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Attitude Matters: James 4:6-10

Stair-Steps to Humility
Dr. Dave Anderson

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit 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 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.—James 4:6-10 (NKJV)

In today’s sermon, Dr. Anderson took us on the journey to a correct relationship with God, from pride to humility. Pride says, “God, I don’t need you. I can handle things quite nicely by myself, thank you very much.” At the very least, it is to claim credit for what God has done for us. Self-exaltation—that’s pride. Do you remember what the word “resist” means? It means God stands against the proud man or woman in battle array. Woe to the man, woman, or child who goes to battle against God. If God be for us, who then can be against us? But if God be against us, who then can be for us? How would you like to see everything you do in life be bomb-shelled—your family, your business, your church life—everything?

On the other hand, the cure for conflict is humility. Submit to God; resist the devil; draw near to God; deal with sin in your life; declare your dependence. It’s difficult to say which of these steps are the most important, but if one must be named, it is to draw near to God. To illustrate, Dr. Anderson told a story about his then five-year-old son Jimmy.

He said, “We were living in a four-bedroom house. The master bedroom was set apart from the other three. My son was in one of those other bedrooms, and my daughter, about three, was in another. We used the fourth for reading and TV.

On Saturday nights I always liked to save a couple of hours before bed to meditate on the ministry of the next day and to pray. It was something of a ritual for me. So, the kids were asleep, and I had my back to the wall, leaning back on a Hollywood couch. While meditating with my eyes open, I noticed the door handle slowly turning. The door inched open a bit, and a little hand started crawling around the edge of the door as it was pushed slightly wider.

Now you must understand that I did not like being disturbed during my ritual. Finally, the door was open, and Jimmy stepped in. He was a cute kid with big blue eyes, and they were wide open. He wrestled some with nightmares, and I could tell he was scared, but I didn’t want to be disturbed. I was being spiritual, you understand. So I asked, “Jimmy, what do you want? You are supposed to be in bed.” He looked at me with those big eyes and said, “Daddy, I don’t want anything; I just want to be close to you.”

Ah, man, what’re you gonna do? “Jimmy, what do you want—a pony, a Cadillac? Come over here.” I held out my arms to him and he ran over and jumped up against my chest. I drew him close with my arms around him. That’s when I began to understand this verse. “Yes, Lord, I know you are busy. But things are tough in my life right now, and I am scared. I’m not even asking for anything. I just want to be close to you.” That is nearly irresistible. He will wrap his loving arms around you and pull you close.”

WATCH > the video clip above

ASK > How does an attitude of pride hinder our relationship with God? Have you ever experienced a time when God was resisting you? What was that like?

Dr. Anderson taught that the word “pride” is a combination of the Greek words “hyper” and “phaneroō,” which mean “above + appear = to appear above.”

ASK > How is pride “to appear above? Is this an accurate picture of yourself?

Humility, on the other hand, acknowledges a complete dependence on God.

The text outlines a five-step stairway from the attic of pride to the basement of humility.

ASK > What are the steps?
Step 1.  ______ to God (7a)
Step 2.  ______ the Devil (7b)
Step 3.  ______ near to God (8a)
Step 4.  ______ with Sin (8b-9)
Step 5.  ______ my Dependency (4:10)

ASK > In verse 6, we learn that God opposes the proud. In verse 7 we are told to resist the devil. Is opposing and resisting the same thing? Why or why not? What does this teach us about our relationship with God and with the devil?

ASK > How is this related to submission?

The word “submission” means “to put yourself under.” Dr. Anderson used the illustration of God’s protective umbrella. When we submit to God, we place ourselves under the protective umbrella of His will. We acknowledge our need for His protection. To step out from under the umbrella is to expose us to the full force of the storm.

ASK > What are practical ways to resist the devil?

Show your group that they can resist the devil by:
  1. Remembering God never leaves them (Romans 8:38–39)
  2. Refusing to live in guilt (1 John 1:9)
  3. Praying often (1 Thessalonians 5:16–24)
ASK > What’s the difference between repentance and remorse? Which is more closely related to submission?

ASK > Does repentance require remorse?

READ > the following paragraph from Dr. Anderson’s commentary on James:

“Dealing with our sinfulness actually has more to do with honesty than tears. There are times when tears are called for. This seems to be one of those times for James’ readers. But as a general rule, I think we are reading some insight on the nature of true confession. It is more than just naming a sin as sin. When we agree (homologeō means to agree or confess in 1 Jn 1:9) that something is sinful, we are agreeing with someone. That someone is God. That means we should have the same attitude toward our sin that He has. Our sin grieves Him (Eph 4:30) and He hates it (Zech 8:17).—Dr. Anderson

True confession involves some degree of remorse for my sins and some degree of repugnance. I want to turn away from it; I yearn to stop; I crave deliverance.”
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