Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
Is James telling us here to be sad, sober, gloomy faced Christians? Just a cursory reading of that might lead us to believe that way. But, that is not what James is saying at all.
As always, we have to look at anything we read in God’s Word in light of the context in which it appears. James is still talking about God’s grace for our daily lives and how we can best get our hands on it so to speak. He has just finished teaching about making ourselves pure in heart and mind to properly approach God. Now he is simply talking about our attitude toward sin.
Sin in our lives should make us sad. We should be distressed and upset about the sin in our lives, as an affront to a Holy God. In other words, we should certainly never take joy, or rejoice in, our iniquities.
Remember David, repenting over his sin with Bathsheeba? He recognized that the true sin was not against even the man he had murdered, but against God. We see this in Psalm 51, when David prayed to God, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” Paul even instructed the Corinthian Church this way in the great Love Chapter, when he isssued this instruction, love “Rejoiceth not in iniquity“
If we even pause for a moment to consider how our sin came to be paid for, we could never be anything but sad over it. A great, great price was paid to cover the debt of our sin. Because of the price Jesus paid on The Cross, our sin should never be something to rejoice over, but should cause us much grief.
There is a song which captures well the attitude believers should have over sin in their lives.