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June 28, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Pettit continues a series entitled “Wisdom from Above,” with a message titled “The Problem of Worldliness,” from James 4:4.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where the focus would be on Christ. So he established daily chapel services today.
That tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform today on The Daily Platform. Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University is continuing a study series entitled wisdom from above, which is a study of the book of James, let's listen to today's message where Steve will guide us through the problem of worldliness from the book of James. You have your Bibles I like to turn please to James chapter 4 now this morning. I'd like us to arrive at the very heart and the very core for the primary reason why it is that there is a lack of spiritual maturity among the people of God go look at that this morning is the central struggle of God's people as it is revealed in the book of James, and what is that struggle is the struggle with worldliness and James is been alluding to this throughout his book. For example, in chapter 1 in verse eight he talks about the believer struggling with double mindedness were double minded means two souls means estimate.
You have a heart for the world and you have a heart for God, you have a heart for your own pleasures your own desires and you have a heart to please the Lord. And so there's a struggle because what James is trying to get you to do is to be single-mindedly and wholeheartedly committed to the Lord, and if were not. Why is it because we haven't dealt with the desires her own heart and then at the end of chapter 1, we haven't really talked about it, but you can read it were. James tells us that pure religion and undefiled before God is the visit the widows and the and the orphans in their affliction, and then he says this to keep yourself unspotted from the world just like you want to keep spots off your tire off your blouse or off your shirt when you eat, you know, anything to fall there so he says you need to keep yourself unsoiled from world then we come to chapter 3. We've already talked about this and he talked about the fact that you cannot be wise if you're driven by the wrong desires. So he talks about a wisdom that is from below a worldly wisdom where people are driven by envy and strife, then last week we talked about in James chapter 4 when he talks about where all conflicts come from, and it really starts in the human heart.
The problem is not out there. The problem is in here in James uses three words and I mentioned them in the Greek because they really are very picturesque where he talks about she Don from which we get the word hedonism epithet meal which means strong loss and loss which means to be coveting of what others have and what James is saying is that these battles that you have with your desires on the inside is a reason why you have conflicts with people on the outside and the end result of these desires is that the people of God are spiritually deficient and shallow when the great prayers. I've been praying for this semester for the student body is actually a deepening of your spiritual life, but you cannot be deeper spiritually. If you don't deal with the idea of your own desires and the ultimate worldliness that comes out of that and we ended last week where I said I couldn't continue on because of our time factor, but in James chapter 4 and verse three he deals with one of the evident signs of our own, of our of our lack of spiritual death, and that is we have a prayerless life because praying. His heart is one of the hardest things in the Christian like to do it either. We neglect prayer for so he says you have not because you asked not, you don't really pray or somehow we are prayers are rejected because we have the wrong motives were not really praying for God's purpose in planning God's will be done because in prayer we know why we have to surrender to the and so James brings us here diverse for any any comes with a eight he culminates with a very jarring statement. It's almost a shock factor and I want us to read James chapter 4 in verse four and I want us to look at this verse very carefully this morning as he addresses the problem of worldliness that we all have notice what he says in verse four, your adulterers and adulteresses that's pretty strong language you adulterer you adulterous pieces know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Now it's his stop was gonna step back and say well that's pretty strong language on if somebody said to me, Steve, you know you got a problem with product. Oh yeah I got from abroad or whatever but if you called me or called anybody else you you committed adultery you go. Well, wait a minute that's that's that's strong language to call somebody the enemy of God.
So it's it's worth are taking the time to ask ourselves the question is this. Is he talking about me that like to answer three questions that like to ask this morning as we look at this passage of Scripture that the first thing is this, he talks about being a friend of the world. The first question is what is the world because all Christians need to understand if you're being called worldly than what we mean by that.
Let me say first of all when we talk about the world were not talking about the physical world. The created order that God made because the Bible says everything God makes he makes is good is not talking about that. So what we mean by the world when we say three statements number one. The world always refers to unbelievers in their lifestyles. The world always refers to people who were not Christians listen. Ephesians 2 verse one and you at the Quicken who were dead in trespasses and sins, where, and in times past you walked according to the course of the world, according to the according to the prince of the power of the year that Satan, the spirit that Satan that now works in the children of disobedience. The world refers first to those to those who are dead in their sins, to those whose lives are under the domination of the control of Satan, whose lives are structured to gratify and glorify themselves and in the world refers to those who are trying to make this life and work without God one person is set in this way worldliness is human nature without God's own to be real clear when I talk about the world. I'm not talking about Christians I'm talking about people who are unbelievers.
Secondly, the world refers to the organized and created structures of mankind or to put it in a term that's a little more common were talking about human culture. We talk about human culture were not talking about necessarily every aspect of it is wicked, or in violation to the laws of God. We just talking about the way the world works. The word for world is the Greek word because Moss. It literally means that which serves to beautify through decoration or adornment right so let me illustrate this way. So let's say were to have a birthday party. How do you create the atmosphere of a birthday party. My wife is my wife is like it's it's like her spiritual gift birthday parties mine I don't have the gift at all.
But my wife does severely come to my house for birthday party.
It was your birthday party. My wife would decorate the house she would have all kinds of banners and streamers. She would have a cake she would have all and she would have all kinds of gifts because my wife is really good at spending my money for other people and so they're all kinds of gifts in their presence and their stacked and what she is done. She's created an atmosphere with birthday decorations. Okay, that idea of creating an atmosphere and through a structure or form.
That's what the idea of the word world means.
For example, we have that here we have Christmas season and we have lighting ceremonies. We have Christmas decorations. We have Christmas music. If you're from Michigan. You probably heard this place is called Brawner some evaporative Bronner's okay. It's in Frankenmuth, Michigan. We used to live about 5 to 7 miles from Frankenmuth and we would take people always over to Bronner's Bronner's is this the store that sells worldwide Christmas decorations so you can walk again on 4 July and you feel like you're in Christmas it's like the world crisp okay so when we talk about the world we talk about this structure we talk about this. This created organization or this atmosphere. The world therefore refers to people. Unbelievers who live their life, and God is not a part of it in the world. God is left out of their values. What is important so our values differ in the world.
God is left out of their morality. The basis of their morality is not the word of God is their own human nature in the world. God is left out of their pursuits. What is the pursuit of the believer, seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, but the pursuit of the unbelievers different God is left out of his his public opinions. We we talk about the term that's not politically correct but didn't come from the church that came from the world so the world includes the current fallen culture in which we live every day that is opposed to the authority of God and by the way, let me be very clear that the world is never ashamed to declare to you who they are.
They take pride in themselves. They advertise they publicize they market their values so the world is referring to unbelievers. It's the organized and created structured their culture in which they live their life without God in the number three, the world is clearly defined as the enemy of God to be a friend of the world is to be the enemy of God. Why because the mindset of the world is either apathetic or they are hostile towards God. Listen to what Paul tells us in Romans chapter 8 he says that the mind that is governed by the flash is death in the mind that is governed by the Spirit is life. The mind governed by the flash is hostile to God is not submissive to the law of God, and that mind can never please God.
So were talking not about believers were talking about unbelievers. That leads me then to the second question and that is what is worldliness, so we asked what is the world what we mean by worldliness and let me begin by saying this that only Christians can be charged with being worldly. Paul says in Romans 12 to don't be conformed to this world is writing to Christians. He says don't let the world put pressure on you and squeeze you into their mold into their way of thinking. Why is that because you cannot charge the world for being worldly. That's like saying to somebody who's alive you're alive. What is that mean it's like it's like saying to someone who's an American you're an American yelled what else am I going to be an unbeliever can only be be what he yes he's of the world. So worldliness is not charged to the world is charged to the Christian because Christians are different. You see the word for a church like we went to church yesterday Lord for church is a Greek word correctly see it. It literally means one who was called out from what happens when you become a believer when you become a believer, you're literally called out of the world and you are brought into the church.
For example, Paul says that Jesus delivered us from this present evil world.
We are literally delivered.
It's a world that is headed for eternal destruction.
We were delivered from that we were delivered from the kingdom of darkness and we were brought into the kingdom of God's dear son.
We were dead, but now we're alive.
We were in. We were taken out of the old man and we are placed into a new man.
We were in Adam. Now we are in Christ and at the very core of the gospel. Please don't miss this the very core.
