James 4:10 - The Overcomer and Humility.
James 4:10; The OVERCOMER and HUMILITY.
James 4:10 (KJV) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and
he shall lift you up.
James 4: 10 (MSG) Get down on your knees before the Master; it's
the only way you'll get on your feet.
James issues a series of ten commands in vv. 7-10 ("submit,"
"resist" [v. 7]; "come near," "wash," "purify" [v. 8]; "grieve," "mourn,"
"wail," "change" [v. 9]; "humble" [v. 10]). [Expositors Bible
Here we find a series of practical exhortations, using ten
imperatives in the next four verses. It begins with a call to submit to God,
serving as the theme of the exhortation, and ends with a command to
humble themselves before the Lord..... The structure is as follows:
Submit yourselves to God ... (verse 7)
Resist the devil... (verse 8)
Draw near to God...
Cleanse your hands...
Purify your hearts...
Be wretched and mourn... (verse 9)
Let your laughter be turned to mourning...
Humble yourselves before the Lord... (verse 10) (UBS Translator
4:7-10 These verses contain ten commands that call for immediate
action in rooting out the sinful attitude of pride. [NIV SB]
4:7-10 There are 10 verbs, all commands, in these verses, in a
tense that indicates the need for a decisive and urgent break with the
old life. [Ryrie SB]
Ten imperatives (4:7-10). These four verses contain 10 sharp
commands calling for immediate action. In essence they tell us how to
humble ourselves before God, so that we can experience His grace. The
10 commands are: submit, resist (v. 7), come near, wash, purify (v.
8), grieve, mourn, wail, change (v. 9), humble (v. 10). Together
they picture a complete reversal of the attitudes that shape the
spiritually immature and unfaithful. [Victor Bible Reader's Companion]
4:7-10 These verses contain 10 of the 54 imperatives in James.
Combining straightforward and picturesque terms, James beautifully
describes the characteristics of genuine repentance. They are these: (1)
submission to God, (2) resistance of the devil, (3) drawing near to God,
(4) cleansing of hands, (5) purifying the heart, (6) lamentation,
(7) mourning, (8) weeping, (9) turning, (10) humbling oneself in the
sight of the Lord. The beautiful conclusion to this repentance is the
divine raising up that comes from God and not ourselves. [Believer's
Few passages of Scripture have as many active verbs strung
together in such a few brief verses as 7-10, the "how to" section that
caps James' discussion of conflict, unanswered prayers, and the need
of grace to overcome our innate tendency to envy.
The first two verbs suggest general principles. We are to submit
to God. And we are to resist the devil. Just HOW we do this is
explained by the other verbs in these verses.
(1) We "come near" to God. Consciously fix your thoughts on the
LORD, and approach Him in prayer. James promises us that when we do,
God will bend down close to listen to us. This is always the first
step in submission.
(2) We "wash... hands" and "purify... hearts." Approaching God as
sinners, we confess our faults. And though we have been "double-minded"
(cf. 1:8), we make a firm commitment to respond, whatever God may ask
us to do.
(3) We change our "laughter to mourning." We reject the world
system, with its false values. We realize that most of the things the
world laughs about actually call for mourning, and most of the things
the world finds joy in cast a pall of gloom over God's universe.
Changing our laughter to mourning is exchanging lost man's perspective on
life for God's, and evaluating all things by His standards.
(4) "And He will lift you up." When we humble ourselves in these
ways before God, we sense His loving hands grip us, and lift us up.
In humbling ourselves before God, more than our outlook on life is
changed. We ourselves are changed! We are raised to newness of life. [The
365-Day Devotional Commentary]
How can you come near to God? James gives five ways: (1) 'Submit
to God' (4:7). Yield to his authority and will, commit your life to
him and his control, and be willing to follow him. (2) 'Resist the
devil' (4:7). Don't allow Satan to entice and tempt you. (3) 'Wash your
hands. . . and purify your hearts' (that is, lead a pure life) (4:8).
