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Self-Centered Life (Part 3)

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Introduction
We have been talking about self-centered life for the past two weeks. You may recall that the Christians that James is writing to have been experiencing some form of conflict. They are fighting and arguing with each other about something that we might never know. James pointed out that the source of all their fighting and arguing is their self-centered life.
When do you usually wash your hands?
When do you usually wash your hands?
How often do you wash your heart? We all collect “dirt” in our hearts each day. There are things we see, hear, or do that are not pleasing to God. Going on about our lives without stopping to clean our hearts from these things will harm us spiritually.
Review
We have been talking about self-centered life for the past two weeks. You may recall that the Christians that James is writing to have been experiencing some form of conflict. They are fighting and arguing with each other about something that we might never know. James pointed out that the source of all their fighting and arguing is their self-centered life.
They want what they do not have, so they fight and argue for it. They pray that God would fulfill their selfish desires, but God would not answer those kinds of selfish prayers.
At the heart of this self-centered life is that the desire to seek your own goals, dreams, desires, pleasures and way rather than loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the kind of life that God would oppose.
If you are continually living a self-centered life, then God would oppose you because you have become His enemy. Therefore, you need to repent of your sins and receive God’s grace.

Big Idea: You must repent of your self-centered life.

Repentance - it is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.
Wayne Grudem, a Bible scholar, explains, “Repentance, like faith, is an intellectual understanding (that sin is wrong), an emotional approval of the teachings of Scripture regarding sin (a sorrow for sin and a hatred of it), and a personal decision to turn from it (a renouncing of sin and a decision of the will to forsake it and lead a life of obedience to Christ instead).”
In other words, you were facing sin and had your back against God. Repentance is a 180 degree turn. You turn your back against sin and towards God.
When Jesus Christ our Lord and Master said, “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of Christians is to be one of repentance.
Repentance does not mean that you go to a priest, confess your sins to him, and have your
Repentance does not mean that you are trying to earn God’s favour. Repentance does not mean that you work to earn your salvation.
Rather, repentance is a response to what God has done for you to save you by His grace through Jesus Christ.
It is not, “I repent; therefore God saves me.” Rather, it is, “God saved me; therefore I repent.”
As Christians, repentance
Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to save you from condemnation just so that you can continue to live in sinful lifestyle. No, Jesus Christ died to free you from sin so that you can have freedom to love and obey Christ.

What does repentance look like?

James wrote this part of the letter to rebuke the Christians who are in living in sin and not repenting. As we examine verses 7-10, we will see what repentance looks like. Based on those verses, I see 6 principles on repentance.

1. Submission under God. (v.7a)

Submission means to give yourself under the authority of a person. In our culture, some people do not like the idea of submission, especially to the governing authority and our parents.
Nonetheless, we are commanded to submit to God because He is our Lord and Master. Another word to describe the idea of submission under God is Lordship of Jesus Christ.

a. Submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Lordship of Jesus Christ - Jesus Christ has authority and dominion over the our lives, the church and the world because He is God.
Jesus is Lord. What does it mean that Jesus is Lord? How is that applied to your life?
Jesus is Lord. What does it mean that Jesus is Lord? How is that applied to your life?
I’ll tell you what it means. It means that Jesus has complete control over your life and you don’t. It should be obvious that those who oppose God’s authority will ultimately lose. They are the people who are unwise.
I met up with friend on Friday. I knew this brother in Christ for a long time and he seemed to be a strong Christian back in 2008-2010, but he disappeared from my circle for connection for about 8-9 years. Until recently, I bumped into him last Sunday. So, we met up with each other to catch up.
During the times when we lost connection, he was trying to start his own businesses and attempting to excel in his career. One of the biggest struggle and temptation he faced was “missing out on being well-known.” He strived to work hard and start out small businesses. Initially, he did those work so that he can be a witness to his non-Christian employees, but eventually his pride and sin caught up to him. He wasn’t doing businesses to reach the world with the good news, he was doing so to so that he can become popular and well-known. In Chinese culture, this is known as “saving face.” He felt that if he was not well-known, then he would be a failure and disappointment in life.
But, his businesses eventually failed and did not work out. He recognized that God was sovereign and in complete control over his life. God humbled him and help him realize that his identity is not found in being famous or well-known, but his identity is found in Christ. He believed God took away his businesses because if he were to continue and be successful, then he might have walked away from God. But, God was gracious and merciful enough to take those things away from him so that he can recommit himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
How do we submit to God?

b. Submit to the Word of God

Perhaps not all of us like to read the Bible. Perhaps this is one of the things that we neglect to do as Christians. But, if we do not read the Bible, then how do we obey God? How do we know what we should believe in? How do we know how to live out the Christian life?
How do we know if the things we think, say, believe in or sing aren’t contrary to God’s will as revealed in His Word?
We need to read the Bible and understand what God requires of us to do. The Bible is the Word of God. It is God’s authority. It is God’s means to communicate to us what we need to do.
Jesus held the Bible in high-esteem.
But, there are some of us who do read the Bible, but may find some of commandments difficult to obey and believe in.
So, if the Christians are to resolve their conflict, they need to repent of their self-centered life and turn back to God and His Word by submitting under the authority of God and His Word.

2. Withstanding against the devil. (v.7b)

This verse has the same idea elsewhere in .
1 Peter 5:8–9 ESV
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
The devil literally means the adversary. The Greek word for is called Diablos (that’s where the name came from if you ever play that video game). This is someone who slanders. He is someone that makes defamation and false accusation with an evil intent. Elsewhere in Scripture, the devil is sometimes known as the Accuser and Tempter.
To resist the devil means to actively oppose the power, pressure and temptation of the evil one. By doing so, the evil one will flee from you.
But, how can I resist the devil? I thought the devil is more powerful than me? It is true that the devil is a powerful being, but he’s not all-powerful. Our culture may paint God and the Devil as two divine beings arm-wrestling with each other with equal strength. But the truth is that the devil is not equally as powerful as God. God can destroy him with snap of His finger.
If you look at the life of Jesus when he was tempted in the wilderness, then you would notice how resisted the devil. Jesus knew the Scriptures and He quoted Scriptures. Now, let’s not make the excuse in saying that Jesus was God and He has the advantage, but remember that He’s also man in a sense He also needed to grow in wisdom by reading and knowing the Bible.
Why did Jesus use the Bible to resist temptation? There is a passage in Ephesian that talks about the Armour of God. And the only weapon in this Armour of God is the Word of God, which is known as the Sword of the Spirit.
As I mentioned about the Bible...

a. By Equipping Ourselves With The Word of God

Peter gives three other advices in

b. By Being Vigilant

Vigilant - being aware and alert of danger
A sniper’s job is to make sure that he is out of sight from his enemies. Sometimes, he would be in a far distance, or sometimes he could camouflouge himself so that he would not be seen easily in a close distant.
During world war, citizens are not equipped for war battles. So, in an open field where the area seems clear and there are no enemies spotted, they could naively walk and be in the sight of the sniper at a far distant. And when that happens…well, one of the them get shot and the rest run and take cover.
One of the achievements that the devil has done in our society is to put him out of the picture. Our society is a godless society. Most are usually not aware of the spiritual realm that they are living in. The devil is successful in making society believe in that he does not exist.
The devil wandering around like a roaring lion seeking a prey to devour. The devil is always waiting for the right opportunity to tempt us sin when we are not being careful.
So, if the Christians are to resolve their conflict, they need to repent of their self-centered life and get back into battle against the evil one with the word of God. Ultimately, our fight is not against another human being, but against the prince of darkness.

3. Restoring your fellowship with God. (v.8a)

James commands us to restore our fellowship with God by drawing near to Him. By doing so, He will draw near to us.
This is not talking about salvation. This is talking about Christians who have sinned and damaged their fellowship with God. Christians will always be God’s children. That will never change and sin will never separate us from the love of God. But, sin disrupts our ongoing relationship with God.

a. Confess your sins to God ()

1 John 1:9 ESV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

b. Renew your commitment to following Him

says this.
Isaiah 55:6–7 ESV
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
c.
Don’t wait until the Youth Retreat to get your spiritual high and re-dedicate your life to God. No, that experience will never last.
So, if the Christians are to resolve their conflict, they need to repent of their self-centered life and get their relationship right with God.

4. Getting rid of your sinful behaviours. (v.8b)

The language of cleansing and purifying comes from the book of Leviticus. The priests in the OT were required to purify themselves before they were able to serve God. They were bathe themselves for many number of days so that they would be clean.
But, it was not only about physical cleansing, but the deeper concern is moral purity. When James talks about washing your hands and purifying your hearts, he’s addressing our outward and inward behaviours.
How often do you wash your hands?
When do you usually wash your hands?
How often do you wash your heart? We all collect “dirt” in our hearts each day. There are things we see, hear, or do that are not pleasing to God. Living our lives without stopping to clean our hearts from these things will harm us spiritually.
Sins, such as lying, stealing, slandering, gossiping, swearing, hating God, pride, coveting, dishonouring parents, being foolish, faithless, heartless and rutherless, sexual immorality such as sex before marriage, homosexuality, pornography, lust…and etc. must be cleansed from your heart by the Holy Spirit.
To stand before the LORD, one must be pure from the inside and outside.

5. Experiencing sorrow over your sins. (v.9)

Have you ever felt bad, guilty, or sad about something you did that you knew consciously that it was wrong? Maybe you said something terrible to your family members and you regret about it?
These commandments carry OT language from the prophets. Prophets in the OT were not necessarily fortune-tellers or only telling the future, but they were messengers of God to proclaim God’s Word to God’s people who were in rebellion against God. The reason why the prophets were telling Israel to mourn and weep is because of the terrifying reality of God’s judgment upon them.
When God brought Jerusalem into judgment, Jeremiah said this in verse .
Lamentations 5:15 ESV
15 The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning.
This verse is meant to point to Christians about the seriousness of their sins and they are to contrite over it.
Contrition - to feel broken and remorseful over your sins.
Have you ever felt so convicted and broken over your sins that you cried because you sinned against God who loves you and gave Himself for you to save you?
How could I have done such an evil thing against God when He gave me so much love and grace? I don’t deserve this. Why? Just why would God love me this much when I’m such a wretched sinner?
Boys and girls. It’s time to stop laughing and start grieving over your sins.
2 Corinthians 7:9–10 ESV
9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:10–11 ESV
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.
Repentance of sins is not only just agreeing in our minds that we have sinned against God, but we SHOULD (or maybe we OUGHT) to feel and experience grieve over the fact that we sinned against our heavenly Father.
Psalm 51:16–17 ESV
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
God delights in His people who have a broken and contrite heart.

6. Humbling yourself before God (v.10)

The idea of being humble comes back into full circle. It was mentioned in verse 6 and now it is mentioned here.
To humble ourselves means that we must recognize that we are spiritually miserable and pitiful people who are in desperate need for the Lord’s grace. When we do, God would exalt us.
How does God “exalt” us?
We get to experience the power and glory of the Risen Jesus living in us through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit gives us the power and strength to obey the LORD.
To grow in our walk with Jesus and eventually the LORD will lift us up as heirs with Christ in the New Heaven and New Earth.
We are to trust that God will lift us up, but this is His timing, not ours (). When we try to exalt ourselves, God will humble us and not exalt us, instead He will oppose us.
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