Growing a Faith that Works – A Study Through the Book of James – James 4 – Part 17


Tapping out to the Savior

“4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people,[g] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[h]? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”[i]

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:1-10 NIV

For anyone who’s competed in martial arts, submission is one of the more difficult things to do. No competitor wants to “tap out” because when we think of submission, we think of giving up, admitting defeat, and surrendering. According to the James, we are NOT called only to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are called to be in radical submission to Him. Biblical submission is not about us being weak, un-capable, people who are finding a way to cop out of life. It is all about giving up our will, admitting our own defeat to sin, and surrendering to God’s will for our lives. Submission to God is presenting an attitude of trust. Submitting to God’s will means trusting that He knows better. It means trusting that His plans are best. It involves us trusting that His ways are above our own. The word submission however, is still difficult for people to deal with.

In James 4, we can identify three barriers that cause us to have problems when it comes to submitting to Christ.

1 – My own selfish desires (James 4:1-2) – Scripture calls this the flesh. I think few people would argue that it is very hard to give up our own selfish desires. We all want things to go our way. We like Burger King’s old slogan, “We do it your way.” What often holds us back from God’s will being fulfilled in our lives, is our own desires to have things the way we want them to be.    


James says the solution is to pray to God (verse 3). When we submit ourselves to prayer, we trust that God will change our hearts. When we pray, ask the Holy Spirit for strength to overcome. When we pray, ask Him for His will to be done in our lives. When we pray, plead with God for more of His presence… more of His will… more of His power… more of His heart. The Holy Spirit can change our selfish desires.


2 – Friendship with the world (James 4:4) – Jesus calls it, “the cares of this world.” We all want to be accepted. We want our peers, co-workers, classmates, and families to look favorably toward us. When we follow Jesus, there will be times when things don’t go our way. There will be times when we will be tempted to do or look like the world simply because it is more acceptable and more popular. There will be times when the world looks attractive and we want to sympathize with the world, when we will instead need to stand by our convictions in the Lord.


James says the solution is to draw closer to God (verse 8). Drawing closer to Christ helps us to know Him more. Spend time in the Word of God. Make time to have fellowship with the people of God. Pray in the Spirit of God. Drawing closer to Christ will help us to know that fellowship with Him is far better and far more important than fellowship with this passing world.  


3 – The enemy of our souls (James 4:6-7) – James points out that we have an adversary called “the devil.” James is clear that there are times when we face spiritual attacks. There are times when we pray through our own selfish desires and are drawing close to Jesus, but we still cannot break through.  


James says the solution is to submit to God (verse 7) Submit to God, James says. In other words, there are times when we won’t feel like following God, we won’t feel like praying, but we need to anyways. We submit to the Word of God. We believe it when we don’t feel like there is any difference being made.


James strongly reminds us today that we are not called simply to accept Jesus Christ as Lord to go to Heaven, but we are to submit to His Lordship in our lives TODAY. We aren’t called only to a mental agreement with certain Christian doctrines. We are called to the person of Jesus Christ. We are called to live a life of total submission and devotion to Him.


I tap out to You Lord Jesus. I am not here to get You to do as I please. I choose to submit to what You would have me to do. Increase my heart and passion for You… for the person of Jesus Christ more than for theology… for reckless obedience to You more than subscribing to doctrines. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.  

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