James 4:13-17 - Planning Without God

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A.    Being self-sufficient, relying on yourself is a terrible sin in the sight of God. 

1.      Why?  Self-sufficiency is planning without God!

a.       Man boasts that he is ultimately in control of his life and future.

–        This is easy to do at the age you are at right now!  You think you have your whole life ahead of you!

b.      Man says that he is “Master of his fait”, “Captain of his soul”

2.      The world says, “Look within yourself for the answer”, this is nothing more than “pride”—Lose yourself.

–        “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” cf. 1Corinthians 10:12

–        The wisdom of the world says, trust in yourself, the Bible says trust in God.

–        The world says, believe in yourself, the Bible says, believe in God.

–        The world says you are wonderful, the Bible says you are a sinner, and unless you repent, you will perish.

–        The world says, you can do it, the Bible says, let God do it.

–        The world says discover how wonderful you are, the Bible says, discover how wonderful God is.

–        The world says you just need to change your attitude, the Bible says you need a change of heart.

–        The world is encouraging you to discover the god within. The true and the living God who created you said, “I am God, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me.”

–        The world says that poor self-esteem is sin, the Bible say’s that self esteem is sin.

The Outline:

Self-sufficiency is

Planning Without God—v.13

Failure to Recognize the Uncertainty of Life—v.14

Failure to Acknowledge God—v.15

Boasting, bragging, & Arrogance—v.16


I.                   Planning Without God—v.13

A.       Should We Plan For the Future?  Is it Wrong to do This?—v.13 

1.      Romans 12:11—“not lagging in diligence”

2.      We should plan and think about the future, planning before we act is not what Scripture is talking about.

3.      Scripture is warning us not to plan without God!

4.      Despite this warning, man plans his life as if his own wills, & desires control the destiny of his life.

5.      Man feels that his future lies in his ability (sports hero’s), plans, energy, effort, works, image, technology, science, training, employment, etc…

B.       Man Feels Perfectly Capable of Handling His Own Life—v.13

1.      Let’s look at verse 13, and see what this passage says.

–        He plans the day of his departure: “Today or tomorrow”

–        He is planning to go to a certain city: “to such and such a city”

–        He even plans how long he will stay there: “spend a year there”

–        He plans to work and even the details of it: “buy and sell”

–        He even expects to have a profit at the end of the year: “and make a profit”

2.      Again, it’s not wrong to plan for the future & work while on this earth, we must work!

–        God said to Adam, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread”—Genesis 3:19

–        If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat—2Thessalonians 3:10—1Timothy 5:8

3.      The sin comes in when we plan apart from acknowledging God, & His guidance, help & care for our life.

4.      How can this man in verse 13 ever be sure he will

–        Leave today or tomorrow?

–        To reach the city he was planning to go to—He might have an accident and die, or get a disease?

–        Spend a year there—Something might cut right into his plans?  Family member may die.

–        Even make a profit—His business might not make any profit—He may lose everything he has?

–        Life is totally uncertain, even for today much less for tomorrow!

·         Therefore, living a self-sufficient life apart from God is the depth of foolishness.

·         Planning for the future without planning for one’s eternal future is the depth of foolishness.

We can give a million possibilites.  Our future is as a small boat on a stormy sea!  What about you?

–        Matthew 6:19-20—store your treasure in heaven not on earth—Where is your treasure being stored?

–        Matthew 6:33—this man was seeking his own kingdom—We must seek first God’s kingdom!

–        Mark 4:18-19—we must be careful not to let the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things, enter in our life and choke out the Word of God, becoming unfruitful!

–        Colossians 3:2—lets set our minds on things above—eternal, not on the things of this earth-temporal

–        1Timothy 6:7—because we brought nothing into this world, when we leave we will take nothing with


II.                Failure to Recognize the Uncertainty of Life—v.14

A.       Remember, We Don’t Know Everything—Only God Does!

1.      James says, “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.”

a.       Our minds are limited—We are not omniscient—all knowing like God

b.      No matter what we plan or think, we do not know what will happen tomorrow, or in 5 minutes.

c.       Think about this: What will happen tomorrow?

–        Accident—earthquake—death in family—good news, bad news—fire—plane crash—etc..

d.      Only when we are in the “will of God” can we be confident of tomorrow, He is leading us!

B.       The Brevity of Life

1.      For what is your life?  It is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone—not sure.

2.      One thing to be sure of after birth is, you & I will die sooner or later--

3.      A vapor or fog is not permanent—neither is your life—The end of life will come to everyone of us!

4.      We do not know when or how our death will come, but it will come—you can be sure of that.

5.      When it comes we will be snatched out of this world into eternity never to return—We are gone forever!

a.       Hebrews 9:27—it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgement.

