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Janet's Corner

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Lesson 19: Real Faith Denies Worldliness

James 4:4-10

James desires us to become mature in our faith and as we read this letter , we are made aware that he is alerting us to the things that will take us off that road to maturity in Christ. In chapter 4:1-3 we saw that the root of arguments and conflicts among us is our selfish pleasures. The essence of the problem is the sin of selfishness. We want and don’t get and we want what others have. That conflict within causes conflict with others.

In our quest to find what will please us, satisfy our desires, make us happy, we turn to the world and all it has to offer us instead of God.

Let’s read 4:4-10

Remember James is addressing those who are quarrelling because of their selfish desires and here he addresses them as adulterers. They are friends with the world and enemies of God.

Selfishness is equated to worldliness. God is not the center of life any more. Pleasing "self" is.. The problem is their estimation of what will make them happy or satisfy them. It comes down to the question…"Who’s friend are you?" Friendship with the world means hatred toward God.

This word friendship here means to have affection for, to love.

So what does it mean to be a friend of the world?

Let’s think about what the "world" refers to. James is not referring to the natural world and its beauty that God has created, but to the world’s ideology – the world system whose central aim is self-enjoyment in disregard to God. The world is the present condition of mankind which is in alienation and opposition to God.  It means living for self – wanting, getting thinking of self - no longer honoring God, but man. Worldliness is not a manner or dress or behavior, but an attitude that is manifested in behavior.

What else does the Bible say about being a friend of the world?

When we are a friend of the world, we love the world, conforming to its principles and aims. Romans 12:2 says do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind…"

Think about Abraham and Lot. Abraham was called a friend of God. Lot could be considered a friend of the world. Read Genesis 14 and see that Lot chose to pitch his tent toward the world, then moved into the world and then became a leader in the world. His desires led him to friendship with the world and then to love the world.

I John 2:15-17 gives us instruction not to love the world or anything in it. It states that if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. It defines the world for us…the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does. Where do these come from? The world, not the Father. This will all pass away, but no the man who does the Father’s will. He will live forever!

The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1-3 exhorts us that before we were made alive through Christ, we used to live according the ways of this world, and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Satan) – the one who is still at work in those who are disobedient. Living according to the world places you under the rule of Satan and in rebellion to God. All of us lived among the world, gratifying our selfish desires, following our own desires and thoughts.

We have been delivered from these things through the grace of God!

Titus 2:11-14…Grace of God has appeared to all of us! And what does it instruct us to do? To say "No’ to all ungodliness and worldly passion, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives!

Loving this world is not healthy for our spiritual life. Look at what Paul says happened to Demas in  IITimothy 4:10. He was in love with this present world and deserted Paul.

That’s a literal picture of the end of James 4:4 – anyone who wishes to be a friend of the world becomes and enemy of God. You can’t serve two masters, Jesus says.

When you love the world you are unfaithful to God. That’s where the spiritual adultery comes in. Isaiah 54:5 says that God is our maker and our husband. In Jeremiah 3:20 God calls Israel his unfaithful wife. They broke their covenant relationship with God and suffered the consequences and broke God’s heart. We do the same today when we find our satisfaction through the world and its ways and not God and His ways. We break His heart just as indiscretion in a marriage breaks the covenant partner’s heart.

God longs for us to be faithful to Him. That is His desire. He can fulfill our every need far beyond what we could ever ask or think. Psalm 84:11 says For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless."

God’s desire for us

James 4:5 says that God jealously desires our total loyalty. He desires to be in an unbroken covenant relationship with each of us. God is a jealous God – its one of his names from the Old Testament. He longs for you to allow the Holy Spirit to control you, and fill you and satisfy you with his pleasures. And if anyone has walked away, the Spirit eagerly desires you to come back. This is not a negative connotation of jealously as we might think, but an indication of his protective love toward us. God’s Sprit jealousy guards our relationship with him. He wants us to be His friend! And how can that be? We tend to wander, don’t we? God passionately desires our total loyalty or single devotion. How do we fulfill that demand? The greater the demand the greater the grace…

God’s provision for us

James 4:6 God gives greater grace - more grace! God wants us to depend on His grace not our own ways. In verse 6 James tells us through quoting other scripture, who receives this grace – the humble, not the proud. It has been the devil’s tactics since the beginning to make us do it our own way. That word for pride is a combination of two words in the Greek – to show and over. So to be proud means to show yourself above others. That cuts you off from God’s grace, just as it did Satan when he wanted to be like God!

Greater grace is available for us as we walk in humility before our God – being faithful to our convent relationship with him – choosing to be his friend. His desire is to make us and keep us holy and blameless.

God’s solution for us

James gives us 10 imperatives, the solution to our pride, which has led us to be friends with the world and enemies with God. If you want God’ grace, humble yourself!

1. Submit yourself to God – If you’ve been walking in independence from God, place yourself back under his rule. There will always be battles when there is an area of our life we hold back from God. Surrender is the only way to victory.

2. Resist the devil. He is trying to pull you away and lead you into sin. Ephesians 4:27 says don’t give a foothold to the devil. He needs some toe in the door in order to fight against God. Shut the door.

3. Draw near to God. You have the choice who you will seek. Will you move toward God or not? NIV says come near to God…what an invitation. We have access to Him! He will come near to us! Feeling far away? Who are you coming near to?

4. Cleanse your hands and purify your hearts. The Jews were used to the ceremonial washings required by the law, so this literal picture could be applied spiritually

5. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning. God calls us to Godly sorrow which leads to repentance and life!

6. Humble yourself before the LORD and he will lift you up! As you admit to the seriousness of sin and how far you have wandered, God will lift you up. Isaiah 66:2 says the one who God esteems is the one who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at God’s word.

If you have strayed, see what pleasure has led you there and restore the intimacy with God that he longs to have with you. Let the work of righteousness bring peace in your life, giving you quietness and confidence forever!