This passage is a treasure trove of Biblical Theology and Practical Application!

Jesus Christ calls HIS body into a singular, undivided relationship, the only way we enter is with humility. In this relationship He places His Spirit into us so that we can overcome ourselves and live a life of ‘Singular Humility!

But too often we allow our fleshly self-serving desires set our schedules and shape our priorities. When we live like this we have less peace, more drama. Our prayer life, our dependence on God, becomes a mere formality, lip-service and we flirt with the danger of betraying our #1 Love!

God’s Word is crystal clear on how Yahweh requires our singular devotion, our undivided loyalty. He places His Spirit in us so that we may willfully submit to His ways, not strive for our control. NO, The Holy Spirit distributes grace that is enough to meet the challenge of any evil when we are undivided and truly humble.

How do we live this way? The prescription is simple but not easy…

Practice humility before God. Stand up to Satan; he’s a cowardly bully. Engage God to experience Him. Repent like David did, take ownership of your sin and beg forgiveness. The closer you get to God the more your sin will bother you but press into that; it will drive you lower before God and in THAT… HE will lift you up!

James Ch. 4:1-10

1 But about the feuds and struggles that exist among you—where do you suppose they come from? Can’t you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves?

  • There will be relational conflict in the Body, it has a source.
  • The root cause of conflict is selfishness
  • The cause is within each of us (pride or lack of humility leading to sin)
  • We start out totally self absorbed, as we mature we care about others more
  • (Compliment of Barbie’s Aunt Linda)

2 You crave for something and don’t get it, you are jealous and envious of what others have got and you don’t possess it yourselves. Consequently in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another.

  • What activates the sin of selfishness is coveting and comparing.
  • The comparison game is ‘Unwinnable’; incredibly frustrating
  • Coveting never ends because there is never enough…

3 You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And when you do ask He doesn’t give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit—you only want to satisfy your own desires.

  • The focus on self takes your focus off God
  • You don’t ask HIM because you don’t trust HIM (…you did’t get this or that)
  • You approach Him with an improper attitude (Sin of SELF causes separation)
  • This is repetition of James 1:6-8

4 You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realizing that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God! Anyone who deliberately chooses to love the world is thereby making himself God’s enemy.

  • Commitment to a spouse is a singular kind of loyalty, the same as with GOD!
  • You can’t be faithful to God and be captivated, and enamored with this life!
  • A LOVER makes the object of their love priority #1
  • You can’t make God your #1 priority while you focus on the things of this life
  • We all can make the mistake of being seduced by the world and what it offers
  • Have you made a mistakes & flirted, not knowing what you were doing?
  • Or are you deliberately choosing to be a ‘Lover’ of this life? (how to stop?)

5 Do you think what the scriptures have to say about this is a mere formality? Or do you imagine that this spirit of passionate jealousy is The Spirit He has caused to live in us? (translation notes- ‘the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy’ or ‘the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, opposes our envy.’)

  • The ‘THIS’ is selfishly living, coveting & comparing that leads to drama / conflict
  • Living like this is not how a biblical relationship with God works
  • Jealousy, drama, scarcity & discontent are not what God produces in HIS Body
  • His Body, Christ’s Body lives by the Spirit God has indwelt them with
  • God wants us to be Singularly led by HIS spirit, not our spirit of selfish pride
  • The result of life surrendered to and dictated by God’s Spirit is:
  • Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Fidelity and Self-control.
  • So the answer to the question is NO! Self-serving jealousy is not of God’ Spirit

6 No, He gives us grace potent enough to meet this and every other evil spirit, if we are humble enough to receive it. That is why He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ (Proverbs 3:34)

  • God has an answer to our ‘spirit’ of self …GRACE!
  • HIS Grace is enough to overcome our selfish desires that gives us no shalom
  • HIS grace is enough to overcome any other spirit because we have HIS Spirit!
  • How does this ‘Overcoming’ happen?
  • We can have the power to overcome ourselves if we are humble enough
  • Being humble enough is truly giving your life fully over to the priorities of Christ
  • Christ calls the members of HIS Body to ‘Singular Humility’

7 Be humble before God. Resist the devil and you’ll find he’ll run away from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you.

