Don't sit in that pew and say, "I'm sorry," but not change. When you are broken and realize the depth to which you have fallen, then God will lift you up.
A. Paul would write that he is the “chief of sinners” and that God showed mercy upon him. But most people don’t see Paul as a “bad” person and often gloss over the idea that Paul saw himself as the “worst of humanity.” Paul was not looking down on himself as much as he was looking up at God’s grace. For all sin – the great and the small – separate us from God. Only through grace does God lift us up from the pit of our sin and death.
B. It is difficult for us to believe that people we think are really sinful, people who commit heinous crimes, are ever truly sincere in their repentance and desire to come before God in salvation. Before we cast that stone upon those sinful people, let me take you to the telling of the King Manasseh of Judah found in 2 Chron. 33. (Now there’s a book few us read often.) READ 2 Chron. 33:1-2. Let me tell you, if you keep reading this is one very sinful person.
C. Now listen as I read to what happened, because this is important to hear (READ 2 Chron. 33:10-13). To prove his humility before God he tried to get rid of all the sinful items he had used in Jerusalem and tried to restore worship back to God, but the people of Israel did not follow. The section ends with verse 18-19.
D. Repenting from sin doesn’t change your past, it changes your future. But for many people, repenting is not a part of their present mindset. James deals with the heart that wants the grace of God without humbling themselves before God.
I. God’s Work In You
A. I want you to listen to our text but taken from The Message paraphrase. (READ it) Sometimes reading these verse in sermon-style writing verses a strict translation helps us to get the picture a little more clearly. I appreciate how Mr. Patterson stayed true to the meaning of these verses.
B. God wants to be at work in us a Christians. God desires to give me grace. I am so thankful for that. James clear says, “God gives MORE grace.” More grace than what?
C. James says that all this internal church fighting is because we as Christians have selfish desires. We want and don’t have so we act in unchristian ways. But God gives us more grace than what we think we can get from all the pleasures this life offers us. It really is about choice.
D. READ James 4:6-8a. If I want what God is offering then I need to humble myself. That happens when I submit, resist and draw near.
II. Submit to God
A. James says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” “The most visible sign of humility is the willingness to submit to others. A person can submit to others only if he or she recognizes and accepts that the others are better, worthier, and greater. To submit is therefore to be subordinate to, to be obedient to, and to put yourself under the authority of someone, in this case God.” (UBS NT Handbook Series)
B. Here’s my point. God calls us to “unconditional surrender.” That’s what it means to submit. I give up me, my perceived rights and desires, and take up the call of the one to whom I submit. I don’t get to tell God how to save me; He tells me how to be saved. I don’t get to tell God how life should be lived and what morals are absolute; He tells me. I don’t get to pick the parts of the Bible that I like and throw away the parts I don’t like; it is either all God or no God. That’s my choice, but submission requires me to commit.
III. Resist and Draw Near
A. Then we get this two-fold promise. The first is, if I resist the devil, he will flee from me. I like that promise, kind of. I like the idea that the devil will flee from me, it’s the resist part that I have the problem with.
B. Peter uses the same quote READ 1 Pet. 5:6-9. Resisting the devil is done by drawing near to God. I do that only when I am humble.
IV. Humility Rewarded
A. James boldly tells us what this means in practical living (READ verses 8b-10). When is the last time you saw your sin so bad that it brought tears to your eyes and caused you fall to the ground crying out to God for forgiveness? When was the last time that your saw sin the way God does, as something that separates you and him for eternity?
B. It is time to humble yourself before God and feel the pain you are inflicting upon the Holy One. Then, when you are broken and realize your hurt, then, and only then, God lift you up. That is the reward of humility. That will be the time for you to find joy and laughter, when God puts real worth into you by taking your hand and saying, “I forgive you. Now let’s go forward, there is no going back.”
A. What can wash away my sin? What can make me whole again? The answer: Nothing but the blood of Jesus. When I humble myself so that I submit to Him, when I resist the devil and draw near to God, when in true repentance and humility I come before God, he will lift me up.
B. I am lifted up by the blood of Jesus and so are you. If you have not received the grace and forgiveness of sin that comes through Jesus, the come to him this day. If you have received that grace, then live in it and let your light shine. If we can encourage your walk with the Lord by surrounding you in prayer, then come forward was we stand and sing.