Ephesians 4:7-16; Nearness to God will manifest His purity in us (Jam 4:1-10), part 2.
length: 66:24 - taught on Aug, 31 2021
Tuesday August 31, 2021
Drawing near to God has a recognizable difference in way of life. God must influence us for good.
The opening paragraph of Jam 4 clearly reveals this truth.
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [chapter 3 shows us that they were envious and self-seeking, trying to excel one another in teaching and wisdom] Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God [not an unbeliever, but takes a position opposed to God]. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? [God does not accept infidelity with indifference] 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (PRO 3:34 from Septuagint) 7 Submit [military term - to put in subjection] therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
First, we begin with the source of the conflict among them - the pleasures that wage war in their members.
James finds the “source” for their conflict in the pleasures that wage war within their members.
The flesh will make us prisoners within our own body with sinful pleasures acting like enemy soldiers waging war against us. We cannot escape this slavery to our own body unless we are removed from the body in death, or we overcome the inner enemy.
God has given us the power to overcome the inner enemy, and actually use our bodies for His glory.
And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
No matter where we go, we will not be able to escape that constant battlefield until we overcome the sinful inner pleasures, tossing away those idols into the fire and giving those parts of our lives to God, to His will. A.W. Tozer stated that idolatry consists in “the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”
Constant inner war robs us of continuous peace and joy. We will all come to know that control of outward circumstances is an illusion, but control of the inner man through the word of God and the Holy Spirit is not only possible, but it was gifted to us by God and must be our reality. Christ set us free, and as Paul warned, “don’t use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Freedom is to be released from the flesh to serve God and His people.
We find another great truth here: war within ourselves will mean battle with others.
War within ourselves means that we cannot be good to others, for to truly do good to others, like God does, is to not fear losing anything from self, which He doesn’t, and neither should we: “Consider the lilies …” The solution to inner conflict is to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. In so doing, you will feel whole within, not in need of anything, nor fearful of losing anything. No one can take from you anything you share with God. Only you can take your eyes off of your gifts and off of God who infinitely loves you, and feel the effect by losing your peace and power.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Humility and submitting to God go hand in hand. But then they are warned, “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (vs. 7).
Humility, repentance, and submission to God to do what is right and pleasing to Him, will meet with Satan’s test of our resolve (JAM 4:6-7).
Expect Satan’s approach, but also wait for it. Do not be the type that are looking for the devil around every corner and seeing him in every shadow. Also, do not be the type who think he will never come, for when he does, the absolute shock of it will put you at an immediate disadvantage. Peter puts it well, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation” (1PE 4:12-13).
The Greek word “resist” in JAM 4:7 is anthistemi, and literally means “to stand against.” Resist or withstand the devil though his powers of deception and seduction are great. If we are not humbly submitting to God’s will, the devil has nothing to bother about with us. We are already doing what he wants. But when we are submissive and humble before God, we need to be on the alert so that we are not caught off guard, fail, and lose our momentum. And, to imagine how we withstand the devil’s tests, we remember our Lord in the wilderness (no doubt James is thinking of the same thing when he writes this), Who through the Holy Spirit and the word of God (led by the Spirit into the wilderness; responded, “It is written”), withstood every temptation, though extremely hungry, and the devil fled from Him.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (vs. 8). It is not enough to reassert one’s commitment to submission, one must actually do so.
Confession, study, and prayer would all figure into a path that draws a believer away from worldliness and towards the “new and living way” (HEB 10:20).
Confession is simply agreeing with God in your soul what is sinful, and not making excuses for sinful behavior, justifying it, ignoring it, or blaming others. Imagine a believer who has an issue with anger or fails to forgive another or who often maligns others, but attends church, learns God’s word, gives, etc. and either ignores these sins or justifies them in some way. He fails to confess or agree with God about certain sins, and by so doing, he removes all chance of overcoming them. Acknowledging sin as God defines it, and also knowing that all believers have been created in Christ Jesus to overcome every entanglement, the believer will diligently forge ahead to victory and freedom by the power of God and the grace of God, though knowing that it might be a long journey. God tells us to run the race set before us. He doesn’t tell us how long it’s going to be.