Sermons by Ken D. Trivette

SERMONS FROM THE BOOK OF JAMES
HOW TO BE CLOSE TO THE LORD
James 4:5-10

 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 village of Stambourne and the church of his grandfather, where and with whom he spent several years of his childhood. I have been to Colchester and the little Primitive Methodist Church where he was saved. I have sit in the very place he was sitting the day he was saved.  

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 Waterbeach . I have attended services at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London where during his ministry it was one of the largest churches in the world, if not the largest.  

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 ten minutes.  

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:  

1. 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 within us.  

4. I remind you that God indwells the body of every saved person. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:16 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 Spirit.  

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 jealously:  

“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 preeminence!  

10. Furthermore we see:  

B. God’s 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 Stand  

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 him.   

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 Stay  

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 Must Take  

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 Have  

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?   

Endnotes

1. Truth for Life, A Devotional Commentary on the Epistle of James