Laughter Turned To Mourning:

Christians who have been following Jesus for a while should notice the negative effects of their sin and be grieved when they have grieved the Holy Spirit. What once made a sinner laugh will bring tears to their eyes after being born again!

Podcast 50 Transcript

(This is a computer generated transcript of this podcast. This is NOT a typed transcript and it has not been edited. Expect grammatical and syntactical errors.)

Hello and good day. I am B. R. Maul and you are listening to Living God’s Way In An Ungodly World. Thanks for joining me. It’s nice to have you here. We are in the book of James chapter four. And we are today going to be reading and discussing verses 7 through 12.

So who am I? If you are just tuning in for the first time, I am a teacher and preacher of God’s Word. Most importantly, I am a child of God. I love to discuss God’s Word. I love to read God’s Word. I love to spend time with my Lord and Savior, and the Lord has placed it upon my heart to teach all that he has shown me, and all that he continues to show me. It’s an honor. I love to do it. It is one of my spiritual gifts.

Today, we’re not going to talk about spiritual gifts because we are in James today, but just a quick side note, every born again believer has at least one spiritual gift. The Lord is very generous, and he gives us these gifts to serve one another in the body of Christ. So, let me get right into the reading.

As usual, beloved, I will read straight through. And then I’ll back it up and unpack it for you, verse by verse. James, chapter 4, starting with verse 7.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts. You double minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, You are not a doer of the law, but a judge. Verse 12. There is one lawgiver who is able to save end to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Here ends the reading. Heavenly Father, I pray that you guide me. Let not my own words interfere with the teaching, but with the Holy Spirit. Place every word in my mouth and let me only speak. What it is that you want the listener to learn to hear, and I pray also, Father God, that you open the hearts of those that are listening, those that are seeking you, Lord, that you soften their hearts and open them up so they will not just listen but hear what you are saying to them. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

So let’s back this up a little bit, shall we? Going back to verse 7 of James, chapter 4, the first sentence is really short. Therefore, submit to God, period. I do love sentences like this. Very short, but very direct. Submit to God. It can be very difficult. I understand that. Our pride, our egos, and our flesh wants so much to be in control. We want to be the ones in control of our destiny. We want to be able to say when we’re going, where we’re going, how we’re going. But that doesn’t work, does it, beloved? If you’re born again, you should understand that. Or perhaps you just haven’t learned that yet as a follower of Christ. That we don’t have the ability to be our own guide.

And James is reminding us here. Therefore, he says, submit to God. And submit means to be under God. So we are relinquishing control of our life, and we are giving it to Him. Remember, the way God works, as powerful as He is, as mighty as He is, He doesn’t use His magnificent force. To control us because he knows that what he wants from us is the very love that he has given us.

He has given us the ability to choose. Am I going to give God my love? Am I going to relinquish control of my life to him? Or am I going to keep it? Am I going to love myself? Am I going to lift myself up above others? It’s a choice that everybody needs to make, and of course, once we are born again, whether you are aware of it or not, beloved, born again believers, our life is no longer ours.

But that’s a good thing. We want to relinquish that control. We want to be able to just follow our Lord. As it says in Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Because as a shepherd, He shows us where to go. He’s the one who brings us to areas that are safe. He’s the one who feeds us. He’s the one who gives us fresh drink. And he’s the one who restores our soul. And he’s the one who leads us down the paths of righteousness. It’s a much easier life when we stop trying to control it. The irony in all of that is we don’t control it anyway. Some may think, well, I don’t want to become born again because then I’ll lose control over my life.

My heart goes out to such people because that is a lie, they are buying into a lie, and I believe that lie is from Satan himself, that somehow we can control our life if we decide to keep it, if we decide to keep that love to ourself and not give it to God, then somehow we’re going to have complete control.

And that’s just a big, fat lie. So right away, verse 7 starts out with a bang. Submit to God. And beloved, I hope that you have already done that as a born again believer.

I hope you notice I am referring to born again believers. Why is that? When James wrote this epistle, he is writing it to fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, those who are born again, like Jesus said in John 3 when He was talking to Nicodemus, that we must be born again.

This message is not for those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior. This does not pertain to them. For starters, without the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are unable to submit to God. That is beyond our ability. And so with those who choose to buy into the false doctrine that somehow you can control your own life, you can’t. Unfortunately, we are either following Christ or we are following Satan. I’ve talked about this in the past, so I won’t go any deeper down that message.

So let us continue still in verse seven, resist the devil and he will flee from you. Ah, so there is the devil right away. Now, I just talked about that, how we are submitting to either the devil or to our beloved Jesus Christ. To overcome worldliness, this is what James is helping us with here, beloved, this whole passage that I read. We follow these guidelines and we, with humility, can overcome worldliness, being trapped in what we once were. First we submit to God. Now that is already assuming you’re born again. So what does submitting our life to God look like?

It means going back to Him every single day, asking Him for guidance, reading His word every day. And no, that’s not legalism, nothing happens to us if we don’t read His word, only if there’s enough time in between when we read His word, we start to lose that connection. Not because he goes any further, but unfortunately we, as sheep, go astray very easily.

And then we resist the devil, and we’re told the devil will flee. Resisting the devil, not listening to the messages that he whispers in our ears, not listening to the messages of the world that make these hollow promises that if we just continued to sin and have just a little more fun than life will be worth living.

Again, a lie. Verse 8. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Do you draw near to God, beloved? And how often do you draw near to God? Well, what is drawing near to God? That’s worship, when we worship Him. Now some may say, I worship Him every single Sunday. And that’s good, we should worship every week.

When we do come together with other brothers and sisters in the faith, And we have a corporate worship, whether in a church or a home, a barn, it doesn’t matter. But what a great way to come together and lift up our voices with one another to worship our Lord. That’s drawing near. But I say that even when we live our lives according to His way, when we are following Him on the path of righteousness, beloved, you are worshiping Him.

And worshiping, by making it a priority, going out of our way to each and every day, worship Him. When we use the time that He has given us to help other people, to love those that He has placed in our life, in our circle of influence, we are worshiping Him. When we take the time and we’re reading His word and when we are praying and we meditate on His word, we’re worshiping Him.

When we come to Him and say, Abba, I have a question. I’m a little lost here. What do I do now? And whatever that question pertains to each and every day. We are worshiping Him. And the wonderful thing is, we’re told here that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to you. That’s a promise. It’s not maybe. And I can prove that. Think about a time, and hopefully it’s quite often, that when you do worship Him, when you’re singing to the Lord, when you’re praying to the Lord, or maybe it’s corporate worship when you are coming together. And you have this marvelous time where you can just feel that you are connected to the Lord.

And there’s proof of that because it sticks with us for a while. Can you not feel His presence? Right? It’s beautiful. Still in verse 8, James goes on and says, Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Cleanse your hands. What do you think he means by that? Is he telling us to go to the sink and make sure we use plenty of soap?

No, that’s not what James is trying to tell us here. Cleanse your hands. That represents physical, our hands. We use our hands to do things. And what he’s saying is, when it comes to acknowledging you sinners, he’s talking about renouncing sinful actions. We are to no longer accept doing things that displeases God, and certainly not sinning.

I’ll remind you, because I know that we live in a legalistic world, and many, if not most religions teach just that, that you need to work your way to get into heaven, to satisfy whichever god the religion is worshiping. But that’s not what’s going on here. You see, when born again, beloved, you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, and the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us that ability not to sin.

As soon as you’re born again, you’re justified. That means your sin debts, past, present, and future are forgiven, but you’re also being sanctified, and that’s a process. I refer to it as the relationship, because as we walk with the Lord, praying and reading, talking to others about Him, whatever it may be, He is sanctifying us.

He is making us a little more like His most beloved Son, Jesus. In that process, we are not sinless. But we should sin less. And why is that? Because the Holy Spirit is the one that we learn to lean on. God himself. Not our own efforts, of course. So cleanse your hands, you sinners. We’re living a life, then, where we are not going to steal. We’re not going to cheat. We’re not going to do things that is against God’s commands. Of course we’re going to fail from time to time. And that’s when we turn right back around, repent, and our Father picks us up and helps us move along. The second half of verse 8, And purify your hearts, you double minded. Is similar to the fact of renouncing our sinful actions by rejecting sinful attitudes.

Notice how it goes from washing our hands, or I’m sorry, cleansing our hands, you sinners. So that’s the outside, right? The way you behave, the way you talk to other people, how you treat other people, how you present yourself, because we become ambassadors of Christ. And so we shouldn’t be dirty. We should be clean.

But when it comes to our hearts, purify your hearts, you double minded. That’s more internal now, it’s even changing the way we think. So it’s not just an external thing, James is saying, also make sure that internally you are grateful, internally you are kind, and doing away with sinful attitudes, doing away with anger and wrath. All of that then is from the inside.

Moving along, verse 9, lament and mourn and weep. That sounds rather dismal, but it is what we are to do when reacting to our sin. Before we are born again, we are steeped in our sin, and for those who have lived into their adulthood, before they were born again, can definitely look back much easier and see just how much a person can easily get used to that sin, even welcome the sin. It becomes a part of a person. And unfortunately, that is our world today, as we continue to get closer and closer to the second coming of Jesus. He makes it quite clear that we’ll see this more abundantly. We’re doing acts of cruelness, where justice is turned upside down, and those who do the right thing are punished, and those who are wicked, scheming, lying, and doing whatever it needs to be done to get to the top, to become richer financially, they’re the ones who are rewarded. They’re the ones who welcome their sin.

But James is telling his brothers and sisters to lament and mourn and weep. Now we should be living a life where our sin is not welcomed. And when we do sin, when we do slip, when we do something that isn’t right, it should hurt us. We should feel bad about it. The second part of 9 says, let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. That’s taking that attitude that we once had, that we welcomed our sin. Oh, how fun I was. And we can look back and think how silly that was, that when I was sinning, how I thought I looked so great, I was acting so wonderful. But meanwhile, we were hurting other people. We were stepping on other people. And we would do whatever it would take to look better.

But now James is saying no longer take joy in that sin where once we thought we were laughing and having a great time. Now that turns to mourning. We mourn the very fact that we did what we used to do and we don’t want to do that. And when we see others do it, it mourns us as well. And the joy that we once got from our sins, now turns to gloom. It darkens us. We grieve the Holy Spirit, and we feel that. And the reason we do is because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, which means the Holy Spirit is connected to us. So, when our spirit does something that grieves the Holy Spirit, it’s the same difference of when we do something that brings glory to God and the Holy Spirit. We can feel that joy.

Verse 10, humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up. So, James says, respond humbly. When we have success, humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord. All of that success in our life, I’m not talking financial success, and I guess that would apply here as well, because that too could be a blessing from the Lord. But success in walking with him, success in NOT wanting to sin anymore. Success in NOT being double minded. Success in being able to cleanse our hands and purify our heart.

We humble ourself and we give thanks to the Lord. James says don’t stand up and say, “Wow, boy, I am good. Look at me!” No, we give credit where credit is due, and that is to our Lord and Savior, Jesus. And in doing this, He lifts us up. I really think that is such a beautiful, beautiful promise. Isn’t it great we have a God that just loves us so much?

He wants to sustain us. He wants to do more than that. He wants to lift us up. He wants to protect us. And so if we live a humble life, not telling everybody, look at me. And I think also just in our hearts not really wanting that credit, not wanting to build ourselves up so the world sees us, but want to do what the Lord puts on our heart to do so it glorifies Him.

So moving right along, verse 11, do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. Well, on a side note here, a reminder that James uses the words brethren and brother. But don’t forget, this encompasses ALL brethren, brethren is family. It’s our brothers and sisters. This goes to you too, gals, our sisters in the faith, all who are born again, because I could easily substitute it. He who speaks evil of a brother or sister and judges his brother or sister speaks evil of the law and judges the law. So that’s just a side note, just a reminder in that.

Okay, so back to what James is speaking about. Speaking evil of one another. We know from Proverbs 18:21, death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Death and life, that’s huge, are in the power of the tongue. We’re told over and over, and we see over and over in God’s Word, the power of words that people speak to one another, the effect that it has.

I mean, lying, for example, can be very devastating. We can lift somebody up or tear them down. I like another Proverb 16:24, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bone. It’s good for our physical body and for our soul to speak kindly to one another. It’s not just the person who is hearing these words, but think about it, the more aggressive that we talk to other people when we start using words that are hateful and destructive, we feel bad. It really starts to take a toll on the person’s soul who continues to talk that way in their life without regards to other people and their feelings, their emotions. God hates an evil tongue. He loathes it. So whether it’s referred to as gossip, talebearer, slanderer, there’s many different names for it, but it’s a power that we have over ourselves and those around us.

Take a moment and truly think about somebody you know who has an ugly tongue. Maybe they curse a lot, and they insult a lot, or under the guise of just joking they bring people down, or they say things that really are hurtful. How do you like to be around that person?

And then there’s the other kind of person, the kind of person that is complimentary. They give kind words. Their speech is spoken softly, and they use words to lift others up. To point out things that are good. Now, that’s the kind of person I like to be around. The other kind of person, I avoid.

But, James also reminds us that he who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. That should get your attention, because after all, who’s the one that came up with the law? Of course, God. And so, if we’re speaking evil of others, We’re gossiping, we’re letting people have it, letting them know just how bad they are. And so whether that’s speaking to them or of them, he’s saying that we are judges of the law. And not judge in a good way, like, “Oh, here, you have some authority here. So go ahead and do that.” No, because we are not the ones who are to be placed in the seat of judgment because he says here, and it’s quite clear, if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. And we don’t want to be a judge. We are commanded to be a doer of the law.

