June 18, 2008

He Gives Grace to the Humble

I have been thinking a lot about grace as a result of writing these blog posts. So when I read what James chapter four says, it touched my heart deeply and made me see more clearly the wonder of the grace of the Lord Jesus.

James 4:1 says, "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your pleasures are at war within you?" (ESV). It goes on to say that these desires cause us to murder (hatred is murder in the heart), covet, fight and quarrel. "You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your pleasures." (4:2,3). So there are two problems that our sinful nature leads us to fall into; 1) not asking God for things, and 2) asking with selfish and sinful motives. This causes all kinds of evil to bubble up within us.

James has a name for the people he described, "You adulteresses!" This is not referring to physical adultery, but to spiritual adultery, because it says, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." Friendship with the world is enmity with God. That is strong language! The enemies of God are his enemies because they hate Him. "For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads." (Psalm 83:2). They do not want to love Him or obey Him. They would rather have God serve them by giving what they ask for in prayer, so they can use it to satisfy their own evil desires. "Your enemies take your name in vain." (Psalm 139:20).

Verse 5 says, "Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? This is why spiritual adultery is so horrible, because God is jealous over the spirit of His people. God wants our spirit to be set on Him. He is the only One who can truly satisfy us. Our worship and love must be for Him only, or else we are idolators. And after I read these verses, my heart broke. I knew that I'm guilty of these things. I know I still sin, even after He has given me His Holy Spirit to be with me. As A. W. Pink said, "I am vile." I feel this deep within me. But I have hope, and it is no small hope, but hope that is confident, joyful and full of expectation. Here's why:

"But he gives more grace." What?! That's crazy! "More grace"? To those who hate Him? To those who turn from Him to spiritual adultery? Yes, "Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Spiritual adultery is a pride issue. Every person on earth is guilty, and God is opposed to them because of their pride and resistance to His will. God opposes the proud. He does not allow them to get what they want, but gives them what they deserve, ultimately, hell. But there is hope for the humble, because He gives them grace. Those who are humble are the same who are guilty of cheating on God. They are humble because they know they are guilty and are at His mercy. Yet, He has grace for them. Not for the unrepentant, but for those who are humble. Humble because of their guilt. Humble because of their shame and because they now see what they have done to God. To them, "He gives more grace." Unbelievable!

I don't have time to go on about the rest of the verses in James four, but will end with this thought: How does God give grace to the humble and why? The answer to that question is one verse in Romans five. "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:10). God opposes the proud, but gives grace to those who humble themselves in repentance, drawing near to Him and fleeing from sinful pursuits, because His Son died to reconcile them. Much more shall we who are reconciled, be saved by the life of the Son of God, who gave Himself for our sins and overcame our death by rising from the dead, so that we might live to God through Him.

If you are humbly trusting in Christ, will you join me in giving thanks to our God for His awesome grace? Praise His wonderful name!

4 comments:

Margaret Neufeld said...

I heard somebody put it this way: We are the bride of Christ, promised to Him, then we follow after worldly things and commit fornication with the world. We are not true to our bridegroom. Does that make sense?

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he shall lift you up.

I have a question: Rom. 6:1 says What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid.

Is that to say that when we do sin, grace abounds? It says that we should not sin for this reason but is that what it's saying? Grace is an undeserved favour, right? Do we obtain grace when we sin, because that really wouldn't make sense? But that's what grace is all about. I really don't know...could you help me on this?

Glory to our King!

Penn Tomassetti said...

Margaret,
Thanks for your comment and questions!

About being the bride of Christ: Well, James was written to Jewish believers, and he mentioned that being friends with the world is the same as being enemies of God. That doesn't sound like the Bride of Christ to me, but more like sinners in need of being saved (reconciled)? However, Christians were at one time enemies of God, and they still do fall into horrible sin at times (in fact, all sin is horrible), and in that case repentance and faith are just as necessary.

You asked a good question about Romans 6. It has made me also think hard questions about it. :)

"Is that to say that when we do sin, grace abounds?":
Romans 5:20-6:2 explains what is going on in the verse you mentioned. It is saying that grace abounds over sin, but that is not a reason to sin. If we are in Christ, we've died to sin, and therefore should no longer walk in it.

Grace is undeserved, so sin does not earn us more grace. The fact that there is an abundance of grace for sinners is actually unbelievable without the Holy Spirit. What we need to understand is that because of our sin, in the past and present, we actually deserve hell forever. It is only by grace that God would freely forgive us through faith in Christ who died and rose again. Like I said, that is unbelievable, but thank God for His abounding grace.

There are many other resources available if you think you need more help. Of course, God and the Bible come first, but you can check out desiringGod.org and gty.org, and other Christians who study the Bible. You may also be interested in Henry Mahan's "grace" sermons (see the sidebar).

Thanks again for your questions! Hope this helps some.
God bless you,
Penn

Penn Tomassetti said...

About my comment on the Bride of Christ: I need to correct myself...
His Bride was guilty of horrible sin, yet He loved her and cleansed her by His own blood on the cross. "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV).

That is a beautiful picture of grace, and that is exactly why grace is so much more abundant than sin. In the same way, it is also our motivation to walk in newness of life and no longer sin, since His blood has justified us forever.

Kaysie said...

Great answers to the above questions, and great post!
I feel exactly as you do... His grace is unbelievable! :)

Keep up the great posting!
Kaysie