–        Are you prepared to meet God—You & I can not break this appointment.

b.      Psalm 53:1—only the fool says there is no God—Only the fool lives his life without God!

c.       James 1:10-11—the fool seeks riches, not realizing he will fade away in his pursuit!

d.      Psalm 90:12—but the wise man seeks the kingdom of God—Asking the Lord to teach him to number his days—For they are short.

e.       Ephesians 5:15-16—the wise man lives life carefully, not carelessly, for these days are evil.

f.       Proverbs 1:7—the fool despises wisdom and instruction

g.      Ecclesiasties 12:13—but the wise man fears the Lord & keeps His commandments

h.      Proverbs—because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom & instruction

2.      Since life is so short, knowing and obeying the Word of God is the surest way to success

      Joshua 1:8 . . . Psalm 1:3

III.             Failure to Acknowledge God—v.15

A.       Man is to Be Dependent Upon God For Life—v.15a


1.      Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live.

a.       IS IT GOD’S WILL?—Most people go about living life the way they want, seldom considering God

b.      We are to acknowledge God and confess our dependency upon God.

c.       Note it says—“If the Lord wills, we shall live.

  • Every breath that you take, and all your ways is a gift from God—Daniel 5:23
  • “The Lord is the one who gives to all life, breath and all things”—Acts 17:25
  • “For in Him we live and move and have our being”—Acts 17:28
  • Remember, it is the Lord God who “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being”—Genesis 2:7

d.      Therefore, man should depend upon God for life—He alone is in charge of life and how long we will be on this earth

B.       Man is Dependent Upon God For All That He Does—v.15b


1.      He should say, “If the Lord wills, we shall do this or that.”

a.       Man is not able to do what he plans unless God wills it—We must acknowledge God in all our ways.

—    Does He not see my ways, And count all my steps?—Job 31:4

—    The Psalmist wrote, “He comprehends my path and my lying down, And is acquainted with all my ways”—Psalm 139:3

—    The Bible says that, “A man's steps are of the LORD; How then can a man understand his own way?—Proverbs 20:24

—    This is why we must, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths—Proverbs 3:5-6

—    Because, “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account—Hebrews 4:13

IV.             Boasting, bragging, & Arrogance—v.16

A.       The Empty Boaster

1.      But now you boast in your arrogance.  All such boasting is evil—v.16

a.       This person boasts in things he thinks he has but really does not—He is living in an unreal world.

b.      Why?  Because he is living without God—He lives & plans, thinking he is in control of his life & the future—In reality he is not!

Jesus put it this way—Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.   “And he thought within himself, saying, `What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?'   "So he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.   `And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."'  "But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'   "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21 NKJV)

Are you rich toward God?

—    In reality, if you do not know God, you are being held captive by the Devil—2Timothy 2:26

c.       Our abilities, gifts, talents & life are due to God and rest in the hands of God—Glorify Him!

d.      Going through life without God is like going through a dark jungle without a guide!

—    We must stay close to our Guide!

V.                Self-Sufficiency is Sin—v.17

A.       I Know What To Do, But I Prefer Not To Do It

1.      Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin—v.17

a.       A person must trust & acknowledge God—Pray & ask God for His guidance, help, care and strength

b.      We are to commit our life to Him—All of our ways unto the Lord

c.       Refusing to do so is sin—For the wages of sin is death—spiritual and eternal

—    “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." (Matthew 7:26-27 NKJV)

—    “And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. (Luke 12:47 NKJV)

—    What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? (James 2:14 NKJV)

—    Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17 NKJV)

VI.             Knowing God’s Will

A.       God Want’s Men To Be Saved!

1.      1Timothy 2:3-4

2.      Ezekiel 18:23

3.      2Peter 3:9

B.       God Wants You To Yield Yourself To Him

1.      2Corinthians 8:5

2.      Romans 12:1-2

C.       God Wants You To Avoid Sexual Immorality--Purity

1.      1Thessalonians 4:3-7—God call us to Holiness

2.      Colossians 3:5-7

3.      1Corinthians 6:9-10 cf. Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-7

D.       God Wants You To—Know—Understand, Being Filled With the Spirit—The Knowledge of His will

1.      Acts 22:14

2.      Ephesians 5:17

3.      Colossians 1:9

E.       God Wants You To Do His Will From The Heart

1.      Ephesians 6:6

F.       God Calls For Submission

1.      1Peter 2:13-15

G.       It Is God’s Will To Change You Character By Suffering

1.      1Peter 4:12-15

2.      Romans 8:18

3.      Matthew 5:10-12

4.      2Timothy 3:12

5.      Philippians 1:29; 3:10

Give the Lord Thanks in everything that you do!  1Thessalonians 5:18

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