A Humble Solutionby Matt Baumgartner on April 28, 2015
Hi, Iʼm Matt, the Next Generation Pastor here at CCBAC. Iʼve only been on the Cape about a month and half, but Iʼve noticed something - maybe itʼs only this time of year - but there is a lot of road construction going on!
One morning I hit 4 pockets of construction on 6A between my house and the church office. On my way home I decided instead of taking 6A I would hop on the mid-cape highway, which is usually a bit longer but anything is better than sitting on 6A in 4 pockets of construction traffic. So I get on the on-ramp, and I have visions of open road, quick moving cars, I mean I was ready to fly! Well I got on rt 6 and after about 100 yards I had to stop because, you guessed it, they were doing road construction.
Sometimes alternate routes work out for us, sometimes they donʼt. Last week, Pastor Steve preached from the end of James ch3, which talks about wisdom that comes from above. In our passage today from James ch4, James is going to narrow the focus of wisdom from above, being more specific about tension within the community of faith. And he gives us one solution, with no alternatives, to the problem.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 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. 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”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
1. The Problem - At the surface level there seems to be fighting between the people in the church community.
a. James starts with a question - What causes quarrels and fights among you? i. Despite Jamesʼ usual direct language, following his question he doesnʼt
immediately jump to “Stop fighting with one another.” He will answer his own question, and as he goes he is going to peel back the layers, like an onion, until he reaches the very root of the problem of what is causing the tension.
b. The first layer of the onion comes in verse 1
i. Your Passions are at war within you 1. There are 2 issues of translation here.
a. First is the word Passions i. A few weeks ago our church showed a video message from one of our college students, in which she shared her heart for ministry to women in Mexico City who are trapped in the sex industry. She has a PASSION for these women - a righteous desire, from God, to bring the gospel to them. And this is good.
ii. This is NOT what this word “passion” means. 1. The Greek word is more properly translated as “lust” or “a desire
for pleasure” a. These are the desires of our hearts and bodies that do not
come from the Lord and often take precedent over our
relationship with God and the church. b. They can appear up front to be harmful
i. Alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, money c. They can appear to be harmless or even good
i. Before the Lord called my family to this church, I spent over a year searching for a full-time ministry position. Itʼs all I wanted, and itʼs all I ever wanted. There were many days where I prayed and all my prayers were, “God give me...I want...I need...” instead of “God thank you, I love you, you are good. There were days where I was so discontent that I could care less about the Lord and what he wanted for me and my family. I let my own desire for something as good and noble as ministry to take precedent over the God I so desperately wanted to serve, and I was asking God to serve me instead.
iii. Do you ever do this? Do you ever give precedent in your heart to family, fishing, recreation, alcohol, work, sex?
iv.Desire for pleasure doesnʼt always seem bad, but it often gives precedent to something other than God.
b. The second matter of translation is the word you. i. It is plural. This is not an internal war within the individual, but a war
of individual lusts among the community of faith - the church. ii. Not only do our lusts take precedent over God, but they often try to
squash the people we love
Now we peel back the next layer of the problem - you fight and quarrel because your lusts are at war among you...
ii. You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel
1. James uses strong, forceful language to get his readerʼs attention and reinforce his point.
a. You donʼt have what you want, so youʼre murderers! 2. You covet and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel
a. My 13 month old son is now old enough to express, well a lot of things, but now itʼs frustration.
i. He loves my cell phone. But he isnʼt allowed to play with my cell phone. If he finds it on the couch or end table, he grabs it and runs away. When I try to take it from him, he tightens his grip (heʼs pretty strong)...and then he cries and cries.
b. He wants what he does not have and because of it he fights me. c. Are we like children?
i. when our lusts take precedent over God and compete with one another, tension is inevitable, which can lead to division
iii. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.
1. So we want our lusts satisfied, but they arenʼt, so we fight...but they arenʼt satisfied because we donʼt ask.
a. Do you pray for those lusts within you to be satisfied? i. Whether they appear to be harmful or harmless?
b. Should you? c. Would it matter?
i. James says that we donʼt have because we donʼt ask. ii. But if we do ask, we arenʼt going to get what we want anyway
because what we are asking for is to satisfy the self, the desire for pleasure, the lust.
1. Our prayers would fall on the ears of a God who knows better than to satisfy our selfish longings.
2. Our prayer would fall on the ears of God who doesnʼt want you to desire those things...why would God want to give in to our worldly lusts?
iv.Verse 4 - You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
1. The word friendship could also be understood as Allegiance - Perhaps we can say, “allegiance to the world is enmity with God”
a. To ally with the world is to be an enemy of God 2. This is not the rock and dirt of the world, rather it refers to what fills the
world. a. Culture, governments, drama, entertainment - the ways of the world,
not the world itself. v. Therefore, James says in v4 - Therefore, to be a friend of the world is to be
an enemy of God. 1. To be an ally of the times - of the culture, the icons, the entertainment, the
stories and desires the world has for us is to reject God and be his enemy. 2. We cannot be split, we cannot be both.
a. The language of scripture is forceful and decisive on this point. i. TobeafriendoftheworldistobeanenemyofGod
2. So we peel back the layers of the onion and we go deeper and deeper to see why this surface problem of fighting is happening.
a. Because our lusts are competing and we are selfish. We want what we donʼt have, but we wonʼt get it anyway because the Lord wants us to want Him, and when we go after our lusts we are allying with the world making us enemies of God and how can we be allies of one another when we are at war with the creator of the universe?
b. The problem is not that we fight. Itʼs not really even that we have inner, lustful desires. Itʼs that we have made ourselves enemies with God - that is the root of the problem - and itʼs a problem we all have.
What do we do about it? Can we stop being enemies with God? There is good news...James doesnʼt stop here
3. Verse 5 - “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us” a. Jealous yearning = envious pursuit of the spirit he breathed into us
i. God desires us! He doesnʼt want us to be enemies so he pursues us ii. Before Taylor and I started dating we were friends. She worked at a tennis
club near where I worked at Starbucks - and on my break I would often drive to the tennis club to bring her a delicious Starbucks treat. I wanted to talk and spend time together one on one, even is just for a minute...i wanted to be near her, get her attention, give her attention - my insides would be in knots....it feels horrible, this sort of longing. Have you had this sort of feeling before - a longing and yearning...Itʼs terrible, and we are only humans!
1. Imagine the infinite creative love of God jealously pursuing - enviously longing for you.
iii. God envies that the world gets our attention, our desire, our longing. We wants it all for Himself because he feels that way about YOU.
4. Verse 6 - But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
a. He gives grace to the humble - because he humbled Himself to bring us grace i. Phil 2:5-8 have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature
God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man , he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
1. Jesus, the Son of God, second person of the almighty and eternal Trinity, humbled himself to become a human - a dirty, aging, human in order to bring us grace.
2. But he didnʼt stop at becoming a human - he humbled himself to death on a cross
a. That though he was greater than us, he allowed himself to be put to death by us, so that he might bring us to eternal life.
i. That is the depth of the Lordʼs desire for you. That Jesus, the Son of God, Himself would take our place in the grave so we can rise to eternal life with Him.
ii. This is the God that longs for you
And because we have a God who desires us so much. Because we have a King in Jesus who humbled himself to death for our sake - James asks us, in verse 7, to submit to God, and again in verse 10 - humble yourselves before God.
2 words, same idea - acknowledging that God is King, and I am not
And these two words - submit and humble - set the tone for the solution to our problem of being enemies with God. Humble submission frames everything that comes in between verses 7 and 10.
Itʼs the solution to our problem, to acknowledge this fact and live in this fact. This is a nice thought, so how do we do this? Between verses 7 and 10 James is going to give us a few aspects of what it looks like to humbly submit to God - and how it looks a little more practically.
5. The first aspect of humble submission is given in vs7-8 a. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw
near to you. i. Earlier this morning we read from Matthew ch4 - Jesus in the desert being
tempted by Satan with the things of the world. 1. Jesus resists the devilʼs temptations and in Matt 4:11 it says, “Then the
devil left him and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” 2. Resist the Devil and he will flee, draw near to God and he will draw near to
you ii. Think of it as two ends of a spectrum - God on one side and devil on the other
1. We can go either way. a. Scripture only points us in one direction...Jesus only chose one
direction 6. The second aspect of humble submission is given in v8
a. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double-minded i. Inner and outer cleanliness or purity
1. Last winter the outside of our car was covered with road salt and dirt, and the inside didnʼt look any better - salt was ground into the floor mats, dirt was caked into the carpet, and the seats were covered in food crumbs and dirt.
a. Taylor bugged me to wash the car for literally a month, until I finally took it to the car wash, paid the $9 to run it through the wash, and call it a day.
b. I came home and felt very proud that I actually washed the car. c. Later on Taylor took the car out and when she came back she said,
“Matt, I thought you were going to wash the car.”
i. I didnʼt vacuum - the inside wasnʼt clean therefore the car wasnʼt clean.
2. We need both - inner and outer cleanliness- or we have neither. ii. Cleanse your hands
1. Our interface with the world. Our hands literally interact with everything. 2. Those external lusts we have that are out there in the world - we need to rid
ourselves of those because it keeps our status as an enemy of God iii. Purify your hearts - not just about being “clean”
1. Do you ever feel torn? I want to be Godly but I also want this other thing Iʼm focused on. I want to be generous, but I also want what I want.
a. Purity has this idea of singularity to it. i. To purify metal they melt it and scrape out the junk they donʼt want in
it, and then re-mold it. 1. More pure means to be more singularly silver, or gold, or
whatever. b. Purifying our hearts is to have our singular focus be on the Lord.
i. To humbly submit to God our focus needs to be more and more singular
1. On His love for us 2. On the cross 3. On his blessings 4. On his Spirit
iv.Cleanse your hands of the external lusts v. Purify your hearts and be singularly focused on the Lord.
1. Thatