James 4:7-10 | DRAW NIGH




ILLUSTRATION: If I were to ask you how to be close to God, what would you say?
My guess, is that your thought is the same as mine… Read your Bible, and pray.
From a child we are taught that is the answer to being closer to God.
“Read your Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.”
It is the secret recipe to a close to God life.
Some may say, “Go to church… tell people about God.”
All of those things are good things.
But now imagine with me you are in the 1st century...
You don’t have a Bible, at least not as we know it today.
But you receive this letter from Jesus’s half brother, James.
You are hungry to learn more about Jesus.
You are hungry to grow in your following of Him and His teachings.
You want to know how you can be close to God.
And James begins that verse in James 4:8
James 4:8 KJV 1900
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
You learn that truth for the very first time… “If I will draw close to God, He will draw close to me.”
So you grab the scrolls of God’s Word you have available, prepared to read them.
You pull out your prayer list, prepared to spend dedicated time in prayer.
You might even make plans to make your way to the temple to worship God.
But that isn’t how James tells you to draw near to God.
EXPLANATION: Two weeks ago we saw what James told us in v.7 about what it meant to submit to God and resist the devil.
Like a soldier in the army, it is to willingly place ourself under the control of God.
And then in His power, stand each and every day against the devil.
To consciously choose not just to go with the flow, but to stand against our flesh and the wicked one.
But James didn’t stop there.
Not only does he tell us that we must choose to submit ourselves to God, in v.8 he tells us that we must draw nigh to God.
That One that we are submitting to as our captain.
The One that we are making the authority of our life
He doesn’t just want a cold dictatorship… no He wants a close relationship.
James says, if you will choose to draw closer to God, He will draw closer to you!
APPLICATION: It’s an incredible thought to think that the God of the universe desires to have a relationship with me.
Proverbs 18:24 KJV 1900
24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
God knows how many hairs are on your head!
Matthew 10:30 KJV 1900
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
ILLUSTRATION: When I was first pursuing Tressa, I did my best to find out the things that she liked
I discovered her incredible love of cheese.
I learned that she was from MT, so one of the first things I ever got her was an entire container of beef jerky
I wanted to do my very best to know everything I could about her.
APPLICATION: We have a God that knows how many hairs are on my head.
To this day there are many things I’m still learning about Tressa, but I will never be able to know her that well!
God knows the intimate and finest details about our life!
And He wants to continue growing closer to us, as we grow closer to Him!
But what James writes in v.8-9 is stunning.
He gives the so often neglected answer to how we can grow closer to God!
While I would have said Bible reading, prayer, or church attendance, all of which are important and should be a part of the Christian’s life… His very top priority to being close to God:


James 4:8 KJV 1900
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
EXPLANATION: James deals with two specific areas of the Christian that were necessary to be near the Lord.
He begins with the command to “cleanse your hands.”
In Exodus 30, commands are giving for the Aaron and the priests to wash their hands and their feet in a bowl before entering the presence of God.
It was a symbolic reminder of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man!
James says to these believers, you need to wash your hands
ILLUSTRATION: You probably have kids like ours
They like to spend the day playing with any number of things.
They other day Jayce was outside in the garage with me and caught a spider and decided that he needed to take it inside for mom to enjoy.
He brought it in and he and Kynoa put it in a container… It just happened we had a grape container we had just finished, so they put the spider in it.
But just like every grape container you’ve ever seen, this one had holes all over it, and by supper time, we were informed that the spider was no longer in the grape container.
They are constantly getting their hands into things, sometimes things they shouldn’t.
When we come inside after being outside or after going somewhere, Tressa will regularly say, “Go wash your hands”
And every once in a while we will hear the response back… “I don’t need to.”
Maybe they had washed earlier in the day… maybe they just don’t feel like it.
One way or another they are saying, “I don’t think my hands are dirty.”
APPLICATION: Isn’t that how we are with God?
He says cleanse your hands you sinners… and we think, I don’t need to.
“I did that before”
“I think I’m doing alright.”
“I don’t think I’m dirty.”
But God says, if you want to understand what it is to be close to me, you must cleanse yourself of your sin.
David prayed in Psalm 19:12
Psalm 19:12 KJV 1900
12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.
And so for many of us we pray and we say things like, “If there is any sin in my life… will you forgive me, Lord?”
While it’s true that their can be times that we, to the best of our knowledge, are truly right with God, and we are asking Him to point out what we’ve grown blind to.
But more often than not, you and I know exactly what sins are keeping us form being close to God!
We know when we have been short with our spouse
We know when we responded in anger toward our kids.
We know when we were gossiping at work
We know when we sinned.
And James writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, cleanse your hands you sinners!
You know that you aren’t living how you ought to live, and you’ll never be as close to God as you should be until you do.
The Answer to drawing nigh to God starts with cleansing your hands.
EXPLANATION: But then he goes on to says, “And purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
He literally dives at the heart of the matter!
Your love isn’t pure!
ILLUSTRATION: I had a lot of girl friends growing up.
From the time I was in third grade, it seemed like I always had a girlfriend.
When you’re a kid in grade school with a new girlfriend nearly every week you tell a lot of girls that you “love” them.
But one mistake I never made was having two girlfriends at once.
Even in my young age, I was smarter than that.
Because I knew I couldn’t tell the one girlfriend “I loved her” if there was another girlfriend on the side.
You can’t be double minded in your relationships as a 3rd grader!
Now fast forward to today… I’m very happily married to an amazing wife.
I regularly tell her, “I love you… and I really mean it.”
But just imagine what it would be like if she found out I was telling Suzy from third grade I loved her too.
We’d have a problem!
You can’t love your spouse with perfect love… while you have a Suzy you’re telling you love too.
It’s impossible… it’s double minded.
APPLICATION: Why would we think it’s any different with God?
“God, I love you and here’s my heart… but I also love my hunting.”
“And maybe this time I’ll choose hunting, but next time I’ll choose you.”
“God, I love you with all of my heart… but I really just need some more money to buy some things that’ll really make me happy.”
“God, I’ll put you first most of the time… but this one time I just want what I want.”
Can I remind us what James said about that attitude: James 4:4
James 4:4 KJV 1900
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
James 1:8 KJV 1900
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
1 John 2:15 KJV 1900
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Matthew 6:24 KJV 1900
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
God says if you want to be close to me and I close to you, you need to cleanse your hands and you need to purity your heart!
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
While it’s cliche to say when talking about your house… it’s 100% accurate when talking about your heart.
And we aren’t talking about your standards either!
If your godliness was all about your dress, there would be a building full of godly people in Washington DC.
Friend, the goal is not your dress standard
The goal is not your music standard
The goal is not how much money you put in the offering plate
While those are all good things.
No the goal is Jesus, and His holiness.
The goal is Jesus and his mindset.
Philippians 2:5 KJV 1900
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
The standard is Matthew 22:37
Matthew 22:37 KJV 1900
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
James says, “If you want to truly be close to God… Get rid of the sin in your life, and love God with all your heart!”


James 4:9 KJV 1900
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
EXPLANATION: James follows the actions we should take regarding sin in our lives, and follows it with the attitude with which we should approach sin in our life.
Can we say it this way… Sin should be dealt with in brokenness.
ILLUSTRATION: We live in a culture that magnifies sin.
Every show you can watch on the TV magnifies homosexuality.
Can we talk about something we don’t talk about much… Every show you watch magnifies intimate relationships outside the bounds of marriage.
You can’t watch a sporting event without being bombarded with commercials and blatant disregard to God and His Word.
Sin is rampant!
But here is the key… we can see what may be going on in the world and we are quick to pass judgment, oftentimes in a harsh way.
But can I let you in on a secret… God isn’t surprised with the world acts like the world, and neither should we.
It doesn’t mean we should just pass it off and pretend like it doesn’t matter because it does.
But what breaks God’s heart… Is when His children act like the world… and it doesn’t break their heart!
APPLICATION: When a Christian realizes that they have sinned, the response should not be to pass it off lightheartedly.
The right response when we recognize sin in our life is to respond in brokenness!
To be afflicted and mourn and weep, and feel heaviness!
Joel 2:12–13 KJV 1900
12 Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, And with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, And turn unto the Lord your God: For he is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness, And repenteth him of the evil.
ILLUSTRATION: When David recognized his sin with Bathsheba, he recorded his response in a prayer in Psalm 51:1-17
Psalm 51:1–17 KJV 1900
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: And my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done this evil in thy sight: That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: And in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, And blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; And take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; And uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; And sinners shall be converted unto thee. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 15 O Lord, open thou my lips; And my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. 16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
ILLUSTRATION: When I was growing up, I was the first child and so all the correction was an experiment on me.
I can remember my dad had a leather belt that was regularly applied to the seat of knowledge.
It was never in anger… and it was always deserved.
But I can remember on only a few occasions when I got a little older, that dad didn’t pull out a belt.
He just looked at me… and I could tell in that moment, I had disappointed my dad.
I would have given anything for him to give me the belt, I would have grabbed it for him.
But knowing I had disappointed my dad… it broke me.
APPLICATION: Friend, how do you respond when you realize you’ve sinned against your father?
There ought to be a brokenness before God.


APPLICATION: How close are you to the Lord this morning?
There are probably some that can say with a pure heart today, God you are my one and only love… and I’m truly clean before you!
But more than likely there are many who are where I was writing this message, and your double heart needs to be broken before Him.
We’ve said it before, and we will say it again… “If there has ever been a time in your life that you were closer to God than you are right now, then by definition you are backslidden.”
And if that’s you this morning, can I encourage you to come humbly and broken to God and deal with your sin?
And I’ve got great news if you will: James 4:10
James 4:10 KJV 1900
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
I hope today you will walk out of this building closer to God than you’ve ever been.
“Draw nigh to God, and he WILL draw nigh to you.”
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