(This is a repost, originally published June 18, 2008, under the title 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!