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Choosing Enemies ... Making Friends

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
June 7, 2023 12:00 am

Choosing Enemies ... Making Friends

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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June 7, 2023 12:00 am

(James 4:4-6) James accused many Christians in the 1st century of being "adulterous people" because of their cultural compromises and hypocritical actions. What would he say to our churches today?

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But he gives a greater grace.

Now stop. Greater than what? Greater than whatever the world offers. Greater than the strength of your own depravity. Greater than the mounting pile of your own sin.

Greater than the power of the spirit of darkness. Greater than our failure to give God undivided affection. For where sin piled up, grace piled up even higher. Romans chapter 5 verse 20. See this is grace for every situation. The good news surrounding the grace of God is that it's sufficient for all of our needs. What we sometimes need help with is living in accordance with the grace that we've been shown. In James chapter 4 we learn what it means to live a truly satisfied life. This is wisdom for the heart and our Bible teacher Stephen Davey is in a series called Satisfied. He's calling today's lesson Choosing Enemies, Making Friends.

Culture is constantly changing which to me is one of the wonderful proofs of the inspiration of the Bible, the everlasting unchangeable nature of the truth of God. The Bible is as fresh today as it was in 1993 and as fresh as it was in the year 93 about the same time this letter from the half brother of Christ began gaining wider and wider acceptance as the church recognized this was the breath, the inspired words of God. And as you've studied this letter and I return there with you today at chapter 4, we've discovered that James is kind of what one author called in your face. You could call this book the in your face epistle.

It's truth in that you can't get away from it, you can't dodge, you can't duck, you get hit every time. That is if you want to grow up, if you want a satisfied life, you're going to be challenged as I have been as we work through this letter. James is challenging us in chapter 4 that the kind of life that leads to satisfaction and not dissatisfaction, the kind of life that heads toward wisdom and discernment, not stupidity and foolishness, the kind of life that lands on joy, contentment instead of guilt and despair is a life that engages in this conflict. Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote it this way to the 18th century church. Of all that have tried the selfish experiment, let one come forth and say that he has succeeded.

Interesting that the testimonies this morning of those following Christ in baptism spoke to this. He that has made gold his idol, has it satisfied him? He that has toiled in the fields of ambition, has he ever been repaid? He that has ransacked every avenue for enjoyment, is he content? Can anyone answer in the affirmative?

No, not anyone. So what are we going to do about it? How do we pursue a life that eventually lands where God would have us land and daily finds what is truly satisfied? Now what James is going to do in chapter 4 is provide for us an inspired answer and it will be true in AD 93, 1993 and 2011 and beyond.

No matter how much culture changes, this will be true no matter how much technology advances, whether you're riding on a horse or you came in here today riding in your battery operated car. Your path will lead to satisfaction only if you heed these truths. Now what I've taken is James' next phrases and they are in your face again and I have outlined them in the form of four imperatives.

Number one, get on the right side of the war. Look at James chapter 4 and verse 4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

You'd better know who your real enemies are and who your true friends are especially the friend among all and above all. Now the hard-hitting vocabulary of James leads some to believe that James can't be righted to Christians. I mean he starts here by calling us all adulteresses. They would say there's no way a believer would ever be called an adulteress. There's no way a believer could ever be hostile to God to be an enmity with God. But in this context, understanding his audience as Jewish believers would be reading the letter, they would immediately understand this language. They would immediately understand what James is talking about when he uses the word adulteress to refer to spiritual unfaithfulness. Israel in the Old Testament was referred to as the wife of Jehovah. There's a covenant of love and fidelity between God and his people. Going all the way back to Moses, he warned the people not to play the role of a harlot and go after other gods that was viewed as adulteress acts, Exodus chapter 34. The prophet Hosea would literally live out the faithfulness of God toward Israel, his unfaithful bride.

By going at the command of God, Hosea would marry a prostitute and she would be unfaithful to him time and time again and he would, at the command of God, go and buy her back. It would prove the Lord's faithfulness toward his unfaithful bride, Israel. Jesus Christ in the gospels, prior to the beginning of the church, you're still in the Old Testament economy, refers to that generation primarily of Jews as an adulteress generation.

Then after the church is created, you discover the church is called the bride of Christ. Revelation 19 on Ephesians 5. We are, according to Romans 7, married to Jesus Christ.

So James here is speaking in a language that those who've come out of Judaism, Jews would understand, and those Gentiles who've come to faith would begin to understand as the New Testament continues on toward its completion. James will warn us all that to pursue the world is tantamount to adultery. For one adulterer has not effectively said in his heart that he has not found satisfaction and delight in his spouse and he will seek satisfaction from another. So here's the question then. Can a Christian attempt to find satisfaction and delight in someone or something that would violate his commitment to Jesus Christ?

And the answer would be yes. It's called sin. Sin. And what an interesting way James looks at sin.

It is a violation of the love between us and our bridegroom. Now James will talk about those who become friends of the world. The word he uses for world, cosmos, again, does not refer to the physical planet, not this spinning globe. He's referring to the world system.

He's referring to this present age. He's referring to the values of the world. The word for world consistently throughout the New Testament is a reference for all that is unholy, all that is in conflict with the values of heaven. So then you have these contrasting affections, friendship with the world or friendship with God. And James is basically saying if we love one, we, by virtue of that love, turn away from the other.

You cannot love both at the same time. And the word here that appears twice in this verse, you might circle the word friend and friendship. You need to understand this is a lot more than a casual friendship with someone you see at school every so often. You would call them your friend or maybe even your Facebook friends. They may simply be casual acquaintances. This is more than someone you might know at work and you might join in with lunch, maybe in the break room or the cafeteria every so often.

You'll pull up a chair. Now the word James uses here for friend and friendship is derived from philea. The verb is phileo. It's often translated love, to love. It's a friendship based on common interests. It's a friendship based on common desires. You're actually heading on the same path together.

You have common pursuits. It's a deeply affectionate word. In fact, it's translated love, the love of the father toward his children, John 16 verse 27.

It's a word that highlights the emotional connection that friends find in being with each other. Is it possible for the believer and the world to have the same interests? Is it possible for the church and an unholy world to actually want the same things? To desire the same stuff?

James assumes the answer is yes. That's why he begins with you adulteresses. But you understand that you're showing affection to that which is hostile to God. You're on the wrong side of the war. You're fraternizing with the enemy. Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? The word phileo, friendship, can be translated to kiss, to kiss as an act of affection and love. Do you not know that you are kissing a world that's hostile to God? You could say it this way. James would say in our vernacular, do you not know what you're kissing up to?

A world that is hostile to God? Do you not know who you're holding hands with? Why would you ever kiss up to sin? Why would you ever do that?

He asks us all. You are showing phileo. You are kissing up to filth. You are hurting the love of your life. Who will love you still? The world is at war with God and James says, come on, you're on the wrong side of the war.

Get on the right side. Secondly, James effectively says, act out the truth of God's word. He asks another kind of in your face rhetorical question. Look at verse 5. Or do you think that the scripture speaks to no purpose? Do you think that God doesn't mean what he says?

See, James is writing with biting sarcasm here. He effectively says, do you think the Bible is something you can take or leave? Is it not the authoritative word of God? Does it not speak toward divine purpose? And he expects all the believers to say, well, you're right, James, it does. God always speaks to purpose.

And then he has us cornered. Effectively, he's going to say, then why don't you live it? Why don't you obey it? Why don't you follow it? Do you really buy into the warnings of scripture? Do you really believe the promises of scripture? Do you really want to follow the commands of scripture?

James is expecting us to say, yes. Well, then act it out. Put it into practice. Follow it.

And he's going to lay out for us a number of things to follow in this paragraph as we are led toward a life that satisfies. Anything otherwise is dangerous. It leads to disillusionment. It is a spiral downward.

Anything else could lead you the wrong way. I share oftentimes with our greenhouse class what a man shared with me some time ago about his training in deep sea diving. As part of his training, he was taken deep under the surface of the water where it was pitch, dark.

Apart from his searchlight, you wouldn't be able to see anything. The body became weightless. He told me how easy it was to become disoriented as to which way was up or down or sideways. He said, you know, your body is weightless and without any landmarks around you, you're in the dark, you could literally be swimming down while your oxygen runs out, thinking you are swimming up. He'd been trained that if all else fails and he didn't know which way to swim to the surface, he was to simply follow the bubbles. Even though it might seem like he was swimming down, he was to follow the bubbles.

He was trained the bubbles are always right. We're living in such a changing culture today. It's easy to become disoriented with what is right and wrong, what's up, down, or sideways, what's wise or foolish, what's good for you, what's bad for you. Here's James' lesson. The Scriptures speak to a purpose.

Get on the right side of the war. Secondly, act out the truth of the word. Third, tune into the voice of the Spirit. This is a little phrase that we can easily slip over as we get to what we think is the good stuff. Verse 5 again, the middle part, we're right near the end. He jealously desires the Spirit which he has made to dwell in us.

Now that sounds odd and it's difficult and I read page after page after page after page of research on exactly what this phrase means and I'm not going to bring any of that to you except give you the conclusion. The Spirit of God is jealous over you. Now again, that sounds odd but it wouldn't to a Jewish audience because they knew that God often referred to himself as a jealous God. Right at the outset of the Ten Commandments, God says, I the Lord your God am a jealous God. Later in Exodus chapter 32, Moses says to the people of Israel, for the Lord whose name is jealous, you ever heard that verse before? For the Lord whose name is jealous is a jealous God. See that word could have a negative aspect, self-centered petty jealousy.

It could have a good aspect. That is God is intolerant of any rival. He's protective just as a husband and a wife have a holy, loving jealousy over each other where they would want to protect their heart against any rival. So God is equally, in fact, infinitely passionate about our fidelity in his. By the way, this is another proof that James is writing to the Christians because the Spirit does not dwell on the unbeliever. James says he is dwelling in us. Last word, verse five.

Dwelling in us. He's speaking to us and the Spirit jealously guards our relationship with God. He's grieved when we sin against God's love and the Spirit of God lets us know it. Are we tuned in? That still small voice that agrees with the truth of Scripture says, nah, that's wrong. Don't go there.

You shouldn't be doing that. Are we dialed in? See, he convicts our hearts with grief and sorrow and guilt whenever we go to a rival to have needs met instead of to God. James is saying, stop having an affair with the world. You want a satisfied life? Don't go anywhere else but to him.

See, this is a picture here. It's a wonderful picture of the Spirit of God that lives within us who is jealous over us and wants to present to the Father our undivided love. He grudgingly refuses to accept or tolerate any rival. That's why the most miserable person on the planet is not the unbeliever but a disobedient believer.

God will not have a rival. His bride belongs to himself. He takes great pleasure in meeting our needs.

So we dial into the frequency as it were of the Spirit and we hear the melody that says, live God's way. Pursue after him. Have your affections devoted to him.

Love him. And in this war, the other messages say, live for yourself. Follow your own instincts. Believe in yourself.

How many times do we hear that? Believe in yourself. James would say, don't trust yourself but tune in to the message that gives God sovereign control and authority. I did a little research this week because of this particular thought that just was ringing in my head as I saw the contrast of affection for the world, affection for God, and which way to walk and which way to go.

I found this to be true. Did you know that the most popular song played at funerals in the English speaking world is the same song that has been the most often used, repeated, copied, played, recorded song in pop culture now for nearly 50 years. It's entitled, I Did It My Way.

You just proved how old you are if you knew the title to that. I resisted reading the lyrics in my sermon but I can't find a better illustration of the path toward disillusionment and despair. So I'm going to read them to you. But let me tell you before I do, what makes matters even worse to me, even more tragic, is that this song is sung from the perspective of a man who was dying.

He's come to the end of his life, which is why for some reason this is used at funerals, and he says, and here are the lyrics, and now the end is near and so I face the final curtain. My friends, I'll say it clear. I'll state my case of which I'm certain. I've lived a life that's full. I've traveled each and every highway and more, much more than this, I did it my way. Regrets?

I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw through without exemption. I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway, and much more than this, I did it my way. Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew, but through it all when there was doubt I ate it up and spit it out. I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way. I've loved, I've laughed and cried. I've had my fill, my share of losing, but now as tears subside, I find it all so amusing to think I did all that. And may I say, not in a shy way, oh no, oh no, not me, I did it my way. For what is a man?

What has he got? If not himself, then he has not. To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels, the record shows I took the blows and did it my way. You see, that's the frequency of the world that will pander toward this kind of affection that ultimately centers on the idol which is you and me.

And James would say, don't. Don't you know the Scriptures speak to a purpose? Don't you know that that is adultery? Don't you know you're loved, you belong to a faithful God?

Do it His way. So get on the right side of the war, act out the truth of the Word, tune into the voice of the Spirit, one more, present the correct posture for receiving grace. Look at verse 6. A text, by the way, I thought I'd use for an entire sermon, but James used it to conclude this particular thought and so it's a great text though. But he gives a greater grace.

Now stop. Greater than what? Greater than whatever the world offers. Greater than the strength of your own depravity. Greater than the mounting pile of your own sin. Greater than the power of the spirit of darkness. Greater than our failure to give God undivided affection.

Greater than your vilest sin. For where sin piled up, grace piled up even higher. Romans chapter 5 verse 20. See, this is grace for every situation. We have no need, one author wrote, which outstrips his grace. For daily need, there's daily grace. For sudden need, there is sudden grace. For overwhelming need, there is overwhelming grace. The tense of this verb, he gives a greater grace is present, indicative meaning he never will ever stop giving grace and he must because we always need it, don't we? And so his grace never stops flowing. We will never exhaust it.

Never runs dry. There is still more to follow. But notice the qualifier in verse 6. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the what? To the humble. In other words, are you ready to receive it? Do you really think you need it? A proud person will say, I'm doing great.

I'm fine on my own. The humble believer will say, are you kidding? I need thee every hour. See, those who benefit most from grace are those who recognize they need it most and those who need it most receive it most. They thank him most.

They love him most. James says effectively, present the correct posture for receiving grace, which is humility. Tune into the voice of the Spirit. Act out the truth of the word.

Get on the right side of the war. And when your heart is positioned in humility to receive and welcome the grace of God, you're even ready to see it and embrace it and rejoice in it as we do today. And to you the poet writes these words. This is a different kind of lyric by Annie Johnson Flint who wrote, He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater. He sendeth more grace when the labors increase to added afflictions. He addeth his mercy to multiplied trials, his multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength is failed ere the day is half done, when we reach the end of our hoarded resources, our Father's full giving is only begun. His love has no limits. His grace has no measure.

His power has no boundary known unto men. For out of his infinite riches in Jesus, he giveth and giveth and giveth again. You've tuned in to Wisdom for the Heart. If you're new to our ministry, your Bible teacher for this daily program is Stephen Davey, the president of Wisdom International. One of our desires here at Wisdom International is to provide resources that equip and encourage believers as they seek to become more like Christ. To that end, Stephen has a book in his Wisdom Commentary series, a book on James. It's filled with practical insight from this important epistle. It's available during this series at a very special rate. Call us at 866-48-Bible for information or you can visit our online store at Join us again next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-07 00:51:52 / 2023-06-07 01:00:46 / 9

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