The Godly Sorrow That Restores

This is my first sermon, and I will preach it in my Christian Preaching
class at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Thursday, April 29,
2010.


The Godly
Sorrow That Restores

The
passage is James 4:7-10, which is below:

7Submit
therefore to God.  Resist the devil and
he will flee from you.

8Draw
near to God and He will draw near to you. 
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you
double-minded.

9Be miserable and mourn and
weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.

 10Humble
yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

            In order to see the reasons that we
as Christians are to be humble, we must first look at the greatness of God and
see how the perfection that God requires cannot be fulfilled by human
flesh.  There are three ways that Jesus’
brother, James, shows us Christians how to live:  we as Christians should remain submissive toward
God, we as Christians should remain serious about the faith, and we as
Christians should remain humble before God.

Paul Aiello, the pastor at Seaview
Baptist Church in Linwood, New Jersey, tells the story of a captain who does
not listen to commands when he should consider taking advice from a lighthouse
keeper.

“The
captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the
distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message ‘Alter your
course 10 degrees south.’ Promptly a return message was received: ‘Alter your
course 10 degrees north.’

“The
captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message:
‘Alter your course 10 degrees south–I am the captain!’ Soon another message
was received: ‘Alter your course 10 degrees north–I am seaman third class
Jones.’ Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would
evoke: ‘Alter your course 10 degrees south–I am a battleship.’ Then the reply
came ‘Alter your course 10 degrees north–I am a lighthouse.’

“In
the midst of our dark and foggy times, all sorts of voices are shouting orders
into the night, telling us what to do, how to adjust our lives. Out of the
darkness, one voice signals something quite opposite to the rest–something
almost absurd. But the voice happens to be the Light of the World, and we
ignore it at our our peril” (Aiello).

This
illustration easily shows how Christians should live their lives—in submission
to God.  When we try to live our lives
the way that we want, we do not see the whole picture and end up trying to undo
what God has planned, just like the ship’s captain was trying to make the
lighthouse move, even though the lighthouse’s purpose was to guide the
ship.  When the captain had been warned
to move and didn’t, he was not in submission to the lighthouse and could have
lost his life due to his stubbornness.

The
first point is that we as Christians should remain submissive toward God.  “Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you”
(James 4:7).  The Greek word for “submit”
is hupotasso (Strong, 75, Greek dictionary section), which is a reflexive verb
that means to submit oneself.  In this
case, the phrase would be “submit yourself to God.”  This would mean that submission is a
choice.  Even though the Holy Spirit
helps us, this turning back to God’s control is a discipline and something that
Christians do in order to recognize God’s sovereign power.  A more literal translation of the word
“hupotasso” is to “arrange [oneself] under”, hupo meaning “under” and tasso
meaning “to arrange” (Strong, 75, Greek dictionary section).    However, this type of submission is not
meant to be only outward submission. 
Warren Wiersbe says in his New Testament commentary entitled The Wiersbe Bible Commentary “It is
possible to submit outwardly and yet not be humbled inwardly.  God hates the sin of pride … and He will
chasten the proud believer until he is humbled …sin is serious, and one mark of
true humility is facing the seriousness of sin and dealing with our disobedience”
(Wiersbe, 876). 

The
second point that we are going to look at is that we as Christians should
remain serious about the faith.  In other
words, we should weep and mourn over sin. 
 “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into
mourning and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9) 
Our seriousness does not need to make us unlikeable as Christians, but
there are obvious times in life for us to reflect about the seriousness of our
own sins, and there are times that we need to ask God to restore us back to our
previous state in Him.  “Therefore,
prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely
on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient
children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your
ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all
your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY’” (1
Peter 1:13-16).  “Beloved, I urge you as
aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the
soul” (1 Peter 2:11).  These two verses
emphasize the depravity of human nature. 
It’s something that humans do not like to talk about, but that does not
negate the need to reflect on sin.  When
we sin, we have a tendency to try to cover it up or to try to forget about
it.  This does not mean that all we
should think about is our sin, but it does mean that we should come to God in
seriousness about our sorrow for our sin.

The
third point that we are going to look at is that we as Christians should remain
humble before God.  The promise is that
if we humble ourselves “in the presence of the Lord, […] He will exalt
[us].”  It sounds like an oxymoron to
humble oneself and then to get exalted; however, as Christians, exaltation of
ourselves should not be our goal.  If we
are Christians, then we have made a conscious claim that God is in control over
the universe.  If that is the case, and
we as humans are depraved, how could we possibly exalt ourselves, and why would
God want to exalt us?  According to the
Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy
him for ever” (Westminster, Question 1). 
We see several verses in the Bible that lead us to this conclusion.  Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are You, our
Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all
things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created."  I Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “…do you not know
that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from
God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body.”  I
Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do
all to the glory of God.”  1 Peter 4:11
says, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of
God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God
supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to
whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  These verses show that the central point of
Christians’ lives should be to glorify God. 
While we accomplish this, God will exalt us; not because we deserve it,
but because God gets glory when He exalts imperfect humans up.  Since we were created for Him, we must have a
purpose.  That purpose, as just shown, is
to glorify God.  In 1 Corinthians 10:31,
Paul said that “whatever [we] do, [we should] do all to the glory of God.”  There is not anything that is not covered by
this statement, so all our life should be lived for God.

Pride
is the opposite of humility.  Although
there is no direct reference to pride in the passage in James, it can be
implied that Christians are to stay away from pride.  In the book Shedding Light on Our Dark Side, Dr. Charles Swindoll states that
“unlike gluttony, anger, and greed, which are often easily detected, pride can
blend in to just about any lifestyle, making it practically impossible to
detect.  In our day, though, it seems
that pride needn’t bother to conceal itself because many people have exalted it
from the vice that it is into a virtue it is not” (Swindoll 15).  Because of pride’s subtlety, Christians must
keep a check on themselves to make sure that they are not prideful.  Sin separates the Christian from the true joy
only found in Jesus’ grace.  Although we
cannot earn this grace, we can keep ourselves from God by having sinful habits
such as pride.

We
must not forget 1 Corinthians 15:58, which says, “Therefore, my beloved
brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.  When we seek to glorify and submit to God,
the work we do will not be in vain.  When
the Christian life is lived to the fullest, life is productive and useful.  However, we will not reach this full life
until Heaven.  Until then, we must live
our life according to God’s will, for it is when we are the closest to God that
we are at our fullest potential.  We
cannot get close to God if we are stuck on the things of this earth.  Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to
this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may
prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”
(Romans 12:2).

As
I close, it is important to remember that there should be a balance between
sorrow for sin and peace with God in Salvation. 
Our sorrow for our sin should not remove the peace we have through
salvation; in fact, true sorrow for sin should enable us to have the peace of
God in Salvation because we know that we have the assurance of Heaven.  The last thing I want to leave you with is
this promise:  “Humble yourselves in the
presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).  This exaltation is to show God’s power
through redemption, and what more powerful way is there than to show humility
than for God to come down to earth in a humble manner to redeem us?

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Un commentaire pour The Godly Sorrow That Restores

  1. Jeremy 吳子 杰勒米 dit :

    BibliographyAiello, Paul Jr. Sermon Illustrations. 14 April 2010 <http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/submission.htm&gt;.New American Standard Bible. Anaheim, California: Foundation Publications, 1995.Strong, James. Strong\’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.Swindoll, Charles R. Shedding Light on Our Dark Side. Anheim, CA: Insight For Living, 1993.Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1978. <http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC_frames.html&gt;.Wiersbe, Warren W. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary New Testament. Colorado Springs, CO; David C. Cook, 2007.

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