J. Gordon Duncan

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Sermon Notes and Family Devotion for James 4:11-12

Big Idea:  God loves so we don’t judge.

James 4: 11  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.

·    What are examples of the way we can speak evil against other Christians?
·    Very few people will own up to this.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if this is something in which you need to confess.

The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

·    Why is speaking evil against your brother also judging your brother?
·    How is judging speaking against the law?

12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.

·    Why do we judge when we know only God has that right?
·    How do you reconcile what you know about God’s character when you read that God saves and destroys?

But who are you to judge your neighbor?

·    Why do we think we can judge?
·    Including neighbors here in addition to brothers means we are not allowed to judge non-Christians either.  Why do we feel like we have that right?

I don’t know many Christians who will regularly admit, “You know, I really struggle with judging people.  I judge Christians.  I judge non-Christians.  I just think I am better than everybody else.  Oh, we’ll own up every now and then, but I’m afraid the day to day for most of us is a joyful judgment of the rest of the world.  Even when we have low views of ourselves, we still think we are better than most everybody else.   And when we judge, we justify it by saying, “No, the Bible says that’s wrong.  I’m just being biblical.”  Goodness we are a mess.

You want to know many times the Bible tells us not to command?  Take a guess?  10?  15?  20?   I lost count somewhere in the 2-3 dozen, gang.  Let me give you just a quick sample.

·    Matthew 7:1“Judge not, that you be not judged.
·    Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven
·    John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
·    James 4:11 But who are you to judge your neighbor?
·    Romans 2:1-3 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
·    Matthew 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Now, you may hear this and think, “But Gordon, aren’t we supposed to speak out against sin and unholiness in this world?  Won’t this world just go to hell in a hand basket if don’t stand for what the Bible says?”  Listen Gang, I’ve been on both sides.  I have judged people straight up as if I personally sat on the throne of God.  And I have had people tell me that the reason our church doesn’t grow is because I dress like I do and I enjoy a glass a wine in the evening.

So again, I ask, what then do we do?  Well, I don’t know if our passage in James is going to answer every one of those questions, but it is going to answer one very simple questions for us.  So with this intro in mind, let’s pursue this Big Idea this week from the book of James.

Big Idea:  God loves so we don’t judge.

Now, before jump into this audacious topic, let’s as always do a bit of reminding ourselves of what James has been talking about.  Last week, James reminded us once again that the path to be lifted up and encouraged before God is to pursue humility.  Humility is the path of walking before God.  We heard commands like, Submit yourself to God and He will lift you up coupled with truths like, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Humility is always recognizing that God alone is good and holy.  We are not.  Always.  Well, after exhorting us to walk in humility before God, James is now going to encourage us to walk in humility before each other.  Listen to James 4:

James 4: 11  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.  The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.   12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.  But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Before we jump into this verse by verse, just reckon for a moment.  I think we are here in some part because we recognize that we should walk in humility before a holy God because are sinful.  But James is putting in front of us that walk in humility before one another is the natural extension of humility before God.  Know humility before God and know humility before each other.  No humility before God and no humility before each other.  Let’s jump into this verse by verse.

James 4: 11  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.

So James commands us to not speak evil against one another.  This is a specific command about how Christians should interact as James is personally addressing “brothers” or fellow believers in this passage.  So let’s ask a couple of questions here.  What does it mean to speak evil against another Christian?  And, why does James care if we do it or not?

Well, Biblically, there are several ways that we can speak evil against one another in the church.  Well, for the sake of time, I’ll just focus on 3 – literally we could be here all day.  We can say things about each other that are not true.  We can condemn each other for things in which we are guilty.  Or we can just speak in such a way that is not gracious. Let me briefly speak to each one of those.

We are so often guilty of the first one which is saying things about one another that are not true.  Now I don’t imagine many of you are walking around making up lies.  For example, I don’t think any of us are accusing one another of beating our wives or stealing from our employers.  But we are extremely guilty of then when we speak of motives.

What we do, because we are oh so spiritual, is that when folks disappoint us, we decide why they did what they did or didn’t do what we wanted them to do.  This happens in marriages all the time.  One or the other will say something straightforward and the other person will immediately say, “Well, you only said that because you feel this way,” as if we were psychic or something.

Kids, you do this to your parents all the time.  They won’t let you do what you want, and you’ll say awful things to them like, “You just don’t want me to have fun,” or “You don’t trust me,” or whatever else you want to throw out at them.  I’m not immune to it.  I’m tempted to decide why some of you aren’t as committed to the ministries of the church like I wish you were.  When some of you show up Sunday after Sunday but never or rarely commit to the ministries in the church, I’m tempted to determine why I think that is.

And here is thing.  Every time we do that, we are committing this sin.  In our hearts, we are speaking evil against one another because we honestly have no idea why people do what they do.  We just feel better about ourselves when we make up our mind and start judging.  Towards that end, let’s shoot for this Mission #1

Mission #1:  Stop sinning by accusing people of motives that you don’t know anything about.

Now another we speak evil about one another is by condemning each other of things in which we are guilty.  Of course we are hypocrites.  Remember Jesus words to the “Godly” of His day.”  Matthew 23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees of trying to look good on the outside so as to judge others while at the same time they were guilty of the very sins that they condemned.  James and Jesus are saying, “Stop speaking evil against one another about what sin they commit.  Inside many of you are committing the very same sin.”  For example, in the church, we love to talk about how other people raise their kids.  We’ll see them act up in church or speak back to their parents and goodness we will speak evil against them.  When all the while, we really should just be walking in humility about the struggle all of us have with raising our own kids.  We can be so judgmental in this.

Missions #2:  Stop judging people for things in which you are also guilty.

