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1023. How God Responds to Worldly Christians

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2021 7:00 pm

1023. How God Responds to Worldly Christians

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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June 30, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a series entitled “Wisdom from Above,” with a message titled “How God Responds to Worldly Christians,” from James 4:5-6.

The post 1023. How God Responds to Worldly Christians appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University

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 Sr. His 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 is continuing a study series entitled Wisdom from Above, which is a study of the book of James. This study was preached in chapel to the Bob Jones University student body during the first few months of 2020. However, due to COVID-19, the student body went home, but they continued to take classes online and Dr. Pettit decided to continue preaching the James series through livestream chapel services. Today's message is entitled How God Responds to Worldly Christians. As always, you're invited to follow along in the study booklet that Dr. Pettit has written for this series.

You can order a printed copy from the website This morning, I'm reading out of the book of James, chapter 4, verses 5 and 6, as we are continuing our series here on the truth of wisdom from above. And I'd like us to look at these very unusual verses this morning as we, as I speak to you on the theme, how God responds to Christians when they are worldly. Let's look at what the scripture says in verse 5.

Do you think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth the envy, but he giveth more grace, wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. One of the greatest love stories in history is that of Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia. Nicholas inherited the Russian throne at the end of the 19th century. During his teenage years, his parents started looking for a suitable mate for him. At the age of 16 years old, contrary to his parents' wishes, he became obsessed with Alexandra, a beautiful princess then living in England with her grandmother, Queen Victoria. Despite parental objections, cultural differences, and a separation spanning thousands of miles, Nicholas was determined to capture Alexandra's love. Alexandra, however, found Nicholas a bit dull and did not enjoy the thought of moving to the harsh climate of Moscow, so she rejected his advances. In 1892, Nicholas turned 24, and having loved Alexandra for nearly eight years, he resolved to make one final effort to win her heart. However, he was devastated when she wrote saying that she had definitely decided not to marry him. She asked him not to contact her again, and all seemed lost for Nicholas. But he decided to leave Moscow immediately. He traveled across Europe through difficult terrain and treacherous weather in his journey to London. Although exhausted from travel, Nicholas immediately began to pursue Alexandra with great passion.

After two months, she finally relented and agreed to marry him, and the young couple became husband and wife and the rulers of the Russian Empire, and their marriage became an example of passionate love up until the day they even died. You know, it's very interesting that the Bible says that God has a passionate, pursuing love for his own people. The reason we love him is because he first loved us. And no wonder, then, that when God's people are worldly, God responds in the way James describes it here in verses five and six.

Just a little background or to remember what we've studied. As we came to James chapter four, beginning in verse one, James describes the source of all human conflicts. His point is the problems are not external.

The problems are always internal in the human heart. And he describes the sinfulness, the depravity of the human heart when he uses three different words. And I explained what those were in the Greek. The word hedon, from which we get the word hedonism. The word epithymia, which means a strong, passionate desire.

And the word zelos, from which we get the word envy or jealousy. Those three emotions rage within the sinful human heart. And when we come to James chapter four in verse four, what James does is he shockingly describes those who are being seduced by these desires, these affections, he describes them as adulterers and adulteresses. You see, God is never indifferent and God is never apathetic to our unrequited love. When we love self more than we love God, God does not sit there indifferent, but he does something. And that's what he's doing here in James four, because he, first of all, exposes our hearts. And then in James chapter four, verses five and six, he exposes his heart. And it is here that we see the heart of God as he responds to us as believers, when we are worldly, when we are drifting away from God.

And what do we see about the heart of God? Number one, we see that God is a jealous God. Look at what he says in verse five. Do you think that the scripture sayeth in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? When we go back in the Old Testament, God declares that he is a jealous God.

When the Jewish people turned away from the true worship of Jehovah to the worship of idols, what did God do? God relentlessly pursued his people by calling them to repent, to come back, to turn back to him with a broken heart and a submissive will. God is jealous for our hearts. And I believe verse five is communicating that to us.

He is saying here that God is a jealous God. However, when you read this verse, we have to face some real interpretive challenges. Fact is, this verse has been considered to be one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to interpret.

And there are two primary difficulties. Number one, in the opening phrase, when it says, do you think that the scripture sayeth? Now, normally that is used as a direct quote from the Old Testament. However, the problem is you can't find that quote or that statement anywhere in the Old Testament.

So how can James say the scripture says when we don't have a direct quote from the scripture saying this? That's the first difficulty. The second difficulty is in the phrase, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? The issue with this phrase is in understanding its meaning because it can be interpreted in a number of different ways. So let's try to resolve these two difficulties.

