“WHOSE FRIEND ARE YOU?”
(A Series on the Book of James)
Westgate Chapel 04/17/05 James 4:1-10
Proposition: The Holy Spirit of God resident in every believer is jealous over any competing affection in our lives, especially that of the spirit of this world.
- WHEN the Bible uses the word, “world,” it is usually translated from the Greek word, kosmos.
- AND the meaning of the word has to be determined by its context.
- IN John 3:16 Jesus says,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
- IN this context, world means humanity and their material dwelling place.
- IN 1 John 2:15, the apostle John writes,
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
- SAME Greek word for world, kosmos, but this context tells us the John is referring to the “whole system of things in our society that are in opposition to Christ and God.”
- IT is the spirit around us that runs 180 degrees opposite to God and His Word?
* That we don’t need God! We can find our way and solve our problems on our own…with human ingenuity (Adam and Eve’s first sin of arrogance).
* That man is god…..of his own destiny.
* That man is good….any evil is the fault of his/her environment.
* That there is no such thing as sin that misses the target of God’s holiness….just unfortunate mistakes blames on others.
* That everything we see in this world is the result of accidental cosmic explosions and evolutionary processes over billions of years.
* That life, therefore, is accidental and not sacred nor does it have divine purpose or divine destination.
* That pleasure is the goal and god of life and gratification at any price is the means to the goal.
* That since there is no God, you are the one solely responsible to secure whatever pleasure and joy you can for yourself along the way…whatever the cost to you or others in your way.
* Power and intimidation are the way to get things done.
* That you alone are in charge of your life and answerable to no one.
* That the body is for pleasure….so feed it, exercise it, pump it up, pamper it, gratify its urges, re-shape it with plastic surgery if that makes you feel good….and then dress it in such a way as to put it on public display for others to look at.
* That painless religion or spirituality is available for those so inclined…and it promises that with minimal effort it can improve your life and make you feel good about yourself.
- THIS is just a sample of what the Bible is talking about when it talks about the world.
- JESUS said, in John 14:30,
“I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world [system] is coming, and he has nothing in Me…”
- WHO is this “ruler of the world?”
- IT is Satan, who has been given temporary license to work darkness in the hearts of those in the world who are of the world.
- 2 CORINTHIANS 4:4 says of Satan,
“…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
- CONTRAST that verse with John 16:33,
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
- CAN you see why the Christian life is described in so many Scriptures as a war?
- AND the true follower of Christ will find themselves much of the time at the vortex of the battle.
- NO wonder Jesus said, in John 15:18-19,
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 …but because you are not of the world, I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
ii. friendship with the world
- NOW the first ten verses of James 4, that we will be examining today take direct aim at the world…as we have just described it.
- IN James 4:4 (page 1198), James writes to the early Christians scattered in churches throughout the Roman empire,
“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
- IT is interesting that the word, adulteresses, is in the feminine form, written to men and women.
- THAT is because in the Old Testament, the people of God are described as the wife of God (Jeremiah 31:32).
- AND in the New Testament, the people of God are called the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5).
- SO when you and I profess to be born again, the bride of Christ, purchased from the nations by His blood…and are disloyal to that covenant by being friends of the world, the Bible calls that spiritual adultery.
- IT is a stark, rather harsh word to use….adulteresses. Why?
- BECAUSE friendship with the world is something that usually happens gradually (Satan is a gradualist and has learned down through the generations that he just has to be patient….and wait out our initial passion for the Lord).
- AND since friendship with the world happens gradually, James realizes that sometimes it takes a 2 by 4 to awaken us to the danger we are in….so he uses strong language in this epistle.
- SO, what about the word, friendship. What does friendship mean?
- IT comes from a Greek word that literally means to kiss….not with erotic intention, but as a mark of affection and respect.
- FRIENDSHIP with the world is a warm, intimate, familiar attitude towards those things that are opposed to the things of God.
- THIS warm, intimate, familiar attitude towards the world was happening in the churches to whom James is writing in this epistle.
- AND the results were disastrous.
- LOOK at verse 1,
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”
- THINGS were chaotic in these churches. The two Greek words used for quarrels and conflicts are the same as for open warfare in a battlefield.
- THE church had become a battlefield because the people had become arrogant, convinced that their self-gratification, self-promotion, and their own pleasure was the goal.
- IT was every man for himself!
- WHEN pleasure is the goal the campaign to have it can get nasty….and that is what had happened in these churches.
- WHEN pleasure is the goal, consider the time, energy, dollars and passion invested in having it!
- NO wonder Jesus said, in Mark 4:19,
“…the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
- CAN you see why pleasure as a goal in life and the Christian life have nothing in common?
- LOOK at verses 2-3 of James 4, for more on the consequences of pleasure as your goal in life. Remember, these are Christians he is writing to!
“You lust [anxious self-seeking] and do not have; so you commit murder [hate, assassinate character]. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
- OUR motives for a better life, more victory, healthier marriages, more money, a promotion and raise, a bigger house, fancier car and faster motorcycle….are too susceptible to the pull of the world for us to know, most of the time, if we are praying for our pleasure or for the glory of God in us!
iii. the jealousy of God
- NOW, nestled in the middle of these ten verses is the key to this whole passage…and it is verse 5.