And finally, we are guilty of speaking evil against one another when we just don’t speak graciously to one another.  Parents, and I’m speaking to myself as much as I am to you, just because you kids are your kids, that does not give you the right the yell at them, call them names, and humiliate them.  We are commanded to speak to each other in this way, Colossians 4: Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  Brothers and sisters, you are speaking evil against one another when you curse at each other, make fun of each other, and basically troll to your own pleasure.

Mission #3:  Speak graciously to one another with gentile, kind words.

Whew, Gang, we are just getting started here.  James is telling us to stop speaking evil against one another, so in then next verse he explains why should stop speaking that way.

The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

When we speak evil against one another, what we are doing is making ourselves out to be judges.  James says when we speak evil against each other, we are actually speaking against the law itself, judging the law.  When you read Romans 7-8, you see the purpose of God’s law is threefold.  Show us our sin.  Restrain sin.  Show us our need of God.

Whenever we use begin speaking evil against one another and judging one another we are using the law for purposes other than what God intended.  We are misusing and therefore judging the law itself.  Guys, God takes the way we speak about one another incredibly seriously.  James is saying, “Your off-hand comment about how another Christian is living or how they are talking or how they are raising their kids or how they are doing whatever is quite often sinful.”  And when you sin by speaking evil against one another, you are sinning against and judging the law of God.

In the end of verse 11 tells us exactly what we are when we do this.  It says if you judge the law, you are a judge.  We are saying that we are the not only the standard bearers but we are the standard maker.

Gang, these kinds of commands will typically move us in one of two directions.  It will make us never speak about obedience and righteous ever again for fear of sinning.  Or it will make us dig in even further with justifications of why we should speak up more about the sin we see in each other’s lives.  In case, you are tempted towards either, James gives us this command in verse 4.

12    here is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.

The rightful view of our hearts that will keep us from judging one another is found in verse 12.  God alone is the lawgiver and the judge whoever breaks that law.  And coupled with that, He alone is able to save those who break that law and He alone is able to destroy those who break that law.

We can’t do either.  We can speak evil about each other when we break the law but we can’t destroy each other – that is God’s right as a righteous judge to destroy those who break His holy law.  We can perhaps even speak graciously towards each other, but none of us can save someone who has broken the law.

As always, the proper understanding of who God is transforms us.  God is the lone lawgiver and the sole judge and destroyer of all of violate His law.  Why?  Because the law is much more than a list of to do’s and don’ts.    God’s law is the expression of His character.  Obedience to it causes us to reflect God’s character.  Psalm 19 makes that abundantly clear.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure,      making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean,     enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

Because of the law’s nature, God alone has the right to destroy those who disobey it or save those He chooses to save.  When we speak evil against each other, we are attempting to take God’s place as lawgiver, saver, and destroyer.

Gang, there is no doubt that scripture gives us God’s commands, and then subsequently when we have faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, we are to teach those commands to one another, raise our children in Godliness, and proclaim God’s holiness to the world.  But we must walk lightly when we begin to speak of others in light of their supposed disobedience.  We are to in all humility proclaim God’s holiness, and we are to do it as though who have absolutely no help of obeying apart from God’s help.

In fact, the goal of proclaiming the laws of God to one another is not first and foremost to get people to obey.  I’ll be careful here because I know that his initially sounds like heresy.  No, the reason are to proclaim the holiness of God through the law is found in Galatians 3.

Galatians 3: Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith

Ask yourself about your motives.  When you joyfully pointing how every Christian in the world is getting it wrong, and how you are subsequently getting it right, is your goal to lead them to Christ so that they can be saved by faith?  Rarely, I’m afraid, right?

Most of our judgmental conversation is to just point out how everyone else gets it wrong.  This takes so much wisdom, grace, and discernment.  We have to ask God, “How in the world do I mention the commandments of God to anyone and point them to Christ?”  God, how do I do it and not speak evil of them or to them?

But the answer is found in the question.  God, help me keep my mouth shut unless my speaking of your commands lead that person to Christ.  Either leading them to repent of sin and seek forgiveness through Christ.  Or to move their heart to realize how desperately they need Christ because they can’t obey what God has commanded.

Think about it for a minute.  Let’s get radically different here for a minute.  What if anytime you thought about the commands of God, whether it was for your own sake, your family’s sake, or another Christian’s sake, what if you thought about it in terms of that law leading others to know Christ and know Him better?  That would remove all speaking of evil and all judging because you would be using the law correctly.

Let’s try to think of an example or two to make this practical.  What if when you spoke about another Christian and the way they loved their wife or loved their husband, you did it in such a way that you led them to Christ.  Hey man.  I know it’s hard to be patient and its hard to be forgiving to your wife.  But that is the way Jesus is with us.  We are His bride and He is patient and forgives us.  That is so much different than, “Pww, I can’t believe the way that guys speaks about his wife.  See the difference?  Instead of speaking about someone’s sin, which is just evil, you are leading them to the commandments of God and pointing them to Jesus.

Let’s try another.  What if when you heard about another Christian believing something or some piece of theology that seemed to be completely unbiblical, what if you spoke to them to lead them to Christ.  What if you said, “Hey, you know Paul tells us to rightly divide the word of truth or other words, piece out theology together correctly so that we can be assured that we know Jesus.”  Let’s talk about our theology and see how it points us to Jesus?  That’s radical isn’t?  That is completely different than saying, “That is some rat house crazy theology they’ve got over there.  Our denomination would do well just to model this humility btw.  Instead of just making phone of other’s theology, which is sinful and speaking evil, we could be leading ourselves and others to a stronger relationship with Christ.

Let’s go for one more.  What if when we spoke to our children about their disobedience we were really trying to point them to Jesus?  When our children openly disobey us by either speaking rudely to us or just flat out refusing to do what we tell them to do, what if we pointed them to Christ instead of just demanding obedience?  You see, a lot of time, when our children disobey, we are mad not because the laws of God have been violated or God’s holiness has been violated.  We are mad because we think we have been violated.  But all the authority we have as parents is just borrowed authority from God.  So we can yell at our kids and say obey me or we can talk them about how we personally struggle to obey God and so we understand how they personally struggle to obey God.  When you do that, you quit speaking evil about your kids and you start pointing yourself and your children to Jesus Christ.

So then Mission #4:  When we speak of the commands of God, let’s do it only as we point to Jesus Christ.

Now, you may have noticed that up until this point, every reference I have made has been about making sure that we do not speak evil about or judge other Christians.  Does that mean we get to judge the world and what they do?  The last half of verse 12 speaks to that.

But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Jesus has already answered for us the question, “Who is our neighbor?”  According to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, every single person on the face of the planet is our neighbor.   So, instant takeaway.  We don’t get to judge non-Christians either.

Why not?  Easy – same answer.  We are neither the lawgiver nor the judge.  Let me bring up a topic that I was very hesitant to bring up in the past month, but in this case, I think it just might be relevant.  In the past month, NC voted on what the legal definition of a marriage is.  Believe it or not, I’m  not even going to discuss the merits of either side, tell you how I voted or tell you what I think of the outcome because in the context of this verse, that is not what I need to talk about.

What needs to be addressed is the judgmental, harsh, dis-compassionate, angry, bitter, and ugly language that churches and supposed Christians used around that conversation in the past month.  I think rightfully the church should speak about the Biblical foundations of covenant marriage that were established in scripture about God bringing together a man and a woman to complete each other and become one.  But if we do it in any way other than a desire to point others towards Jesus Christ, then we are guilty of judging our neighbor.

I can honestly say that most of the conversation I heard about this topic in our culture in the past month were about one thing:  who is right.  And if all we are doing is using Biblical truths to make sure we are right in the public arena, then we are self-serving, judgmental Christians who bring shame to the name of Jesus Christ.  Speak truth but only in a way that it leads people to Jesus.  Do not speak truth just to be seen as right and with the sole purpose of winning an argument.  That type of Christianity is disgusting and far from the humble faith that James has been speaking to in Chapter 4.   If you want to address any area of obedience, holiness, or the commandments of God, according to James and according to Paul, we are to do it in humility, we are not to speak evil of others, and we are only to do it if we can point others to Jesus Christ.

Listen to Romans 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

God loved us even though we were guilty of disobeying His law.  And Jesus has now set us free from our disobedience to the law.  He did what we could not do:  obey the law.  And all of God’s righteous requirement in the law is fulfilled in us when we have faith in Jesus.  So we can’t judge anyone.  Our obedience is simple Jesus’ obedience.  So it is foolish for us to judge others because all we have has been given to us by Jesus.  So we sum that up in our Big Idea:
o    Our Big Idea was this:  Big Idea:  God loves so we don’t judge.
o
With that, let’s ask God to helps us live out these simple missions in application.

·    Mission #1:  Stop sinning by accusing people of motives that you don’t know anything about.
·    Missions #2:  Stop judging people for things in which you are also guilty.
·    Mission #3:  Speak graciously to one another with gentile, kind words.
·    Mission #4:  When we speak of the commands of God, let’s do it only as we point to Jesus Christ.

June 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sermon Notes and Family Devotions for James 4:6-10

Big Idea:  God loves humility.  We and everyone else hate it.

James 4: 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves 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 wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace.

·    God gives more grace because we keep sinning, how is this an encouragement?
·    How can you describe God because He gives so much grace?

Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

·    Why does God oppose the proud and give grace to the humble?
·    Why is it so hard to seek humility?

7 Submit yourselves 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.

·    How do submitting to God and drawing near to God relate to resisting the devil and the devil fleeing from you?
·    How are the cleansings of hands, and the purifying of hearts acts of repentance?
·    What do those things mean?

9  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

·    Why would God want us to be wretched, mourn, and weep?
·    Why would God want our laughter to turn to mourning?

10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

·    Theologians call this the “upside down nature of the Kingdom” – how is God’s plan of exaltation different than ours?
·    Why is humility hard for us to achieve?
·    What do want instead of humility?

Please forgive the typos.

Have you ever thought how incredibly insane this command from Philippians 2 is?

Philippians 2: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

The Bible commands each and every one of us to never have selfish ambition meaning never do anything, work, workout, make money, raise kids, never do those things for selfish reasons.  Instead, do everything in humility.  How does the Bible define humility?  Verse 3 tells us.  Look at every person in the world, every coworker, neighbor, family member, whatever, look at them and truly think and believe, “That person is more significant than I am.”  Insane.  Can’t be done.  Humility also means according to verse 4 that I don’t just look after my own interests but instead I look after your interests as well.  The Bible doesn’t give us the right to make decisions just for ourselves.

And the reason we are supposed to that is because that is exactly how Jesus was.  Philippians tells us this:  Though He (Jesus) was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Jesus said, “I’m not going to hold onto to being God.  I’m going to be humble, become a servant by becoming a human and I’m going to die.  Jesus considered others more significant than He considered Himself which He proved by dying for us while still hated Him.  So God commands us to be humble just like Jesus was humble.  God loves humility because humility is like Christ and glorifies God.  But we and everyone else hate humility because we don’t want to consider others more significant than ourselves.

I would love regale you guys with some cool or fun story about sometime in my life when I was really humble, but there are two problems with that.  First, there is no way to tell you a story about my being humble without me being prideful.  I would negate all humility by telling you.  I could tell of other people’s humility but not my own.  Here is the second problem with me telling you a story about me being humble.  I don’t have any of those stories.  I don’t think many of us do.

I’ve seen pride.  I’ve seen false humility, you know where we pretend to be humble, but really aren’t, but honest examples of imitating the humble nature of Christ are rare.  What we are going to see this week in the book of James is that he is going to not only command us to be humble, he is going to show us why humility is a better way.  So with that in mind, let’s try to tackle this Big Idea:

Big Idea:  God loves humility.  We and everyone else hate it.

As a quick reminder, let’s refresh our minds to what James has been talking about these past few weeks.  In the last two weeks, we have seen James tell us these things.  He has said, “Listen, Godly wisdom that comes from God and from the scriptures is pure.  And if the facts that you know are going to be considered Godly wisdom, then you will become more peaceable, more reasonable, and more merciful.  If you don’t see those qualities growing in your life, you are not growing in Godly wisdom.  Then last week we heard James tell us that our passions cause us to run after every single thing but God.  We think every single in this world but God will satisfy us.  He then commanded us to find that hope and comfort and joy in God alone.  Thankfully, James reminded us that when we sin, God yearns for us and gives us more and more grace.  That is where we start this week in verse 6.  In light of all of our sin, we read these verses.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves 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 wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

This challenging passage of scripture begins with the rich promise that God gives us more and more grace when we sin.  And we are going to need more and more grace because of the second half of verse 6.  It tells us  Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Wow, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  You could take this passage this way.  Those that are forgiven, called the children of God, the church, those called Christians, are such because they are humble and God has given them grace.  Everyone else, God opposes and judges.

Now, this is squirmy language, isn’t it?  I mean which one is it?  Does God give you grace because you are humble or are you humble because you received God’s grace?  The answer to some extent is “yes”

You see, the bible teaches us that every person is prideful apart from God but God gives us grace to make us humble and cry out to Him.  Listen to Gospel from the OT for a minute

Proverbs 16: Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.  6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.

These tiny verses from Proverbs teach us so much.  Arrogance is an abomination to the Lord which means that our pride and our arrogance is just that – a vile, shameful act against God.  Our pride says, “I do not need you God.  I’m smart, talented, and strong.  At best, I’ll talk you when I really need something, but otherwise I’m good.”  And this verse in Proverbs promises us that God punishes arrogance and pride.  God’s purity and righteousness necessitates that He will punish any that exalt themselves against Him.  However, God displays a consistent, steadfast love and faithfulness and those actions on God’s behalf through Jesus atone for our sin, and through that we grow in a healthy fear of God.  That humbles us and turn away from our pride and arrogance.

So God humbles and we display humility and God lifts us up – otherwise He opposes us.  Now hearing this, logically you would think that all of us would run around seeking humility and being humbled because what could be better than having God lift us up?  But I’m afraid our pride and arrogance is too strong.  None of us want to be humbled – that’s why humility is a gift from God.  He either gifts it to us or He orders our circumstances so that we grow into it.  Either way, humility is God wrought but it is His gift to us so that ultimately we can be lifted up  and not cast down.  Let’s try something news.  Let’s start making very specific applications each week along the way.  We’ll call them missions.

So today’s Mission #1:  Find some area in your life that is really tough, thank God for it and ask Him to lift you up.

Notice, that is not the same as asking God for your tough situation to go away.  Just ask God to lift you up.  So, okay having said all of those things, James wants to show how we walk in humility and teach us one its practical benefits.  Look at verse 7.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Now these passages go hand in hand:  true humility is submitting to God is resisting the Devil and causes the devil to flee from you.  What’s the connection?  Let me explain it this way.  When you are humble, you are submitting to God and telling Him, “You alone are wise.  Whatever you have planned for me is best, and apart from you, I am a sinner only deserving your grace.”  That posture says, “Sickness or health, poverty or riches, busy or slow, whatever you call me to and command to is not only best, God, but it is what I want.”  Now, I am going to make an audacious statement here and I think it true.”  Submitting to God by saying whatever you call me to do and whatever you command me to do is not some radical form of Christianity.  It is Christianity and anything less is a cheap knockoff form of religion that makes a mockery of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Because when we submit ourselves to God in such away, that is in and of itself resisting the Devil.  Submitting to God’s will and God’s command is resisting the devil because you are aligning yourself with God’s character and what God calls good and best.  Anything less is agreeing with Satan.

Hey Gang, I get struggling with difficult circumstances like finances, health, and craziness.  I get it and my life is full of all of that.  So we can humanly struggle with those things because we are weak and flesh.  But as we struggle with difficult circumstances, the posture of faith as a child of God says, “No matter how hard this is, and no matter how hard it is to obey your God and to attempt to be humble, that is what I really want because only you are good and wise.”  That is humility and that is submitting to God and quite frankly that is Christianity.

So, why in the world is submitting to God the same is resisting the devil and why does he flee when you do that?  Simple answer:  the devil flees you when you submit to God because he knows you belong to God, and he can’t mess with you.  You submit to God’s will and God’s commands, and the devil says, “Oh, that one belongs to God, and God won’t let me mess with Him.”

You know these days, the theology surrounding who the devil is is a mess and more shaped by movies like Paranormal Activity and the Exorcist than it is the scriptures.  But I like the ways guys like Luther and the later on the Puritans spoke about Satan.  Luther said “The Devil is God’s Devil” meaning that Satan only is allowed to do and go as far as God allows him to do and go.  God the Father is not some epic battle with Satan.  God is the creator of all, including Satan and the devil only can do and go as far as God allows Him to.

Remember the book of Job?  God picked that fight with Satan, not the other way around.  God said, “Hey Satan, have you considered my servant Job?”  Satan said, “Aaaa, he only loves you because you bless him.  And God said, “Fine, do what you want to do to him, just don’t kill him.”  In the end, Job lost his wife, kids,  and all his money, but ultimately gave God greater glory because He greater experienced the creator of the universe.

Satan only did what God allowed him to do.  As one Puritan writer said, “Satan is God’s lap dog.”  He cannot do a single thing without God allowing it.

So, when you submit to God, when you say, “God in humility whatever you want for me is best,” Satan says, “Oh, that’s one of God’s kids, and I can’t mess with them.”  Jesus purchased them by His blood and took them away from me by His resurrection.

Mission #2 – You submit to God and Satan will run away.

So what we see in verse 8 is a more intimate picture of this humility and submission.  Listen to the promises attached to verse 8.

8  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

If you desire intimacy with God, a sense of His closeness and His affection, submitting to Him brings you into the reality that is always there.  Here is what I mean.  I love a good praise song as much as all of you – I better if I’m going to lead all of you in singing them.  I love that rapturous moment where you find your soul lifted it up in praising God.  But we fool ourselves if we think that is the height of experiencing God’s presence.  It is incredibly sweet and one of the aspects that God calls us to as a body of believers.

However, we don’t have to wait for another Sunday to come around to enjoy God’s intimacy.  We don’t have to wait for that one song that we really, really like.  We don’t have to wait from super spiritual moment in the midst of even this sermon.

If you want to enjoy the intimacy of God, draw near to Him by submitting to His will and His commands.  As you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you.  It is not that God is not drawing Himself to you.  He constantly does Himself to you because He pledged His love to you in Jesus Christ.  We just happened to become aware of God’s drawing Himself to us when we submit to His will and His commands.  As you draw near to God in this way, you happily and willingly obey what James commands in the second half of verse 8.

Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

If you want to experience God drawing Himself to you, then cleanse your hands.  Cleansing your hands is biblical terminology for confessing your sin and repenting or walking away from your sin.  Listen, if you are a believer, this is clear.  The Holy Spirit residing in your heart is teaching daily areas in which you can confess your sin and repent.  Confess, ask for forgiveness and find your heart being purified to God.

Double-mindedness is that state of saying, “God is my God,” while you sin.  Sinning is declaring, “I am my God.”   So if you want to intimacy with God, here is

Mission #3:  Confess your sin to God and know His intimacy greater.

Then, James just gets weird at least to we human spirit triumphs over all Americans.  Listen to what he commands us to do in verse 9.

9  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

Why would God want us to be wretched, mourn, and weep?  Why would God want our laughter to turn to mourning?  Didn’t just tell you that you would experience an intimacy with God like no other if you submitted your will to God and confessed your sins?

Isn’t that supposed to make you happy or something?  Aren’t we looking for comfort from God here?  And the answer is yes, but remember the Kingdom of God is completely upside down compared to the Kingdom of this world.  To experience fully the comforting presence of God, we must align our hearts with His will and His commands.  Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Comfort comes in recovery from something.  We mourn and weep as we find our thoughts, speech, and actions in conflict with God’s will.  Why?  Because if you love God, you want to follow Him in all things and as His child, you take no greater joy than giving Him glory by reflecting His character.

So when you start yelling at your kid and abusing their little hearts or when you secretly lust after another or when you pursue your career more for your ease than serving God, there will come a time where God will call those sins to light.  If you love God, you weep, mourn, and be wretch, as Job repented in ashes, because as a Christian, you have said, “Your will be done.  Not mine.”  The past down is the path up.  As verse 10 says

10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Exaltation comes by humiliation.  That may stink to some of you, and you would do well to wrestle with the desires of your heart right now.  Ask yourself, “Have I been asking God for forgiveness just so I skip hell all this time without realizing that what God calls me to do in that is to repent, walk away from my sin and find myself completely dependent upon Him?”  That is what we are called to, gang.  Nothing less.

Our Mission #4 is this:  Humility is our greatest path to experience the intimacy of God.”

You and I are to walk before God and recognize that every good thing is from Him.  We should look at every possession, at every skill, and every day as a gift from Him.  And we should ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to be humble so that we might experience God’s exaltation.

How scared might we all be to pray, “God make me humble so that I might be exalted.”  It is scary to think about that.  We wonder, “Oh no, what might God take away from me?”  If you can answer what you are afraid God might take away, you are this close to seeing what it is that your trust or enjoy more than God.”

And then you might just say, “Hmm, I love God but I don’t those things taken away.”  And I can’t tell you if God is going to take it away or not, but I can tell you that the path to enjoying greater intimacy with God is in humility asking Him to change you so that you trust Him and His word more than anything else.

But the heart of anyone who is a Christian and who has ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins you take joy in God doing whatever it is that is necessary to move us towards intimacy and loving God more.  Let me tell you a story, and then we’ll walk through a summary of what I hope God has taught us in these few verses.  I used to know this guy in college, and to be honest, I didn’t really like him.  He was arrogant and presumptive, and he was this way probably because he was short like me.  But during my time at ECU, I knew he interacted with a few of my female friends from college in ways that you couldn’t exactly call appropriate.  He took advantage of a couple of girls and didn’t really care.  Oh he claimed to be a Christian, but there was a real break between saying he was one and acting like he was one – at least it seemed that way to me.

And I couldn’t stand this guy.  Whenever I thought about him, I just wanted to punch him in the face.  Well, he was older than I was, so he moved away from ECU a couple of years before me and I lost touch with him.  Well, when I graduated, my first job was a teacher in Rocky Mount.  I  moved there not knowing a single person, not one.

So guess who I got a phone call from about a week in?   Yeah, you guessed it, this dude.  He said, “Oh Gordon, great to find you.  I’m a part of this Bible study  in town with 8-109 other folks.  We would love for you to join us.”

My first reaction was, “Dude, there is no way that I would want to spend any time with you.”  But you know what?  I was lonely, and I thought, “Well, there are going to be 8-10 other folks there.”  So I agreed to go to his Bible study despite pretty much detesting that guy.  Well, I went, met an incredible group of folks and believe it or not, that is where I met my beautiful wife Amy.

