Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”? But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. -James 4:4-10 (New English Translation)
I believe that we need more grace. God has in store greater grace than any carnal, worldly desire that we have. God’s grace is more satisfying than the world and is what we need. God wants to satisfy our deepest desires.
More grace, greater grace, is the answer to our deepest desires. We are designed to live in and by grace. God is jealous for us to desire him. Grace got us saved. Grace gives our Christian life oxygen to breathe.
The context of the word from James that God can and will give us greater grace to float our boats above worldliness, is an indictment of a church that has become worldly, rather than Christ-like. God notices, God cares. Christianity does not work, “in name only”. Christians are Christ’s bride and God’s children. We are covenant people. Worldliness, carnality, arrogance, and self-focus go against walking with God. God is righteously jealous for His children to walk in grace before Him and not to love the world:
“Doesn’t God long for faithfulness in the life he has given us?”
“The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning.”
“God jealously longs for the spirit that He made to live in us.”
“the Spirit which he made to dwell in us jealously yearns for the entire devotion of the heart”
“he’s a fiercely jealous lover.”
-James 4:5 (CEB, NET, NET notes, and MSG)
The church who loves the world in in danger of being the enemy of God. (James 4:4) The world is, “a system of values and character qualities that are in opposition to God.(1) But, how do you know if James’ indictment is towards you? Are you filled with selfish desire or desire for God? Do you have a jealous heart that envies others and covets and hates those who have more? It’s a spirit of, “keeping up with the joneses”, gone wild. We compete, we compare, we shamefully idolize people “above us”, and proudly look down on those “below us”.
God’s Spirit longs, yearns, and is jealous for us. “Jealousy is an intensely painful and powerful emotion that the conduct of the believer elicits from the Spirit of God.(2)“ He misses us intensely when we are “away” from Him.
The church who loves the world more than God is selfish. We are self centered. We see prayer as a way to impose our will on God, a formula, or magic; rather than an ongoing, 24-7, relationship with Father God. James 4:3 says, “you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.”
The world urges us to love ourselves, to put our pleasures before God’s pleasures. If we agree with that idea, we are unfaithful as the Lord’s spiritual brides. We have deliberately chosen to follow the world’s philosophy rather than God’s will. We cannot be on friendly terms with God if we follow the world’s philosophy (Matt. 6:24). The world wants us to exclude God from all aspects of life. God wants us to include Him in all of life because He is in all of life, and without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
God has set a high standard of wholehearted love and devotion for His people, but He gives grace that is greater than His rigorous demand… However, He gives grace to the humble: those who put God’s desires first in their lives. He gives grace (help) to withstand the onslaughts of the flesh within and the world without.(3)
If we have messed up in our Christian life, there is grace for us. Grace saved us and greater grace will get us back on track. “First John one nine it”, my pastor used to say. God is always ready to forgive, if you are ready to repent. Repentance is a way of life for the one who walks with God (Isaiah 30:15). Don’t be ashamed of this. Humiliation is the path to humility. Repent and receive more grace.
What is grace? God’s unmerited favor. That means favor that you cannot earn. It is by grace that you have been saved.(Eph. 2:8) Grace can also be defined as God’s sufficiency or God’s fullness in the life of the believer. God said to Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you.”(2 Cor. 12:9) Grace is from the Greek word “charis”, like charismatic. A.W. Tozer said that, “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.”(4) Louis Berhof wrote that grace is, “the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit.”(4)
A simple definition of grace is the word favor. How does more, grace, more favor operate in James 4:6? On this verse, Kurt Richardson writes, “God wills the correction of his people through the continuing application of his favor.“(5)
We all stumble, make mistakes, or get it wrong (James 3:2); but he gives us more, greater, grace (James 4:6) to live the life of walking with God. We need more favor, charis. Charismatic people are favored people. We follow charismatic people. We might say, in Christian terms, that they are anointed. There is favor there to succeed.(Gal. 2:9)
Grace empowers us to succeed against sin. I have the grace to live the life.
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing! -Galatians 2:20-1 (NET)
Grace is not just a theological concept that describes a position God puts people in, that we want to live in, but it is an atmosphere or a source from which the life is lived. We live the life by grace.
Grace is more than a descriptive term. It is participative, tangible, substantive, and locomotive. Grace moves you forward. Grace empowers you to walk the walk. Grace gives you the words to say with power. Remember that The Gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16) and God’s Kingdom isn‘t about words, but about power (1 Cor. 4:20). So, where is the power? That is what all believers need.
Acts 4:33 says, “The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all.“
Grace is favor. The unmerited part means you didn’t earn it. If we are a people who have seen the sick healed and demons cast out; it’s a sign of God’s favor upon us. Grace got you saved and grace keeps you keeping on (Col. 2:6).
Jesus came to save. Grace and truth came through Jesus (John 1:17). He came to reveal the Father and to empower us to walk and live, as he did. We need to grow in truth and grace (2 Peter 3:18). Sin can not out do grace (Rom. 5:20). There is enough grace to extinguish all sin, the most depraved sin; in the world and in believers, because the resource of grace is unlimited. We serve a God with unlimited resources.
James gives some bullet points on how to position your self to receive more grace:
- So submit to God.
- But resist the devil and he will flee from you.
- Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.
- Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded.
- Grieve, mourn, and weep.
- Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair.
- Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.
The last verse of the Bible is Revelation 22:21:
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Julia H. Johnston (1849-1919)
1. An Out-of-this-World Experience: A Look at “κόσμος” in the Johannine Literature, W. Hall Harris III
2. The Holy Spirit and Our Emotions, David Eckman
3. New English Translation, NET, notes
4. What Is Grace?, John MacArthur
5. James, Kurt A. Richards on