- IT is misunderstood and controversial because the translation of this verse is considered to be among the most difficult in all of Scripture.
- AND that doesn’t surprise me…because I believe Satan wanted to hide this verse. It holds the victory for the whole dark and discouraging passage.
- JAMES writes,
“…do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?”
- LET me paraphrase!
- “IT is precisely because of the temptation to be friends with the world and the war launched by our lust for pleasure….that the Scripture says,
“He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.”
- FIRST of all, God is jealous over you!
- EXODUS 20:5 is the first reference to this. God says concerning the worship of other gods by His people,
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
- AND the reason God is jealous over you is because of His great love for you…and the price He paid for you to be 100% His.
- AND He knows that friendship with the world becomes love of the world, which becomes conformed to the world…and ends in condemned with the world at the judgment (1 Corinthians 11:32).
- GOD is jealous over you and that you have an all-consuming love for Him.
- AND He knows that you and I are weak when it comes to the world…and that Satan is sly, deceptive and dangerous concerning his intentions for you.
- SO, God put His Spirit in you….to dwell in you.
- BUT not just to dwell in you….but to lead you!
“…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live…14 all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons[and daughters] of God.” (Romans 8:13-14)
- THIS is the key to not being drawn into friendship with the world….when you and I are living by the Spirit.
* Hearing God’s voice in the Word by the Spirit.
* Worshipping Him in Spirit in and Truth.
* Praying with the understanding and in the Spirit.
* Inviting the Holy Spirit into day-to-day attitudes and practical decisions.
- LISTS of do’s and don’ts will never do it. You and I are not strong enough.
- BUT God’s love in us, empowered by the Holy Spirit…is His formula for victory over the world.
iv. the greater grace
- NO wonder James writes in verse 6,
“But He gives a greater grace.”
- IT feels to me like the pull of the world is getting stronger.
- OUR young people face a tougher battle against the world than you and I ever did.
- HOW are we going to make it?
- GREATER grace!
* Greater than our hearts.
* Greater than the world.
* Greater than the devil.
* Greater than your past.
* Greater than the temptations in your tomorrow.
- 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9 says,
“My grace is sufficient for you!”
- DEAN Sherman taught us that the word sufficient means “cut to size” for the situation.
- AND look what that grace enables you and me to do!
* Submit to God (verse 7).
- Lay down your will and your agenda.
- Submission is different than obedience.
- You can obey under compulsion or out of expediency.
- You and I only submit when we recognize that we are in the Presence of One greater, better, more worthy of honor than we.
- It is the opposite of pride.
* Resist the devil.
- Satan will appeal to your wounded self concerning your relationship with the world.
- “Why such a narrow perspective of life?”
- “Be more self-assertive!”
- “Express yourself more fully!”
- “Establish your own power base!”
- “You deserve it. You have earned it!”
- “Just bow down….a little…and I will show you the world, maybe even give you some of it!”
- JESUS resisted…so must you!
- It will take greater grace to resist him but the promise is that if you do, he will flee!
* Draw near to God (verse 8).
- As compared to drawing near to pleasure (tell story of Vanessa’s cousins bar-hopping).
- Drawing near is what you and I do when by the Spirit we invest time and attention to God’s Word, to prayer, to worship, to fasting, to our ministry calling.
- Drawing near to God is the activity of the Holy Spirit within.
- And when we cooperate with Him, the promise is that God will draw near to us….and with His Presence comes power and greater grace and deliverance!
* Cleanse your hands you sinners.
- This is the physical act of turning from those things that defile your spirit…by the power of the Holy Spirit within.
* Purify your hearts you double-minded.
- This is recognition of the duplicity in all of our hearts, and the full and frequent surrender of our hearts to God for His surgery….called sanctification.
* Repent (verse 9).
- Verse 9 provides some vivid imagery of repentance….if you or I find we are friends with the world.
- Be miserable….it means grieve.
- Mourn….it means grief that you don’t try and hide.
- Weep….it means the tears of what Paul calls godly sorrow that leads to repentance.
- All of which are impossible if the Holy Spirit is not at work in us.
* Humble yourself (verse 10).
- See yourself the way God sees you!
- When we look at ourselves we are prone to either think too highly or too harshly.
- Only by the Holy Spirit can we see ourselves the way God does….His assessment of us.
- And in His presence we humble ourselves…because:
* He is holy.
* He is loving and kind.
* He is the all-sufficient One.
* He first loved us….when we were totally unlovely.
- And in due season, He will exalt us.
* His way.
* In His timing.
* And for His glory and my good!
- SO, whose friend are you?
- REMEMBER, friend means to kiss; to be warm, affectionate, intimate, familiar.
- DOES that describe your relationship with the world system that is opposed to God?
- OR are you, like Abraham, a friend of God….warm, affectionate, intimate, familiar?
- IN Abraham’s day, his cousin, Lot chose to be friends with the world….and his life was miserable and chaotic.
- ABRAHAM chose to be a friend of God…and he is the father of our faith.
- WHOSE friend are you?