Ephesians 4:7-16; Nearness to God will manifest His purity in us (Jam 4:1-10).

Class Outline:

Tuesday August 24, 2021


Drawing near to God has a recognizable difference in way of life. God must influence us for good.


We must be careful not to mistake intense emotion for nearness to God. It is the inner man that walks with God in life, and that walk will manifest a cleanliness and purity of life, joyfully and powerfully chosen by our own will. That will produce some intense emotion at times in adoration and thankfulness to God for gifting us with His life. Still, sanctified life is much more than emotion alone.


The opening paragraph of Jam 4 clearly reveals this truth.


JAM 4:1-10

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [chapter 3 shows us that they were envious and self-seeking, trying to excel one another in teaching and wisdom] Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God [not an unbeliever, but takes a position opposed to God]. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? [God does not accept infidelity with indifference] 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (PRO 3:34 from Septuagint) 7 Submit [military term - to put in subjection] therefore 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 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.


First, we begin with the source of the conflict among them - the pleasures that wage war in their members.


James finds the “source” for their conflict in the pleasures that wage war within their members.


James’ statement virtually personifies the word “pleasures” so that these pleasures become like hostile soldiers who wage war within his readers’ members. This statement is very much like Paul’s in ROM 7:23.


ROM 7:23

but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.


The flesh will make us prisoners within our own body with sinful pleasures acting like enemy soldiers waging war against us. No matter where we go, we will not be able to escape that constant battlefield until we overcome the sinful inner pleasures, tossing away those idols into the fire and giving those parts of our lives to God, to His will. Constant inner war does not sound like a very appealing circumstance for the rest of our lives, and all of us have experienced it, and it robs us of continuous peace and joy. Christ set us free from it, and as Paul wrote in Galatians, “don’t use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Freedom is to be released from the flesh to serve God and His people.


We find another great truth here: war within ourselves will mean battle with others.


War within ourselves means that we cannot be good to others, for to truly do good to others, like God does, is to not fear losing anything from self, which He doesn’t. The solution to inner conflict is to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. In so doing, you will feel whole within, not in need of anything, nor fearful of losing anything. No one can take from you anything you share with God. Only you can take your eyes off of your gifts and feel the effect by losing your peace and power.


Being content in all things is being godlike.


PHI 4:11

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.


The readers of James’ letter, their selfish desires that caused them to compete with one another, greatly collapsed their prayer life: “You do not have because you do not ask.” And whenever they did ask, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (vs. 3). James uses a remarkable word, “spend,” to show that if they did receive, the pleasure would be temporary. They desired the wrong things and tried to use prayer to receive them from God.


When you spend, whatever it is, is used up and gone.


Therefore, we can see that when James states, “You do not ask,” he means that they don’t ask for the permanent things, the eternal things, which they actually need, like peace, harmony, love, sacrifice, holiness, etc., but they do ask for personal pleasures which they can quickly use up. And that only feeds their conflict.


“Prayer can result in needs met, but it cannot result in the coddling of our selfish desires.” [Zane Hodges, The Epistle of James]


The disciples standing helpless before the demon possessed boy failed to pray. Like us, they had to learn from the Lord, over periods containing failure and weakness, how to obtain the faith, the power, and the prayer needed. When we return to Eph 4 and study our gifts received from Christ for the purpose of “equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (EPH 4:12):


To serve one another with our gifts (EPH 4:7-16), we have to be ready and effective in the fear of the Lord, knowledge, wisdom, faith, and prayer.


This is a short list, but it makes the point well enough. We have to have a very active spiritual life if we are going to function in our gifts; day in and day out.


Betrothed to the Lord, they became adulteresses by befriending the world and taking the position of God’s enemy though they are His bride (vs. 4). That’s the wrong activity.


The situation is never hopeless if we are still alive. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (vs. 6). Then next, submit to God (vs. 7). Hupotasso is a military term that means to rank under or to put under subjection. By the grace of God, the sinful, wrong believer can turn from his way and submit to God.


Humility and submitting to God go hand in hand. But then they are warned, “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (vs. 7).


Humility, repentance, and submission to God to do what is right and pleasing to Him, will meet with Satan’s test of our resolve (JAM 4:6-7).