Lord Willing

Text: James 4:13-17

This passage is often cited to emphasize the uncertainty and brevity of life. It also teaches us the importance of remembering our dependence upon God. There are four lessons to consider from this passage. If we forget these lessons, it will always lead us into sin.

Mindfulness (“If the Lord wills“)

  • We must always be conscious of God (cf. Philippians 4:4) – recognize how He has blessed us (James 1:17); regularly read/study/meditate upon His word (1 Timothy 4:13; Psalm 119:11); continue in prayer (Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Failing to keep God in our consciousness will lead to sin (Romans 1:28)
  • Why? – when we forget God, we forget the consequences for disobeying God; so we sin (Romans 3:10-18)

Humility (“You boast in your arrogance“)

  • We must recognize our place in life (Psalm 8:3-4) – some have an inflated sense of self-esteem which is really self-centeredness (Romans 12:3); we have been created by God (Psalm 100:3) for a purpose (Ecclesiastes 12:13); humility leads to obedience (Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Peter 4:1-2; Luke 9:23)
  • Failing to remain humble, and instead becoming arrogant, will result in sin (Proverbs 16:18)
  • Why? – we come to think that we need nothing from God, including forgiveness (Revelation 3:15-19)

Mortality (“You are just a vapor…“)

  • We must understand that death could come at any time (cf. Psalm 144:4) – this is a consequence of sin being introduced into the world (Genesis 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:22); no one is immune to death (Ecclesiastes 9:11); after death comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27) which will be according to our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10; cf. James 4:12)
  • Failing to recognize that our life is just a vapor will lead to sin (James 4:15-16)
  • Why? – no sense of urgency to give up sin and serve the Lord (Luke 12:19-21; cf. 2 Peter 3:10)

Submission (“If the Lord wills, we will…do this or that“)

  • We must seek to do God’s will in all things (Colossians 3:17) – this is about more than what we do collectively as a church (1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 1:13); this is also about what we do in our individual lives (1 Peter 1:13-17); we must seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:33), which we do by serving Him exclusively (Matthew 6:24)
  • Failing to submit to God’s will always produces sin (1 John 3:4) – sin is defined as lawlessness
  • Why? – because we will always submit to someone/something (Romans 6:16); if not God, then sin


  • To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17)
  • Know what is right, but ignore God – no reason/motivation to do what is right
  • Know what is right, but lack humility – no reason to deny self in order to do what is right
  • Know what is right, but ignore the brevity of life – no reason to give up sin right now
  • Know what is right, but have no desire to submit to God’s will – will serve the other master (sin)
  • We must always be conscious of God, remain humble, recognize the brevity of life, and submit to the Lord

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