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James 4:1-12

Surrender Your Pride

  • Andrew May
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • March 15, 2020

Our culture and our world is semi-obsessed with pride and selfishness but we don’t say it that way. We say “believing in yourself” or “having great self-esteem,” and “being the best you.” There is a very fine line being confident in yourself and being full of yourself!

Jesus says “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Jesus says “blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”

His upside-down kingdom is built on the humble and those who will lower themselves. But we don’t take it seriously…. God does.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Surrender Your Pride
James 4:1-12

INTRODUCTION TO JAMES: James, the half brother of Jesus, is the author of this book. James was a prominent leader in one of the first church communities ever to exist in Jerusalem. As a leader in this church he gained great wisdom in what a believers life should look like as a follower of Christ. James has been called by many the Proverbs of the new testament because it is insightful into “true wisdom” and also reflects greatly the teachings Jesus gave at the Sermon on the Mount.
Be warned! James is a punch to the gut. It is crafted specifically to poke at the believers heart and to challenge the attitudes of our flesh. James doesn’t hold back because his desire is to help us see our desperate need for “true wisdom.”

STORY & QUOTE: When I was in bible school I took a course I wisdom literature in scripture. We had a key challenge for the course to answer one question. What is wisdom? I remember sitting in my first class and many of my classmates were going around the room say that wisdom is to be great at making decisions or be decisive. Many of the thought wisdom has something to do with how much you know about God and the world. You can be book wise and street wise.
After studying scripture for a semester it became very obvious that wisdom according to scripture has very little to do with how smart, capable, and understood we are in the things of God and things of the world. My professor put it great at the end of class:
“Wisdom is the realization that his thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts. Wisdom is realizing that what we know is a drop in the ocean to power, glory, and sovereignty of God”

So as we approach James this evening I pray our hearts would be convicted not by what we know but the truth of God and his ultimate wisdom for each of us.

James 4:1-10
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

TITLE: Surrender Your Pride and INTRO PRIDE
Here is the problem for me preaching on the topic of pride. Those of us who need to hear a message on pride are most likely “too proud” to hear the message. We read what James is laying down and we say “got it, that is bad… but it ain’t me.”

QUESTION: What if you are the most arrogant person you know? What if you are the most prideful person you know? Or the most prideful person listening tonight?

“Many of us aren’t hit with the reality of how prideful we truly are. It might be because we aren’t even disgusted with pride in the first place.”

TAKING PRIDE IN WEIRD THINGS– As a youth pastor I hear teenagers brag about doing and saying some of the weirdest things. Had a student once brag to me about having 50 girlfriends in a year. I’ll teach you a phrase the young people are saying so you can use it to annoy them like me. “Weird flex but ok,” so when someone is bragging about how they spent $400 on a pair of shoes, or when that they got a 1000 likes on a picture of their foot, or that they touch their tongue to their nose just say “Weird flex but ok.”
Our culture and our world is semi obsessed with pride and selfishness but we don’t say it that way. We say “believing in yourself” or “having great self esteem,” and “being the best you.” There is a very fine line being confident in yourself and being full of yourself!

Jesus says “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of heaven”
Jesus says “blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”
His upside down kingdom is built on the humble and those who will lower themselves. But we don’t take it seriously…. God does.

1. God doesn’t take pride lightly.

Proverbs 16:5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
But we take it lightly. If I share that pride has been an issue in my life many of us our like… welcome to club brother. But if I was to stand up here and say I struggled with lust and that it has been leading me down avenues that I have to admit are out of control. Some of your already are writing an email to Pastor Rich on your phone!

Sin is sin and James is pointing out how our pride is the source of many terrible things in our lives.

VERSE 1-3 — What causes quarrels, arguments, division, destruction of relationships, destruction of marriages…. The desires within us that are rooted in our pride!

OJECT LESSON: Pride works like this! We are meant to shine the spotlight on God. We are meant to give him glory. We are meant to humbly point others to him and not to us. But many of us, EVEN IN OUR FAITH, say “Look at me….
Look what I am doing. Look at how good I am. Look how much I am earning it. Look at my kids aren’t they good… not that one… Look at my family.”