  • Here is what God wants: Humility / Resistance of Evil / Intentional Relationship
  • The devil disengages when faced with a saint who is ‘Singularity Humble’
  • We can only come closer to God on HIS terms: undivided loyalty & humility

8 Realize that you have sinned and get your hands clean again. Realize that you have been disloyal and get your hearts made true once more.

  • Be aware of your selfishness and repent of it
  • Take ownership of your sin
  • Live with a ‘Spirit of Repentance’ (a very humble state)

9 As you come close to God you should be deeply sorry, you should be grieved, you should even be in tears. Your laughter will have to become mourning, your high spirits will have to become heartfelt dejection.

  • Closeness to God makes you recognize & own your rebellion & disobedience
  • Sensitivity to our own sin is the result of a biblical relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Isaiah 6 is how we will respond to the presence of God’s holiness in our lives

10 You will have to feel very small in the sight of God before he will set you on your feet once more.

  • Singular humility before God is not elimination of self… you bear God’s image
  • Singular Humility is putting yourself in the proper place relationally to HIM
  • God sets us on our feet, establishes us today and for eternity BY HIS GRACE!


Our sinful desires to gratify ourselves lead to comparison, covetousness, drama and conflict. This is not how members of Christ’s Body are to live.

We are being unfaithful to what Christ has called His Body to if we let our desires for the things of this world captivate us and set the priorities of our lives.

Members of Christ Body are aware that you cannot love the things of this world AND God. They are diametrically opposed to each other. God’s Word and God’s Spirit clearly oppose our being self-focused.

God gives the grace we need to overcome sin as we live humbly before Him

Our undivided spiritual poverty opens the door to God’s grace that enables us to: resist evil, become more intimate with God, and to recognize, repent of and be deeply hurt by our own sin. And in that process we experience true forgiveness!

A Biblical response to the Gospel is one of ‘Singular Humility’: an exclusive, intimate relationship with our creator and savior based on loyalty, dependance, trust and love!


What makes you more humble? What makes you singularly devoted to Christ? How can you grow these in your life?

What are the standards you use to know whether or not you are ‘Flirting’ with the love of the things of this world?

Can you identify areas of your life that need some of God’s grace but are instead making you frustrated and discontented? How might you change that situation?

How sensitive are you to YOUR sin? Does your repentance look like what James is telling us it should look like?


The Book of James is a combination of Biblical Theology and practical application. James’ view of God is formed by the Hebrew scriptures and fulfilled in The Christ. As an introduction to today’s text, I’m going to briefly recap what has proceeded it:

Our growth ‘In Christ’ happens in challenges, trials, temptations and failures that Christ calls us to endure and even embrace because of what HE will develop in our character. We do this in intimate conversation with HIM through HIS Spirit, seeking HIM in prayer and humbly receiving His generous gift of wisdom. How we conduct our prayer life is of critical importance; wholehearted loyalty to Christ is the only way it works. God requires this relationship with HIM be based on our absolute spiritual poverty.

As Christ followers we are to place HIM in growing priority and our actions are to be an expression of our trust that HE has given us eternal life. Our common condition is sin, it taints the image of God we bear. God is not to blame for our condition and only HE can change it. When God changes our condition and brings us into HIS kingdom, we can now more fully reflect HIS image, so we are to conduct our relationships as HE commands.

Our submission to God’s will in Christ also amounts to a rejection of everything God is opposed to. Such a lifestyle is normative for members of Christ’s body because we are bound to Christ by His Spirit. Scripture commands us in Christ’s Body to welcome everyone into our community equally. It is a stewardship to be taken very seriously. How we live as Christ’s Body is important. Each command is of equal importance to God because He cares about our heart condition.

Jesus Christ’s Church exists based on God’s Mercy. We make God’s grace real in our lives by expressing God-given grace to others. For those in Christ, God’s mercy takes priority over God’s Judgement.