The gospel is that we been taken out of the world and we been brought into the church. The very act of God in the gospel is an active separation.
It's a definitive line, light and darkness, death in life born again, not born again.
So when you become a child of God you were taken out of this world and you are placed into the body of Christ. So what James is addressing here is a potential. It is actually a reality and that is Christians can become worldly and so James condemns Christians for worldliness, with two shocking charges.
The first charge is he charges believers with having an affair with the world. He adulterers and adulteresses that's called Old Testament language. You see, God calls call the nation of Israel, his bride, but what was the problem with the nation of Israel.
They always turned back to the worship of idols and in the fact they committed adultery in your member, the, the, the strange story of the Old Testament with an Old Testament prophet name Hosea human story and he was commanded by God to marry a woman named Gomer that's an odd name first and he told the prophet to marry this woman and the woman was a prostitute and almost sounds really weird but it helps us to lease understand that that was that's the way God felt and that was got in the relationship with the nation of Israel because because, as the nation of it as is Gomer committed adultery, so did the nation of Israel. James is charging, then these believers with adultery because they turned away in their affections for Christ and they started pursuing the satisfaction of their own appetites and what he is saying to us is that worldliness is at its core is an affection problem, not infection, but affection, love not the world, neither the things of the world tell me to stop here and say everybody in this room loves the world, everybody, I do. I know that because James is Artie told me what's in my heart cheat on me as I lost it so it's in all of us. It's not like it's not like some of you are in. Some of you.we all are. We all have those desires for this current corrupt worldwide because when we got saved.
Our sin did not leave our hearts and so the Bible commands us don't love the world, even the things of the world. For if any man love the world, the love of the fathers not ending for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust they eyes and the pride of life is not of the father but is of the world that he says the world is going to pass away, but what you to do your to seek and do the will of God.
When you and I become worldly then it's like, it's like a man being on faith for woman being unfaithful to their spouse at such that's a serious charge and the notice he charges the believers not only with an affair, but he charges the believers with treason. He says no you not the friendship of the world is enmity with God in Middle Eastern culture friendship is taken very, very seriously. Friends always share the same values in the same loyalties, so to choose to be somebody's friend is to completely identify with them. So what is he saying he saying worldliness is not only just an issue of the heart. Okay dear affections, but worldly. This also means it's when Christians began to embrace the standards the values the morals the pursuits the opinions the priorities of this fallen corrupt world.
In essence, what happens is we begin to start to become like the world we think like them. We act like them wheat wheat we embrace their lifestyles and so worldliness includes the pursuit of my own fallen desires. It's in my heart, but it also includes an outward conformity to the life of unbelievers who are living their life without God and folks, only Christians can do that only Christians can be worldly in every culture in every society you can be worldly or not you can be worldly by just living the way unbelievers do. You can dress like the world you can be involved in the entertainment of the world you can be a part of the music of the world and we can go down this long long list of just simply trying to put before you that you and I as believers are called out from the world and therefore we are to be distinct in our pursuits were to pursue God were to pursue his standards were to pursue his morals were to pursue his glory. Who in the Bible made a decision based on his own desires to pursue the to pursue the world without seeking the Lord to member a guy like that. His name was Lot was his uncle. His uncle was Abraham and they were having problems with their herds and their herdsmen and so Abraham said, look, we would gotta split up being someone to give you a choice you can choose where you want to live in the Bible tells us that Lot lifted up his eyes and he saw the Jordan Valley that was well watered everywhere. In other words, it was going to make him prosperous, and so lot shows for himself the Jordan Valley and Abraham settled in the land of Canaan and the Bible says something interesting it says lot settled among the cities of the Valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom and the men of Sodom were wicked and great centers against the Lord lot made a big decision.
A decision as far as we know, he never sought God.
Worldliness always involves making decisions for the believer based on your desires and not the pursuit of God's will.