But some of your may say that is not me because I don’t have this or that. But that is exactly what James is pointing to in the opening here. We say “Why me? Why me God? Why don’t I get this? Why don’t you give me what they have? What about my marriage? What about my kids? What about my house? What about my bank account. What about ME ME ME ME?”

QUESTION: Where is the spotlight of your life?

VERSE 2-3: We do not receive because we do not ASK.
Now there is a whole movement of Christianity in this control that would tell you that what James was trying to say in this passage is “Just ask God and he will give you what you want. If you don’t get it and you just don’t have enough faith.”

This word of faith movement is dangerous because while God does want to give good gifts to his children and God does indeed love his people and hears the cries of their heart. But make no mistake because not for a minute has GOD WORKED FOR YOU!

QUOTE— “This is God’s universe and God does things his way. You may have a better way but you don’t have a universe.” — Jay Vernon McGee

We many times think we can do a better job at running the universe than God.
You may have even in your arrogance said “God why won’t you do what I want!”

Isaiah 40:13-14. Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God does not work for, exist to please, or answer to YOU!
I know it’s a hard reality for us to live in but I have to tell you in my life I have struggled with this so often and didn’t even realize it was PRIDE and not GOD.
That is the PRIDE of the world and is the root of so much sinfulness that can entangle your life and destroy your faith.

Verse 4— James then warns us about PRIDE destroying our friendship with God and leading us into a friendship with worldliness.

When we think we know better than God we will naturally surround ourselves with others who feel the same. Many times those friends are the ones sowing those prideful feelings in us to begin with!

There are even churches like this. Religious groups like this.
Not talking about worldliness in the sense of cool lights and sound I am talking about the gathering together in pridefulness to shut down and out and out the character of God.

This is the pride that set the whole cycle of sin in human history in motion.

Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We as humans continue this rebellion when we live with the attitude that says I know better than God. Our doubt in what God has proclaimed turns into entitlement and in the end leads to us POINTING THE FINGER AT GOD AS HIS ENEMIES!

1 John 2:15-17—Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Love of the world will always lead to hate of the Father. Therefore James is urging us to take a good hard look at our heart and decide.

Matthew 6:24—”No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

QUESTION: Whose side am I on?

Verse 5-6— But as this passage continues there are great promises found for those who will instead submit. Through the work of his word and his spirit he gives us more grace. Pride is not an issue in many ways that can be avoided in our sinful nature. But where there is more sin… there is more grace.

Romans 5:19-21 But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God opposes those who are prideful but he shows favor to those who are humble.

How then do be live in humility?

To be humbled is too be in awe and brought to our knees.

Psalms 8:3-4 —When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

David writing this psalm is perfect picture of us of the realization that we don’t stand on the same playing field as God. He isn’t say “why would you consider me” in false humility. Humility is not the elevation of others at the expense of your own worth. It is the elevation of God in sight of your true worth!

Verse 7-10 — James is laying out for us this process of taking the spotlight off of us and putting it back on God.
1. We need to submit our ways to him and no longer to the enemy.
Psalm 37:3-6 — Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

2. We need to come near in repentance and conviction
Wash your hands- Great advice then and great advice now.
1 John 1:6-9 —If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all sin.If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

3. We need to really be faced with reality of what our pride is doing in our heart, in our relationship, and in our lives.
2 Corinthians 7:10—Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

4. We need to stop living in judgement as arrogance but instead choose grace.
One of the common pitfalls of Christ followers is to go from repentance to redemption to self righteous. We who are redeemed suddenly feel like we have been given the throne and we get to be those who point out the weaknesses of all.

But Jesus models this to us in one of my favorite stories.
John 8:7-11— They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

QUESTION— What is the position of your life?
Are you living with the attitude of “look at me?”
Are ups living with the attitude of “why not me?”
Are you living in judgement in others in your life?
God wants us to be disgusted with our pride. He wants us to give up the fight of trying to have it all together. He is not fooled by our plows to try and look like we have it all figured out.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

James 4:1-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 [a]What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [b]Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask [c]with wrong motives, so that you may spend it [d]on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “[e]He [f]jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?


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