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From Spiritual Adultery to Spiritual Authenticity

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Being a friend of the world actually makes us an enemy of God. But, the Spirit of God is jealous for us to be whole and authentic to live in Christ and not after the world - and the good news is God gives us the grace to do this. So on the basis of this wonderful grace we act in repentance for our divided-heart to be unitied.

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James 4:4–10 ESV
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
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Here again tonight we come together to look at the book of James and hear how God is calling us into authenticity. Remember last week we saw how our deep, sinful, passions we have war against the Spirit of God that dwells within - and when we give into these sinful passions that explode like volcanoes destroying harmony in the family. Sin never just effects you - it effects the family.
Tonight we will see the process to go from Spiritual Adultery to Spiritual Fidelity (or Faithfulness). So look back at :
James 4:4 ESV
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1. Friendship With The World Makes Us Enemies of God

James begins by picking up on a theme that weaves its way throughout the OT and it is the picture of husband and wife. In the OT God is pictured as the husband of Israel - his bride, his wife. We read of this clearly in :
Isaiah 54:5–6 ESV
5 For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. 6 For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.
God, when he called Abraham and then wooed that family over hundreds of years, covenanted or promised himself to the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai w/the 10 Commandments - the law. But, Israel, could not keep her end of the promise - she did not want God’s standard and rule; she did not want God as her king; she wanted to be like the nations - so Israel pursued other gods:
Jeremiah 3:20 ESV
20 Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the Lord.’ ”
Israel the unfaithful wife; God the faithful husband. This is the picture of the relationship between God and Israel in the OT. And this theme is picked up here in (v.4). James calls them (and us) adulterous people.
Why?
Well, this connects back to last week - we give into sinful passions and thus harm the body - and ultimately, we are pursuing the world and not God. That’s what James says, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” So pursuing sinful passions for control in the church; acting out in jealousy; boasting and gossiping; holding an unloving attitude and having a bad temper; these things we looked at last week - when we embrace these things we embrace the world.
The world - not like tree’s and beavers and Kilimanjaro and Narwhals - that’s not what James means - the world is a system of being, believing, living and thinking that are at odd’s with God. In football terms, you have west coast offense and then you have the spread - both are very different from each other. So, friendship with the world is following the passions and pleasures that are offered against and in rebellion to God.
So when we cuddle up with the world, when we pursue things at odd with God - we are at odd’s with God. Look at what James says, “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” That’s hardcore. When we pursue sin and the flesh and our own passions that are at odds with God - on a practical level we are making ourselves God’s enemy. We are digging our heels in the ground and shaking our fist in God’s face - saying, my way, O Lord, my way or the highway.
James in a nutshell says - you can’t have it both ways.
It’s like marriage. You can’t covenant with someone and promise yourself to them and reap all the incredible gifts of companionship and partnership and sharing life with them and everything that comes with that - while also be seeing someone on the side.
Those two things are at odds. And it is the same way when we are God’s. Friendship with the world is practical rebellion to Him. It is the proverbial slap in the face. And look at how God responds to our sinful rebellion.
James 4:5 ESV
5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

2. The Spirit of God Is After Our Spiritual Faithfulness

He is jealous for our faithfulness. He is jealous for our authenticity. God yearns that His people would be wholly His - faithful in all their ways.
Application: this is a heart-opening truth. Even when we sin against God and shake our fist at Him. We turn his gifts into practical idols by worshipping the gifts rather than the giver - when we allow bitterness to lead to acting out in sinful ways in the family to the defaming of Christ’s name and befriending the world - even then God is jealous for us. This is divine jealousy, an awesome attribute.
Think of it in the husband - wife relationship. Christ is our bridegroom and we are his bride. He doesn’t want His bride going outside of Him to get their needs met. I’m a husband and I don’t want my wife going outside of our marriage covenant to get her needs met - and God is jealous to be the one to meet our needs. He is jealous to be our provider - from love.
He knows that friendship with the world does not hold life-giving water. Just like we know the grass is not greener on the other side. The jealousy of God is a passionate, yearning for His people to be his.
And what we see here in (v.5) is that the Spirit of God is after our spiritual authenticity. He yearns and is jealous for believers to be wholly His. And He doesn’t just leave us here. Look at :
James 4:6 ESV
6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

3. Only By God’s Grace Can We Live In Spiritual Authenticity

God gives more grace. Not only does he fiercely desire complete surrender and authenticity in our lives - He gives it. He makes it possible.
So, God jealously demands all of you - and He gives it by “greater grace”. That means in whatever way your life is pursuing the ways of the world - whether it be sex, money, power, prestige, being know, being loved, being accepted, winning - whatever it may be - if you know Christ as your Lord then in those areas “greater grace”.
He is jealous for you to get on His page; to be about His kingdom; to go about His work; - and he will give you everything you need. I love how Augustine puts it “God gives what He demands”.

