Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow.James 4:9(HCSB)
In a few consecutive verses, James fires a series of short, sharp instructions on how to live a victorious Christian life. A number of his commands are linked together with contrasting concepts, which unite to teach valuable lessons. Submit to God. Resist the devil. Draw near to the Lord. Cleanse your hands. Purify your hearts. "Lament and mourn and weep, and let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you."
The first two instructions in verse seven are, "Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you," showing that surrender of our human will to the Lord and victory over Satan are intricately linked. In verse eight we are told to "draw near to God and He will draw near to you," before being challenged to, "cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
A victorious life that withstands Satan, not only humbly submits to God but draws closer to the Lord with an attitude of thanksgiving and praise, combined with ceaseless prayer, ongoing fellowship, and a trusting heart that walks in spirit and truth. Victorious living is also connected with having clean hands and a pure heart, which is the product of a 'Christocentric' life and is cultivated when we put on the whole armour of God and remain in fellowship with our heavenly Father, through regular confession of sin and by walking in the light of His love.
Living a victorious life that honours God is only accomplished when the world, the flesh, and the devil, are kept nailed to the Cross and the Lord is given supreme authority over a life. Just as a victorious life is produced when the first five spiritual directives are addressed, so too the final five things James mandates in verse 9, "Lament and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy must turn to sorrow."
At first glance, the instruction to be miserable and weep appears to be a curious command for a Christian until we realise that we are dealing with victorious living in the spiritual sphere rather than the physical realm. Drawing near to God and maintaining fellowship with Him involves shunning all that is evil, abhorring the things that dishonour God, and hating the calamitous effect of wrongdoing - mourning over sin.
We are not to rationalise sin but lament over its destructive nature in our own lives and the lives of others. Jesus Himself told us that those who mourned and wept over their sin and the evil it causes, would be blessed. Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted, for godly sorrow produces repentance which leads to salvation.
Lamenting over sin must not be confused with wallowing in the wretchedness of our sin in order to 'justify' ourselves in the eyes of God. Admitting to sin and grieving over our sin and the devastation it brings is the responsibility of all sinners. Weeping over sin is an important step in bringing a lost sinner into fellowship with Christ and the forgiveness of sin - through faith in Him.
May we take to heart this series of instructions from James and apply each command in our life, as we seek to live a victorious life that honours the Lord. May we humbly submit to God and resist the devil. May we draw near to the Lord and enjoy sweet fellowship with our heavenly Father, by confessing our sin and walking in spirit and truth.
May we cleanse our hands, purify our hearts, and mourn over sin and the devastation it causes in our life... and may we praise and thank our glorious Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross to pay the enormous price for our sin, so that by faith in Him we might be eternally forgiven and receive the promise of life everlasting.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wise instruction to live godly and victorious lives in the book of James. I praise and glorify Your holy name that I have all I need for life and godliness, through faith in Jesus Christ. Help me surrender my life and maintain sweet fellowship with You. Purify my heart and keep me from double-mindedness. May I hate sin in all its ugly guises and mourn over the things that dishonour Your holy name. Keep me low at the Cross and I pray that I would humble my heart before you daily, and live and work for Your greater praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN,