“FAITH THAT WORKS OUT”
Week Six – “Winning the War With Worldliness”
Week Six – “Winning the War With Worldliness”
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
Conflict is a part of life; it is a part of human history. One study that was done gave these horrific results. This study reported in the Canadian Army Journal regarding the frequency of human conflicts came up with this interesting statistic – since 3600 B.C. the world has only known 292 years of peace. During this period there have been 14,531 wars, large and small, in which 3,640,000,000 people have been killed.
Every generation since Adam and Eve has longed for peace and yet the history of the world is a war history. WHY IS THAT? WHAT IS GOING ON? James answers when he makes it clear that our personal stories are war stories as well, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (v.1). What a penetrating question! Why can’t we get along? Why do we rub each other the wrong way?
How do we preserve the unity and fellowship of the church despite the pressures of living?
I. THE WAR WITHIN, Vv. 1-5
We have problems with people and problems with God, and James addresses the reasons in the first five verses. The first reason for our fighting and quarreling is “desires that battle within you.” Abrasive words and abusive actions are expressed to one another because we are not a peace within ourselves. So we take it out on one another.
A. You Lust Rather Than Trust, Vv. 1-3
The word for “fights” is also translated “war” and means a continuing state of hostility. “Quarrels” are outbursts of active animosity. We tend to think that peace is our natural state, and that conflict is unnatural. The reverse is actually true.
We have constant battles because of our “desires” or passions. Lust for power, popularity, prestige and pleasure create strife. Desires is from the word hedone, a term for pleasure, with the usual negative connotation of sinful, self-indulgent pleasure. The word “hedonism” comes from hedone. It consistently has this negative meaning in the New Testament. Paul uses it when he says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasure”. We have constant battles because of our “desires” or passions. “
The Minnesota Crime Commission reported on the growth of crime and reached a startling conclusion:
Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it — his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toy, his uncle’s watch. Deny him these once, and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is dirty, he has no morals, no knowledge, no skills. This means that all children — not just certain children — are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free reign to his impulsive actions to satisfy his ants, every child would grow up a criminal — a thief, a killer, or a rapist.
When you are motivated by the belief that satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment come from what you have or how powerful you are, you will never have peace.
DOES THAT DESCRIBE YOU? ARE YOU DRIVEN BY A LUST FOR POWER, OR POSSESSIONS, OR PROSPERITY? ARE YOU SUBSTITUTING LUSTING FOR TRUSTING?
B. You Choose Your Pleasure Over Pleasing God, Vv. 4-5
Tom Sine wrote an article in World Christian and one truth he lamented, “Perhaps the most troubling of all is that a growing number of American Christians, of all ages, are not only embracing these self-indulgent values but moving them to the very center of faith. Instead of challenging the self-preoccupied living of a secular society, we have elevated it to normative living for Christians. This decision to place ourselves and our egoistic interests at the center of the gospel literally stands Christianity on its head and we have a perverted cultural faith, not a biblical one.”
”There’s an unquestioned assumption that American Christians seem to agree on: The self-involved cultural agenda must come first. Getting our career underway, our house in the suburbs and our upscale lifestyles started, come first. And then, with whatever time and energy is left, we try to serve Jesus. The problem is that the cultural agenda occupies so much of our lives, there is precious little time or energy for anything else, including Jesus.”
When your personal pleasure and comfort becomes your reason for living, God slips into the role of your servant and prayer becomes your way of placing your orders to Him!
“You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (vv 2-3).
Sine also says,
Too many Christians think they can just live the American dream with a little Jesus overlay as if it all goes together but it doesn’t. If people are going to seriously follow Jesus, they need to recognize that the secular culture is trying to pull them in a very different direction.”
Are you seeking what you can get from Him rather than seeking what He needs from you? Not good!
C. You Choose Strife Rather Than Submission, V. 5
When you call yourself a believer and yet commit your life to the pursuit of pleasure, power, possessions and position, you are guaranteeing that you will live a miserable life. God has a name for people who choose to live like that – ADULTERER!