I have to thank that dude for that, but that is not the point of my story.  About a year in, I was leading that Bible study and I discovered that this guy had interacted with one of the ladies there just like he had with my friends at ECU.  This time, I was ready to fight.  I was fully prepared to go punch this guy in the face.  Well, I told him, “Dude, we need to talk.”  And without me saying a thing, he said, “Gordon, you have every right to just punch me in the face right now.”

And he went on and detailed how he had been less than a gentleman to several of my friend of whom I was very close.  He cried in repentance, spoke about the need to ask them to forgiven him, and he asked me to forgive him.  Again, he ended by saying, “I would totally understand if you just wanted to punch me in the face right now.”  And I wanted to so badly, but how could I?  He demonstrated humility.  He confessed to everything that I was mad with him about.

He talked reconciling his relationship with those girls but even more importantly, reconciling his relationship with God.  Now I have no idea where that dude is now and what the state of his heart is, but in that moment, he demonstrated humility and diffused what was going to be an incredibly tense situation.  He avoided a butt kicking.  Remember I was taller.

He was humble, and the proper response from me was humility as well.  I didn’t have any right to take it out on him.  Humility on his part created humility on my part.

That is exactly what Jesus has done for us.  Remember that verse from Philippians 2 we looked at earlier?  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Jesus’ humility on your behalf earning your salvation is intended to lead you towards humility.  Those things help us to live out our Big Idea and those 4 Missions that I mentioned earlier.

Our Big Idea was this:  Big Idea:  God loves humility.  We and everyone else hate it.  God loves humility because humility causes us to walk away from our self and our sin and lead us to trusting Him more.

As we do that, we can live out these 4 missions.

·    Mission #1:  Find some area in your life that is really tough, thank God for it and ask Him to lift you up.
·    Mission #2:  You submit to God and Satan will run away.
·    Mission #3:  Confess your sin to God and know His intimacy greater.
·    Mission #4:  Humility is our greatest path to experience the intimacy of God.”

June 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Sermon Notes and Family Devotions for James 4:1-6

Big Picture Question:  Don’t You Want to Stop Fighting?

James 4: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?

  • James assumes that we all fight to some degree.  Do you find this true?
  • In what areas do you most disagree with folks?
  • Why do you think we disagree so much?

Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet 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 wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

  • Why does James say that we fight so much?
  • What do we do when we don’t get what we want?
  • Why don’t we get what we ask for from God?

4  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

  • How does friendship with God make a person adulterous?
  • What does it mean to be friends with God?
  • Why does friendship with the word cause enmity or strife with God?

5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

  • What does it mean that God’s Spirit yearns jealously over you?
  • How is God’s jealous yearning not sin?
  • How is God’s jealous yearning an act of love to us?

6 But he gives more grace.

  • What does it mean that God gives us grace when we are friends with the world?

Please forgive the typos.

Fundamentally, there should be a host of changes when a person declares faith in Jesus.  The Bible describes what happens when a person has faith in Jesus becoming a new creation.  The old has passed away.  2 Corinthians 5:18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come

That means, at the core of a Christian, at the core of who you are as a believer, you should be completely different than you were prior to knowing to Jesus and different from those who don’t know Jesus.  You should be more gentle.  You should be more merciful.  You should be less quarrelsome.

We saw that last week at the end of chapter 3.  James tells us that the wisdom that comes from having a relationship with God should be described in this way.  James 3: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  If you profess faith in Jesus, you should just be more peacable, gentle, and merciful than the rest of the world.

Looking around at the church, looking at how Christians live their lives, looking at how we agree or disagree with others, looking at whether we are merciful or not, sometimes I just have to wonder.  Many of the reasons why people leave the church is because we aren’t those things.  Heck, look beyond the church, is this how your house is described?  If people saw you and your spouse or you and your kids, would they describe you as peaceable, reasonable, and merciful?

Gang, the church fights a lot.  I’m not saying you have to be perfect.  Jesus’ perfection is yours before God.  But you and I should fundamentally be changed and different.  Pursuing Jesus and His wisdom means you should just fight less.  Much of my counseling is dealing with just that.  So much fighting so much quarrelling so much arguing.  So in light of that, let’s try to answer this Big Picture Question this week:

Big Picture Question:  Don’t You Want to Stop Fighting?

James 4: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?  Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet 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 wrongly, to spend it on your passions.  4  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  6 But he gives more grace.

Now when I read verse 1 that says “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? A host of answers might come to mind.  When I speak to folks who are arguing a lot, their answer to the question of what causes so many fights goes something like this.  I’ll tell you why we fight so much – she does this or my kid does that or my boss does that.  It’s their fault.  Think about your last fight whether it was with spouse or child or boss or sibling.  How much of that argument did you spend telling the other person what they did wrong?

Think about typical things you argue about.  Sex and money are popular topics.  Who is carrying the appropriate amount of weight around a house is another.  Spending money you have agreed not to spend.  What’s for dinner?

Have you ever had one of these fights?  It starts out with, “Hey, why didn’t you help me out with that?”  And then instead of the person answering the question, they deflect and say, “Well, you didn’t do this one thing, so why should I do that?”  And then you have two things to argue about with both people feeling superior and right in their anger.  When we have these fights, we feel incredible justified in our anger.  If we choose not to fight, we feel incredibly self-righteous because we know we are right.  But James is getting ready to flip the script here.  James answers what causes all of our fights and most of us are not going to like the answer.

Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet 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 wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

James says that what causes our fights is the war of passions within our hearts.  We don’t get to blame the other person.  We don’t get to remind them of all their mistakes.  We don’t get to get angry with them for the umpteenth time.  Our raging passions cause all of our fights.  Now James explains that in verse 2.  In fact, he gives us 3 examples of raging passions in our hearts though I’m sure he could get us a hundred.

For example, he says, you desire or want something that you don’t have and don’t get.  What’s the result?  You murder.  Now you might say, “Gordon, I’ve never murdered anyone in my life.”  But remember how Jesus speaks of murder.  Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.

