“‘ADULTEROUS PEOPLE! – LISTENING?’” (James 4:1-10)
Series: JAMES July 16, 2017 10:30 AM
FBC Earlville, NY J B Stopford, Pastor
TODAY’S SPECIAL: “A Gorilla Funny”. A guy had been out of work for months and was getting desperate to find a job, so he decided to stop by the local zoo and apply for a job there. The director of the zoo said they weren’t hiring, so as the dejected man turned to leave the director noticed how large he was. He stopped the guy and said, “Wait. I have an idea. Our gorilla died a couple of weeks ago and he was our main attraction. It will be months before we are able to get another gorilla. Would you be willing to dress like a gorilla? It would really help us out of a jam.”
Being desperate for work, he took the job. The first few days were incredibly boring, so to liven things up a bit he started doing some tricks and really putting on a show. Before long, huge crowds were gathered to watch what they thought was a real gorilla.
One day, while showing off, he was on a rope and was swinging out over the lions cage when the rope broke. He was terrified as he noticed a lion approaching him. He was afraid to scream for help thinking he might lose his job, but was afraid that if he didn’t yell for help he might lose his life. So, he yelled out, “Help! Help!”
About that time the lion spoke up and said, “Shut up! Do you want to get us both fired?!”
INTRODUCTION We enter today Chapter 4, and for the next chapter and a half we’ll be learning about “Warnings Against Pride”. As you can read in the bulletin, there are 6 warnings – we’ll try to take 2 of them for each of these 3 Sundays. PRAYER
#1. PRIDE PROMOTES STRIFE (4:1-6)
a. The battle within (v. 1) James is not addressing the church as a body, but rather the church as individuals. He introduces this section on “strife” with the descriptive phrase, “desires that battle within.” Paul first shared this with us in Romans 7:21, “when I want to do good, evil is right there with me”! Paul shared that for the believer, the victory comes through a faithful walk with Jesus as Lord of one’s life (v. 25). James says we each have a battle within, which ultimately is a battle against God.
b. Note again the terms (v. 2): want, kill, covet, cannot have, quarrel, fight. Sounds like a bloody WWE fight or UFC inside a caged arena match! But this is happening where? In my heart! In your heart! And why? Because we “do not ask God.” God is not on the Throne of our lives! Why, He might be Savior through the cross, but He is not active in our everyday. It’s as if we have a lifeline to Heaven but live our lives on earth as if He doesn’t exist! Remember, James is writing to us! He’s writing to individual church members. We do not ask God.
What if everything we want as a Christian or as a church could only be obtained by prayer? (v. 2). Would we pray? Would we yearn that sweet fellowship with our Heavenly Father? Or would He still be one of many options? But everything? EVERYTHING? Everything!
And does not our heavenly Father hunger to hear from us? Matthew 11:28, “come unto Me, and I will give you rest.”
c. Then (v. 3) when we finally think, “well, maybe we should ask God – I’ve tried everything else to take care of myself, I might as well give Him a shot!” So now you DO ask – but you don’t get anything – because YOU ARE #1, not God! Pleasure is #1, not God!
d. Then (v. 4), as if WE DON’T ASK, and WE DON’T RECEIVE weren’t enough, then James calls the BELIEVER of our church “ADULTEROUS!” It is as if he were saying, “are you listening?”. Listen how Dr. Blackaby defines this: “God makes it clear that He wants us to love Him with all of our being. It is spiritual adultery to pursue the pleasures and values of this world while pledging our love for God.” James uses a term which is normally associated with spousal unfaithfulness and applies it to our relationship with our heavenly Father. OUCH!
But you ask, “Pastor, aren’t I suppose to be a friend with the world? Aren’t I supposed to be winsome to those who don’t know Jesus?” But you are asking the question wrong! A better question would be, “IF I didn’t tell anyone that I love Jesus, and that I go to First Baptist Church, and that I walk daily with the Savior Who loves me, and that He is Lord of every area of my life, would they know?” We often use our worldly winsomeness to live so close to the world that our Savior can no longer be seen!
e. James then quotes from two passages to make his point. The first, v. 5, is from Genesis 6:5. Why did God cause the worldwide flood which destroyed all but 8 people? Because He was and is a jealous God! He wants our unconditional love! He doesn’t want to share that love with anyone else but Him! He wants every other love relationship to look as if it were hate when in comparison with our love for Him! He is a jealous God! The second, v. 6, is from Prov. 3:34. The principle of being a humble person finds its roots in the book of the Bible know for its practical wisdom.
Total devotion to God coupled with unashamed humility before God are the marks of a child of God who will not be an instrument of strife – either in his own heart nor in the church in which he serves!
#2. HUMILITY CURES WORLDLINESS (4:7-10)
Illustration: If we had: 150 people in am service, 100 in SS, 100 in youth group, and $100K in treasury, would those be marks of a spiritually healthy church? They may be the marks of a successful church, but also a dead church!
If we: averaged 30 people in the am service, 10 in SS, 10 in youth group, our financial obligations met, and a good testimony in the community, could those be marks of a spiritually healthy church?
Sometimes we use the world’s standards to determine what is successful or not!
a. Look at the terms James uses to mark the humble man:
“Submit” (v. 7) = “to become subject to someone else”
“Resist” (v. 7) = notice James doesn’t say to ask God to “put a hedge around you” so the devil can’t come in! That may have been true in Job’s day. But today God says, “resist.” Oswald Chambers says the greatest way to defeat any area of our lives which are fleshly is by…neglect! Resist!
b. And we need to be cautious here: It is interesting to me that what I may call “worldly” might not be the same thing that the Scriptures id as “worldly”! I need to bring my conviction before the mirror of God’s word, not to the standard of other people. What would happen if I lived my life by what I learned in my being alone with my heavenly Father on a daily basis? Humility!
c. “Come” (v. 8) = the greatest invite in Scripture
“Wash” and “purify” (v. 8) = the invitation to personal holiness!
“Take your worldliness to a funeral” (v. 9)
“Humble yourselves before the Lord” (v. 10)
For what do you hunger? Illustration: last Saturday afternoon I indulged! I dove into the luxury of eating a Maine lobster, in Maine! It was wonderful! It was so wonderful I just wanted to take my time to bite, taste, devour, digest really slowly. I saved the big chunks for last. I knew, I just knew, that a Maine lobster recently caught and well cooked was just the best that the world had to offer for me!
But was it the best that GOD has to offer for me?
* Is it possible to settle for things instead of a rich relationship with Him?
* Is it possible to settle for accomplishments rather than His favor and pleasure?
* Is it possible that my devotion to the Savior is marked only by my love for a building and ritual rather than my being sold-out for Him?
God so hungers for US! WE are His best! He wants to hear from us! He wants to show us rich treasures from His word. He wants to be our only treasure!
Are you a spiritual adulterer? You have learned what to do: submit! Resist! Come! Wash! Humble yourself before the Lord! There is nothing about you that is hidden from our Father.
Close in Prayer