13 March 2017

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU MAKE FRIENDS WITH? [PART 2]


James 4:6-10

Winston Churchill was once asked, “Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?” “It’s quite flattering,” replied Sir Winston. “But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.” Humility is something that each and every one of must strive towards each and every day as children of the Living God. But the sad reality is that our pride usually gets in the way! Pride goes before the fall and this is battle that we all face in this me “Kingdom of one world.”

Why is this battle? Jesus talked about what the natural man desires before salvation and the battle we face as God’s children in this fallen world. “….., "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:20-23

This statement is evident in our current world system in the…. 
Post-modern thinker
Social justice warriors
Snowflake
Safe space
Everything tolerant
Self-esteem movement is trying to force on you me today.

We live in a society that screams tolerance, but are extremely intolerant themselves. We live in a society that says “If you don’t agree or accept me you are a “bigot” or a “ism” of some sort.” This all stems from a prideful heart. But sadly they are not the only ones! We see pride amount Christian circles who want change things to suit them. Do you know that good intentional Christians have gone so far to change some of the words to some of the greatest hymns ever composed?

For example: In the hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” there is a line that says “my own worthlessness” was changed to “my unworthiness” by one good intentional gentleman. This same person also criticized the working of Isaac Watts “Alas, And Did My Saviour Bleed” He said “such a worm as I….could convey to many people a quite unflattering self-image.” But that’s the point…..when you examine your wretched life as it lines up with a holy and perfect God. We don’t deserve His grace….and if you think otherwise then you are only fooling yourself and it’s the pride of your heart that thinks this way! This is the problem with today’s Christianity and a beautiful gospel that has been compromised to fit our narrative and acceptance. We need His acceptance and not the other way around. We desperately need Him. But this requires humility and understanding of my fallen state in light of God and His goodness.  As C J Mahaney said “Contrary to popular and false belief, it’s not those who help themselves whom God helps; it’s those who humble themselves.” God is personally and providentially supportive of the humble man or woman. And the grace He extends to His humble sanctified child is indescribably rich…and it goes beyond the riches of this life.

The Apostle Paul the most self-assured and proud person on the planet penned these words. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” Phil 3:7-10By nature we will never understand what humility means until the light of God’s grace illuminates our desperate need of His saving grace and breaks our selfish pride. This is why we need to be careful who and where we turn to! As J C Ryle said “Humility like this is one of the strongest evidences of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. We know nothing of humility by nature, for we are all born proud. To convince us of sin, to show us our own vileness and corruption, to put us in our right place, to make us lowly and self-abased–these are among the principal works which the Holy Spirit works in the soul of man.”

This is what the gospel does! 
Humility is what brought us to our knees.
Humility is what keeps in a right relationship with Christ.
Humility shows us where our worth is hidden.
Humility is what keeps us aware of our desperate need for the Good Shepherd every day.

We come to the continuation of what we talked about last week……here is these verses (v6-v10) And instead of running to friendship and intimacy with this world, we ought to run to friendship with God. This is the kind of friendship that is not birthed in the sinful desires of the flesh. But is pure, holy and filled with God’s grace. What does James say “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (v6b). Not only does He give grace, but He gives what? “more grace” (v6a) This letter exposes and makes us vulnerable to examine our worldliness and the truth can feel too difficult and overwhelming at times, I get it! It is not easy to resist the appeal of this world, and there are many areas of our lives where we have bought into this world. And when we realize the error of our ways we begin to doubt and wonder if these struggles will ever end.

But! This is where we see God’s grace in our lives if you are a child of the living God. The only hope we have in our spiritual darkness is more grace from a sovereign God. The only One that can save and deliver us from our sin nature and the sins that cling to our selfish desires even today. This can be anything from lust, to anger, covetousness, selfishness, gossiping, and favouritism and so on as we’ve looked at over the past few weeks. But in order for “more grace” something has to happen, we must be humbled and not be proud!

“Proud” in this passage could be rendered “arrogant or boastful” As seen in Romans 1:30 “slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,”. Pride is a great killer, and God knows this is a battle we face.

This is what pride does to the person according to God’s word.

It’s always accompanied by shame “When pride comes, then comes disgrace,” Prov 11:2 
It loves to fight “Pride only breeds quarrels,” Prov 13:10 
It tricks you in falling “The pride of your heart has deceived you” Obadiah 1:3 
The LORD detests all the proud of heart “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord” Prov 16:5 
It’s the opposite of love “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” 1 Cor 13:4

James is warning us because he loves us and he writing this to the church as a warning (v7) Humble yourselves under His mighty hand. He says “Submit” this comes from a military term which means to rank under. Who are we to submit to? The sovereign Lord who desires to give you more grace. But again in order to receive more grace we must come humbly before Him. And resist the Devil and all that he has to offer you sinful heart. “Resist” means “to take your stand against” or “to oppose” There is no middle ground that we can stand on…..it’s either this present world system or under His sovereign grace where we find forgiveness, mercy and eternal life. All people are either under the lordship of Christ or the lordship of Satan. 

Why do I say that? Who are we to resist according to James? “The Devil” ….James is not telling us to resist God, because we do a great job of that on our own. Why resist him? He wants to destroy you and me and we are to guard our heart and never give Satan a foot hold on our lives. As Paul said “nor give place to the devil.” Eph 4:27. The bible says that we are to Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Eph 6:11. For this reason as Peter wrote Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. He hates you and me because as a child of God through the gospel we have changed ownership or masters, so to speak. We are no longer bound to Satan and his fallen promises. He hates that because we are now property of Jesus Christ. Paul said “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Col 2:11-15

And the more we seek God and His goodness; Satan will flee because he is a defeated foe. That’s the beauty and victory we have in the gospel. So to flee something or resist something you must have a “go too” and the “go too” is Jesus Christ. James tells us to resist Satan and…..“Draw near” means: to pursue and intimate relationship and humble one-self under the care and supervision of His grace where we taste and receive His sanctifying mercies each and every day. As John MacArthur said “Salvation involves more than submitting to God and resisting the devil, the redeemed heart longs for communion with God.” But in order to draw near to God and for God to draw near to us, we need to do something which is crucial for our communion and fellowship with Almighty God.

The first thing we need to do is “Cleanse your hands you sinners.” (v8a)

In the Old Testament the priests had to wash their hands before approaching God, and the same rule applies to our spiritual lives. (Exo 18-21; Lev16:4). James is telling us to draw near to God, which implies that we have turned away from Him because we are easily drawn away by this world system. This is a call to repentance and return to our gracious Lord, the place where we belong. This is a call to approach God with a humble heart that recognizes that we have sinned against a holy God. As Paul penned “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Cor 7:9-10

God desires that communion with us and he will give grace to the humble as He always does.

Isaiah reminds us of this truth! “Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.” Isa 66:1-2. The spiritual temple of the heart, though it does not dominant the outward place of worship, is God’s favorite dwelling place. Just as pride is the root of all sin, so humility is the root of all righteousness.
  
The second thing that is required is a “purity of heart.”(v8b)

This happens when the things of this world are no longer admired and sought after. When self-concern is replaced is concerned for the glory of God. We are to “purify our hearts” purity is both external and internal. James warns us to purify our hearts, our minds, our desires, our motives, and our core being. By God’s good grace we are to be clean inside and out. We are to meditate on the things of God, because He has given us a new heart and new passions and we have put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do I do that? “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4:4-9
  
If this not a part of your life you might be as James says “You double minded” people. This literally means “double souled” which is a person who claims one thing, but lives or does opposite of what he or she claims. It’s the idea I believe in Jesus, but I don’t live according to His word. It’s very similar to what we’ve already covered back in James 1:22-26 or in James 3:14-19The true Christian wants no part of this evil world system, because we want to focus on what is pure, good, noble, just, things that are praiseworthy, because we love the Lord with all heart mind and strength. As David said “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” Psalm 24:3-4 

The third thing we are to do is truly hate our sin and never make lite of it “Lament and mourn and weep.” (v9)

James says “lament and mourn and weep.” This is an outward demonstration of an inward brokenness over sin. This is a picture of humility in the life of a believer. What does that look like in the life of a believer? “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me...Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:7-12. Do you realize it took almost a year for David to come to grips with this sin. And this was a man after God’s own heart. What does that say about us here this morning? When was the last time you grieved over your sin before God? We are just as equally weak with a godly man like David, and none of us are susceptible to sin. Despite the natural sinful heart of man, God nevertheless givers a greater, a higher and a wider grace to you and me. A broken and contrite the Lord will never turn away from. Why do I know that to be true? According to this passage and the work God is doing in my life today, because I know what I did yesterday.
  
What is He doing in your life? Are repenting, praying for purity of heart and mind and are you broken over your sin? What is the purpose of all this? The answer is found in (v6 and v10) James says “He will draw near to you.” This again should make your heart melt like a candle in front of a blast furnace. God desires that fellowship with you and me……Despite who you are or what you’ve become these past few hours, days, years. The gospel is all about God drawing Himself near to sinner like you and me. He came to save sinners like you and me. He will draw near and not only will He draw near the bible says “and He will lift you up.” He does the lifting, He is the one who extends more grace to you and me and He is the one who
  
What comfort there is from this verse! He gives more grace and that friendship we have with God not only comes from the gracious desire of God. But also is motivated by a longing of eternal satisfaction. IF we continue or seek this world for satisfaction we will be left lacking, but if we draw near to God’s grace it will overflow our cup of eternal riches. Draw near to God and humble yourself under His mighty hand of His overflowing grace. And resist the temptation of this world and all it has to offer, because it offers nothing of any value. And most of all……It offers nothing of eternal value! 

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