What does God want that should be the question of every graduating senior from Bob Jones. What does God doesn't mean your desires are wrong, but your desires are to be in submission to God. What does he want lot placed himself under the influence of the corrupt culture of Sodom and Gomorrah. He lost his identity as a child of God and eventually he lost his family through the influence of Sodom's culture. Every Christian has to be very careful about pursuing his own desires. In such a way that he ends up identifying with the lifestyles of the ungodly, I'm always plea I'm always thrilled to hear of our graduating seniors go out to get a job they start like they start a family and they identify with the people of God in that community by being faithful to a local church becoming a part of that local church. That's the called out assembly. That's what were supposed to do was post graduate go out into the world and and be a part of a faithful local church to be growing spiritually and maturing as Christians and so worldliness is something that is charged believers and let me conclude this morning with this. How then to somebody become worldly, let me say that to be called worldly is a very serious charge. That's why very careful about it.
I don't just say to us. A person who does this one thing there worldly.
They may not be.
It's a big charge. What greater betrayal is there and commit adultery in marriage in treason in the nation to be charged is worldly is a serious offense and therefore we need to be careful before we charge someone with being worldly. So what is the process of becoming worldly will. James reveals that worldliness is a choice. Notice we says whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
The word will there and I defined it this way is an intentional choice based upon an inner desire to experience something with the implication of some reason planning to accomplish the goal. But God is not a part of it. Whosoever will's to be the friend of the world. Worldliness can be brought broken down in the stages number one. It starts with your desires.
It doesn't mean that all your desires are wrong, but they have to be brought in alignment to God's will. We've already talked about the fact that we all have sinful desires and so part of our growth is we need to surrender the Lord. Secondly, not only of their desires. But there's a deliberation. That's why don't you charge people with worldliness very quickly because often times we struggle with our desires. God what you want and sometimes it's what I wanted and not sure this is what God wants.
And so there's a struggle. In the and that's okay because were struggling with what God wants. And in this struggle. It's a period of deliberation into indecision and we have to come to a place where we surrender ourselves to God. However, the choices that we make will end up leading and direction that we go on our life that leads to the third point and that is there's a decision that's a conscious decision to go in the direction to live for myself it's it's to become a friend of work of the world to reach a verdict to make a choice to take a stand to shift my allegiance to change my friends. I'm going to go to pursue after my own desires and I'm going to immerse myself in the fallen corrupt culture and that's the way I'm going to live, and then finally number four is a word distance because once you make a decision you have to choose to distance yourself from godly influences because if you're worldly you don't want to hang out with the godly because they're different. They're different in their pursuits are different and their actions are different in their behavior and sadly you distance yourself ultimately from God's two characters that the apostle Paul had a relationship with. One was Mark and the other was Gunning Dimas, Mark, and ended up writing the gospel of Mark started out with Paula and you're on a missionary journey with Barnabas and Mark, for whatever reason we don't know exactly why deserted the apostle Paul and Barnabas and left and went back home later own Barnabas want to go with Paula and another missionary journey and Barnabas said, let's bring Mark again and Paul said no and it brought a rift between Paul and Barnabas.
We don't know why he didn't want to bring any didn't really say, but obviously he recognized that there was probably unresolved issues in Mark's heart, a lack of surrender or a lack of self-denial. Then there's this guy named Dimas Susan, who Paul mentions over and over about how much he served with him in various various places and you can read about in the book of Colossians and Philemon.
But when we come to second Timothy chapter 4 verses 10 and 11 is very interesting what Paul concludes number one.
He says Dimas hath forsaken me because he loved this present world. We don't know what happened were not saying that Dimas wasn't a believer he was with Paul in the front line serving him and something happened in his heart and he left and Paul says he deserted me. He deserted me for this world. And then the very next verse, Paul writes any says to Timothy to get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for the ministry. Somewhere along the way. Mark got aligned in his desires and his direction is choices in the ended up following the Lord, and of course he ended up writing the second gospel of the gospel according to St. Mark one provides a word of warning, the other a word of hope. The apostle James, here is riding us. He is charging us with the concern of worldliness and I'll just lay it out. The great issue at Bob Jones University is whether or not working a mature and if we don't mature and become wise people than at the core of it. It's actually worldliness of our heart that we haven't really dealt with, so my prayer is that God will be merciful to us and help us to have the affections that please him and honor him as God's people who are set apart from the world.
Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for those who have listened and I pray Lord that you will help us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord help us Lord not to choose to be worldly in Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon from the book of James by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thanks for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform