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2019-08-11 James 4:4-6 STOP FIGHTING (2): ATTACK FROM OUTSIDE

James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:30
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STOP FIGHTING (2): ATTACK FROM OUTSIDE (James 4:4-6) August 11, 2019 Read James 4:4-6 – “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?” That’s Jas’ overriding question in this section. “Why are you at war with each other?” Then he answers his own question with two reasons. In vv. 1-3, it’s bc of your passions and desires. The flesh is attacking from the inside, and you’re losing that battle – acting like your old self instead of the new creation you are in Christ – walking the flesh, not the Spirit. Then 2nd: vv. 4-6: worldliness. You are being seduced by the anti-God environment that surrounds you rather than loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Worldliness is a poison; goes down easy, but bites hard in the end. Like the guy who walked into bar and said, “Does anyone here own that Rottweiler outside?” A biker replies, “Yeah. I do. What about it?” The guy says, “Well, I think my Chihuahua just killed him.” The biker says, “How could your little runt kill my Rottweiler?” The guy replies, “Well, it seems he got stuck in your dog’s throat?” That’s the problem. Some of us have a lot of world stuck in our throats, and it’s causing no end of issues for us and others. To be clear, the word “world” is used various ways in Scripture. It’s the globe we inhabit. Nothing wrong with that. It is the things and people we encounter. Nothing wrong with them. But as used here, it refers to anything, good or bad, that takes the place of God. It is the mindset of man without God – man trying to find lasting pleasure, contentment and meaning without God. It is anything, good or bad, made into an idol. The world is anything that keeps us from God. One Bible teacher was talking to a Harvard prof who denied any interest in the Gospel. The pastor said, “I know that. And I know why. Jesus knew why. Jn 3:19 that ‘people love darkness rather than light because their works are evil.’” The prof said, “That’s what I hate about you religionists. You’re always looking for evil in people." The pastor answered, " I’m not saying you’ve killed or stole. Your evil deed may be sitting in the library, thrilled bc you’ve discovered the answer to some problem in Shakespeare’s play which has puzzled scholars. If it keeps you from God, the world of books is as evil as the world of banditry or the world of lust." Here was a good man with a world between him and God. The world is anything we put ahead of God. That’s the issue Jas addresses now – the attack of the world from outside. We’ll see I. God’s Desire II. Our Delusion and III. God’s Deliverance. 1 I. God’s Desire Now, Jas starts by contending that “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” Why? V. 5 answers – but, I warn you, it’s a difficult verse! First, it claims to be a quotation from Scripture, but there is no such quote. Second, the word “He” isn’t in the original. It is implied – which means the word “spirit” could be either the subject or object of the verb. Furthermore, since the Greek original did not have capital letters, the word “spirit” could refer to the human spirit of the Holy Spirit. Usually context is determinative, but here, you could make a case for either. Other than that, it’s a snap to interpret! Now, I could put you to sleep explaining the nuances of each suggested interpretation. Instead, I’m going to give you the one I think is right and show you why. The key is Jas’ introduction in v. 4: “You adulterous people!” That is a strong statement. I daresay if I started a sermon like that, I might not be invited back next week – “You adulterous people!” What is an adulterer? Someone who has violated a commitment to love, honor and cherish, right? Someone who has been unfaithful. So Jas is saying at least some of his readers have been unfaithful to their commitment to Christ. Something else has captured their attention. Something the world offers has stolen their affection; they love something else more than Christ. They’re spiritual adulterers. So how does God feel about that? V. 5: “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.” The adultery mentioned in v. 4 suggests that in this a contrast. We betray; God keeps loving. So God is the subject here and “spirit” is the object as in ESV. Furthermore, it suggests it is the human spirit that is in view. The part of man God created to relate to God – our spirit – has given its allegiance to something else. It’s a betrayal. And God is not happy. But contrary to us, God keeps loving. That, I believe, is the sense. You say, “Where is that quote in the OT?” And the answer is, while this is never said in these words, the concept is all over. Jas doesn’t quote a specific passage bc the concept is everywhere. It always relates to God’s people turning from Him to the idols of their neighbors. It was a constant problem as Israel entered the Promised land filled with pagan people: Exod 34:13-14: “You are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 – for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Jealousy on God’s part is a good thing. He wants all of us because that’s best for Him and best for us, so He says, “Tear it down. Those destructive idols – tear’em down.” Let me ask – have you torn down any idols lately? Any of the things your unbelieving 2 neighbors worship – have you torn them down – or are you right there beside them? Are you living in spiritual adultery -- violating your vow to God? Well, then, guess what? You’re infecting those you love best as well as yourself. Exod 20:5: “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God a m a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation.” Strong stuff, isn’t it? It’s not just me I’m hurting, but my children and grandchildren. My life is telling them a lie – God doesn’t matter! If I asked them to write an obituary today, what would it say? What is my life communicating? Make no mistake, God loves us with an intensely righteous jealousy. And it is a serious thing not to return that love. Deut 4:24: “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Got your attention yet? Try Deut 6:15: for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.” A relationship with God thru Christ may be pastime to us – our ticket to heaven, but not much more, but it is much more to God. He is serious about this marriage we claim we have. God’s love for Israel and their rejection of Him depicted in terms of a jilted lover occurs often. One reason God invented sexual love was to show how serious it is to violate His love. Remember how you felt when you had that first breakup with a boy or girl that you loved. That heartbreak depicts how God feels when we put other things ahead of Him. Ezekiel 16 graphically describes God’s love for His own and the gravity of betrayal. So is Jas addressing believers or non-believers? Well, he’s doing what he always does – asking, is your faith real? A true believer might get distracted with the world for a time – but he could never ultimately be called the “enemy of God.” So, Jas is warning – if you find yourself loving the things of this world more than God, look out. You may profess faith in Christ, but it may not be real. It’s time to plead for mercy and ask God to change the priorities. At the same Jesus says this to the church at Ephesus 40 years after it was founded by Paul in Rev 2:2: “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3) I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4) But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” He doesn’t say you lost your first love; he says, “You abandoned it!” You’ve done a lot of things right and your theology is circumspect, but you’re living in spiritual adultery. You’ve 3 allowed other things to replace me in your affections. The solution? V. 5: Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” “Repent and return to your love for me. That would show you are genuine, even though you’ve slipped up badly. But if not, I’ll remove you from my presence. Failure to heed this warning shows you were never genuine in the first place.” God is a jealous God. If His great love does not compel us to love Him back, there’s a major problem. “We love bc He first loved us” (I Jn 4:19). That’s the only place of true joy and peace. Albert Pujols, said, “I don’t want to be remembered as the best baseball player. I want to be remembered as a guy who loved the Lord, loved to serve the community and who gave back. That’s from the bottom of my heart” – from every heart that is faithful to God’s love. II. Our Delusion So why are we less than faithful? Bc we’re deluded. We think we can have it both ways – God and the world on equal terms. A little God on Sunday – a little world the rest of the week. God responds: 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.” That statement demands attention. Who wants to be an enemy of God? What would do that? “Friendship with the world” would do that. But our delusion is that we can have both – God and a world that thinks He does not matter. The rich young ruler of Luke 18 wanted eternal life – would do anything to get it – claimed he’d kept all the commandments. But covetousness was his real God. So Jesus said, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and your will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Lu 18:22). Notice, Jesus didn’t say he had to give up all his money – He just asked him to send it on ahead, put it into an eternal back account. Lu 18:23: “But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” He went away unsaved. Was his money bad. No – but it was an idol. He wanted to hang onto it with one hand and Jesus with the other – but Jesus doesn’t do double occupancy. Jesus exposed his idolatry. So we must ask what are we really living for? What would make life not worth living if it were taken away? Money, a relationship, some position, a lifestyle, some hobby, our family? Where is the idol? Jas says, “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” 4 It is not the thing that is wrong, it is wanting it more than God – so we would not give it up if it violated God’s commands or desire for us. Tullian Tchividjian, says this: I’ve been a pastor long enough to know that when it comes to the way we think about marriage, parenting, sexual orientation, finances, politics, education, career aspirations, ministry, and even worship, plenty of Christians take their cues, not from the Bible, but from gurus like Tony Robbins and Peter Drucker and Oprah and Rush Limbaugh. Therapeutic techniques, marketing strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far more influence over how we live and think than does the Word of God. We absorb the values and worldview of our current culture without ever asking, "What does the Bible say about this?" Little by little we can get pulled in straddling the line, rather than living in obedience. Trying to hold God with one hand – the world with the other. David and Jason Benham wouldn’t go there. They are twin brothers who were five weeks into filming “Flip It Forward” when HGTV canceled their show for comments critical of the homosexual agenda. Jason commented, “David and I have no hate in our heart for anyone. We’ve run a successful real estate business for the last 11 years and we help all people. There is no discrimination.” But when they chose the Bible over PC, they were canceled. They said, “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.” Would you say that? They did not buy the illusion that you can be the friend of the world and of God at the same time. They knew how to be in the world, and enjoy the things in the world, without being of the world. They’re in the world without the word being in them. But how did they do that, and how can we? III. God’s Deliverance 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Grace is the answer – God’s undeserved favor – given first to bring us to true faith, and then to sustain us in that faith. We want what the world promises. But God says, “I’ve got something better. I’ve got grace, available to anyone humble enough to ask for it.” The proud continue to operate by the world’s “me-first” standard. I don’t know how the world tempts you this morning. We’re all different. Perhaps it’s cheating on expense reports or taxes; fostering an unwise relationship; promoting self at the expense of integrity; disavowing clear biblical teaching for the sake of intellectual acceptance; buying happiness with 5 things. We’re all different. And we all fear if we give it up -- whatever the idol is – we’ll lose. But God is saying, “No, you’ve got it upside down. The idol will eventually destroy you, but my grace is always greater than the idol. John Lennox, prof at Oxford, met a man in Russia who had suffered hard labor in a Siberian Gulag for teaching the Bible to children. Lennox says, “He described to me things that no man should ever have to see.” Then he said, “You couldn’t cope with that, could you?” Lennox replied, “No, I’m sure you are right.” The man continued, “Nor could I! I was a man who fainted at the sight of blood. But I discovered this: God does not help us face theoretical situations but real ones.” He gives grace when grace is needed; and more when more is needed – but only those humble enough to ask. Conc – “Whence come wars among you?” From friendship with the world. Worldly methods; worldly standards; worldly ambition; and worldly outcomes. Friends of the world are enemies of God. Friends of God are humble, gracious people. So we must ask, who are we? Matt Russell is a journalist who for nine months, Monday thru Friday, he sat at a Dietrich’s coffee shop interviewing people regarding what they thought of church. He found a heartbreaking pattern: “Most people left church not because they had a deep theological problem with something like the virgin birth or the resurrection of Christ. They left because people in the church have the tendency to be small and mean and couldn’t deal honestly with their own sin or the sin of others. As one man put it, ‘People in the church were more interested in the process of being right than in the process of being honest.’” God help us to be a church that is in the world, but not of the world – a church that is in the world, but not the world in us. Let’s pray. 6
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