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Learning to Submit to God

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Text:  James 4:1-10


            Submit!  Some people cringe when they hear the word; others bow their back and dig their heals in.  But it not just the wives in the crowd who need to have the quality of quiet resignation.  All of us need to have this quality if we are to be all that God wants us to be.

            Submission to God is not just doing what you are told.  It has more to do with our inner character than it does what we do.  Just as the little child who is “standing up on the inside” when told to “sit down,” there are more telltale signs of genuine submission waving flags in our heart than there are nods of the head that others see.

            Why do you think Sarah (Abraham’s wife) was chosen as an example of submission in the Scriptures?  (1 Pet. 3:6)

            The rewards of a submissive spirit are more than a pleased husband or boss.  We are about to discover what some of those rewards are.  Read Text.

1.      James opens chapter 4 with a two-fold question.  What is the answer to those questions?  (Lust, v.2)

2.      Lust is like a tug-of-war between two forces.  What are they?  (Whether to submit to the will of God or gratify our own desires for the pleasures of this world.)

3.      What does James say is the end result of trying to satisfy our lust?  (Quarrels, fights, and then murder.)   What parallel do you see in Luke 8:14?

4.      If lust leads to destroying one another, what does obedience to God’s will lead to?  (It draws men together to love and serve one another.)

5.      Why do you think James introduces the subject of prayer in verses 2 & 3 at this point?  (The craving for pleasure in the end shuts the door of prayer.)

6.      Why will God not answer the prayer that is asked with wrong motives?  (God will not answer until “self” is removed from the throne and God is put there.)

7.      Why does James call such people an adulteress?  (We are married to God; therefore to embrace the world is to be an adulteress.)  2 Cor. 11:1-2

8.      Would you compare disobeying God to breaking a marriage vow?  Explain.     When we sin, do we break God’s heart?

9.      How is the thrust of verse 4 restated in the following verses?  Rom. 8:7-8; 2 Tim. 4:10; Matt. 6:24; 1 John 2:15-17

10.  James follows this thought of spiritual adultery with the thought that God is a jealous God.  Ja. 4:5  Since God cannot sin, how can He be jealous?  (God loves man with such a passion that He cannot bear any competition with the love that belongs to Him only.)

11.  Verse 6 is a beautiful verse in the context of what James has written.  Even though man may play the part of a spiritual adulteress, God has greater grace than our sin.  But whom does god give His grace to?  (The humble.)  Why is this?  (Man cannot receive it until he has realized his need of it, and has come to God humbly.)

12.  What is so destructive about pride?  (It admires self so much that it does not recognize that you are in need spiritually; pride occupies itself with its own goodness and doesn’t recognize sin.)

13.  What naturally follows genuine humility according to our text?  (V.7 – submission to God, and since no man can serve two masters, to submit to God means to resist the devil.)

14.  Why does resistance cause Satan to flee?  (Satan cannot force us to sin; he can only put the temptation before us.  By the strength of our will, we can choose to not sin.  The victory lies in the strength of your will and calling upon the power of God.)

15.  What naturally follows submitting to God?  (V.8 – drawing near to God and He therefore draws near to you.)

16.  From verse 8, is “cleanse your hands” symbolic or literal?  Explain.

17.  When James says to be miserable and mourn and weep, is he denying us the joy of the Christian life?  What do you think he means?  (He is pleading for a sober mind in the midst of those who are in love with the world.  To recognize your own sin and thus weep is the first steep of getting right before God.)

18.  Why does God exalt those who first humble themselves?  (Only when a man realizes his own ignorance will he ask for God’s guidance.  Only when he realizes his own spiritual poverty will he ask for the riches of God’s grace.)


            The things of this world appeal to our eyes.  God made the world and He made it beautiful / pleasant.  But the problem comes from trying to exact from it more pleasure from it than He intended.  The problem lies in replacing the affection that belongs to God with affection for the things of this world.  Therefore the merchandisers of this world that try to persuade us give unhealthy “value” to those things are in direct opposition to God.

            So the real question of application is: How do we keep from being overpowered by the world’s values?  (Nurture a constantly growing/healthy love relationship with God and the things of God.)

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