First of all, the first difficulty. Since we know that this verse is not specifically quoted in the Old Testament, then either James made a mistake, the scripture doesn't say this, or maybe there's another way to look at the phrase, the scripture sayeth. That is, this phrase does not refer to a specific quote, but rather to a general principle that is found in the Bible. And then James is writing this in a unique way to summarize the truth. Perhaps you could say that James in a Jewish way mid-rashed the Old Testament. And by mid-rash we're talking about Jewish interpretation and Jewish exposition. So he's drawing this out from the Old Testament.

So what would be the general truth? Well, it appears that James is referring to the jealousy of God. So listen to some Old Testament statements. Exodus 20 verse 5, thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God. Exodus 34, 14, for thou shalt worship no other God for the Lord whose name is jealous is a jealous God. Zechariah 8, 2, thus saith the Lord of hosts, I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, I was jealous for her with great fury. So the Old Testament has statements about God's jealousy and the Old Testament has stories about God's jealousy.

And one of those convoluted stories is the story where God commanded an Old Testament prophet named Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer. And the main purpose for the marriage was to illustrate the way that God responds to Israel when they turn away from God and worship false idols. God wants his people to know that he loves them like a like a husband loves his adulterous wife and is jealous for her affections. So it looks like James takes this overall truth of God's jealousy and describes God's passion for his people in this summary statement, do you think the scripture saith in vain the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? So that leads to this question and that is how do we interpret this phrase the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy as a reference to the jealousy of God?

Well it's based on how to determine the subject of the sentence. There are two primary ways to look at it. Number one the subject is the spirit of man. So in the King James it reads this way the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy. So the verse would mean that the human spirit lusts those desires with envy. This lust is is the cause for all the conflicts that are mentioned in the earlier verses. So verses five and six would be interpreted this way our human spirit lusts with envy but God's grace is sufficient to overcome this lust if we humble ourselves. So we know that that's a true statement that we do lust and God's grace is more powerful to overcome that. But then there's a second way to look at it and that is the subject is not the spirit of man but the subject is actually God himself.

And we see this in the way the Greek text reads. It reads this way to desire jealousy the spirit that dwells in us. To desire jealousy the spirit that dwells in us.

In interpreting this phrase there are two questions. Who made the spirit to dwell in us? And the answer is obviously God. Who then desires jealousy the spirit that jealously the spirit that dwells in us? Obviously it's God. So in this case God is the subject and that's the way the ESV reads.

Let me read it to you. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the scripture says he yearns jealousy over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us? So it is this God puts in us our human spirit and he jealously desires that our spirits be passionately committed to him and not to the world.

You understand this. That in relationships there has to be a heart. And if there is not the heart that's there you can't have the relationship. So when a couple begins to date each other what are you wanting?

You're wanting their hearts. I think that's what the Bible is saying here. I believe this interpretation is consistent with James' idea of God's passion for his people because he wants us not to be double-minded but to be single-minded and wholeheartedly committed to him.

Think about this. When you and I are worldly, that is our heart is drifting from God, is there not the tendency to think that maybe God is against us? But what does God's jealousy say?

It says he is not against us but actually he wants us. How do you think the father or the prodigal son thought when he knew his son was wasting his life on worldly pleasures? Do you think he was against him?

How did the father respond when the son came home? Do you think he was against him when he ran out to him and fell on his neck and kissed him and robed him and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet and had a great banquet in his honor? Do you think he was against him?

No! He loved him. He was jealous for him. So when our desires misdirect us away from God and we begin to seek the idols of this world, God is not indifferent but God's heart is filled with a passionate jealousy for us. God is jealous for his people. Wow, that says something to you and I in these days when it's easy for us to drift and yet God wants our heart. God loves us. But then there's something else that we see here and the way that God responds to us when we're worldly. Not only is he jealous but secondly we find in verse 6 that God is gracious. But he giveth more grace, wherefore he saith God resisteth the proud but he gives grace to the humble. Perhaps at this moment with sin in your life you feel reluctant to come back to God. You may be overwhelmed with the worldliness of your own heart and I've seen it happen many, many times when God does open heart surgery spiritually on people's hearts and people see their sin and they're overwhelmed and broken and humbled.

Oftentimes they respond in fear. God wouldn't want me. Why would God love me? How can I change?

How can I be different? I'm afraid of falling back into sin and it is to you that James says these words but he giveth more grace. Where sin abounds grace abounds more. God's grace is completely adequate to meet the requirements imposed on us by that jealousy.

He is jealous but he is also gracious. And so just like James quotes the Old Testament when he speaks of God's jealousy, he does the same thing when he speaks of God's grace. For here in this case James is directly quoting Proverbs 3 and verse 34 when he says surely he scorneth the scorners but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

James is showing us how God responds to us. He resists the proud. John Stott said pride is your greatest enemy and humility is your greatest friend. It's very interesting that Proverbs uses the word scorner. A scorner is somebody who talks big. Their words basically show no respect. They ridicule, they mock, they discredit, they are cynical, they make fun of an object. God resisteth the big talkers just like an army arranges itself in battle formation to fight against his enemy. Or like a running back in a football game who stiff harms his would be tackler. In either case God says if you're a big talker then you are fighting a battle that you cannot win and you are playing a game that you will always lose.

Big talkers are big losers. God resisteth the proud but notice he says he gives grace to the humble and he says it twice. What is grace? Grace is God's favor. It's God's blessing on those that truly don't deserve it the worldly. Grace is not something to be abused or misused but it is something that can be used. God's grace is his super abundant strength to live a life that overcomes the incredibly strong desires of one's evil nature. God has the power for you to overcome you. It is the supernatural ability to do that which I cannot naturally do by myself. God says, God is saying to you and I, you can't but he can. We can overcome when we humble ourselves and surrender and put up and wave the white flag of surrender to God.

I experienced this between my freshman and sophomore year of college. God used an incident in my life where I broke my left ankle playing indoor soccer and I realized that at that time of my life I was a Christian but I had one foot in the church and one foot in the world. I was definitely worldly because I had not surrendered my heart to God. And so I was semi-passionate for God but I was not completely dedicated and devoted to God. And over the process of about three or four months I put up the white flag of surrender to God. I yielded my life to God. I gave God everything in my life, everything I surrendered unto him.

I put everything on the altar and I discovered something. That the passion of a love for God begins to flame up and grow as you surrender to him and God's grace begins to work. As you humble yourself, as you become single-mindedly focused on God's desires and not your desires, what does God do? God gives you greater power, greater strength, greater desire so that his grace is greater. His desires are greater than your own sinful heart desires. And so here in James 4 verses 5 and 6 we see these two qualities of God at work and restoring believers from the world. His jealousy convicts us of our wandering and his grace enables us to return back to God and it's all based on being humble. Next week and the following week we're going to look at verses 7 through 10 where James gives 10 specific commands that shows us how to humble ourselves.

But let me ask you this question as we finish today. Where are you in your heart? There are so many ways today to have your heart drift away from God and live for your own desires. But what God is calling out in these days to all of us is to a broken heart, a humble heart, a surrendered heart, a heart that is single-mindedly committed to God. Would you give your heart to the Lord today?

Let me pray. Father, thank you for your goodness and grace and I pray for all that have listened, that you'll speak to their hearts. Help our hearts Lord not to be filled with the world but to be filled with your love and thank you that you are jealous and that you are gracious in Jesus' name.

Amen. You've been listening to a sermon titled How God Responds to Worldly Christians by Dr. Steve Pettit, President of Bob Jones University. As we reflect on Steve's message about how God pursues Christians who are worldly, the hymn, My Jesus I Love Thee, comes to mind. It begins, My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine, for thee all the follies of sin I resign. And verse 2 begins, I love thee because thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree.

Let's now listen to the Bob Jones University student body singing the hymn, My Jesus I Love Thee, recorded live during a chapel service. I love thee because thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree. I love thee because thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree. I love thee, Lord Mary, the voice of my love, if ever I love thee, my Jesus is now. I love thee in life, I will love thee in death, and praise thee as long as thou lendest me death. And say, when the dead do, my soul on mine brow, if ever I love thee, my Jesus is now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight, I have heard the glory, in heaven so bright, a spirit of glittering, proud on mine brow, if ever I love thee, my Jesus is now. I'm Steve Pettit, President of Bob Jones University. Thank you for listening to The Daily Platform. The Bob Jones University School for Continuing Online and Professional Education offers convenient and affordable online programs. Whether you're seeking to expand your skills, pursue a passion, or develop a ministry on your own time, qualified and engaged instructors will help you reach your goals. For more information, visit or call 888-253-9833. Thanks for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-25 14:29:24 / 2023-09-25 14:37:28 / 8

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