Jesus is telling us that anger and murder are the same sin and bring about the same judgment just as lust and adultery are the same sin and bring about the same judgment.  So James’ point is when you have desire, any desire that goes unmet, we get angry with either the people who are keeping us from that desire or with God who we feel is keeping us from that desire.  He goes onto say that when we covet and want what other people have, and we don’t get it we fight.

Oh we want other people’s beauty and when we can’t get it we fight.  We want other people’s health and when we can’t get it we fight.  We want other people’s wealth and when we can’t get it we fight.  We want other people’s free time and when we can’t get it we fight.

When you are mad at your spouse because they did something fun and you had to work or take care of the kids or whatever, James says you are coveting what they have.  The argument you are having with them is not because they did something irresponsible.  The argument you are having is that you are coveting their freedom to make that choice.  Check yourself is James’ point.

He goes one further in verse 3.  He says you ask and you don’t receive because you ask wrongly so you fight.  You don’t get what you want because you ask with bad motives.  You ask for what you want just to feed your passions.

This is true both in our relationships and in our relationships with God.  Hey kids, you want free time or you want to buy a game or you want something specific for dinner.  You ask and are told no.  Your parents tell you no sometimes because they can see that they only reason you ask is to feed your passion.

You want a certain dinner because you are gracious enough to eat whatever mom makes.  You want a game so you can hide in your room.  You want money to go do what you want.  But you rarely if ever do what your parents ask and if you do, do it, it is so that you can ask for what you want.  Your parents right say no and you fight.  I wish was only a kid issue but husbands and wives have these conversations all the time as well.

But more importantly, our prayers to God are met with a resounding no because we are just asking God to feed our passions. Ask yourself, Gang.  How often do you pray?  How often are your prayers just asking God for stuff?  How often are you just asking God to make your life easier?

It is very easy to neglect all the other aspects of prayer.  How often are our prayers just words of praise to God?  How often are our prayer thanks to God?  How often are we praying for others?  How often are we seeking God’s wisdom?  How often are we asking God what certain passages of scripture mean?

I don’t mean to upset you, but all of those things I just mentioned are supposed to be part of the normal day to day life of a Christian.  In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed something about my prayers.  Let me give you an example.  When my dad died, I prayed that our hearts would be comforted.  I prayed some of my family wouldn’t get stupid.  Once again, as the church is not growing numerically or financially, I found myself praying for those things as well.

But this passage has caused me to stop and examine my motives.  There is nothing wrong with asking for comfort as we grieve my father’s passing.  There is nothing wrong with asking God to grow the church numerically and financially.

But this passage asks me to examine my heart.  What is my motive?  Do I just want to avoid pain?  Sometimes, God uses pain and heartache to draw His children closer and to severe their dependency on other things.  Do I just want the church to grow so numerically and financially so I don’t have to stress so much?  Maybe God wants us to stick closer to Him so we have to trust Him.

I don’t know, gang.  I’m not going to tell you the mind of God.  But this passage specifically says, If you ask for things from God with the wrong motive, asking for them just so you can keep feeding your passions, God is not inclined to give you anything.  In fact, a lot of times He just says now.  Think through what you ask God for, examine your heart, look for real to figure out your motive and the return to God either to ask for nothing, to confess your sin or ask God once again assured you know just why you are asking.  So, let’s make this a moment of action or mission

Mission 1:  Ask God to show you where you ask with poor motives.

Because you know what happens if we just keep feeding our passions?  You know what God calls people who are just slaves to what they want?  Look at verse 4.

4  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Adulterous people.  Friends with the world – enmity with God.  Okay, this is an incredibly quoted passage, so we are going to walk carefully here.  First of all, what does James use the description “adulterous people”

When your passions are not first and foremost glorifying God, any passion you have makes you adulterer.  Let me explain.  James is like a NT prophet here.  To call someone who has faith in God adulterous harkens back to language from Jeremiah, Hosea and others.  A Christian would described as adulterous when they have pledged their life to Jesus Christ, giving themselves completely over, describing yourself as dead but now alive in Christ.

That’s the description of a Christian now – not super Christians, but Christians.  Those folks, we would be described when there is anything in this world that we look to give us more pleasure than God.  More joy than God.  More hope than God.  More comfort than God.  And the list could go on and on.

James rightfully know that we look to everything in this world but God sometimes to make us joyful, hopeful, to give us comfort to give us pleasure.  It is not that God has said we cannot enjoy the things of this world – that was the incorrect approach of the monks – any thing that gives pleasure other than God is wrong.  No, we can enjoy this world – in fact, Christians should enjoy more than anyone else, why?  Because we have found everything we need in God, therefore any joy of this world, any hope of this world, any pleasure of this world is enjoyed in perspective  – recognizing that it is a wonderful gift but a lesser joy than what God gives.

You see, let me explain how we have got this wrong for a long time and then lets figure out what James is calling to.  Friendship with the world means enemy with God.  Many have read this language and thought that it has given the church the right to hate the world – meaning quite often hate the people of the world who are not Christians.  These verse have justified everything from hate speech, to mocking people, to telling folks they can’t drink alcohol and can’t go to the movies.

Could it be those things?  Well, anything in the world that is not declared sinful, is okay – as long as you don’t find your worth in it, as long you don’t find more joy in it than you do God, as long you don’t find more hope in it than God, and on and on.  So take any hobby – running, swimming, reading, golf.  If you take more joy in that than God, you are an adulterer.

Take things like eating, hanging out, and drinking alcohol.  Well, scripture is clear.  Food is gift from God.  Eating too much is a sin.  Hanging with friends is wonderful.  Talking too much is a sin.  Drinking alcohol is fine.  Drinking too much is a sin.