I understand that adultery doesn’t have the same negative stigma that it once had. But I still don’t know anyone who really welcomes having that label attached to them.
While it is no longer the “Scarlet Letter” it is not something that is welcomed.
And I suspect that enough of you here in this room have enough painful scars and memories associated with adultery that you understand how destructive it is. Maybe it destroyed your parent’s marriage or perhaps it ruined yours. I am confident that everyone in this room has been touched in some way with adultery and you know it is not something you want to be involved with.
That being true, perhaps you can comprehend the amount of pain God must experience with the huge number of professed Christians who have fallen in love with the world and are chasing worldly desires.
Do you really want to for your life? Do you really want to cause yourself that grief and misery while inflicting it upon God? Is that how you want to spend your days?
An Eskimo fisherman had two dogs and he always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets. On one Saturday the black dog would win; another Saturday, the white dog would win—but the fisherman always won! His friend began to ask him how he did it. He said, "I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he stronger."
This story about the two dogs is apt because it tells us something about the inner warfare that comes into the life of a person who is born again. We have two natures within us, both struggling for mastery. Which one will dominate us? It depends on which one we feed. If we feed our spiritual lives and allow the Holy Spirit to empower us we will have success." - BILLY GRAHAM
II. WINNING THE WAR, Vv. 6-10
The great news is that this war within is winnable! The not so good news is that you REALLY need to be serious about wanting to win.
History gives us a rather interesting account on resolution of conflict. French novelist and playwright Alexander Dumas once had a heated quarrel with a rising young politician. The argument became so intense that a duel was inevitable. Since both men were superb shots they decided to draw lots, the loser agreeing to shoot himself. Dumas lost. Pistol in hand, he withdrew in silent dignity to another room, closing the door behind him. The rest of the company waited in gloomy suspense for the shot that would end his career. It rang out at last. His friends ran to the door, opened it, and found Dumas, smoking revolver in hand. "Gentlemen, a most regrettable thing has happened," he announced. "I missed."
That attitude won’t get you any inner peace. You must be ruggedly determined that something has to die if you want to win the war within! You have to aim to kill!
A. Be Ready To Surrender, Vv. 6-7a
Surrender requires humility. He must be first! He must be most! He must be all!
Surrender requires submission. The word used here means – “allegiance” – “LEIGE”
Alexander the Great and a small company of soldiers approached a strongly fortified walled city. Alexander, standing outside the walls, raised his voice and demanded to see the king. When the king arrived, Alexander insisted that the king surrender the city and its inhabitants to Alexander and his little band of fighting men. The king laughed, “Why should I surrender to you? You can’t do us any harm!” But Alexander offered to give the king a demonstration. He ordered his men to line up single file and start marching. He marched them straight toward a sheer cliff. The townspeople gathered on the wall and watched in shocked silence as, one by one, Alexander’s soldiers marched without hesitation right off the cliff to their deaths! After ten soldiers died, Alexander ordered the rest of the men to return to his side. The townspeople and the king immediately surrendered to Alexander the Great. They realized that if a few men were actually willing to commit suicide at the command of this dynamic leader, then nothing could stop his eventual victory. (David Yarbrough/Sermon Central)
THAT IS SURRENDER! Have you done that?
B. Be Ready To Stand, V. 7b
“Resist” the devil! Once you have stepped over the line – stand there! Put on the whole armor of God and stand against him – HE MUST FLEE!
C. Be Ready To Sanctify, Vv. 8-10
“Draw near to God” – V. 8
“Wash your hands” - V. 8
“Purify your heart” – V. 8
“Repent” – V. 9
“Humble yourself” - V. 10
The Perfect Illustration: THE PRODIGAL SON
When he repented and got right with his father:
He got the RELATIONSHIP
He got the ROBE
He got the RING
He got the ROAST
ARE YOU TIRED OF THE BATTLE?
ARE YOU READY TO WAGE PEACE?
WHEN YOU MAKE PEACE WITH GOD – YOU GET PEACE and GOD!