I recently preached on James 4:1-10. The passage is dealing with worldliness. The people that James was writing to were trying to live for the things of this world. They had the same aims and goals as the world. Their focus was on themselves. God made it clear in James 4:4-5 that this is not OK with Him. When we do this we are essentially telling God that we hate Him and we are making ourselves enemies of God. Obviously, God is not OK with this. God opposes the proud (verse 6)! The picture is of an army poised and ready to go. This is how God views the proud. He never has good things to say to those who are proud. BUT, BUT...God gives grace to the humble. God enables us to do that which He calls us to do. He shows us what we must do if we want to get things right with Him. James 4:7-10 gives us maybe the best breakdown in all of Scripture as to what repentance looks like. There are 10 imperatives...10 commands as to what we are to do.
Top 10 Things to Do to Repent
1. Submit yourself to God. -This is to put yourself under. You are placing your life in the Lord's hands and submitting to His will and His commands for your life.
2. Resist the devil. -The idea of resisting is a defensive posture. The word resist can be defined by "standing one's ground". You refuse to give into what the devil would have you do. The result...he will flee from you.
3. Draw near to God. -Sin causes seperation between the sinner and the Lord. (James 4:1-5) However, if we repent and draw near to God an amazing thing happens. God draws near to us.
4. Cleanse your hands. -This is not the idea of cleaniness is next godliness. James was writing to a Jewish audience. They would have been reminded of the command in the OT to cleanse their hands before different times of worship. The act was symbolic of being cleansed of their outer deeds. In this setting James is calling us to stop pursuing friendship with the world.
5. Purify Your hearts -As with all sin the problem begins in our hearts. It is not enough to just stop practing the sin, there also needs to be a change of heart. The Lord said of the Pharisees, these people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Are hearts need to be fully devoted to the Lord.
6. Be Wretched -This is the idea of being miserable. Why does God wants us to be miserable...to be wretched. When we realize the ugliness of our sin we should be miserable and wretched. We should not be complacent or OK with sin in our lives.
7. Mourn -Carrying on the change in emotion that needs to happen, we are told to mourn. This is the passionate grief that someone sees in someone who had lost a loved one. The persons whole persona changes when they are mourning. It is evident to others that they are in deep grief.
8. Weep - The third in this list of emotional changes that should happen in the life of one who is repentant is that they will weep. Some translate the word, "wail". This is the outward pouring out of the grief that this person is experiencing. Numbers 6,7,8 really are joined together in describing the emotional changes that one sees in the person who is truly repentant.
9. Turn -Next we are told to turn. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. What does that mean some might ask? Doesn't God call us to rejoice in Phil.4:4? Yes, he does. However, in this context, the people that are being written to had put their pleasure and their happiness as the number one goal in their lives. Instead, of putting their personal happiness as the primary goal they needed to rather be broken over their sin and their chasing after friendship with the world.
10.Humble yourself. -We need to bring ourselves low before the King of Kings. This really shouldn't be that hard. When we stop and think about the reality of who we are in reflection of who God is we should drop to our knees. He is the Creator...we are the creation, He is the Savior...we are sinners, He is the Potter and we are the clay, He is eternal...our lives are but a mist. You get the picture.
We need to do this daily. If we want to live lives that are honoring to the Lord, we need keep short accounts in regards to our sin. We need to daily submit our lives to Him, resist the devil, draw near to God and our actions and hearts need to be fully His. When we do sin, we need to turn from our sin and humble ourselves before the Lord asking for His forgiveness and then again submit ourselves to Him, etc. Our focus is key as we strive to live holy lives. John Owen wrote, "Christ is our best friend, and ere long will be our only friend. I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with Him." Have a great week! Apply these 10 commands to your life and you will will grow mightily in Him.