James 4:7 (2)

Proverbs 16:18 says,

"Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall."

How true that is. How many times that statement has been proved. On June 1st, 1911, the great ship the Titanic was nearing completion and the Irish News and Belfast Morning News reported that,

"The captain can, by simply moving an electric switch, instantly close the doors throughout, practically making the vessel unsinkable."

With its eight watertight compartments the Titanic was considered by some as 'unsinkable'. When Mrs. Sylvia Caldwell was boarding the ship for that fateful voyage, a crewmember said to her,

"God himself could not sink this ship!"

Later, after it hit the iceberg and sent out a distress call, the New York office of the White Star Line was informed. When he heard it, White Star Line Vice President P.A.S. Franklin said,

"We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable."

How ironic that by the time Franklin spoke those words Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean. How ironic that she sank on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

Yet stories like that abound. During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War,
Union general John Sedgwick was directing artillery placements. Confederate sharpshooters were 1,000 yards away and their shots caused the artillerymen to duck for cover. Sedgwick strode around in the open and was quoted as saying,

"What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."

A moment later Sedgwick fell to the ground with a bullet hole below his left eye, fatally wounded.

"Pali, this bull has killed me." So said Jose Cubero, one of Spain's most brilliant matadors, before he lost consciousness and died. (Craig Brian Larson)

"Only 21 years old, he had been enjoying a spectacular career. However, in this l958 bullfight, Jose made a tragic mistake. He thrust his sword a final time into a bleeding, delirious bull, which then collapsed. Considering the struggle finished, Jose turned to the crowd to acknowledge the applause. The bull, however, was not dead. It rose and lunged at the unsuspecting matador, its horn piercing his back and puncturing his heart."

Golf legend Arnold Palmer also warns against overconfidence. He said, (Carol Mann, The 19th Hold, Longmeadow)

"It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, 'Congratulations.' I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus. On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don't forget a mistake like that…"

Pride, arrogance, confidence in ourselves, self-sufficiency—how dangerous such things are. In our text James urges us to resist the devil. It's clear from the context that

one of the major things we need to do if we are going to resist the devil is to not be proud.

The devil wants us to be proud, to be self assured. He wants us to stop trusting in Jesus and start trusting in ourselves and our own abilities. He wants us to forget about our dependence on God and become self-assured. That's one of the great strategies of Satan in his quest to destroy us. We must resist him. Pride is deadly. We must put it far from us. We must always remember who we are, what we are in ourselves, and be humble as we walk with God.

You'll remember what Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 17:10.

"So you also, when you have done everything
you were told to do, should say,
'We are unworthy servants;
we have only done our duty.'"

And in Micah 6:8 the prophet summarizes the Christian life,

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."

The devil doesn't want us to do that. The reason we know that it's one of his strategies is because our text—resist the devil—is surrounded by warnings against pride. The whole context here is about pride. In James 3:13–16 we read,

"Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let him show it by his good life,
by deeds done in the humility
that comes from wisdom.
But if you harbor bitter envy
and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast about it or deny the truth.
Such wisdom does not come
down from heaven
but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
For where you have envy
and selfish ambition, there you find disorder
and every evil practice."

Then in verses 5–6 of chapter 4 James wrote,

"Or do you think Scripture says without reason
that the spirit he caused
to live in us envies intensely?
But he gives us more grace.
That is why Scripture says:
'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Then in verse 10 he wrote,

"Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will lift you up."

Verses 11 and 12 warn against the arrogance of those who slander others. By doing so they put themselves above the law of love and judge the law. In their pride they usurp God's authority. It's the height of arrogance.

The chapter concludes with James rebuking those who are so arrogant that they make plans without any regard for God. They made plans as if they were self-sufficient and could order their lives as they pleased. They said,

"Today or tomorrow we will go to
this or that city, spend a year there,
carry on business and make money."

James condemns such an attitude and says, (verse 16)

"you boast and brag.
All such boasting is evil."

So it's clear that part of resisting the devil has to do with pride. One of the ways in which the devil attacks us is by getting us to be proud.

Indeed, pride was a great part of the original sin of Satan. It was pride that led to his downfall. Pride destroyed him. It is quite possible that
Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, under the images of the King of Babylon and the King of Tyre, refer to Satan's fall into sin. Both passages clearly point to pride. 1 Timothy 3:6 also suggests that pride was a great part of Satan's sin. It says of a candidate for eldership,

"He must not be a recent convert,
or he may become conceited
and fall under the same judgment as the devil."

Some theologians also believe that pride was the sin of the angels who fell. Jude 1:6 refers to, (ESV)

"the angels who did not stay
within their own position of authority,
but left their proper dwelling,"

Pride is something we need to stay away from. It destroyed Satan. It destroyed the fallen angels—and it can destroy you. It leads to ruin. We must be humble live the way that God wants us to.

So how do we avoid pride? How do we resist the devil?

The first thing that the context here suggests is that

you are not to have a presumptuous spirit.

As I've mentioned, at the end of this chapter James warns us about saying that we will do this or that tomorrow. Against that he said,

"Why, you do not even know
what will happen tomorrow.
What is your life? You are a mist that appears
for a little while and then vanishes.
Instead, you ought to say,
'If it is the Lord's will,
we will live and do this or that.'
As it is, you boast and brag.
All such boasting is evil."

Today people talk about 'luck', as if there was such a thing. People mistakenly attribute God's special blessings to them to pure chance. Instead of seeing God's goodness displayed to them through Jesus Christ in giving them all the good things they have—they turn their backs on him and attribute it to some useless concept of 'luck'. That's nonsense.

