Sermons by Ken D. Trivette
SERMONS FROM THE BOOK OF JAMES
HOW TO BE CLOSE TO THE LORD
1. Since early in my ministry I have had a great admiration and appreciation for
the life and ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I have had the opportunity of
retracing his life and visiting many places that were significant in the life
and ministry of Charles Spurgeon.
2. I have been to the house
where he was born in Kelvedon, England. I have visited the little
3. I have stood on the banks of
the River Lark where he was baptized. I have stood where he preached his first
sermon and as well visited the first Church he pastored in the little town of
4. I have in my library numerous
books by Spurgeon. One of my cherished possessions is one of his actual sermon
outlines. I have been an avid reader of his sermons and devoured biography after
biography of his life. My interest in his life and ministry only continues to
grow as I learn more of him and become better acquainted with him.
5. Of all the things I have read
about Spurgeon and all the things he said, I don’t guess anything gripped my
heart any more than one particular statement he made. In one of his sermons he
made the statement that he was never out of vital contact with God for more than
6. In Spurgeon’s case, I do
not think that was an idle boast. In our case, I think it is a real possibility.
It is possible to live in a continual and perpetual contact with God. As
believers, we can be close to God and stay close to God.
7. In our text, James speaks to
us about being in vital contact with God and being close to Him. After speaking
of a person being an enemy of God, he now speaks of being close to God. After
speaking of being a friend of the world, he speaks of being a friend of God.
8. Would you like to be in vital
contact with God? Do you want to be close to the Lord? If so, let’s consider
verses 5-10 and learn how to be close to the Lord.
9. When we think about being
close to God, the first thing we need to understand is:
THE CONTROL GOD DESIRES!
1. A key to being close to God
is being controlled by God. This control is sought by God and desired by God.
There are no shortcuts to being close to God and it all begins with His control
of our life. Notice with me what James
says about God’s control of our life. We first see:
A. God’s Passion
For This Control
1. We read in verse 5, “Do
ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us
lusteth to envy?” As we saw in our last study, the word “lust” plays a
major part in the thoughts of verses 1-4 of the chapter.
2. We saw the word as the
desires within us to want to do things our own way and to have our own way. It
is the desires we have for the things of the flesh and the world.
3. Now James speaks of how the
Holy Spirit that indwells us has a particular lust. The word “lusteth” in
verse 5 is a word that speaks of an intense craving and longing. The word
describes a deep, passionate, intense yearning by the Holy Spirit that lives
4. I remind you that God
indwells the body of every saved person. Paul said in 2 Corinthians
that we are the temple of the living God and that God dwell is us and in 1
Corinthians 6:19 he says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost which
is in us. The word “dwell” simply means to reside. God resides in us! Every
believer is an earthly dwelling place of God through the person of the Holy
5. James not only speaks of a
particular yearning and longing God has, but also of His jealously. He uses the
“envy” in verse 5, a word that speaks of jealously. We read in Exodus 20:5, “I
the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”
6. In our thinking, jealously
mostly has a negative connotation. Yet when used of God and in the case before
us in James 4:5, it has a positive connotation. I think the words of John
Blanchard in his commentary on James says well what is meant by God’s
“It is a jealously of the
divine Lover of His people, the one who loves you with an everlasting love, who
was jealous for you the moment you first drew breath upon this earth, who was
jealous for you when you were groping for the first hold on life, who was
jealous for you when you took those first conscious steps into sin, jealous for
you when you first heard His name, jealous for you when you rejected Him,
jealous for your salvation as He brought the gospel to you in one way and
another, through one person and another, through one means and another, until
finally He broke through in the power of the Holy Spirit and brought you to
living faith. What is more, He is jealous for you now, jealous for your
spiritual welfare, jealous for you in every temptation and trial, jealous lest
you should be robbed by covetousness, compromise, worldliness, prayerlessness or
disobedience in any shape or form. He is jealous that you should have that
fullness of blessing, those riches of grace that He longs to bestow upon every
one of you His people.”1
7. When we speak of this
jealously of God we are simply speaking of how God loves us so much that He
wants us totally and absolutely for Himself. He deeply longs and yearns to have
possession and control of our life.
8. When the Bible speaks of
being filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, this control is the thought. To
be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. To be filled with
the Spirit is to allow the Holy Spirit to have complete sway of our life.
