James 4:1-12 (3 June 2018)

  • Is this relevant?
  • We get on OK, don’t we?
  • I know there are other people who are like this.
  • Some of them don’t follow verse 11, either:
  • 11Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or judges them
  • Well, I think you lot are OK.
  • At least I don’t go around stirring up trouble.

Se we read what James says and find out how wrong I am…

I          Look out for trouble

II         Choose this day whom you will serve

III       Don’t rubbish even those you think are wrong.

I          Look out for trouble

Ch 3 => envy and strife cause trouble

Ch 4 => lust after worldly thing causes trouble

  • Trouble and strife between CHRISTIANS!
  • We expect and cope with criticism from the world
  • But it’s so much worse when it comes from each other – this SHOULD NOT BE!

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.

  • The war starts from within each of us, spreads to within the group of us.
  • This is more serious than differences in practice, or theology or bible interpretation.
  • It comes from
    • Worldliness instead of godliness
    • Sinfulness against sanctification
    • Corruption against conscience
    • Then corruption against corruption
    • Then one person against another
    • One group against another
    • One nation against another
    • Feuds -> wars

Peanuts Comic

  • Lust for … power … dominion … riches … pride … esteem … pleasure … praise
  • Desire -> denied -> quarrel -> fight -> hate -> kill
  • Flows into our relationship with God and our prayer life:
  • You do not have because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
  • Noticed: when most disappointed, hurt or angry less likely to pray? “I don’t feel like it” But is a time need to pray more!
  • Another downhill spiral: Pride or guilt -> don’t even ask God -> asking with wrong motives (Satisfaction, revenge, I was right, I was wronged)

“Your lusts spoil your prayers and make them an abomination to God”

If disappointed when things aren’t going your way they aren’t going God’s way either.

  • Didn’t the psalmist pray for victory over his enemies?
    • Yes – but for God’s honour and glory
    • Yes – and with thankfulness.
  • Jesus: love your enemies.

if we seek any thing that we may serve God with it, we may expect he will either give us what we seek or give us hearts to be content without it, and give opportunities of serving and glorifying him some other way. Let us remember this, that when [our prayers do not seem answered] it is because we ask amiss; either we do not ask for right ends or not in a right manner, not with faith or not with fervency: unbelieving and cold desires beg denials; and this we may be sure of, that, when our prayers are rather the language of our lusts than of our graces, they will return empty.

II         Whom do you serve?

  • History of God’s people: slavery, release, grumbling, turning to falsehood from the true God
  • Prophets called them back from adultery (faithfulness) to trust and obedience
  • Paul wrote in anguish to churches he founded which too soon floundered.
  • James wrote this letter
  • All the same message:

4You 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.

There is no middle ground:

God is the Creator-King. Commit to God or commit treason -> an enemy of God.

John 15:19

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 17:14

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

  • God provides the power to handle the conflict:

5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’

  • Grace means “unmerited favour” – God showing his love and care for us when we don’t deserve it.
  • More: Grace is God’s enabling power at work in us for his praise and glory.
  • How did Jesus cope? He was full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14) He was enabled to cope by God’s grace empowering him.
  • Your body is the temple of the Holy Sprit of God himself; the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.
  • God jealously longs for his Spirit to dwell in you – and no other spirit to do so!
  • The implication of ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’ is that God’s opposition to the proud is that of a fully armed warrior.
  • On the other hand: the humble know they need grace and seek it and receive it.

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

  • God is the almighty ruler of his universe: he is Lord and King.
  • Are you one of his subjects?
  • Remember then that being a subject means being submissive.
  • Being submissive to God means resisting his enemy, the devil, Satan – and if you do you will win! Resist the devil and he will flee from you!
  • The devil brings lies, dissension, un-cleanness, impurity, grief, mourning, wailing, doubt, uncertainty, gloom.
  • Come near to God and he will come near to you and bring purity, goodness, clarity, laughter, joy, peace and he will lift you up

Is 40:30Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

31but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

III       Don’t rubbish those who are wrong

  • Remember James 3:2-12 and the very real power of the tongue and how hard it is to control it?

Now James 4:11Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbour?

  • The temptation is so real – especially when they are so obviously wrong!
  • The concern here is that we do not speak against our Christian brothers and sisters.4:11 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family.
  • Of course, slander against anyone is wrong – and illegal. Slander is false spoken statements that are damaging to a person’s reputation.
  • But, as usual, Christian teaching goes further than the standards of the world.
  • Slander is certainly false
  • Rumour or gossip probably is!
  • Opinions are only opinions – and should be shared with great discretion if it means speaking against a brother or sister.
  • Speaking against a Christian brother or sister
  • judge them
  • makes you a law-maker, judge and jury
  • judge the law itself because your law is better than God’s
  • breaking the law that tells us not to set ourselves above God’s law
  • putting yourself above God – the only one who can ultimately make laws.
  • How high a standard our Father has for us, his children!

Some advice I have been given:

  • When seeking to express a concern beware of the words “out of love”.
    • You need real love, of course and also kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness and (perhaps above all) self control.
    • And always pray for wisdom – see James 1:5, 3:13, 3:17
  • If you can’t think of anything positive to say, don’t say anything.
  • Don’t take pleasure in another’s mistakes
  • Beware of pride, and being holier than they.

My three points:

I          Look out for trouble – it might start with you

II         Choose whom you will serve – submit to God and resist the devil

III       Don’t criticise your fellow Christians – love them instead.

James 4:1-12

Submit yourselves to God

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You 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. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

‘God opposes the proud  Ωbut shows favour to the humble.’4:6 Prov. 3:34

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

11Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister4:11 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family. or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbour?

 Belingen Christian Gathering 3 June 2018

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