I like sitting on the back porch with friends and a glass of wine as much as the next guy.  That is not sin.  Talking too much, drinking too much is.  Our topics of conversation could sinful.  If we are trusting in those things to bring us down and relax us more than God, they are sin.  You see, if just tell you that this place is sin because its worldly, this food, this drink, this typo clothing – they are worldly and sinful. – I’m not asking you to use your brain or to exercise faith.  Use your brain, read the scriptures, exercise faith and ask yourself, better yet, ask God “Am I adulterous?  Am I turning to something other than you God more than you?   Help me walk in faith and repentance.

This takes a mature faith.  One that is not easily figured out and takes a bit more thinking than just listening to your pastor rail against everything in the world that he doesn’t like.  So let’s make this missionable.

So Mission #2 Ask God to make you love Him more and show you where you need to love the world less.

But more than anything else.  Understanding these things is found in the light of the Gospel, just like everything else.  Listen to the great hope of verse 5.

5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

Okay, what in the world does this mean?  Does God yearn jealously for our spirits that He gave us or does God yearn jealously for the Holy Spirit which He gave us?  Well, James talks about the human spirit in 2:26, 4:1,3 and the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in the whole book.  Since the context of this section is speaking of our human passions, it would seem to make sense that the passage is saying that God yearns jealously for your spirit, the one that He gave you.

So the, why do the scriptures tell us that God yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us?  Well, the OT speaks of God being a jealous God at least 3-4 times and in each case, it describes God in that way surrounding human idolatry.  For example, when Israel renewed their covenant with God and were being warned about the dangers of the Promised Land, we read this:

Exodus 34:14  For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

So it makes sense here that James would tell us that God is jealous in a completely righteous way for our souls because James is telling us that our passions cause us to run after everything else to satisfy us but God.  Our adulterous desires that are greater for things than they are for God are idolatrous.  But what James is telling us here should cause us to pause.

Think about what he is saying.  God is no doubt holy.  His righteous is above ours, and any goodness that we possess comes from Him.  God hates sin and punishes sin.

But James is encouraging us through the gospel hope that when His children sin, yes God hates that sin but he responds with a jealousy for us.  God is jealous for us when we sin.  God wants our heart back when we sin.  God yearns for you to love Him and not whatever passion it is you are feeding.

I so wish my heart, your heart, this church’s heart, and the heart of this city could get this.  Think about it.  When you sin, what happens?  If you have faith in Jesus, when you sin, the very Spirit of God that lives within you convicts you of that sin.  You realize that your harsh word, your lustful though, your drunkish behavior, whatever, the Spirit moves in your heart to say, “No, that is not what God has called you to or commanded you to do.”

And how do we respond?  Ultimately, the work of the Spirit in our hearts is intended to cause us to respond by confessing our sin, repenting and walking away, and enjoying the forgiveness of God.  But we often do it because we think God is mad at us now.  We either consciously or subconsciously think that God has raised His arm to give us a back hand and maybe we think Jesus is up there holding Him back until either we repent or God forgets.

This passage is saying, “Listen, when you sin, you know what God does?”  His heart yearns for you.  He loves you and wants your heart back.  You are pursuing everything in the world to satisfy you and nothing will be God.

So right now, as you struggle with sin, either confessed or hidden, God jealously yearns for you in righteous way.  He wants you back.  He wants you to find joy, hope, comfort, and identify in Him.

He wants you to find comfort in knowing that Jesus has secured all of your goodness for you and Jesus has secured all the payment of penalty for you.  So now, you can joyously walk before God.  You can admit how your passions have caused you to run after everything but God.  And you can thank God for Jesus who takes on God’s wrath and gifts us with God’s holy jealousy.

So Mission #3:  Be motivated to repent of sin because God yearns for you.

And you want what we need then?  You know what will meet our souls’ need more than anything else?  Listen to verse 6.

6 But he gives more grace.

Your sin has not taxed God’s grace.  It will never run out.  God’s grace is not dependent on your faithfulness or your obedience.  It is what your faithlessness and your disobedience need.  You and I need more of God’s love and grace.

We must recognize that our passions draw us into every fight in the world.  We fight our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our kids, and our God.  We run after everything else but God.  And for some reason, we neglect to depend on God’s grace for what we need and instead trust our hands, efforts, and the poor wisdom of our hearts.

I read one author this week who summed up our challenge here in this way.  He said,

I’m not surprised by bitter, socially uncomfortable Christians with messy or dysfunctional relationships at home, tense relationships with co-workers, awkwardness with folks in the church, and secret, unconfessed sin. We have become comfortable with defining ourselves in a less than biblical way.   We approach God as less than needy, so we’re less open to the ministry of others and to the conviction of the Spirit.  This sucks the life out of the devotional aspect of our walk with God.  Tender, heartfelt worship is hard for a person who thinks of himself as having arrived.  No one celebrates the presence and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ more than the person who has embraced his desperate and daily need of it. Paul Tripp

So gang, here is what we need to do.  If we want to stop fighting.  If we want to find peace in our hearts and our homes, we must recognize our desperate and daily need for God’s grace.  Memorize simple verse 6.  “But God gives more grace.”

So that when you find yourself in that fight that you always find yourself in, ask God, “What passion is it of mine that is going unmet?”  My passion for money or health?  My passion for children who looked good, Godly, and don’t cause me any problems?  My passion for someone other than my spouse?  My passion to be right or to be seen as Godly?

And as God shows you how your passions are driving you, pray that He would gift you with a passion for Him through Jesus empowered by the Spirit.  And then ask God to remind you of His yearning love for you.  And ask for more grace.  Before we close, let’s remind ourselves of our 3 Missions

·    Mission 1:  Ask God to show you where you ask with poor motives.
·    Mission #2:  Ask God to make you love Him more and show you where you need to love the world less.
·    Mission #3:  Be motivated to repent of sin because God yearns for you.

June 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment