James 4:11). The Greek word, katalaleite, signifies speaking any thing that may hurt or injure another; we must not speak evil things of others, though they be true, unless we be called to it, and there be some necessary occasion for the; much less must we report evil things when they are false, or, for aught we know, may be so. Our lips must be guided by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice. This, which Solomon makes a necessary part of the character of his virtuous woman, that she openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Prov. 31:26), must needs be a part of the character of every true Christian. Speak not evil one of another,


4.  We must preserve a constant regard , and pay the utmost deference to the disposals of divine providence (James 4:13-17)


James 4:13   Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 4:14   Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 4:15   Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 4:16   As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 4:17   Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.


            We are cautioned against a presumptuous confidence of the continuance of our lives, and against forming projects thereupon with assurance of success, (James 4:13,14). The apostle, having reproved those who were judges and condemners of the law, now reproves such as were disregardful of Providence: Go to now, and old way of speaking, designed to engage attention; the Greek word may be rendered, Behold now, or "See, and consider, you that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain. Reflect a little on this way of thinking and talking; call yourselves to account for it.” Serious reflection on our words and ways would show us many evils that we are apt, through inadvertency, to run into and continue in. There were some who said of old, as too many say still, We will go to such a city, and do this or that, for such a term of time, while all serious regards to the disposals of Providence were neglected. Observe here,


                        Summary :


                        We are directed to avoid vain boasting, and to look upon it not only as a weak, but a very evil thing. You rejoice in your boastings; all such rejoicing is evil, (James4:16). They promised themselves life and prosperity, and great things in the world, without any just regard to God; and then they boasted of these things. Such is the joy of worldly people, to boast of all their successes, yea, often to boast of their very projects before they know what success they shall have. How common is it for men to boast of things which they have no other title to than what arises from their own vanity and presumption! Such rejoicing (says the apostle) is evil; it is foolish and it is hurtful. For men to boast of worldly things, and of their aspiring projects, when they should be attending to the humbling duties before laid down (in James 4: 8-10), is a very evil thing. It is a great sin in God’s account, it will bring great disappointment upon themselves, and it will prove their destruction in the end. If we rejoice in God that our times are in his hand, that all events are at his disposal, and that he is our God in covenant, this rejoicing is good; the wisdom, power, and providence of God, are then concerned to make all things work together for our good: but, if we rejoice in our own vain confidences and presumptuous boasts, this is evil; it is an evil carefully to be avoided by all wise and good men.

                        If the Lord will, we shall live. We must remember that our times are not in our own hands, but at the disposal of God; we live as long as God appoints, and in the circumstances God appoints, and therefore must be submissive to him, even as to life itself; and then,     If the Lord will, we shall do this or that. All our actions and designs are under the control of Heaven. Our heads may be filled with cares and contrivances. This and the other thing we may propose to do for ourselves, or our families, or our friends; but Providence sometimes breaks all our measures, and throws our schemes into confusion. Therefore both our counsels for action and our conduct in action should be entirely referred to God; all we design and all we do should be with a submissive dependence on God.