James the Just – James 4:11-17 – Week 11 – Rob Covell

James the Just James


Week 11

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will complete James 4 and explore verses 11-17, and go verse by verse and breakdown the text. The last section of James 4 focuses on the importance of living a life surrendered to the Lord and free from the spirit of offense and an orphan spirit. James gives very strong exhortations to live under God’s authority, the necessity of us living in a place of trusting the Lord, and seeking the Lord’s leadership in our lives.

We see the following 4 movements in the text.

1 – Christians should not slander or judge other believers.

2 – Christians should trust God’s authority as Judge.

3 – Christians should be dependent on the Lord for the direction of our lives.

4 – Christians should be ready to recognize good and be motivated to move in faith to carry out that good.

James 4:11

a) James builds on the thought he presented in verse 10, which is humility before God. If we humbly submit to God’s leadership in our lives and make Him the highest priority by which we live by, then we would be humble before our others because of our dependence on the Lord. If we are right with God, then the expectation is that we would be right with the others around us.

b) When we slander others, we are living out of identity as sons and daughters and living from an orphan spirit that competes for recognition, significance, importance, resources, platform and any other thing that would cause us to look at others before we look at the condition of our hearts.

c) Slander/Speak against – Greek – katalaleō – to speak against, incriminate or traduce (to tell lies with the intent of destroying their reputation). The Classical Greek use of the word was used in an accusatory way toward someone else.

d) This sin brings damage to our lives in 2 ways. 1 – We are not fulfilling Jesus’ command to love one another – John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 2 – We usurp God’s authority to be Judge and enter a realm of spiritual authority that we do not have any right to. Much like Job’s friends.

e) When we judge (Greek – krinō – to separate, pick out, to approve, or esteem, to have an opinion about something, to stand in the place of a judge or king and pronounce judgment according to the law, to bring a law suit against.), we place ourselves in the same authority of the law, and we become a law unto ourselves, and this breaks the law we assume to uphold. Jesus said in Luke 6:37 – “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” When we assume the authority to judge others, then we are not trusting in the Lord’s ability to work justice and righteousness. Romans 14:10 – You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

James 4:12

a) There is only One Lawgiver and Judge – It is true freedom to surrender our opinions and live being free from offense. Romans 12:19 – Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. To trust God as Father, is to surrender the right to hold onto offense and unforgiveness, and trust that God sees, and knows our situations. The test of time often reveals what really happens to those who have hurt us.

James 4:13

a) James is addressing the common culture of First Century itinerant mercantilism in the Roman Empire. People would travel from one prosperous city to another buying, selling and trading throughout the network of roads and cities in the eastern Roman Empire. This was very common among Jewish merchants.

b) Notice in verse 13, that there is no mention of seeking God’s will or direction in the decision to buy, sell or trade. This is living in the pride of life, where our life paths are not determined by a destiny and direction from God, but by the motives of our own hearts.

c) The Lord desires us to be prosperous and abundant, but not in our own strength, but by His leading as we hear and respond to His voice.

d) Charles Haddon Spurgeon – “There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass – one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know.”

e) This does not imply that we should not be wise, plan-ahead and seek to build a legacy. It does however imply that we make wise decisions, plan-ahead and build a legacy as we are led by God, trusting Him with the outcome.

James 4:14-16

a) In verse 14, James keys in on previous illustrations in the Old Covenant Scriptures, regarding the fragility and mortality of our lives this side of heaven. Compared to eternity, our sojourn here in our bodies is very short. In an instant our lives can be impacted by things outside of our control. We see the themes of life being like a vapor/mist/shadow in Psalm 102:11, Job 8:9 and 1 Chronicles 29:15.

b) Verse 15 highlights the heart that is dependent on the Lord’s leadership and heart that is submitted to God’s will. The lie of the enemy is that God’s leading and our being submitted to Him is not a fulfilling and joy filled life. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The great adventure of faith, and a lifestyle of hearing God and responding to Him is very exciting, prosperous and full of supernatural happenings that we experience. Even trials begin to be exhilarating because we begin to look for the testimony and the deliverance that God will work on our behalf.

c) Living independent of God’s leading is self-determination that reveals rebellion in
our hearts. In Luke 12:15-21, Jesus gives us a similar illustration of these truths that James exhorts his readers to consider.

d) The Apostle Paul said very similar things like, “But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills”, and “I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits” in 1 Corinthians 4:19 and 1 Corinthians 16:7.

e) Arrogant schemes – Greek – alazoneia – empty, braggart talk, an insolent and empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights, an impious and empty presumption which trusts in the stability of earthly things

James 4:17

a) Verse 17 is framed in the following thought; If life is uncertain and empty when we live apart from God’s will, then we should be ready to recognize good and be ready to carry it out. James is again putting forth the idea that faith is always accompanied by action. To know good and to do nothing, is not congruent to the faith we confess.

b) In Luke 12:42-48, Jesus gives a Parable of the Wise Servant, that illustrates this very same thought that James gives His readers. Luke 12:48 – From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. The more knowledge of God’s ways in our lives, the more responsibility we are charged with to live them out.


James the Just – James 4:1-10 – Week 10 – Rob Covell

James the Just

James 4:1-10

Week 10

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will begin James 4 and explore verses 1-10. In James 4:1-10, James builds a contrast between those who live in the flesh and have friendship of the world and those who empower God’s grace in their lives by repentance and humility toward the LORD. Though James’ words in these verses are heavy and sobering, James does not leave his readers without the opportunity to change and live in God’s goodness. All truth is always seasoned with grace, otherwise the truth presented is not redemptive.

In James 4:1-10 we see the following movements in the text.

1 – James identifies the origin of division and quarrelling in the Church.

2 – James identifies the reason kingdom resources are not flowing into the lives of believers.

3 – James exhorts his readers to choose allegiance between the world or God.

4 – James presents God’s grace as being bigger than our sin and weakness in the flesh.

5 – James gives his readers a spiritual warfare key for overcoming the devil.

6 – James teaches his readers that repentance and humility are powerful and necessary to experience intimacy with God.

James 4:1

a) James begins to build a contrast between the believer who has a submitted heart to God and a believer who is still living from their own desire or carnality of the flesh. Throughout James’ Epistle, he has brought correction to the division, discrimination and judgment that existed in the Churches he was addressing. Now James reveals the root cause of the things that are wrong in the hearts of believers that manifest as fights, divisions and quarrels among them. The fights and quarrels are the fruit; the root from where they grow is in a heart that is selfish and lives for pleasure.

b) James says in verse 1, that these come from our desires that battle within us. James is speaking to the struggle between our new creation person in Christ and our fleshly rebellious nature that is ruled by our own selfish desires. Romans 8:56 – Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

c) Greek – desires – hēdonē – lust, desires for pleasure. The NASB translates “battle within you” as “wage war in your members”. The Greek word for members means, “of bodies given up to criminal intercourse, because they are as it were members belonging to the harlot’s body”. James is using a play on words from Hebrew culture that will become more apparent in verse 4.

James 4:2

a) As James continues to build the contrast between the submitted and humble believer in Christ, to the carnal believer, James employs the same thought that Jesus presented in the Sermon on the Mount regarding murder or killing others. See Matthew 5:21-22 where Jesus teaches that the sin of murder is in the heart even though it may not manifest in reality. People can kill with their words and slay others in their hearts.

b) It appears that the condition of the regional churches James was addressing had severe conditions of division, jealousy, and disunity.

c) Notice James presents God as desiring to give and be generous towards those who ask Him. God is a good Father who delights in being generous to His children. Jesus in Matthew 6, teaches us that the Father knows our needs and is ready to give us all things that are necessary for life.

d) Heaven’s resources are inexhaustible, never run, are always available and the economy of heaven is prosperity. The conduit of heaven’s resources is prayer, trust and the right motives of the heart.

