SERMON TITLE: THE FRIENDSHIP THAT GOD HATES
SERMON TEXT: JAMES 4:1-10
A. For centuries, internal conflict has been all too common among God's people
1. Many denominations and Christian groups that exist today bear witness to the continuing conflict.
2. Some of these division came about because of a proper concern for doctrinal purity, such as Luther's reformation.
3. Other grew out of the personal convictions and conscience of a leader who became a rallying point for those with similar views.
4. Still others have resulted from personality differences or power struggles.
B. Just before His betrayal, Jesus prayed that believers "may all be one ... that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me" (John 17:21)
1. He was not praying simply for "spiritual" unity, but for "visible" unity!!
2. Why--so that the world, seeing it, would accept the validity of His Person and Work
A. PROPOSITION: SINFUL WORLDLY DESIRES FOR PLEASURE ARE THE CAUSE FOR CONFLICT AMONG BELIEVERS.
B. INTERROGATIVE: What makes worldliness a cause for conflict?
C. TRANSITION: From James 4:1-10 the same three causes for sin in an individual's life are the same three CAUSES for conflicts that divide believers in the Christian community: the flesh, the world, and the devil.
I. THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH CAUSES CONFLICT AMONG BELIEVERS. 4:1-3
A. THE PROBLEM: Interpersonal Conflicts Among Believers
1. Conflict #1: Wars (NIV "fights")
a. Quarrellings among believers, perhaps verbal controversy
b. Refers to a continuing state of hostility
2. Conflict #2: Fightings (NIV "quarrels")
a. Actual fist fights, but more likely verbal disputes
b. Refers to a specific outbursts of enmity and antagonism
B. THE SOURCE: The Desire for Worldly Sinful Pleasure
1. Fact #1: The desire for worldly sinful pleasure is a misguided selfish priority of life.
a. Pleasure (Gk. "hedonon") is the term from which we get the word "hedonism."
b. Hedonism refers to a self-seeking philosophy wherein pleasure is the sum total of life.
c. The desire to gratify the sinful desires of the flesh at any cost is a great trap for many believers.
2. Fact #2: The desire for worldly sinful pleasure wages war "in" one's members
a. "Members" may refer to members of the church, i.e., the self, centered gratification of fleshly desires without consideration for the needs or feelings of others is seen as the first cause of conflict within the church.
b. "Members" more likely refer to the actual parts of the believer's physical body.
1.) The external conflict between individuals within the church has its source in the internal warfare that comes from attempting to gratify the sensual desires of the human body.
2.) In other words, the external conflict is the result of an inner personal spiritual struggle and tension with sinful desires.
3. Fact #3: Attempts at satisfying sinful fleshly desires leads to a frustrated and dissatisfied life.
a. Reason #1: Self-gratification is elusive
1.) Problem #1: People lust, i.e., they have sinful desires, but those desires are often thwarted or go unsatisfied.
2.) Problem #2: People murder and covet, i.e., they hate and envy the possession and success of others, but they themselves are failures in life.
a.) Murder here is not actual killing but having hatful feelings--Jesus said that one who become angry with his brother is as guilty as one who actually murders him (Matt.5:21-22)
b.) Covetousness leads to murder, for it an attitude of jealousy and anger over the possession and success of another.
b. Reason #2: Self-gratification leads to frustrations and conflict, i.e., it never truly satisfies.
1.) Problem #1: People fight and war because they want to satisfy some worldly sinful desire.
2.) Problem #2: People fail to get satisfaction in life because they attempt to get it outside of God's will
a.) Some fail to ask God for legitimate desires, instead attempted to seek gratification in totally self-centered way.
b.) Others fail to ask God with the right motives, instead attempted to bribe God so as to gratify the self-centered flesh, instead of seeking to please God
C. APPLICATION: External Conflicts Often Expose Inner Struggles
1. Perspective: The cause of conflicts among people is not an environmental problem but an inner problem.
a. A person not at peace with himself cannot be at peace with others
b. A person not content with what he has become envious of others
2. Perspective: Attempting to satisfy worldly, sinful, desires never really brings satisfaction and meaning to life.
a. Individual who are frustrated and dissatisfied due to unfulfilled cravings will sooner or later be the center of conflict with others.
b. Individual who have not been victorious over sinful cravings of the flesh sooner or later will be in conflict with others
c. When sinful pleasures gain the dominance in a person, that person will become a center of strife in the Christian community.
II. THE DEMANDS OF THE WORLD CAUSES CONFLICT AMONG BELIEVERS. 4:4-6
A. THE PROBLEM: Spiritual Infidelity to the Lord
1. The Rebuke: Adulterers and adulteresses
2. The Explanation: Adultery is a common O.T. figure of Israel's unfaithfulness to God (Deut.31:16; Ezek.16; Hos.9:1).
3. The Fact: For a believer to make pleasure the chief end of life is spiritual infidelity in God's eyes.
a. Both God and the world are wooing the human heart
b. The longing for pleasure in the life of a believer leads to disobedience and apathy of God.
B. THE SOURCE: Friendship with the World
1. Illustration: Jesus taught: "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to one and despise the other.You cannot serve God and mammon" (Luke 16:13)
2. Theological statement: Friendship with the world is enmity with God
a. Explanation: Friendship with the world means that one has a preference for the world and its ways rather than the ways of God.
b. Result: Unwittingly or deliberately making oneself a friend of the world makes one an enemy of God because one has given the world and its alluring pleasures one's allegiance
3. Theological support #1: The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously
a. Interpretative problem #1: The source of the seeming quotation: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us" is not found verbatim in the O.T.
1.) Some commentators think that James is quoting from some unknown Greek translation, making a paraphrase of some O.T. passage (such as Ex.20:5), or giving a general summary of a teaching in the O.T.
2.) James is not quoting an O.T. passage in vs. 5 but giving two independent sentences, the first a question, and the second an affirmation, which make a strong theological statement of support to what he has just said in vs.4
a.) Do you think that the Scripture speaks in vain, i.e., to no purpose? (i.e., concerning friendship with the world making one an enemy of God)
b.) He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.
b. Interpretative problem #2: The translation of "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously."
1.) Reading #1: "The Spirit which He (God) has made to dwell in us jealously desires" (NASB margin, NIV margin), i.e., the Holy Spirit given us by God longs for our undivided loyalty.
2.) Reading #2: "The spirit which He (God) has made to dwell in us jealously desires" (ASV, KJV, NEB, NIV), i.e., man's spirit, given to him by God, desires evil things.
3.) Reading #3: "He (God) jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us" (NASB), i.e., God lovingly longs for the Holy Spirit who has been given to us by God.
4.) Reading #4: "He (God) jealously desires the spirit which He has made dwell in us" (NIV margin), i.e., God lovingly longs for our human spirit's undivided loyalty.
c. Solution: The context seems best to show that the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to dwell in believers, jealously yearns or desires, i.e., He is jealous for the loyalties of God's people.
1.) Scripture speaks of God as a jealous God (Ex.20:5)
2.) God does not want to share our affection with the world
4. Theological support #2: God gives more grace
a. God, being a jealous God, demands allegiance, but He also provides the necessary grace so that we can be loyal to Him!
b. As the Spirit of God yearns for our undivided loyalty, while at the same time the allurements of the world seek our attention, God continues to give additional grace so that we might have victory over the allurements of the world.
5. Theological support #3: The quotation of Proverbs 3:34
a. God resist the proud, i.e., the one who defiantly rejects God's rightful claim on his life, him God will oppose
b. God gives grace to the humble, i.e., the one who submits to God's sovereignty in his life, him God will give grace--forgiveness for the past and enablement for the future.
C. APPLICATION: God is a Jealous God and He does not Like the Believer Having Divided Loyalties.
1. Divided loyalty between the world and God only show that one does not fully understand the grace of God or the deception of the world.
2. Divided loyalty between the world and God causes strife and division within the Christian community.
III. THE DECEIT OF THE DEVIL CAUSES CONFLICT AMONG BELIEVERS. 4:6-10
A. THE PROBLEM: Sinful Selfish Pride
B. THE SOURCE: Lack of Godly Humility
C. THE SOLUTION: The Ten Commandments of Humility
1. Commandment #1: Submit to God, i.e., voluntary, loving obedience.
2. Commandment #2: Resist the devil
a. Note: The devil influences the sinful traps and allurements of the world
b. Promise: If we resist the devil, he will flee from us
3. Commandment #3: Draw near to God
a. Note: The verb "draw near" is used often of the Levitical priest approaching God with the various sacrifices.
b. Note: We draw near to God in worship and prayer
c. Promise: If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us in communion and fellowship!!
4. Commandment #4: Cleanse your hands, you sinners, i.e., confess your outward actions and live a godly life of righteousness, fairness, and compassion.
a. Note: James is not addressing unsaved people but Christians.
b. Note: Many times Christians have wrong priorities because they seek the pleasures of the world instead of wholehearted devotion to God.
c. Note: Believers sin when they are not living up to God's standards but are following the standards of the world.
5. Commandment #5: Purify your hearts, you doubleminded, i.e., confess your inner attitudes and thoughts and live a godly life from a clean heart.
a. Note: Clean hands and a pure heart cannot be separated
b. Note: The appearance of seemingly clean hands without a pure heart is hypocrisy.
c. Note: Believers whose affection are divided between the world and God are indeed doubleminded!
6. Commandment #6: Lament, i.e., take sin seriously
a. Sin is serious business and the call for cleansing must not be taken in a casual, light-hearted, or frivolous manner.
b. The believer is called upon to realize sin in his life with an attitude of shame.
7. Commandment #7: Mourn, i.e., grieve about sin in your life
8. Commandment #8: Weep, i.e., cry about sin in your life
9. Commandment #9: Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10. Commandment #10: Humble yourselves in the sight of God
a. In the presence of God we must acknowledge and deplore our utter unworthiness
b. Promise: If we willfully, lovingly, humble ourselves to God, God will exalt us
C. APPLICATION: The solution to conflict among believer is a true heart-felt loving and devoted humility to God.
1. True humility seeks to worship and obey God and not seeking the sinful gratifications of the flesh through the pleasure of the world.
2. Friendship with the world leads to self-exaltation and self-exaltation leads to ruin
3. Humility brings divine exaltation