The Never of an Awakening

Bible Book: James  4
Subject: Pride; Humility; Revival; Awakening; Carnality

James 4

Two words in the English language are overused and thus misused in daily conversation. These words are „always’ and „never’. You can just about take it to the bank that when someone interjects these words in a conversation, they have just overstated their case to „strengthen their position.’ She „always’ does this or he „never’ does that are cases that are simply overstated.

Based on many instances in God’s word, it would seem that there are several people and attitudes in which God will never send a spiritual awakening.  It will serve us well to acknowledge or name these, put them in our mind, and avoid becoming one.

Of all the books in the Bible, James is the most practical. It is the „how to’ book. The half brother of Jesus writes chapter 4 to shed some light on how people get estranged from God and how they can return to God. Let’s read all 15 verses.

Let me begin with two thoughts: First, because of the negative nature of this message I don’t care to „brow-beat’ us so I intend to keep this brief. Don’t, however, make the mistake of equating my brief message with this being unimportant, for I believe this message is extremely important, pointed, and contemporary.  Second, we are going to speak of Awakening Killers and Awakening Kindlers, so the question is before us, ‘Where do you fit?’

I. Awakening Killers

In the deepest parts of my heart, based on a thoughtful study of God’s word, I sense there are some attitudes and actions (in church) that will hold back God’s spirit.

We don’t like to think about this. We love to say, ‘God goes and does whatever He wants, whenever He wants to do it.’ I don’t argue with that. He is God and we’re not. But here’s what I know: I have never been a witness to God breaking or going against His word.  These are attitudes which also can be people, and can kill the spirit of awakening.  They are:

A. The Carnal

After James asks a series of rhetorical questions and tries to give them a spiritual answer, he raises the level of his tone by calling them ‘ADULTERESSES!’  Strong language. Then he follows with the charge that they were friends with the world (remember he is talking with people who claim to be followers of Christ).  His strong language is that if you want to be a friend of the world, by default, you have become and enemy of God. Here’s the simple payoff – no one can serve two masters. You’ll hate one and love the other.  If you love the world you cannot love God.

B. The Prideful

This is a simple concept, ‘God resists the proud.’ The word ‘resists’ literally paints a picture which can be stated like this; ‘God stiff-arms the proud.’ Although I’m not a true college football fan, I do watch the game. One of the effective defensive maneuvers which a ball-carrier is allowed to use in avoiding being tackled is a „stiff-arm’. If the runner can plant that stiff-arm correctly, the defensive man has little hope of making the tackle.  God always puts His hand in the exact place He desires.  The prideful person has little possibility of touching God.

C. The Critical

Verse 11 is a verse which should be required to be memorized in the modern-day church.  Sadly, with our affluence and blessing, we have become a critical bunch. You think I’m picking on you?  I know one of my many flaws is that I can become very critical.  It’s not something I like or am proud of, and is something that drives me to my knees.

The Bible (not the preacher) says, ‘Don’t criticize one another.’ Very few things do the damage of criticism.  You can destroy a ministry, a marriage, and a life.  The old phrase, ‘Loose lips, sink ships’ is defined in Wikipedia as an English expression meaning ‘Beware of Unguarded talk.’ Curtis Vaughan writes, ‘To „speak evil’ … of a person is to find fault with him, to speak disparagingly of him, to gossip maliciously about him.’ Some people think fault-finding is their spiritual gift!1   Yet God looks with disdain on the critical.

Every one of these qualities serves as a blockade to the Holy Spirit of God showing up, showing out, and filling hearts in a real way.  I am also reminded of the culture described in the book of Jude of ungodly grumblers, faultfinders, and scoffers who oppose God.

We read these lists like they belong to someone else, but it behooves us to ask ourselves, if Jesus looks at us with those eyes of fire that can see to the heart of our soul, what does He see?  Am I an awakening Killer or Kindler?  Consider the Kindler:

II. Awakening Kindlers

First of all, years ago when I was in the Boy Scouts, we would go on a campout several times a year.  In order to build a fire we had to gather kindling wood.  It was called „fat lighter’ wood and served to get the fire started. Just as surely as some attitudes kill the chance for a Spiritual Awakening or Revival, there is a partner group of attitudes which ‘Kindle’ or „start’ revival. Let me offer them in ‘Be’ thoughts:

A. Be Humble

God gives grace to the humble. Every one of us desires God’s grace.  The text tells us to receive God grace, to be awakened, and humble ourselves before the Lord.

B. Be Submissive

Submission is not something that comes to us naturally; it is something at which we must work.  Do you know why?  In order to be submissive, we must bring our strength under control, and more to the point, under His control.

C. Resist the Devil

Years ago, as a teenager, we would make fun of the lyrics of some of the hymns.  One that I remember was, "I was sinking deep in sin…" – WHEEEE. Today that is not nearly as funny, as it seems to be the mantra of the day. In other words, we wink at sin today. Those subjects that used to be spoken of only between marriage partners and in homes are now the subject matter for talk-shows, sit-coms, and prime time TV.  We have lost our sense of shame and, it seems, forgotten how to resist the evil one.

D. Draw Near to God

When we do this, God responds.  Come near to Him and He will come near to you. Here is the key which follows the progression and reconnects you to the Lord.  I’m afraid that many have gone to sleep and lost their connection with God.


Pastor Perry Webb once boarded a train and took a seat in a car where he was the only occupant. The conductor came through and asked him to move into another car. “Why should I move?” asked Dr. Webb, “I’m already settled in and I am comfortable.” The conductor responded, “Because this car is not hooked up to anything that is going anywhere!”

Make sure you are going somewhere in life. The way to get somewhere is to be awakened to Him.