James 4:3

a) There are 2 things that hinder us receiving from God. 1 – Not asking/having no faith. 2 – Asking with motives that do not align with God’s heart. Heaven’s prosperity and provision are always given with the intent of purpose and strategy.

b) Praying with impure motives is like asking God to be our servant and is completely opposite of the prayer that flows from the heart that sees oneself as God’s bondservant.

c) The Greek word for spend is the same verb used in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the context of wild spending without consideration.

James 4:4

a) James, writing to a distinctly Jewish Church, pulls from the imagery of Old Covenant Scripture like Jeremiah 3:8-9, Ezekiel 6:9, Ezekiel 16:32, Ezekiel 23:37, and Hosea 3:1. In these Old Covenant Scriptures, the LORD uses the imagery of Israel, His people, being an unfaithful and adulterous wife to a faithful and true Bridegroom God because of their disobedience to His Law and their idolatry. The thought here is all who are in relationship with God, are in relationship with Him in the context of a marriage covenant. God has joined Himself to His people and the expectation is faithfulness on their part, just as He is faithful to them.

b) James is expressly exhorting, that we cannot have dual-citizenship in the kingdom of God. To have friendship/fellowship means that we are in rebellion against God because we have rejected or at the very least minimized our friendship with Him. This exhortation is about choosing allegiance to God in our hearts. To be friends with the world system is a challenge to God’s rule and reign in our lives. Christians are called to change the world, not acquiesce to it.

James 4:5

a) NKJV – James 4:5 – Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? Scholars agree that this verse is difficult to accurately translate. However, they agree with the 2 thoughts are being put forth in our various English translations. 1 – Is God jealously yearning for the devotion of our inner man/spirit that he put inside us. 2. Or is the Holy Spirit that dwells inside us jealously yearning for us to have full devotion in our hearts towards God. Either thought is correct and true.

b) James completes his description of the believer who is ruled by passions and desires and begins to define the believer who lives in submission, trust and victory in God beginning in verse 6.

James 4:6

a) But He gives us more grace – The same Holy Spirit who jealously yearns for our devotion, gives us the grace to overcome our sin. God’s grace is always bigger than our weakness. God’s grace extends forgiveness, freedom, and empowers us to do that which we cannot do in the flesh, by His Spirit. Romans 5:20 – The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

b) James quotes Proverbs 3:34. Pride in our lives keeps us from experiencing God’s grace because we never think we need it.

c) James gives us the keys to accessing and empowering grace from God that overcomes the world, the flesh and the devil. It is humbly submitting to God’s rule and reign in our lives. d) Charles Haddon Spurgeon – “If he were a tyrant it might be courageous to resist, but since he is a Father it is ungrateful to rebel.”

James 4:7

a) One of the greatest spiritual warfare victory keys is resisting the devil. If we are submitted to God, then we are set up for victory over the devil because we will be less inclined to submit to him. The Spirit-filled resistance to the devil’s temptations are powerful weapons that cause him to flee from us. Ephesians 6:13, gives us a similar exhortation – Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

James 4:8-9

a) James continues to speak to the culture he is writing to by using the similar language of the Old Covenant prophets in calling the LORD’s people to repentance. We see this same imagery in Isaiah 61:3 and Joel 1:13 – Gird yourselves with sackcloth, And lament, O priests; Wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God, For the grain offering and the drink offering, Are withheld from the house of your God.

b) Repentance is a powerful act when done in sincerity. In repentance the goodness, grace and mercy of God are released into our lives. Romans 2:4 – Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

c) Repentance draws us close to God and removes the barriers of pride and sin that keep us from the experiential knowledge of God. Just as faith expectation is the fuel for revival fire, repentance is the spark that lights revival fire.

James 4:10

a) Repentance and humility toward God, gives Him the opportunity to bring change to our lives.