Remember, we are to love of our Savior. The very fact that we know that we are heaven bound, that our sins are forgiven, all the more that we are to be able to forgive others quickly and be not sparing at all. But very merciful, showing love to others, and so being doers of the law, that is how we worship the Lord. That is how we glorify our Heavenly Father.

And after all, that’s what we want to do. We need to do that, because we’re called to be light and salt of this earth. We are to never hold a grudge. We don’t have a right to do that because once we are born again and we have received the biggest forgiveness for all of our accounts, we don’t have any right to hold others accountable for sinning against us.

We are capable of, unfortunately, holding a grudge, but now you place yourself as a judge. And not a doer of the law. And in verse 12, James responds to that as well. He says, there is one Lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy. Of course, Lawgiver is capital L because that’s God, there is only one.

He’s the one who makes the laws and He is the one who will judge. And James ends this part of it as saying, Who are you to judge another? So, we are not to run around judging our brothers and sisters, pointing out their flaws, but we are to be doers of the law, loving them, guiding them.

Now, with this said, remember, beloved, always check the Bible against the Bible. We are told by Jesus himself, that with how we judge others, it will be measured back to us, but we are able to judge one another’s fruit. Remember that. But that means to be able to recognize. That doesn’t mean place judgment, because checking the Bible with the Bible, we are commanded to love our Lord, our God, but we are also to love our neighbors as ourselves.

And so we don’t place judgment, but we do use the ability to be able to see one another’s fruit, the works that we bear, in other words. And Jesus says that a bad tree will not bear good fruit, just like a good tree will not bear bad fruit. And so for those who run around saying, I’m a Christian and that I’m born again, and yet their lives reflect the very fact that they live like the heathens, in other words, those who are not born again, that’s when we lovingly would go to that brother or sister and point out to them, help guide them, remind them, you say that you are a Christian, you say that you are born again, but why do you speak in such ways? Or why do you treat this person or these people this way?

And to remind them that we are all called to love. Love! We are even to love our enemies. Not that that’s easy, but we’re still called to do it. And that’s a whole other topic. So we learned quite a bit today with James. In chapter 4 verses 7 through 12, a good way to overcome worldliness is to be humble.

Just to recap, that we will submit to God and we resist the devil and he will flee from us. Don’t take up his temptations. And we are to draw near to God, and we’re promised that He will draw near to us, and that’s in worship. Just get down right close to that loving Lord of ours. Worship Him. Make worship a priority, not just every once in a while.

I pray that you, beloved, are at a point in your walk with the Lord that you look forward to times to worship Him, to sing to Him, to meditate on His word, to follow him. And if you’re not there, well, my prayer then is that the Holy Spirit guide you and show you. And that you respond when He shows you because this world is loud, beloved. This world screams out, “Do everything to fulfill your fleshly desires. Eat what you want, how much you want. Don’t worry about following the rules. Do whatever it takes to make yourself happy.” All of that is just the opposite of what God says about loving because what we do here on this side of the grave before we enter into eternity, well, we’re either building up a whole lot of treasures in this world getting all kinds of money all kinds of really neat and fancy things popularity even a whole bunch of friends.

Well, depending on what you do in life, followers, I guess. Whatever it might be. So many take to social media as if that’s something that the more people they get to like them or follow them, whatever it might be, but remember all of that will burn. None of that we take with us. All of that kind of treasure is left behind.

But when we love other people, when we do things to glorify our Heavenly Father, when we speak the name of Jesus into other people’s lives. When we build relationships that have Jesus Christ as the foundation, when we love others more than we do ourself, you know, that stuff we get to take with us, that’s called love. And that love we get to take with. That won’t burn. Won’t that be great?

Thank you so much for joining me today. If this message is helping you in any way, and if you’re able to help out the ministry, there are ways to support this ministry. You can either go to my website, brmaul.com or you can also just give from the podcast website.

Even if you’re able to give three, four dollars a month, all of that adds up. It helps us to reach more people, continue to spread the message. And it’s very appreciated. Come join me next week. I look forward to having you next week. The plan is anyway, sometimes God changes things up, but it looks like we should be able to finish James chapter four. We only have verses 13 through 17 left.

So beloved, keep on reading God’s word. Keep meditating on that beautiful word. Keep praying to our Lord, meeting with brothers and sisters in the faith, worshiping God almighty.

And until next time,

God bless.

Songs

“Heroes Inspire Hope” and “Mountainscape” by Humans Win