Humble Enough to Draw Near
“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” ~ James 4:5-8a.
Here, in the last portion of our focal passage for part 2 of “Caught in the Wake”, we have a step by step blueprint to walking on water in the midst of stormy seas.
Submit to God:
Sin is failure to walk in unity with God, and walking with God requires us to follow His will, doing so in His way. When we realize our part in causing a surge of sin around us, we must reach up our hand to God by admitting where we got off track in following Him and coming into agreement with Him that our fall was sin and we need His grace again.
Two things I want to look at here is the “Note” from yesterday promising to cover the “personal sin” issue; and we need to look at the work of the Holy Spirit who “convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” Without understanding in these two areas, a storm tossed sea that continues even though we submit will confuse us and can be used of Satan to discourage us. So let’s begin with the first, the fact that it is personal sin we have to deal with.
As was hopefully made clear in the introduction to this series, a wake of sin of this proportion is not generally caused by one person,
but by many whose waves of consequences combine to cause surging seas that appear insurmountable. Now, as is the way of God, I can do nothing by way of repentance on behalf of another. Each person is responsible before God to repent for their own sin issues. I can confess in agreement with God that what they did is sin, and I can pray for the Spirit to do His work in drawing them to God, but I can only repent for my own sins and make myself right with Him anew. Why? Because repentance requires one to turn from walking their own way, to walking in God’s ways. That requires a choice of heart, for from the heart flows the issues of life. My feet will follow my heart, so if my heart is not following God in His desires, my feet will continue to struble over the stones of sin coming from my hardened heart. Only I can choose for myself whether I will follow God and obey Him, doing things His way. My relationship with God is my own and yours is yours.
When we get our eyes focused on the surge of waves brought up by the sins of others, we put ourselves in danger of sinking under the emotional assault and fault finding that comes to us with such a focus. When caught on stormy seas, our focus must be to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our attention on making sure we are hand in hand with Him who equips us to walk on top of the water. This is where the Teacher and understanding His role come into play. The Spirit is responsible to instruct our hearts, and His instruction is clearly stated as being that of bringing understanding to us regarding sin, righteousness and judgment.
The work of the Spirit in the life of one not yet united with Christ is to draw him to realize sins grip that has him enslaved in an eternity without God. He causes that lost soul to realize that God is righteous and holy and can have no part with sin. And He makes that person aware of the judgment already passed against sin, which is separation from God for all eternity. Then the Spirit causes the person’s eyes to open to the saving grace of God that is found only in the Lamb provided by God, Jesus Christ, the Savior. That person then has the choice of remaining under sin and slave to it, or having the chains torn asunder by their choosing to enter into the sacrifice of Christ that frees from sin. Once they choose saving grace, the Holy Spirit of God enters into their lives, becoming one with their spirit, granting them access to the Father through their new birth in relationship with Christ.
Now this new Christian has the Spirit forever within, and the role of the Spirit takes on a deeper dimension of grace that starts this new creature in Christ on a road of transformation and the Spirit works to restore the image of God that was created in mankind from the beginning, but was distorted by sin. With every choice that comes before the Christian, the Spirit works to make them aware of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He instructs their heart, if they are listening: “This way leads to sin, the judgment and consequences of which is against God and contrary to Him. That direction leads to righteousness, the effect of which will maintain relationship with God and accomplish His purpose.”
Submission to God heeds the teaching of the Spirit, reaches out from the heart to grab the hand of Jesus, who empowers us through the Spirit to walk on top of the waters of life and complete His sufferings of accomplishing the work of God in the earth. The blood of Jesus keeps us covered while the Spirit of God is doing the work of transformation in us, bringing us to completion until the day of Christ’s return, when eternity in God’s new Kingdom begins. Thus is the path of submitting to God, which automatically produces our next point in overcoming the storm tossed seas.
Resist the devil:
Note that submission to God is automatic resistance to the devil, who is always in opposition to God. We cannot walk with God and with the devil at the same time. When we are in submission to God’s will and way in life, we stand hand in hand with God through Christ, and the devil turns with cringing fear to get away from us.
The devil is total opposite to God. God is truth. The devil is the lie and the father of lies / liars. God is good and loves goodness. The devil is evil and loves evil. God is love – love always does what is best for the one loved, which is to protect unity with the Father-God and our ability to walk with Him. The devil is hate, desiring to be god himself, he does all he can to destroy our relationship to God and cause us to fall away to following after sin.
When we give ourselves to sin, we walk away from God to walk with the devil, making him god of our lives. When we become a stumbling block in the lives of others, leading to their falling into sin, we cooperate with Satan’s desire and work in the earth. So we must resist the devil by submitting to God, which causes us to…
Draw near to God:
When we choose to walk with God, His glory surrounds us as He draws near to us in renewed relationship. The devil will cringe at the presence of God with us and run away from us. This is the cycle that comes from drawing near to God through submission to Him that resists the devil and causes God to draw near to us.
And how much greater still it is when we live a life that not only holds to the hand of Jesus who enables us to walk on the waters beneath us, but we reach our hand out to help another grab His and walk with us to victory.
When we love God and begin to take on His likeness anew, we search for truth and walk in it, making it known to those around us. God’s goodness begins to flow through us like a river to refresh and help those around us. And His love fills us and spills out to the lives of others.
The Spirit grows strong within us, quickening us – making life found in relationship with God come to our eternal spirit. And we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, compassion, and other qualities of God flourish within us, making us holy as He is holy.
“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,
for the Lord our God is holy!”
Even as we practice these spiritual disciplines on a personal level and get on top of the water in the midst of stormy seas, the surge can continue because we are not the sole source of the surge. Remember in our example, one sinned, hurting another in a way that made them an open target as the hurt cracked their armor, allowing the tempter to draw them out from their relationship with God. Sin has a domino effect that brings an avalanche crashing into the calm waters below, and the ripple of sins hitting the peaceful places surges the stormy winds of sin’s consequences. Each person involved plays a role in the cause of the storm that is sending waves of harm to the lives of all around them. And each must do their part to get back on top of the water with Jesus. Until each one is in right relationship with God anew, the storm will continue to beat down on all in its path.
This being true, how do we recoup and press forward while waiting for others involved to do their part in calming the storm around us? What can we do to quiet the winds and bring calm to the waters of life again? See you next post.