Winston Churchill was once asked, “ Doesn't it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?” “It’s quite flattering,” replied Sir Winston. “But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.” Humility is something that each and every one of must strive towards each and every day as children of the Living God. Why? By nature we are a proud, self-righteous, ignorant to the truth of scripture, haters, boasters and depraved to the core sinner who is deserving of the ultimate wrath of God. Jesus said “….., "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:20-23. See, that statement Jesus made goes against everything this post-modern, everything tolerant and self-esteem movement try’s to teach us today. Do you know that well intentioned Christians have gone so far to change some of the words to some of the greatest hymns ever composed? For example in the hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” there is a line that says “my own worthlessness” was changed to “my unworthiness” by one gentleman. This same person also criticized the working of Isaac Watts “Alas, And Did My Saviour Bleed” He said “such a worm as I….could convey to many people a quite unflattering self-image.” But that’s the point…..when you examine your wretched life as it lines up with a holy and perfect God. We don’t deserve His grace….and if you think otherwise then you are only fooling yourself! As C J Mahaney said “Contrary to popular and false belief, it’s not “those who help themselves” whom God helps; it’s those who humble themselves.” This is the promise of humility. God is personally and providentially supportive of the humble. And the grace He extends to the humble is indescribably rich…goes beyond the riches of this life.
The Apostle Paul the most self-assured and proud person on the planet penned these words. In Phil 3:7-10 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”By nature we will never understand what humility means until the light of God’s grace illuminates our desperate need of saving. As J C Ryle said “Humility like this is one of the strongest evidences of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. We know nothing of humility by nature, for we are all born proud. To convince us of sin, to show us our own vileness and corruption, to put us in our right place, to make us lowly and self-abased–these are among the principal works which the Holy Spirit works in the soul of man. Few of our Lord’s sayings are so often repeated as the one which closes the parable of the Pharisee and Tax-collector–“Every one that exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14.) To have great gifts, and do great works for God, is not given to all believers. But all believers ought to strive to be clothed with humility.” ~ J.C. Ryle
- Humility is what brought us to our knees.
- Humility is what keeps in a right relationship with Christ.
- Humility shows us where our worth is hidden.
- Humility is what keeps us aware of our desperate need for the Good Shepherd every day.
We come to the continuation of what we talked about last week…What does James say “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (v6b). Not only does He give grace, but He gives….. what? “more grace” (v6a). The only hope we have in our spiritual darkness is more grace from a sovereign God. The only One that can save and deliver us from our sin nature and the sins that cling to our selfish desires even today. Which can be anything from lust, to anger, covetousness, selfishness….. to simply lying about something minute. But in order for “more grace” we must be humbled and not be proud! Proud in this passage could be rendered “arrogant or boastful” as seen in Romans 1:30 “slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,”Pride kills! Listen to happen to a prideful person according to God’s word.
- It’s always accompanied by shame “When pride comes, then comes disgrace,” Prov 11:2
- It loves to fight “Pride only breeds quarrels,” Prov 13:10
- It tricks you in falling “The pride of your heart has deceived you” Obadiah 1:3
- The LORD detests all the proud of heart “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord” Prov 16:5
- It’s the opposite of love “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” 1 Cor 13:4
- Can I tell you this God hates the sin of pride! Prov 6:16-17 “a proud look”
James is warning us…… because he loves us, and he writes to the church in (v7) Humble yourselves under His mighty hand of grace. James says “Submit” which comes from a military term “to rank under”. As a private would submit under the command of a general…..you will never see a General submit to a private…..EVER! Who are we to submit to or rank under? The sovereign Lord who desires to give you more grace. But again in order to receive more grace we must come humbly before Him. And resist the Devil and all that he has to offer you sinful heart. “Resist” means to “stand against” or “to oppose” there is no middle ground that we can stand on…..it’s either this present world system or His sovereign arms. As John said “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17. See we are to “Draw near” humbling oneself under the care and supervision of His grace for sinners through the gospel and His sanctifying mercies each and every day.In order to draw near to God and for God to draw near to us we need to do something which is crucial for our fellowship with a holy God.
The FIRST THING James addresses is by saying “cleanse your hands you sinners” (v8). In the Old Testament the priests hand to wash their hands before approaching God…and same rule applies to our spiritual lives. It’s possible that James is talking to two different groups of people! The saved and the unsaved. “Sinners” in this passage means “a sinful behaviour or a sinner who needs saving” Whichever category you fit into this morning?……James is giving a clear gospel and reminder to where our true fellowship belongs and the importance of repentance. The Apostle Paul penned these words “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Cor 7:10. We must come in genuine repentance and recognize that we have sinned against a holy God.
The SECOND THING that is required is the other side of the coin idea! We are to “purify our hearts” turn from our wicked ways. (v8) James goes even further…….by calling us out, by saying “you double minded” people. Which literally means “doubled souled” this is a person who claims one thing, but lives, or does the opposite of what he claims? I believe in Jesus but I don’t live according to His word, it’s the same thing James said back in 1:22-24. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
The THIRD THING is we’re to truly hate our sin…. Or don’t make lite of your sin! James says “lament and mourn and weep” (v9) this is the outward display of an inner sorrow over sin. A brokenness that humbles a person to the ground. Did you know that it took David a year before he was truly broken over his sin with Bathsheba? David wrote “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ps 51:2-10. If we do these things not only does it lead us to humility it leads us into a proper communion with God! As the Apostle John said “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7. And when we are in fellowship with Him……the Bible says “He will draw near to us”……because our hearts are receptive to His wonderful work in grace in our lives.
This is vital for the Christian walk……this vital for the Christian life. Our greatest desire and blessing is for the sovereign Creator to draw near to sinners like us. To not care or cherish the blessing of His fellowship is to forsake the grace of the Gospel. We need to flee from this evil world system and submit to our Master in complete humility! Why? 2 Chron 15:2 says "……Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. Charles Swindoll “Humility isn't a show we put on; in fact, if we think we're humble, we're probably not. In our day of self-promotion, self-assertion, spotlighting "celebrities of the faith," and magnifying the flesh, this quality---so greatly valued by the Lord Jesus---is a rare commodity indeed. . . .A truly humble person looks for opportunities to give himself freely to others rather than holding back, to release rather than hoarding, to build up rather than tearing down, to serve rather than being served, to learn from others rather than clamoring for the teaching stand. How blessed are those who learn this early in life.” The Pharisee’s were a proud people who thought they had it all together. We have people even the church think they make it on their own without the help of a loving Saviour! Listen to Jesus said to them in John’s gospel about their self-righteousness. John 5:37-47 “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" They were so blinded with pride they couldn't see the one Moses talked about! We live in a fallen world that is blind and deaf to the truth of the gospel……all because of pride and the love for this fallen world. Don’t be like the Pharisee’s and lose out on the greatest grace ever given to man? Jesus Christ. Humble yourselves under the care and direction of the Savior and He will as James said in the end of (v10) “and He will lift you up” He will lift you up by His sovereign grace into Heavenly places where He is seated at the right hand of the Father......which is "more grace".