As Christ’s Body we define faith as God does in Scripture: Belief and action working in partnership. Saving Faith, that which leads to eternal life in Christ, is exclusively like this. When a person responds to the Biblical Gospel by surrendering their life, they then begin to and continue to ACT (not just think or talk) like they have given their life over to Christ! Every example of ‘Saving Faith’ in God found in the Bible, (Hebrews 11) is described as a partnership of belief and action.

God is the one who raises up teachers of His Word, not us. Such people will be closely but gracefully scrutinized by the other members of the body. We all are guilty of saying wrong things because of our sin condition. Recognizing and controlling the effects our speech has on others is a partnership of our obedience and God’s sanctifying work by His Spirit. Members of Christ’s Body protect the health of HIS Body by growing in how God would have them use their speech. Those who have biblically converted to following Christ do not invoke His power against other people.

There is a lot to understand and act upon. What we need to do this is GOD’S WISDOM

James 3: 13-17

13 Are there some wise and understanding men among you? Then your lives will be an example of the humility that is born of true wisdom. 14 But if your heart is full of rivalry and bitter jealousy, then do not boast of your wisdom—don’t deny the truth that you must recognize in your innermost heart.

  • Here is how you evaluate who is wise: not by words but by the life lived
  • The opposite of the life that shows humble wisdom is one of comparison
  • Comparison is what causes rivalry & jealousy
  • Satisfaction in the life God has given you is the doorway to wisdom
  • We have to come to grips with thew reality of our inherent selfishness
  • A recognition of ‘spiritual poverty’ is where it all starts (before & after salvation)

15 You may acquire a certain superficial wisdom, but it does not come from God—it comes from this world, from your own lower nature, even from the devil. 16 For wherever you find jealousy and rivalry you also find disharmony and all other kinds of evil.

  • What are things that are totally unbiblical that our society considerers wise?
  • The value system of our world revolves around SELF
  • The amassing of resources, called saving for ‘retirement’ (Luke 12)

Jesus responding to a question about brothers fighting over their parents estate: (Lk 12:15-21)

And then, turning to the disciples, he said to them, “Notice that, and be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man’s real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions.” Then he gave them a parable, “Once upon a time a rich man’s farmland produced heavy crops. So he said to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have no room to store this harvest of mine?’ Then he said, ‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll pull down my barns and build bigger ones where I can store all my grain and my goods and I can say to my soul, Soul, you have plenty of good things stored up there for years to come. Relax! Eat, drink and have a good time!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this very night you will be asked for your soul! Then, who is going to possess all that you have prepared?’ That is what happens to the person who hoards things for himself and is not rich where God is concerned.”

  • A relationship with God comes from trusting HIM, not self preservation
  • Self focus is what takes us aways from God, it is what the Devil is all about
  • Competition & comparison causes jealousy & rivalry
  • THIS is the wisdom of the world, it is opposed to the wisdom of God

Personal Conviction: I have surrendered my life, my attention isn’t on ‘preparing for retirement’! All Christ followers are called to focus on growing our relationship with God, not our finances.

17 The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favoritism or hint of hypocrisy. 18 And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness—in other people and in themselves.

  • We have to differentiate between God’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom
  • Study the real thing so much that you will recognize any deviation
  • ‘True Peace’ is found in Christ, loving peace means a life that exalts the Gospel
  • Being gentle is being considerate of others
  • Being approachable comes from not thinking you are better than anyone else
  • Once agin we see thoughts (beliefs) and actions working in partnership
  • No favoritism because God’s wisdom tells us we are all equally HIS kids
  • No hypocrisy because God’s wisdom tells us HE does it all so we are humbled
  • God’s definition of wisdom: A life devoted to being used by God to bring peace
  • Not needing attention we are to grow ‘God Crops’ in our lives and in others


God’s wisdom is revealed in a person’s life by what they do every day. It is not a matter of intentions and ideas, it is found in the lifestyle decisions we make and the things we do because Christ died for us!

Our shared sin condition leads us to comparison and THAT activates and justifies selfish desires. God’s wisdom is not displayed in self-focused priorities, a life that prioritizes self-preservation is not a life that has been entrusted to Jesus Christ!