9. What an awesome thought, that
God has an intense longing to control my life. One of His great passions to have
control of my life in order that He can bring me into all that He wants for my
life. He does not want part of my life; He wants all my life. He wants more than
a place in our life. He wants more than prominence in our life. He wants
10. Furthermore we see:
Provision For This Control
1. We read in verse 6, “But
he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth
grace unto the humble.” God not asks to control our life, but He also
provides the resources to be controlled. He gives His grace to enable us to be
all He asks and wants.
2. Someone might say, “I know
what God’s control of my life will entail. I’m not sure that I can do that
or be what God wants me to be.” God never asks anything of us that He does not
make the provision for accomplishing what He asks. He gives His grace to enable
us to do all we should do and be all we should be.
3. If we are proud, that is,
think we can do things on our own and by our own way; this grace will not be
made available. We sit ourselves in opposition to God. That is the idea in the
words, “God resisteth the proud.” But if we come to come with a
humble heart, a heart that knows it needs help, God will give grace, and even
more grace, to be and do all God asks.
5. It has been well said that
where God guides, He provides. He longs to control our life and even gives us
grace in order that this control can become a reality in my life.
6. In our last study we saw that
there are several things vying for control of our life. There are our own
fleshly desires within us and there is the world that is without us. All want to
be the dominant and controlling force in our life. These create a terrific war
for the control of our life. They are spiritual enemies that are impossible to
defeat on our own. Yet, by God’s grace they can be defeated and enable God’s
control of our life.
7. When we talk about being
close to God we start with the realization that God wants to control our life.
Secondly we see:
2. THE COMMITMENT GOD DESERVES!
1. Since God so passionately
longs for the control of our life, then He deserves the control of our life. His
desire should be honored with our commitment. We read in verse 7, “Submit
yourselves therefore to God.”
2. James is saying that since
God yearns to control our life, we should therefore submit ourselves to God. The
word “submit” means to “take rank under.” The word was a military term
speaking of someone getting into his proper rank. God is the general and we are
the privates. We are to submit ourselves to His orders and commands.
3. I think of how on one
occasion someone wrote Emily Post and asked, “What is the correct procedure
when one is invited to the White House but has a previous engagement?” She
replied, “An invitation to dine at the White House is a command, and it
automatically cancels any other engagements.”
4. When God asks for control of
our lives, it cancels out any other plans or desires. It calls for our total
commitment and anything short of our commitment is a violation of our rank.
5. Now, what does this
commitment call for in our life? Notice a couple of things we see in our text.
First we see:
A. How We Must
1. We read in verse 7, “Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you.” When there is a commitment of our
lives to God there will be a stand against the devil.
2. I read the story of how
during a Church service the devil walked in and marched down to the front of the
Church. Everyone started screaming and running for the doors. Soon the building
was empty except for one elderly gentleman. He sat calmly in his pew; seemingly
oblivious to the fact the ultimate enemy was in his presence. Satan looked at
him and said, “Do you know who I am?” The old man replied, “Yep, sure
do.” Satan then asked, “Aren’t you afraid of me?” “Nope, sure ain’t,”
said the man. The devil then said, “Don’t you know that I could cause you
profound, horrifying, physical agony for all eternity?” “Yep,” replied the
man. “Then why aren’t you afraid,” asked the devil. The old man calmly
replied, “Been married to your sister for over 48 years.”
3. We may not be married to the
devil’s sister, but you can mark it down that we are in constant battle with
4. The word “resist” is
another military term that means, “to take a stand against.” In many cases,
we have submitted to the devil and resisted God. Yet, when there is a commitment
of our life to God we will take a stand against the devil. He will become our
enemy and we will fight any advancement He may make.
5. Wesley Duell in his book
“Might Prevailing Prayer” writes: “While Satan is eager to destroy all
families, all nations, and indeed all people, he most hates and opposes those
who follow Jesus. He is always antichurch, but most of all anti-evangelism,
anti-missions, and anti-prayer.”
6. May I say he is anti anything
that has to do with God in our life. He will do everything and anything in his
power to keep us from doing what we ought to do and being what we ought to be.
7. We must resist the devil in
everything and in everyway and there can be no compromise. I think about a
hunter that was bear hunting. He came upon this bear, raised his gun, and was
about to pull the trigger when the bear said “Is it not better to talk than to
shoot? What do you want? Let’s negotiate.” Lowering his rifle, the hunter
said, “I want a fur coat.” “Good,” said the bear, “that is a
negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a
compromise.” They sat down to negotiate, and after a while the bear walked
away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach
and the hunter had his fur coat.
