Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Disease Called Worldliness

The Disease Called Worldliness
James 4:7-10
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
This week’s passage is a bit of an unusual passage. It reads almost like the book of Proverbs—just a series of short statements. In fact, I counted how many sentences there are in the four verses we will be studying tonight and there were six. And one of those sentences was two phrases separated by a semi-colon—which seems like cheating to me. I’m counting that as seven.
            But it isn’t just a series of sentences that doesn’t have anything to do with anything else. In fact, the first word of our passage in the NKJV is “Therefore.” And when you see the word “Therefore” you have to ask, “What’s that ‘Therefore’ there for?” Before we answer that, the sub-title of this passage is, “Humility Cures Worldliness.” Last week we discussed in great detail what the New Testament says about worldliness. We took between ten and fifteen minutes just reading passages that contained negative statements about the world, its values, and system of beliefs. So today’s passage is going to teach us how to cure the disease called worldliness. There’s a pill you can take, it’s called the “Gospel.”
So back to our original question—What’s that therefore there for? Well if we look back at last week’s passage James 4:4-6:
(Have two youth stand on opposite sides of the room, one represents God and the other satan. Place a third youth in the middle representing the struggle between choosing God and choosing the world. Demonstrate submitting to God, submitting to the devil, and the tug of war of trying to please both)
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? 6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
      but favors the humble.”
James calls us adulterers because of our so-called profession of faith and love to Him, as well as our friendship with this world, which we clearly demonstrated that God is not pleased with anything this world has to offer. Pop Quiz: Who’s the ruler of this world? Satan.
            So if this passage is designed to cure us of the disease of worldliness, we have a few questions we must ask ourselves. First, you have to ask “Do I want to be cured of this disease or am I OK with it?” I don’t like to be sick. I don’t like to have headaches, tooth aches or any other type of pain if I can avoid it. The way I look at it, if I have a pain or ailment and I have access to a pill that will eliminate that pain or ailment with little or no side effect, I will take the pill. If I’m sick, I will take as much over-the-counter medicine as I can in order to beat the sickness. If all else fails I will go see the doctor. My wife, Rebekah, will try to will away the sickness. If she asks for medicine, I will drive to the moon and back to get it for her, because the amount of pain she must be in to decide to actually take medicine for it. In almost six years of marriage I remember her going to the doctor because she was sick one time. She was really sick. So you have to ask yourselves, “Is the pain of doing nothing worse than the pain of doing something about it?”
Secondly, “Am I willing to do what is necessary to cure the disease?” Or in other words, “Will I follow the doctor’s advice?” Are you willing to listen to the doctor’s instructions or are you going to follow your own plan? I texted Dr. Lile and asked him specifically how many years from high school graduation to being a practicing medical doctor. He said it was eleven to fifteen years depending on the specialty. So are you going to take that eleven to fifteen years of specified education, throw it out the window, and just figure it out on your own? Or will you submit to the advice of the doctor. There’s a passage in 2 Kings where Naaman, a commander of the Syrian army and a leper sought the help of the prophet Elisha to heal him. Elisha said to dip in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman thought Elisha was blowing him off and left mad, frustrated, and still leprous. One of Naaman’s servants said, “If he would have asked you to do something great, would you not have done it?” Of course he would have. So Naaman humbly submitted to Elisha and dipped in the Jordan River seven times and was cured of his leprosy.
What prescription does this passage give to cure the disease of worldliness? Humbly submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Remember James calls us adulterers, meaning we have conflicting interests between the things of this world and the things of God. Picture in your mind God on one side, the devil on the other side, and you right in the middle. You keep looking back and forth trying to make up your mind which side to choose. In the process of resisting the devil, saying no to the things of this world, we need to run to God’s side and submit to Him. Submit is a military term meaning to be under one mission. With you and God on one side, the devil is completely exposed and has no other option but to flee. Another way to look at it is like a little child who is scared, running up to his dad, grabbing his leg and hiding behind it. I’ve never seen that happen where a father shakes the child loose. The father always smiles, and puts his arms around his child. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” God will smile, and put his arm of protection around you.
After we have submitted to God we need to “cleanse our hands” which means to repent of our sin, or change direction from our sinful choices. Secondly we need to “purify our hearts.” James calls us “double-minded,” which in James 1:8 he says those whoare double-minded are unstable in all of their ways. As adulterous double-minded people we have to stop having one foot in Satan’s camp and one foot in God’s. We need to be singularly minded. It goes on to say that we need to “lament, mourn, and weep” letting our joy turn into gloom. It sounds strange to think that God would want us to be sad, weeping, and mournful. It’s not so strange when we compare it to the image of a group of people involved in a really crazy party, laughing and carrying on as they’re fully engaged in sin. James wants us to be mournful of our sin. He wants us to look back at our sinful choices and see them the same way God sees them, with utter shame and disdain.
The last verse is a promise: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” If you humbly do the things prescribed to cure the disease of worldliness, He will lift you up. The opposite is also true, if you lift yourselves up in the sight of the Lord, He will bring you down. Lifting yourself up means saying you don’t need God’s help, and instead of getting under God’s leadership, you remain squarely in the middle, sitting on the fence. But if you do not choose to follow God, you by default are choosing to follow Satan. Some of the greatest deceptions in the world are that you don’t have to decide, that there is no God, that there is no enemy of your soul, that there is no hell, that there is something else you could be thinking about, and that you don’t need to concern yourselves with spiritual matters.          

Friendship with the World

Friendship with the World
James 4:4-6

            What does it mean to be someone’s friend? As I’ve gotten to know Pastor Brian more and more, I find myself asking questions like this more often: “What does such and such look like?” So my question is, what does friendship look like? What do two people who are friends do with each other and for each other? If you pay attention to celebrity and Hollywood news, you will hear of someone who is addicted to drugs and are just going downhill fast. They are surrounded by “friends,” but they’re more like leeches, just hanging on to get free stuff and access to other celebrities. If they were real friends they would say, “Hey Charlie, you need to get off the drugs. It’s killing you.” Unfortunately, the drugged out celebrity will just get rid of anybody that disagrees with their partying lifestyle. I’m not talking about that type of friend.
            Brainstorm friend ideas:
            The second issue we need to discuss today is what does the Bible mean when it talks about “the world”? There are two main ways in which the Bible uses the word “world.” One is when the writers are writing about Earth, pertaining to the Earth, or the people who live on the Earth. The second way is when the writers are writing about the system of beliefs and values that the world holds on to.  Whenever the second way is used, it is never positive.
            With the help of modern technology, I took a task that would have taken weeks and shortened it down to a mere half an hour. I used to word search every time the word “world” was used in the New King James Version. There was something like 423 references. I narrowed that search down to only New Testament, and then narrowed it down further eliminating references that had to do with the planet or the people living on the planet. The final list is what we have here now:
The World
·  Matthew 18:7
“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.
·  Luke 16:8
“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.
·  Luke 16:9
Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.
·  Luke 16:11
And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
·  Luke 16:15
Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.
·  John 3:19
And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.
·  John 12:31
The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.
·  John 12:46
I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.
·  John 14:17
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
·  John 14:30
“I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me,
·  John 15:18
[ The World’s Hatred ] “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
·  John 15:19
The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
·  John 16:8
And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
·  John 16:9
The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.
·  John 16:11
Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
·  John 16:20
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.
·  John 17:9
“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.
·  John 17:14
I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
·  John 17:15
I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.
·  John 17:16
They do not belong to this world any more than I do.
·  John 17:18
Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. (*Implies that we are not in the world*)
·  John 18:36
Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
·  John 18:37
Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
·  Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
·  1 Corinthians 1:20
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.
·  1 Corinthians 1:21
Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.
·  1 Corinthians 1:26
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
·  1 Corinthians 1:27
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
·  1 Corinthians 1:28
God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
·  1 Corinthians 2:6
Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten.
·  1 Corinthians 2:8
But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.
·  1 Corinthians 2:12
And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
·  1 Corinthians 3:1
[ Paul and Apollos, Servants of Christ ] Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.
·  1 Corinthians 3:3
for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?
·  1 Corinthians 3:4
When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?
·  1 Corinthians 3:18
Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.
·  1 Corinthians 3:19
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”
·  1 Corinthians 7:23
God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.
·  1 Corinthians 7:31
Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
·  1 Corinthians 11:32
Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
·  2 Corinthians 1:17
You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”?
·  2 Corinthians 4:4
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
·  2 Corinthians 7:10
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.)
·  Galatians 1:4
Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.
·  Galatians 4:3
And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world.
·  Galatians 4:9
So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?
·  Galatians 6:14
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.)
·  Ephesians 2:2
You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
·  Ephesians 2:12
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.
·  Ephesians 5:5
You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
·  Ephesians 6:12
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
·  Philippians 2:15
so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
·  Colossians 2:8
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
·  Colossians 2:20
You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as,
·  Colossians 3:5
So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
·  Colossians 3:7
You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world.
·  1 Timothy 6:17
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
·  Titus 2:12
And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,
·  James 1:8
Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
·  James 1:27
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
·  James 4:4
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
·  James 4:8
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
·  1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
·  2 Peter 1:4
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
·  2 Peter 2:20
And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before.
·  1 John 2:15
[ Do Not Love This World ] Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.
·  1 John 2:16
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
·  1 John 2:17
And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
·  1 John 3:1
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.
·  1 John 3:13
So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
·  1 John 4:4
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
·  1 John 4:5
Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them.
·  1 John 5:4
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
·  1 John 5:5
And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
·  1 John 5:19
We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.
·  2 John 1:7
I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.)
·  Revelation 6:10
They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”
·  Revelation 8:13
Then I looked, and I heard a single eagle crying loudly as it flew through the air, “Terror, terror, terror to all who belong to this world because of what will happen when the last three angels blow their trumpets.”
·  Revelation 11:10
All the people who belong to this world will gloat over them and give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them.
·  Revelation 11:15
[ The Seventh Trumpet Brings the Third Terror ] Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”
·  Revelation 12:9
This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
·  Revelation 13:8
And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made—the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered.
·  Revelation 13:14
And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life.
·  Revelation 14:6
[ The Three Angels ] And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people.
·  Revelation 14:8
Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.”
·  Revelation 16:14
They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty.
·  Revelation 17:2
The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality.”
·  Revelation 17:5
A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.”
·  Revelation 17:8
The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made, will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died.
·  Revelation 18:3
For all the nations have fallen because of the wine of her passionate immorality. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her. Because of her desires for extravagant luxury, the merchants of the world have grown rich.”
·  Revelation 18:9
And the kings of the world who committed adultery with her and enjoyed her great luxury will mourn for her as they see the smoke rising from her charred remains.
·  Revelation 18:11
The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is no one left to buy their goods.
·  Revelation 19:19
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army.
            Let’s look at today’s passage. James 4:4-6:
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
            Right off the bat James calls us adulterers and adulteresses. Kind of gets our attention because we don’t like to consider ourselves in such negative light. We like to think of ourselves as better than that. But what is adultery? Obviously, adultery is sex with anyone that you are not married to. You are committed to one person and then break that commitment, by giving what is reserved for that one special person to someone else. Now let’s take it out of the sexual meaning. You call yourselves Christians but make yourself a friend of the world. Is there any doubt after reading through all of those passages that God does not approve of the world’s standard or system of beliefs? Several passages make it clear that Satan is the ruler of this world. By being friends with this world, we are making ourselves out to be enemies of God.
            But the good news is that He gives more grace. We mess up, make the world our friend, break the covenant we have with God, and give what is rightly His to Satan. This is adultery. But God gives more grace. If we are born again believers in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ we cannot out sin God. Grace.