There is a war going on inside you. What do you know about it? How can you win? James has the answer.
Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that make war inside you.
That’s a good question. Do you know where your fights and arguments come from exactly? In Romans 7:23, Paul wrote about this war too. “But I see another law working in my body. That law makes war against the law that my mind accepts. That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and that law makes me its prisoner.”
It’s our self-centered desires at war with each other, and God. Like the kid that doesn’t know what they want.
You want things, but you don’t get them. So you kill and are jealous of others. But you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God.
A while back Pastor Rod used Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka to teach a principle, it’s still a great example. What she wanted, she wanted now. A question to ask yourself, when you get mad, is it because you didn’t get your way?
I hate being told no, do you?
What should we do? Ask God. However, there’s a catch…
Or when you ask, you don’t receive anything, because the reason you ask is wrong. You only want to use it for your own pleasure.
How many of us have prayed a selfish prayer? God isn’t a sugar daddy giving us whatever we want. He’s not like Veruca Salt’s dad. How can you get a yes from God? Ask according to His will.
I’m not going to give a reckless teenager a Ferrari. God’s not going to give us anything that’s going to hurt us.
You people are not faithful to God! You should know that loving what the world has is the same as hating God. So anyone who wants to be friends with this evil world becomes God’s enemy.
The NIV uses the term adulterers, a theme that often is used in the Bible to describe how Israel responded to God. They chose, repeatedly, idols instead of God. They cheated on God. Hosea is a good book to read about God confronting Israel with their adultery.
Here’s a hard question to ask ourselves, have I cheated on God? Think about that while we look at what being a friend of the world means. It’s loving the things of this world more than God.
It’s cheating on God.
The Bible speaks on this in two places. First:
Don’t love this evil world or the things in it. If you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. This is all there is in the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. But none of these comes from the Father. They come from the world. 1 John 2:15-16
The world is defined as society as it organizes itself apart from God. Then:
If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as it loves its own people. But I have chosen you to be different from those in the world. So you don’t belong to the world, and that is why the world hates you.
Do we shape our lives according to God’s principles or the world that rejects God?
Do you think the Scriptures mean nothing? The Scriptures say, “The Spirit God made to live in us wants us only for himself.”But the kindness God shows is greater. As the Scripture says, “God is against the proud, but he is kind to the humble.”
What does God want? Us. Have you ever had a hole inside that you were trying to fill? Maybe with love, security, feeling like you belonged.
So you would get into bad relationships or even good relationships, yet they didn’t fill the hole. You found a group that would take you, but you never felt like you fit, you were still lonely. Then you find God, the same God that’s been after you this whole time, and you finally feel loved. You feel like you belong. That hole is filled and now overflowing.
How can we do this?
So give yourselves to God. Stand against the devil, and he will run away from you.
We have a choice here, do you see it? God or the World. God or the Devil.
Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:6-9:
So be humble under God’s powerful hand. Then he will lift you up when the right time comes. Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you. Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat. Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.
How do you resist the devil? By standing on God’s values. James is going to follow this with a promise.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. You are sinners, so clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure. Be sad, be sorry, and cry! Change your laughter into crying. Change your joy into sadness. Be humble before the Lord, and he will make you great.
If you go to God, what will God do? Come to you. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach God.
We shouldn’t approach God like we’re His equals. We approach humbly, realizing we have messed it up. It’s called repentance, which means turning away from the way we were going and changing our attitude.
Have you ever messed up so bad you’re broken-hearted and crying as you apologize? And you mean it, and follow through?
That is repentance. That’s what James is calling for here. Isaiah 1:16 says this, Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean. Stop doing the evil things I see you do. Stop doing wrong.
How should we approach God after we’re saved? As equals?
No. Still a wrong attitude. We’re His children and can approach Him without fear, but it’s the same as a child approaching their parents when they’re young. Fully dependent and not as equals.
Brothers and sisters, don’t say anything against each other. If you criticize your brother or sister in Christ or judge them, you are criticizing and judging the law they follow. And when you are judging the law, you are not a follower of the law. You have become a judge.
So then, stop doing anything to hurt others. Don’t lie anymore, and stop trying to fool people. Don’t be jealous or say bad things about others. 1 Peter 2:1
This verse is interesting, isn’t it? Notice the two words and who it’s directed at.
Criticize. Judge. Who?
Another Christian, a brother or sister in Christ.
What’s it look like to criticize another Christian?
Let’s pause and examine the word Judge. There are two meanings for this:
- Picking the best, like the best movie, for example, over another one.
- Condemning and punishing someone like a judge in a courtroom.
The second one is what James is talking about. It’s like me deciding that someone isn’t acting Christian enough so I kick them out of my class. Can I do that? Who made me God?
While saying that, there is a time for confrontation, but it’s not like a judge confronting a criminal. It’s like family staging an intervention for their drug-addicted family member. As equals who love them and want them to get help and change.
God is the one who gave us the law, and he is the Judge. He is the only one who can save and destroy. So it is not right for you to judge anyone.
Don’t be afraid of people. They can kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul. The only one you should fear is God, the one who can send the body and the soul to be destroyed in hell. Matthew 10:28
It’s important to remember our place. We didn’t create the universe or write the law. We can’t save anyone or completely destroy them. Me and you, we’re creatures, not the Creator.
James is about wisdom, controlled impulses and speech, and actually obeying God. The passage we studied highlights why we need the Godly wisdom we discussed earlier. It also shows us what happens when we don’t use it.
James wants us to recognize our desires and how it affects how we interact with the world, and to turn from it, submitting ourselves to God. The question to ask ourselves daily is “do what I want, or what God wants?”