It's typical of the proud that they really don't think about God. As we read in Psalm 10:4,

"In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God."

You Christians are to recognize that your life is lived in the hand of God. Every moment your existence depends on His will. Every moment he enables you to live and breathe. You must never forget that. Satan wants you to forget about God. He wants you to live your life without thinking about God's sustaining grace and His loving care for you. Satan wants us to have confidence in our own abilities, to live our lives as if God didn't exist. Don't let him do that. One of the greatest lessons that we can learn is that we are nothing in ourselves. Moment by moment we need to walk with God. Paul tells us about this in 2 Corinthians 1:8–9 and how God impressed this lesson on him. He wrote,

"We do not want you to be uninformed,
brothers, about the hardships
we suffered in the province of Asia.
We were under great pressure,
far beyond our ability to endure,
so that we despaired even of life.
Indeed, in our hearts we felt
the sentence of death.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves
but on God, who raises the dead."

Everything we have comes from God. He is our strength. We have none on our own. The wonderful thing is that His power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) The only reason we can be strong is because we rely on His strength.

So resist the devil. Think much on how God have given you life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17) Think much on how every blessing you have comes through Him.

As the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17,

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Do you do that? Or are you like most people, full of self-confidence, thinking that good things come to you because of your natural talents, your hard work? Is your attitude toward the things that you have like that attitude of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon? In Daniel 4:29–30 we read that one day he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. He said,

"Is not this the great Babylon I have built
as the royal residence, by my mighty power and
for the glory of my majesty?"

He didn't acknowledge God's goodness to him. He didn't thank God for all the power and wealth he had. He didn't praise God for His greatness. Instead, he took the glory of himself.

When you succeed, it's not because you're especially clever, or because you have greater strength or skill—it's because God has blessed you. Acknowledge Him in your daily life. Thank and praise Him for all His precious gifts.

A great part of resisting the devil has to do with being humble and knowing our place—knowing how vulnerable we are on our own and how much we need to depend on Jesus for our strength and how we need to praise Him and give Him the glory for everything good we have. In other words, there is a place where Christians should be, a place of humility, and if they move out of that place, they are not resisting Satan and they are particularly vulnerable will most likely have a mighty fall.

The second thing we see about pride in the context here is that

we are not to think that we are better than others and look down upon them.

We see this in verses 11 & 12. Some Christians slandered others. By doing so they sat in judgment on the law. D. Edmond Hiebert writes about such an individual, (James, p 270)

"His censorious evaluation of his brother indicates that in attitude he is opposed to the royal law of love and implies that he is exempt from its observance… In effect, he proposes that he as qualified to enact a better law. He is usurping the prerogatives of the divine Lawgiver."

What a horrible sin. By judging others those people usurped Christ's place. We must never do that. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:4,

"Who are you to judge someone else's servant?
To his own master he stands or falls.
And he will stand,
for the Lord is able to make him stand."

We must always remember that we are nothing in ourselves. As the apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 4:7,

"For who makes you different from anyone else?
What do you have that you did not receive?
And if you did receive it,
why do you boast as though you did not?"

You are nothing in yourself. If God has given you great attainments, the last thing you want to do is to try to usurp Christ's place by judging others and looking down on them.

Christians, stay away from pride. Pride is so destructive to one's character. It's interesting that in the Bible pride is related to ruthlessness toward others. We see this in Isaiah 13:11 where God says,

"I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance
of the haughty and will humble
the pride of the ruthless."

The fruit of pride is not love—but hatred. If someone becomes proud, the next thing you know they're not treating others correctly. Pride is destructive, to you, to Christian fellowship, to your relationship with unbelievers.

Rather than doing that, you are to love others, you are to understand that you are to esteem them as better than yourselves. You are to understand that the gifts that God has given you are to be used to help others.
You Christians are servants of Jesus Christ. He wants you to follow in His steps. He came to serve others. That is your mission. The gifts that you have been given have been given to you to help others.

Christians, don't be proud.

One of the problems with pride is that it takes glory that belongs to God and puts it where it does not belong—with us.

What a horrible thing to do. Yet that's what pride does. It robs God of glory and honor. That's the opposite of what we should be doing.

If we're going to boast, it should not be about ourselves, but about God. As we read in 1 Corinthians 1:31,

"Therefore, as it is written:
'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'"

Or as we read in Jeremiah 9:23–24,

"This is what the LORD says:
'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD,
who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,'
declares the LORD."

Christians, how God has blessed you in Jesus Christ. Think of this many times during the day. Let it always be in your thoughts. Always be praising and thanking God for His goodness to you. Always have the attitude that David expressed in 2 Samuel 7:18 when he said to God,

"Who am I, O Sovereign LORD,
and what is my family,
that you have brought me this far?"

Always do that. Don't let Satan get you to take your eyes off Jesus and look at someone or something else. Humbly bow before Jesus and rejoice in Him. Humbly bow before Jesus and live your life praising and thanking Him.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians—this applies to you as far as why you haven't accepted Jesus.

Why haven't you believed? One of the reasons could very well be pride. You're very content with yourself. You don't think that you're that bad. You are self-sufficient. You trust in yourself, your own worth, your own ability. You think that if there is a God, He's going to find that you're a lot better than many other people, because you know that you're a better person than a lot of the Christians that you know. That may be true, but it will not save you. Such pride will destroy you. Think about that. Let it sink in. Your pride will destroy you. Don't let it. Humble yourself. Acknowledge God and His goodness to you. Go to Jesus, confess your sins and ask Him for forgiveness.