8. When it comes to the devil,
shoot first and ask questions later. There is no room for negotiation. To
hesitate is the first step in losing the battle.
9. Notice carefully that James
gives us a wonderful promise about our fight with the devil. He tells us that if
we will resist the devil he will flee from us. Why do we let the devil defeat
us? We do not resist him. How can we defeat the devil? Resist him! The promise
is that if we resist him he will run away.
10. There was a little old lady
who never spoke ill of anyone. If she said anything about anybody, it was always
good. A friend said to her one day, “I believe you would say something good
even about the devil.” “Well,” she said, “you certainly do have to
admire his persistence.”
11. The devil is persistent and
will keep coming back. Yet, each time we take a stand against him, he will flee.
12. Not only in this commitment
do we see how we should stand but also:
B. Where We Should
1. We read in verse 8, “Draw
nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”
The verb “draw near” describes the way in which the Levitical priests
approached God with their sacrifices.
2. It speaks of getting close to
God and coming into His presence. If there is a commitment of our life it will
require that we stay close to the Lord. We avail ourselves of every opportunity
to be in His presence. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, we will stay in vital
contact with God.
3. Notice carefully that we are
given another wonderful promise. James tells us that if we draw nigh to God, He
will draw nigh to us. As we seek to get close to God, He will draw close to us.
As we seek to be in His presence, He will make His presence real to us.
4. Someone once asked G.
Campbell Morgan how real God was to him and he replied, “As real as the skin
on my hands.” We not only can be close to God, but He can be close to us.
5. Our desire to be close to God
and our efforts to be close to God only reveal our commitment. If we want to
know anything about the depth of our commitment, look at how much time you spend
with the Lord.
6. Thirdly notice with me:
3. THE CLEANSING GOD DEMANDS!
1. If we are going to be close
to God, sin must never be taken lightly, but always seriously. Sin can never be
tolerated in our life. In verses 8-9, James tells us how we must treat our sin.
First we see:
A. The Actions We
1. We read in verse 8, “Cleanse
your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” There
is to be a cleansing of our hands and a purifying of our hearts.
2. First, take the matter of
dirty hands. The word “cleanse” means, “to wash” and is the word that
was used to describe the ceremonial cleansing of the priests. Before they were
allowed to offer the sacrifices they washed their hands. The washing of the
hands was a figurative act of being cleansed of any sinful acts.
3. If we are to be close to the
Lord we must deal with any sin in our life. Sin breaks our fellowship with God.
1 John 1:6 makes this clear: “If we say that we have fellowship with him,
and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:”
4. Secondly, there is the matter
of a divided heart. James tells us to purify your hearts, ye double-minded. The
word “double-minded” is found only two places in the Bible and that in the
book of James (1:8, 4:8). The word means, “two-souled.” It speaks of a
person with divided affections. It is like a person trying to hold on to the
world with one hand and the things of God with the other. It is like one trying
to run with the hare and hunt with the hound at the same time.
5. The word “purify” simply
means, “to sanctify.” Instead of having a divided heart, we are to separate
our heart from the world and separate it totally to God.
If we are to be close to God we must have a single heart.
6. We not only see the actions we must take but also:
B. The Attitude We
1. We read in verse 9, “Be
afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and
your joy to heaviness.” In these words we see someone that is deeply moved
and concerned about sin in their life.
2. Notice the three words that
James uses to describe the attitude we should have about our sin. First, there
is the word “afflicted.” It is translated “wretched” in Romans 7:24 and
speaks of an inward feeling of misery. When we sin, it should rip our insides
out. It should make feel us dirty and defiled.
3. Then there is the word
“mourn.” This word speaks of the sadness our sin should cause. The word
“weep” speaks of an outflow of tears that reveals our sadness and sorrow.
4. In other words, we should be
broken over our sin. Whenever we sin, it should cause deep sorrow and grief in
our hearts. That’s why James said, “let your laughter be turned to
mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” When we sin we should come to God
with a broken and sorrowful heart that we have sinned.
5. In our day and time, it seems that sin no longer
bothers us. That is more an indication of how far we have gotten from the Lord.
I have found that the closer you get to God, the more sin will bother you.
6. Again, if we want to be close to the Lord, we must deal with any and all sin in our lives. We must deal with sin thoroughly and thoughtfully.
7. James sums it all up in verse
10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you
up.” We can live a low life or
a lofty life. It all depends on whether we are close to the Lord. How about you?
How and where are you living?
1. Truth for Life, A
Devotional Commentary on the Epistle of James