To ponder on our intentions, lead to a deeper reflection of our pursuit and submission to God.
Last week we looked at Desires that battle within us and when not under submission to God, those very desires can lead us to conflict with one another. Today, we look at James 4:4-5 and how pursuit of the ways of this world lead us to hostility with God.
James 4:4-5 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?” (emphasis added)
In the OT, we come across this description of the people of Israel when they sinned and turned away from God, when they were spiritually unfaithful to God. Remember that James here is writing this to those in the church who placed their faith in Christ and as such he speaks this also to us. This is a call to each one who proclaims to have faith in Christ and is fully aware that they are not without sin and are not immune to the trappings of this world.
James in a very straightforward manner (which we gather by now is how he writes) uses the term adulterous people, the reason for it is seen in the latter part of that verse. Their spiritual unfaithfulness stemmed from their friendship with the world. And he further emphasizes this by repeating it, he says ‘anyone who chooses to be a friend to the world becomes an enemy of God.’
Friendship with the world
Friendship– as a term does not sound awful, being friendly with the world does not sound so bad, after all we are to live in the world and survive here. We are not loving the ways of the world; we are just being friendly. What can be so bad about it? But James cautions that it causes us to be hostile towards God.
In John 15:14-15 Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
Jesus says that Obedience to Him and a spiritual understanding/ knowing of God causes us to be called friends by Him.
In John 14:15 we read Jesus mention yet another reason for keeping his commands “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Our obedience and love cause us to keep His commands.
Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Our love, desire and devotion for God causes us to pursue Him, to be more like Him. And as we draw near to God, we get to understand the ways of the Father even more.
This love, leading to obedience, to a humble pursuit of the Father, revealing to us an understanding of God defines a relationship with God enabled by the blood of Jesus through the workings of the Spirit. And that relationship that is enabled and we pursue and build on, allows us to be called friends by Jesus.
So, if we call ourselves Friends with world, it will mean more than reaching a neutral between being in opposition to and loving it. It means harbouring a relationship with the world. And a relationship demands a certain loyalty, effort, time and devotion to it.
Mathew 6:26 says “Can we serve two masters? Either you will hate the one and love the other or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.”
1 John 2:15-16 says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Is there room for the love of the Father and love of the world in our hearts? There can be only one master that can claim our service, devotion and love. We cannot have the same level of love, devotion and our pursuit dedicated to anything of this world and have the same for God. The more time you spend in nourishing that which you ‘Befriend’ the more influence it exerts on you. And as such, friendship with the world demands more of us than we realise, it carries with it the danger of dullening our senses and increasing our fondness to the things and ways of this world.
And that is why we read in verse 5 “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?”
This verse emphasizes that when our hearts are more aligned to the world, we nudge out, making no room for that that which is from the Father. What scripture reminds us of here is that God Jealously longs for the spirit to dwell in us. We do not earn this privilege; we are granted it when we accept the Lord in our lives. That blessing that we get to have, and experience is what God wants and yearns for us to have and shouldn’t we yearn for it too? And that want should be greater than our earthly wants. God wants and is deserving of our all.
1 John 1:8 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” The enemy entices, lures and tempts to make us falter in our devotion to God and there are times when we allow our desires to rule our actions. So, what do we do when we know we falter and have been not been giving Him our all as we should? 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” There is no surprise that our answer is to turn to God and that is what James writes too and we shall delve into that next week.
Lord, you alone are worthy of our all. We are made for you and through you and therefore can never find anything good other than in you. Help us Father from going after things that are futile. May our pursuit be of you and nothing of this world. Draw us closer to you. Amen.