“For daily need there is daily grace; for sudden need, sudden grace; for overwhelming need, overwhelming grace,” says John Blanchard.5

John Blanchard wrote on grace and said this
Or as John Newton, the famous slave trader who was reformed by God’s grace, penned these words:

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come:

’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

God gives the grace to help us befriend Him and turn our back on the world - with it’s sinful passions. But there is a condition to be recipients of this grace: humility. It says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Wait, this grace is conditioned on our behavior?
That doesn’t seem like grace. Well, if you get this concept you will get much of the bible.
But there is a condition to be recipients: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
God’s saving grace is something that is not earned:
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
We don’t earn our salvation it is a gift - it is of grace - not our own doing; not a result of works. On the great day of salvation - when we stand before God - no one will be able to say “well, I made it here because, well, I’m just sharp as a tack - I’m one of the brighter crayons in the box.” Nope all boasting will be put aside - as James said earlier:
James 1:18 ESV
18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Salvation is a gift of God. Though all mercies and helps of God are gracious and unmerited - they are not unconditional. Most of the blessings of the Christian life are conditional based upon how well we keep God’s covenant - His word. As John Piper says, “ the blessings of ongoing forgiveness and guidance and help in trouble are conditional on our covenant-keeping.”
So how do we receive this grace to help us fight love of world?
We are to humble ourselves - and here’s the best part: He gives us the grace to fold our sinful pursuits. It is the humble who receive grace - those who see their deep need for God; those who realize that they are spiritually poor and without God they would be spiritually bankrupt.
Transition: and what James says in so many words over the last four verses is: On the basis of this “greater grace” that I pour out on you - repent.

4. On The Basis of Grace - Repent

Look with me at :
James 4:7–10 ESV
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
So let’s begin at (v.7) as we look at this sweeping call toward repentance. “Submit yourselves therefore to God” To submit to God means to place ourselves under his lordship, and therefore to commit ourselves to obey him in all things.
That means all those compartments of sin in our life - we have to open each drawer to God’s lordship. It’s the Carrie Underwood “Jesus take the wheel” moment. But this moment needs to be repetitive in our life - it needs to be ongoing. See we like to give up some things, but there are also sin pockets in our life that we hold tightly to. We don’t want to let them go.
Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 192.
“God you can have my language - I won’t cuss, but my eyes, well I can’t go without looking lustfully at pornography.”
“God you can have my pride, but I can’t stop being rude to my parents.”
“God I won’t listen to them anymore or watch that series on Netflix anymore, but I can’t give up my boyfriend who I’m crossing the line sexually with.”
Submission means in all areas - everyday - throughout the day. We open up our life to His leadership and His authority and say “not my will, but yours, O God.”
We submit to God. And then when the waves of sinful passion stir in your heart we “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Evil feelings and thoughts aren’t just - “yeah, I’m having a bad day” - no they are from the pit of hell, they are from the devil himself. So when we feel the emotional roller-coaster of temptation hitting us in the gut - we resist. We resist and the bible tells us that Satan flees. Whatever power Satan does have in this world you can bet that God, by His grace, has given us the ability to overcome it in His son Jesus. Paul puts it this way:
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
God will provide a way. He gives more grace.
1 Corinthians 10:31
All the temptation you’ve felt in your heart is common to man. But God is faithful. Resist the devil and his wicked ways and he will flee.
So that’s a promise, but the promise in (v.8) is even sweeter. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” So don’t just resist Satan, but in the process of temptation to hurt the family of God, to follow and be friends with the world, draw near to God. Find greater pleasure in Him than that of the world. And when you come to Him, you will experience His nearness. You will experience the sweetness of His presence.
Then after James states overall what you should be doing - submitting, resisting and drawing near - he gets into the nitty-gritty of repentance.
Look at the second part of verse 8, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Here James gets back to his original point which was you guys are adulterers to God. You have committed spiritual adultery - so you need to wash up, clean up your hearts, you are a double-minded people. Get authentic.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter of James V. A Summons to Spiritual Wholeness (4:4–10)

To allow “the world” to entice us away from total, single-minded allegiance to God is to become people who are divided in loyalties, “double-minded” and spiritually unstable.

So repent. You don’t have to wash your hands - what James is getting at is a change of heart. Wipe your life clean of the loyalty you are giving the world. Give up that friendship. Get authentic.
Wait, but do we have to “purify our heart”?
Apparently, yes. But remember - it is all based on the grace God gives us. So we go to God and beg for forgiveness from our sinful ways. We get on our face and we get right with God.
Then James takes us even deeper into repentance:
James 4:9 ESV
9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Let me ask you this: does it break your heart when you sin against God? Does it even bother you when you do what you know God doesn’t want you to do?
See, James is beckoning us to be authentic in our repentance. You can’t non-Chantilly sip on hot cocoa and be TRULY sorry for the evil in your heart. True repentance will affect our emotions. Like if you finish repenting in your car on your way to school and you hop out and start laughing at a “Jew Joke” I’m not sure you really understand repentance.
Now, he isn’t saying that joy shouldn’t mark a follower of Christ, but he is saying that sorrow should mark a truly repentant follower of Christ. We should have a healthy fear when we snuggle up with the world in sin. Being an enemy of God is no joking matter. I have been keeping score - God never loses. God is never wrong. God does not make mistakes. God wins. So being an enemy is not a comfy place to be.
So does your sin cause you sorrow toward God? Are you broken hearted when you commit treason against him?
The reality is all of us will mourn our spiritual adultery - you can mourn later at the judgment or you can mourn now. I suggest now is the time. And let that mourning turn us to Christ and His grace.
Transition: And then finally, James comes back to humility.
James 4:10 ESV
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
So you want the good of the body of Christ, but sometimes you feel these urges to control and have and gossip to get? Humble yourself - and in due time God will exalt you. He gives the humble grace - and he exalts the humble. If you try to exalt yourself in your own way by relying on our own abilities, status, or money, you will meet failure and even condemnation—God will humble you.
So spiritual life and vitality and blessing - they come to those who hunger and thirst and who are receptive to God’s grace. Being a friend of the world actually makes us an enemy of God. But, the Spirit of God is jealous for us to be whole and authentic to live in Christ and not after the world - and the good news is God gives us the grace to do this. So on the basis of this wonderful grace we act in repentance for our divided-heart to be united.
Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 196.
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