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UNIT 4: Practical Christian Living (James)

LESSON 21: May 26, 2024.

Memory Verse: James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (KJV).
Lesson Bible Text:
James 4
Lesson Central Truth:
Christians avoid worldliness by living humbly before God.
Temptations to sin are all around us. Whether we consider those temptations big or small, we face them everyday. Keeping ourselves unspotted from the world is a constant battle (James 1:27). Yet, it’s a battle we must win. Worldliness refers to a mindset or lifestyle that prioritizes earthly values, desires, and pursuits over spiritual ones. It involves being overly focused on temporal things of life. As believers, we are called to reject worldliness and instead pursue godliness, living as citizens of heaven, not just earthly dwellers (Philippians 3:20). Today’s lesson examines three principles to help Christians overcome the temptations of this world.
A. Watch Your Motives – James 4:1-3
B. Submit To God – James 4:4-7.
A. Humble Yourself – James 4:8-10
B. Don’t Judge Others – James 4:11,12.
A. Tomorrow Is Uncertain – James 4:13,14
B. Seek God’s Will – James 4:15-17.
James 4:1-7
✅️ From the text, we can see that James is addressing this passage to Christians, and he brings out the qualities of a non-submissive Christian, i.e., believers who do not submit to God. Those types of believers always fight and quarrel among one another. They have evil desires that battle in their heart. They always want something, but they do not get it, thereby doing everything possible to kill, covet, fight, and quarrel. They never pray because they are too proud to pray. When they pray, they pray with the wrong motives. Selfish desires always make people live worldly. Hatred as the seed of fighting and bitterness shouldn’t be allowed to operate in our lives as believers. When self and lust are at work in Christian life, worldliness becomes a lifestyle. The root cause of worldliness is the lack of the Holy Spirit. No two believers who are both walking in the Spirit of God towards each other can live with wars and fights among themselves.
We must trust God by His grace through the help of the Holy Spirit to live to please Him with our motives.
✅️ The key reason as to why people exhibit evil desires is found in James 4:4 – “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Friendship with the world, they are believers but still living in their old lifestyle. Such people are called adulterers. People who practice the above commit spiritual adultery. We are bride of Christ, and He cherishes us so much just as husband and wife cherish each other. We belong to God, and we must live to submit totally to Him. How are we to submit to God? In order to submit to God, we need two qualities: submission and resistance. You need to be submissive to God and resistant to the devil. The truth is that being resistant to the devil is not rebuking the devil. Many believers feel that if they rebuke, the devil will flee. To resist the devil is to stop sinning. Sin gives the devil the foothold on our lives. It is only if we take a voluntary decision to stop sinning, then can we truly submit to God and resist the devil. The great promise is that when we resist the devil, he will free from us. Devil has no power over lives when we’ve humbled ourselves and submitted to God.
James 4:8-12
✅️ In verse 8, James calls us to draw near–to move closer–to God. This comes with an additional promise: God will respond by moving closer to us. That’s an incredible act of God’s mercy. James calls us sinners to clean our hands. He calls us double-minded people: trying to serve both self and God. James pleads with us to purify our hearts. For James’s Jewish readers who had grown up under the law, these commands would have called to mind ceremonial washings. The idea here is to completely turn from our sin, to resolve that we will serve God, and to begin again. That is what true repentance is. James calls us to engage in an emotional response to our sinfulness. He calls us to cry, to mourn, to be gloomy, even. He calls us to set aside laughter and joy. Note that James is not suggesting that we embrace sadness as an ongoing lifestyle. On the contrary, Christians are to be known for their joyfulness. Humility and total dependence on Him will surely cause us to overcome worldliness. When we humble ourselves, God will exalt, bless, guide, and use us for His purposes.
✅️ James had already talked about the importance of controlling one’s speech (James 3:1-12). In James 4:11, he returned to that theme. Believers are not to speak evil ones to another. James also warned us not to judge others. When we judge others, we are essentially judging God’s law, placing ourselves above the law, and then failing to keep the law ourselves. Instead of judging, we should focus on our own actions and relationships with God. By doing so, we demonstrate humility and recognize God as the ultimate judge.
How can we avoid judgemental or slanderous speech?
Controlling our speech begins with guarding our hearts (see Matthew 12:33). Slanderous words are rooted in many worldly desires, and we must refrain from them. Use positive language. Focus on encouragement and uplifting others. Seek God’s help. Pray for wisdom and guidance in your communication. Remember, our words have power! By choosing to speak life-giving words, we can build each other up and create a more positive, supportive environment.
James 4:13-17
✅️ Here, James imagines a businessman declaring how he will make more money and how he will get what he wants out of life. In context, this is meant to mean one who is planning according to the pattern of the world. This man is making plans and vowing to keep them in his own power and by the force of his own will. That’s not the life of dependence God calls His children to walk in. There is nothing wrong with making a plan, but planning without recognising God is wrong. Remember, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21).
As believers, we are to humble ourselves and acknowledge that the future is uncertain. Our plans and ambitions are subject to change, and we should always consider God’s sovereignty and wisdom in our decision-making. James uses the metaphor of a mist or vapour to describe the fleeting nature of human existence. Just as a mist appears and quickly disappears, so too does human life. Having this in mind, we must prioritise eternal things over temporary ones. So, it’s a call to live with a sense of urgency and purpose, knowing that our time on earth is short and unpredictable.
✅️ James shows how we should demonstrate our awareness of our dependence on God. This is a deeper issue than simply tacking the words “if the Lord wills” onto any statement of future plans. God wants His children to willingly live in dependence on Him. The right approach includes weighing God’s will before we make the plans, then relying on Him to be in control of the results. He wants to commit ourselves first and above all to accomplishing His will, not our own. We must respect God’s position of sovereignty over us; then we act accordingly by surrendering our will to His. We must refrain from boasting and arrogance because they lead to self-glory rather than God’s glory. We must replace boasting with humility, recognizing that all we have and achieve is by God’s grace and mercy. In seeking God’s will, we must recognise what is right and do it. Knowledge of what is right is not enough, action I required. So, we are accountable to God for our actions, and failing to do what we know is right will lead to sin. We must be doers of His Word and not just hearers.
Lesson Action Word
Worldliness is rooted in selfish desires and pride. Submission to God and humility are essential for overcoming worldliness.
Lesson Prayer Point
Father, we ask for Your grace and power to overcome worldliness as we live to honour You in Jesus Matchless Name. Amen!
Remain blessed as you join us in our Sunday school both online and at any Assemblies Of God Church close to you as we study together under the Feet of the Master.
Share your contribution and as well ask your question from the lesson.
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