Be cleansed from sin, replacing your desire to sin with your desire
to experience God's purity. (4) 'Grieve and mourn and wail' in
sincere sorrow for your sins (4:9). Don't be afraid to express deep
heartfelt sorrow for what you have done. (5) 'Humble yourself before the
Lord,' and he will lift you up (4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). [Life Application
Every sin is preceded by temptation. Therefore, if we can figure
out how to overcome temptation, we can wipe sin off the face of the
earth.... The answer to conquering sin is to conquer the temptation.... How
can we overcome and conquer temptation? This is the discussion of
this passage. We must do four things.
1. Step 1: submit to God--resist the devil (v.7).
2. Step 2: draw near to God and repent (v.8).
3. Step 3: be disciplined and deeply, mournfully concerned (v.9).
4. Step 4: humble yourself (v.10). [Preacher's Outline & Sermon
Biblical thought demands a fourfold cleansing. It demands a
cleansing of the lips (Isa 6:5-6). It demands a cleansing of the hands (Ps
24:4). It demands a cleansing of the heart (Ps 73:13). It demands a
cleansing of the mind (Jas 4:8). That is to say, the ethical demand of
the Bible is that a man's words and deeds and emotions and thoughts
should all be purified. Inwardly and outwardly a man must be clean, for
only the pure in heart shall see God (Matt 5:8). [Barclay
Humbling ourselves means recognizing that our worth comes from
God alone. To be humble involves working with his power according to
his guidance, not with our own independent effort. [Life Application
For people to be [humble] before God means to recognize their
own limitation and poverty on the one hand, and to acknowledge that
their greatest need is God on the other. It is to submit themselves
totally to God and willingly accept his absolute right to order their
lives. Humility is self-abasement. (UBS Translator Handbook Series)
In life there is one sin which can be said to be the basis of
all others; and that is forgetting that we are creatures and that
God is creator.... Such a dependence begets the only real
independence; for then a man faces life not in his own strength but in God's
and is given victory. So long as a man regards himself as
independent of God he is on the way to ultimate collapse and to defeat.
The challenge for faith, then, is to submit oneself totally to
God. We are to adopt His viewpoint and His values, even at the cost
of personal pain and humbling ourselves before Him (vv. 8-10). The
reorientation of life which comes when we make full commitment to God will
transform our desires, and by making us those who love rather than those
who desire, will change our relationships with others as well.
[Victor Teacher's Commentary]
Sin originates then in selfish desire and lack of humility.
How can we overcome temptation? Step four--humble yourselves in
the sight of the Lord.... God must see us drawing near Him and
mourning and crying for deliverance.... God must not see a self-sufficient
spirit, a spirit that overlooks calling upon Him. God must not see a
spirit that ignores His Word, a spirit that faces the temptation on its
own, ignoring and not even thinking about God and His Word and
strength. God must see us humbly coming into His presence, calling and
depending upon Him for strength and wisdom to overcome the temptation....
God must see us "casting down every imagination and bringing into
captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).
Imagine! Every thought is to be captured and made obedient to Christ.... We
must always remember that the spiritual warfare is fought in the
spirit and mind, at the very core of the heart and mind. We must commit
our hearts and minds to focus totally upon Christ and things that
are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and
praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). We must struggle to subject every thought to
Christ, to gain an unbroken communion and fellowship with Him. It will
take years even for the best of us to gain such commitment and
discipline of spirit and mind, but it can be done and must be done--by the
Spirit of God for the sake of Christ Jesus our Lord. This unbroken
communion and fellowship with Christ is what God is after. It is the very
reason He created us and has now saved us. [Preacher's Outline &
All through the Bible there runs the conviction that it is only
the humble who can know the blessings of God. [Barclay Commentary]
In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto."
A.W. Tozer [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary]
The way up is down. The lowly one becomes the lifted one. [Bible
The "humble" will be exalted by God in this life to a certain
extent, but more fully in the life to come. [SDA Commentary]
One of the surest ways to stay humble is to realize that we are
never out of God's sight for even a minute.... the truest incentive to
humility. (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)
Pride puts us at a distance from God; pride defiles our hearts
and our works. [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]
Faith's lifestyle demands that the believer submit to God,
despite the presence of warped desires stimulated by the flesh (4:1-3),
the world (vv. 4-6), and the devil (vv. 7-10). [Victor Bible
We may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of
lusts than of graces, they will return empty. [Matthew Henry