God’s wisdom implanted and growing in our lives yields a tangible harvest: peace with God, considerate and humble relationships, belief and action in partnership, and zero elitism or narcissism.

God’s wisdom, not the world’s, is displayed in the lives of the members of HIS Body as we grow in Christ and help others grow in Christ, without drawing attention to ourselves.


How much do you compare your life to other people’s lives? What makes you do that? How might you do it less? If you have eternal life why does it matter?

Which has done more to shape your lifestyle: The Gospel of Jesus Christ or ‘The American Dream’? How might you change that?

What are the spiritual disciplines you practice (or can practice) to help you grow in God’s wisdom?

Come Clean With God

II Kings 5:20-27

Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, ‘See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.’ So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, ‘Is all well?’ (v.20-21)

And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.'” And Naaman said, ‘Be pleased to accept two talents.’ And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. (v.22-23)

And we he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, ‘Where have you been, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant went nowhere.’ But he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards, and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?’ (v.24-26)

‘Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.’ So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow. (v.27)

Summary Points

-God is always at work, and His enemy too. He cannot prevail, but he will not relent. And there are times when those close to us can unwittingly serve his purposes.

-Compromise never occurs in isolation. It always lead to another.

-Lies prevent us from experiencing the greatness of God. (Gehazi, Rahab, Ananias & Sapphira). Truth allows us to experience the presence and power of God, deliverance from trouble and/or grace all the way through it.

-Don’t be complacent about sin or powerless Christianity. Don’t just live with it. Be ruthless with your sin. Do some self-examination if your Christianity has no power, and no impact on those around you.


James letter is going to talk about how we use words. First in regards to the teaching of God’s Word. Then in regard to how our ‘tongues’, when not controlled, can poison Christ’s Body and make all of life, a ‘burning hell’. Lastly James is going to address how the redeemed body of Christ, those who ‘bless God’, can have no part in the cursing of anyone who is made in the likeness of God; that is every human.

God is speaking to HIS church in this passage, it is in agreement with and to clarify, the teaching we see throughout the Bible regarding the power of words… for good and evil…

This is an US / WE message as to the Body of Christ and in particular THIS body!

I believe we are building a healthy culture of ‘graceful scrutiny’ of what myself and all who lead in discipleship capacities teach / communicate.

There is nothing more important we do as a church: Teach Biblical Doctrine!

We are all challenged with saying the wrong thing, there is no one who can say they have their tongue under control. We are here to understand God. Part of Biblical Salvation is an understanding of God. It takes wrong thinking about God to invoke a curse because only HE can enact a curse… What we think about the Triune God of Scripture is critical.

James 3:1-12

1 Don’t aim at adding to the number of teachers, my brothers and sisters, I beg you! Remember that we who are teachers will be judged by a much higher standard.

  • The process by which God raises up teachers happens in HIS due time
  • It’s not about quantity of teachers, it’s about the quality of the teaching (Biblical)
  • Those who undertake the teaching of God’s Word will receive more scrutiny
  • Because what is taught about Scripture is our # 1 priority…
  • Those who teach it will be the recipients of more criticism
  • The term denotes there is more quantity of judging…they will be judged more
  • James knows how teaching God’s Word makes you a target
  • The same principals are used (Biblical Standards) to judge teachers as anyone
  • There is more at stake, so the application of those standards is done more

2 We all make mistakes in all kinds of ways, but the one who can claim that they never say the wrong thing can consider themself perfect, for if they can control their tongue they can control every other part of their personality!

  • We are all in the same boat and we all fall short, so judge teachers with Grace
  • If you claim to never say anything wrong, you be able to be totally perfect
  • None of us can make that claim…but that is the goal…that is Christ’s example!
  • This is not saying we can’t have disagreements or even arguments

3 We control the movements of a large animal like the horse with a tiny bit placed in its mouth. 4 Ships too, for all their size and the momentum they have with a strong wind behind them, are controlled by a very small rudder according to the course chosen by the helm.

