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Scandalous Behavior (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2024 6:00 am

Scandalous Behavior (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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May 13, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter of James 1:2-5


Psalm 17 gives us a picture of how the Christian is to go about achieving satisfaction. David wrote as for me I will see your face in righteousness.

I shall be satisfied when I awaken your likeness. Focused on eternity because that's what God is focused on. And when we forget that God is focused on eternity we begin to wonder why things in this finite existence are so messed up. And that he doesn't just march on down and clean up the act. God has got bigger fish to fry and he wants us there.

And that's why I'm here today to share with you some information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now let's join Pastor Rick in James chapter 4 as he begins his message, Scandalous Behavior. What happens when leaders don't lead, when pastors don't pastor, when shepherds do not lead the flock in the paths of righteousness?

Unrighteousness is what happens. You've got a complicated church loaded with people who are lying about Jesus Christ. In his name nonetheless, contrary to his word, his revelation, his will. It is practiced.

It is practiced as though it was the first commandment in many places. And so verse 1 we look at, where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? So where do wars come from? Not Jesus Christ.

That's what he's saying. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. War does not come from the Prince of Peace. Not this kind of war. As we covered before, a peacemaker is not a pacifist. Peacemakers do war against those things that upset the peace and that would be lies. That which is not true about God. Wars, the attempt to harm the opposition, the enemy. Are there enemies in the church? Is this necessary, this type of war that he is talking about? Fights, combative flare-ups that circle around wars, skirmishes you could even say. Paul many years later writing to Titus who was a pastor and he's telling him how to pastor. And he says in chapter 3, avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions and strivings about the law.

For they are unprofitable and useless. Don't fight over these non-essential things, these silly things. Now you might also notice in reading this fourth chapter of James that he's not quick to blame the devil or demons or the world.

He says stop blaming others by addressing the culprits. Fourteen times in five verses, he says you, you, you. I don't want to be too preachy, but you can't miss it.

If you highlight as you read, you can't miss, it just keeps coming back. Where do wars come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? It is about you the believer. Will you be guilty of this or not? Of course, there were those that were not guilty of these things. And so again, if the shoe fits, wear it.

If it doesn't fit, it's not for you. No wonder a lot of churches today don't want to go verse by verse. They don't want to be confronted by these things, put under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

They want to be free, I guess. I suppose, I'm not sure, to go about religion their way in God's name. In the first chapter, he said each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Don't blame another.

You cannot ever repair it. You cannot ever get it right if you conduct your faith that way. He says in verse 1, do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

And again, don't blame God. This word for pleasure here in the New King James Version, which I am reading from, but in the original Greek, which we get our New Testaments from, that word for pleasure is where we get our word, a derivative of hedonism. Not toning down the urges to have things, to enjoy oneself, to a fault, to a sin, to the rejection of take up your cross and follow me. God is not saying that we are not to have pleasure, but we are not to let it get out of hand. Luke's Gospel, now the one, Luke 8, the ones that fell among the thorns of those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with the cares, riches, and pleasures of life and bring no fruit to maturity.

Fasting is supposed to remind us to tap on the shoulder to the believer, don't, don't live your life for pleasure, because there's no pleasure in it. Titus 3, again Paul writing to Titus, for we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts, and here it comes again, pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. Paul is saying when we, before we came under the grace and love of Christ, we lived this way as though it was alright, and remember he was a very religious man before he came to Christ. James writing earlier is saying, yeah, but this is still going on in the church. The ones that have claimed Christ and who have claimed to come out of these things are relishing this type of behavior. To another pastor, Timothy, Paul wrote concerning the end times that men will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

There's the point right there. Pleasure more important than righteousness, than holiness, than obedience. We all fail in righteousness and holiness and obedience, but the righteous get up and go at it again and never lose sight of its importance.

Never try to dumb down God's word. The unrighteous, uncomfortable with their own weakness, react in a way that is only going to help them distance themselves from the blessings that God wants to give. Wrong thinking about God, about life, about self, produces wrongdoing before God, in the presence of God. Wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior. Who would disagree with that?

A man decides he wants to rob you of what is yours so he can have it. Who would say that's right thinking that caused that? When he says here, do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? Essentially the members are those things about us that will sin, that will carry out the sin, not church members.

That's not what he's talking about here. Those things in me that crave things that are forbidden to me because they are harmful to me and if not me to others. Think of David and Bathsheba. David yielded to the temptation and it nearly destroyed him.

It did destroy others. Romans and Paul writing to the letter to the Romans. These were Christians who lived in Rome and many of them were Jewish. And again the Jewish Christians struggled with the transition from Judaism to Christianity. Because the foundation scripturally to Christianity is found in Judaism. And God sent these men to help this transition and James is the first one that was right there on the front lines.

Working with those who were religious zealots, who were blind because of religion. God raised up a man like James, then he raised up the others also. And Paul when he wrote to the Romans, the Christians in Rome who were struggling with this transition, he's telling them about themselves, the flesh, the sin, but also the grace, the goodness of God.

And this is what makes the Roman letter a masterpiece. It's just the grace of God is in it. So he says in Romans 7 23, but I see another law in my members, I see inside of my heart, inside of my mind, this proclivity, this tendency to sin, to violate God's word, to be where I'm not supposed to be. So he says, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind. And bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members, which is inside of me.

My emotions, my intellect, my will, the way I feel, the way I think, and what I do. The soul, the spirit, and the body making up the entirety of the Christian being. The unbeliever, the one that rejects Christ has a soul and a body, but the spirit is dead. There's no contact and righteousness with the Savior. These things are echoed throughout the New Testament. Galatians 5 17, 1 Peter 2 11, they echo these things because they are true, not because they are parroting each other.

It's sort of this approach, just the facts, ma'am, that's what you're getting. When you come to the scripture, verse 2, he says, you lust, and the Greek word there is you cast your heart upon. You lust and do not have, you murder and covet and cannot obtain, you fight and war, yet you do not have because you do not ask.

I think most of us know people like this. They cast their heart on wrong things, they never are satisfied. And they drag others down with them, but again we come to the pronoun, and it is personal, you, you, you, you.

Well, if you're not guilty of it, you have to guard against it. It singles us all out. Our lower self finds no true satisfaction in this life.

Flare ups of it, but no lasting satisfaction. Psalm 17 gives us a picture of how the Christian is to go about achieving satisfaction. David wrote, as for me, I will see your face in righteousness.

I shall be satisfied when I awaken your likeness. Focused on eternity, because that's what God is focused on. And when we forget that God is focused on eternity, we begin to wonder why things in this finite existence are so messed up, and that he doesn't just march on down and clean up the act.

God has got bigger fish to fry and he wants us there to be part of it. He says you murder and covet and cannot obtain. Now, it is highly unlikely that they were actually murdering each other with swords, bayonets and things like that. But what they were guilty of doing was trying to ruin one another's life. In some way, in some form, they were making life miserable for each other.

I've heard of these kind of things taking place in churches. Destruction to others. Tozier, A.W. Tozier, and if you've not read A.W. Tozier and you consider yourself a Christian, you are missing out.

God gave us that man as he did many other men and women who have come after the apostles and have shared with us insights given to them from the Scriptures by the Spirit. I'm not putting them online with the Scriptures. Of course not. But there's a wealth of blessings in what God even said through them. Tozier has this interesting saying.

He says the flesh is good-natured only when it can have its own way. That sounds like a spoiled brat. There's no age limit on being a spoiled brat, incidentally.

You can be 99 years old and a brat. I don't know if you'd make it that far that way, but the point is made, we're all susceptible to it. Covetousness. It is the last commandment of the ten and the ten commandments, but it's the one that makes all the others possible.

To violate. You violate the ten commandments by wanting something God told you is not good for you. You shall have no other gods before me.

Yeah, but I'd like to have a harem of gods. You're sinning. Joshua chapter 7, we have the story of Achan that illustrates for us what happens to those surrounding the ones that covet. When they're covet and this is out of control, we simply read in Joshua 7 verse 21, Achan who committed the sin, and if you do not know who Achan is, well, read Joshua chapter 7, you'll find out very quickly.

He makes this confession, he says, I coveted them and took them. God said, this is not this mission I am sending you on. On this one, I don't want you to steal and to pillage and to take plunder.

I want you to execute justice as my instruments. But Achan, when he was faced with a temptation that was just to him overpowering, he broke away from what God commanded and the result was many others died. He says, James does, here in chapter 4 verse 2, you fight and war.

Again, scandalous, shameful moral behavior, appalling, because it's in the people of God. We would understand if he were writing to the thugs of the tough side of town, but he's not. We would understand if he was writing to Wall Street, but he's not.

We certainly would understand if he was writing to those characters in Hollyweird, but he's not. Satan's strategy is always to get us to fight amongst ourselves instead of warring against him. It's a distraction, a diversion, filled with all sorts of decoys and traps and seductions. Instead of fighting our own flesh, we can fight each other.

That's much easier. It's easier for me to talk bad about you than for me to recognize what I'm doing wrong, or at least admitting it or submitting to it when it is pointed out. The good thing about talking about these things from the pulpit is you don't have to single anybody out. To some degree or one or another, we're all guilty of it at some time, but some more than others, let the Holy Spirit minister to you if this is something you are struggling with in particular. Turning churches and homes and environments into battlegrounds, an abrasive person, that's so that you get the feel that when James is writing this and he's singling these types out in the churches, there were those that were just abrasive, insistent upon getting their will done. I've heard of fistfights in church boards, people hating on each other, trying to get their way done. Church-going peace breakers, they always feel justified when they break the peace, it seems. They always have some reason that catapults them beyond the restrictions of Scripture.

So he says, yet you do not have because you do not ask. But some of them didn't even bother to pray. They just don't get to be bothered with praying. Why should I pray when I can force my will? Why should I depend on God?

He covered these things in the first chapter. In verse 3 of James 4 we continue, he says, you ask and do not receive because you ask a mess, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Those who did ask, fail to ask according to the rules. Prayer has rules, grace has rules. Lawlessness is not part of the Holy Spirit, is not part of faith.

It is contrary to it. Improper prayer is avoidable. All one need do is come to the Scriptures and learn. God is notorious for walking away from improper prayer.

I'm out of here. For example, 1 Peter chapter 3, we'll take three verses. Husbands likewise dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. If you're the problem, if you are the problem, husband or wife, don't you think for one moment that you're not supposed to leave your sacrifice on the altar and go and get it right with the person you've offended. It goes for all of us.

Weaker in position. God is given in the marriage, which is between. Whoever thought you'd even have to say such a thing? Marriage is between a man and a woman and that's it. And anybody else is outside the will of Scripture, which is the will of God, the voice of God. You don't have to like it, but that's what I believe.

And Rick Gaston and I approve of this message. 1 Peter 3, 12, For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. It is nothing difficult to understand about anything I just read.

Everyone in this room understood what I just read, unless you're drifting, so when's this thing going to end? And then when you go and want God to work for you and you're scratching your head to wonder why you've gotten to the mess you've gotten into, maybe you can trace it back to such an attitude. Proverbs 28 verse 9, One who turns away his ears from hearing the law.

Even his prayer is an abomination. So Solomon, again writing to Jews, and he says, The law of Moses, our constitution for life, for how we should live. If you reject the voice of God through his law, God's not going to listen to you. And if he is listening, he's stacking up demerits against you, charges against you.

So it's very serious business. Now the wicked object to this. Objection overruled, says God. How many suppose God is just a personal genie standing by to bless them with treasures?

Well, I have a whole line of butchered theology known as the prosperity movement that actually is built on that type of thinking. But the prayer men and women of Scripture who were heroes of the faith, Abraham, Hannah, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, David, Hezekiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, the list goes on. They were not heroes of faith simply because they prayed within the confines of prayer, but because they sought to live honorably before God in spite of failures. Their testimonies are written for us to follow, not to say, oh, that's too high for me, I can't do it. The Holy Spirit says, nonsense.

Put your back into it. Roll up your sleeves and get busy at it and see how far, how much farther you will go if you pursue the way of the Lord. So it takes more than prayer to make a hero of the faith.

It is how we conduct ourselves. He says in verse 3 that you may spend it on yourselves. You ask, you do not receive because you ask amiss. You ask the wrong things the wrong way with the wrong life style.

That you may spend it on yourself. Where is the cross of Christ in that? Where is deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me in that? Dear God, please feed my greed. Such prayers never make it out of earth's atmosphere.

They don't even get past the ceiling. Bless me because I want stuff. God is not a material gift dispenser. He does want to give.

He does want to bless. But not so that our carnal nature, our lower self, our sinful nature can feast itself upon things that are perishing, self-centeredness. It is not a fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, selfishness.

No, it doesn't ever say that. That would kill it all. There's enough to go around for you and me and others. And so getting what I want is this. I want what I want to match what God wants.

I want it to match what I believe. I want my life to match my confession. And Satan says without failure to everyone who makes such a pledge, think about that, because I'm going to tap into your members, your flesh. I know there's a sinful side to you.

That's my portal. And I will do everything I can to access it and destroy. He doesn't care who he destroys as long as he is destroying. And God knows this, and that's why the mercy, the grace, the kindness of God is sufficient to overcome these things and wash away the guilt through the blood of Christ. And so God often gives an answer to prayer, this word, wait, or, no, or, yes.

That's it. He reserves the right to do this. Now, I want to take a minute to go down a little bit of a side road here, concerning the church, because she still stands. Even though there were these problems in the church, they were dealt with, and if they weren't, the church would not have stood.

But she is still here, and you're living proof of that right now. The passing of the centuries, the Christian experience and growth has been taking place in spite of setbacks. But each generation has to face the same, the identical temptations as the last one, as those first believers. Otherwise, the Bible would be a dated book.

It would be a cultural thing, but it's not. And this is why the word of God endures forever. Thanks for joining us today as we took a deeper look into the book of James, here on Cross Reference Radio. Cross Reference Radio is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. We're blessed to bring you God's word with each broadcast. If you'd like more information or want to listen to additional teachings from Pastor Rick, please visit our website, If you've been blessed by this program, we'd love to hear from you. When you visit the website, simply click on the contact us link at the top of the page and leave us a message. That website again is Please join us again next time as we continue our study through the book of James, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-13 08:33:13 / 2024-05-13 08:42:11 / 9

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