Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
James has been discussing the war that exist between the things of the flesh and the things of God. He has done a good job explaining that, to prefer the things of the world, and the things of the flesh, is to basically be in a state of enmity with God.
Verse 5 here is difficult, and a number of different meanings have been assigned to it. One I read indicated this as being a reference of something like this, “Don’t you know that the Holy Spirit that lives within you as a believer is jealous, and is grieved when you choose the things of the flesh over the things of Him?” Yet another described it as a reference to true believer having the Holy Spirit, while false, only professing converts do not. Either way, it leads nicely into the next verse, where the meaning and application is clearer.
As usual, James first describes our problem and then tells us how we can fix our problem. Here, it is simply: our problem is being proud, and the solution is for us to become humble. This, is a nutshell, is simply about submission. God gives grace, and wants us to submit to Him. Satan, on the other hand, wants us to rely on ourselves and our own abilities. Satan wants us to be proud; and it was pride that caused Satan to fall in the first place, wasn’t it?
The idea of God giving grace to those willing to become humble and submit while resisting those who are proud is repeated several times in God’s Word. This thought originates in the Book of Proverbs; in fact, James is basically quoting this passage in his:
Proverbs 3:34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
The Apostle Peter was also inspired to write on this topic:
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
In the next day or so, we will look some more at God’s thoughts on being proud versus being humble. Today we will close with this thought: God’s grace and salvation extends to those willing to relinquish self and humble themselves to Him. On the other hand, Grace cannot cover those who insist on having it their way, and doing it their way.