  • The examples James uses from their regular life are familiar to them not us…
  • We control planes with laptop computers or run our entire life from a phone
  • We see that the size of something is not always indicative of it’s power

5 The human tongue is physically small, but what tremendous effects it can boast of! A whole forest can be set ablaze by a tiny spark of fire, and the tongue is as dangerous as any fire, with vast potentialities for evil. 6 It can poison the whole body, it can make the whole of life a blazing hell.

  • We have much bigger body parts than our ‘Tongues’ / ‘Mouth’
  • Small thing, big effect
  • It is an intense picture painted here, it is dramatic for a reason…
  • Poison, Contaminate, Spoil, Defile = It effects all ‘Members’ of The Body
  • ‘Fire from Hell’ = Destruction because of Evil
  • We can often consider some things that are said to be inconsequential
  • One chance spark can cause a tremendous ripple of effect
  • We must not underestimate the potential damage our speech can do

7 Beasts, birds, reptiles and all kinds of sea-creatures can be, and in fact are, tamed by humans, but no one can tame the human tongue. 8 It is an evil always liable to break out, and the poison it spreads is deadly.

  • This issue needs to be addressed because it is such an ‘untamed’ force’
  • Reality: This is an ‘US’ deal, it was a problem then amongst believers, like now
  • Humans have dominion over animals and can ‘suppress’ / control them
  • Yet humanity has not found a way to tame dangerous speech…

9 We use the tongue to bless our Father, God, and we use the same tongue to curse other humans, who are all created in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and curses come out of the same mouth—surely, among us, this is the sort of thing that never ought to happen!

  • Remember the context: this is to church bodies / surrendered communities
  • We’ve been given the grace & privilege to use our speech to truly bless God
  • Even those not redeemed by Christ still bear his image (distorted by sin)
  • Why would we of all people use that same speech to curse HIS creation?
  • With God’s authority James says: WE, Christ’s Body, does NOT Do this.

In modern usage, curse is generally considered synonymous with / inappropriate words But that is not how the term was used throughout the Old Test ament and also in the new testament. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament, ‘curse’ has a different meanings than we are used to. These are specific statements, such as to invoke misfortune, to afflict, to make an oath against, and to call on God to do bad things to someone

Curse: Genesis 3:17

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

Blessing: Numbers 6:24-26

May The Lord bless you and keep you, may The Lord make His face shine on you and show you His favor. May The Lord lift up His face toward you and give you peace.

Bless and Keep = Face Face = Favor Face + Peace

11 Have you ever known a spring to give sweet and bitter water simultaneously? 12 Have you ever seen a fig-tree with a crop of olives, or seen figs growing on a vine? It is just as impossible for a spring to give fresh and saltwater at the same time.

  • The answer to the question is NO, it have never been heard of
  • Certain plants only yield certain crops, it’s not possible for them to do otherwise


We are not to artificially elevate people into the place of teaching God’s Word. The goal is not to have more teachers, it is to have teaching that is more biblical.

Those who do teach / preach God’s Word will be subject to more scrutiny in what they teach but grace is always prominent in that judgment. (Ch. 2 verse 13)

We all are guilty of saying wrong things, because we are all naturally sinners. Controlling what we say is a discipleship goal.

We are to grow in awareness of our speech and the effects it has on others. God wants us to be warned about the potential for evil our words can have.

WE must be careful not to underestimate the poisonous effect that OUR inconsiderate words can have on THIS Body of Christ. (V. 6 & V. 8)

The cursing of another ‘Image Bearer’ by one who has been redeemed by the ‘Image’ / Jesus Christ, is not to happen. James presents evidence that it is impossible, based on God’s natural order.


Biblical Application: Finding the right intentions, AND acting on those intentions

What is YOUR role in a healthy culture of gracefully scrutinizing the teaching of God’s Word here at Midtown?

In what situations and relationships do you need to be more careful about your speech? How are you going to do that?

If you desire God to be your instrument of punishment visiting evil on any person, you may not have fully responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Respond to The Gospel