Faith That Submits

By: Stephen Harrison
I loved fishing with my dad as a kid. We would catch a ton of catfish and crappie in that 14’ flat bottom boat. One time when we finished fishing, we motored to the dock so I could get out and back the trailer down the ramp to load the boat. I was about fourteen and my dad would teach me to drive when we went camping. I was in such a hurry to drive that day I stepped out of the boat and it began to drift away from the dock.  With one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat, I slowly did the splits till I fell into the lake! I’ll never forget what my dad said when I popped up. “Son, you can’t be friends with the world and God at the same time. You’ve got to pick one!” I never knew what that meant till later in life I read James 4:4, “Do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Expecting sure footing on both God and the world only leaves you suspended over inevitable failure. We’ve got to pick one!
James knew internal straddling produced external struggling. One cannot simultaneously be a friend of God and the world. That’s two-faced. Godliness and worldliness cannot coexist. James called those who act this way adulterers – those who unfaithfully cheat on God with the world. After all, we are the bride and He is the groom (Ephesians 5:22-27). James began chapter 4 by asking where the church's “fights and quarrels” originated. In verse 2, he implied that people would do whatever their flesh deemed necessary to win the fight. This wasn’t a street brawl or barroom tussle. It was a church fight as James asked about the fights “among you” (v. 1). Winning a church fight is never a win. Whether killing with words (see Matthew 5:21-22) or fighting with fists, James recognized external hostility in the church could only be stopped through internal humility in Christ.  Without God, our “wrong motives” fuel worldly “passions” (v. 3). Our spirit apart from the Spirit “envies intensely” (v. 5). What we need is the transforming grace of God who “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (v. 6). The solution to stopping church fights is “submit ourselves to God and resist the devil.” In contrast, our flesh apart from Christ resists God and submits to the devil. 
For there to be unity in the church, there must be humility in its members. Humility submits and draws near to God (v. 7). Submission means we stop fighting against others because we realize we are really fighting against God. We throw in the towel and surrender to Him. Drawing near means we run to God through prayer and praise with fellow believers. Humility demands we change how we speak about others. It’s hard to slander your brother (v. 11) while you pray with him. It should grieve and cause when the church is fighting and in disunity (vv. 9-11). When believers quarrel and fight among themselves, everyone is down for the count and unable to rise to victory.  We must humble ourselves before the Lord so He can lift us up (v. 10).
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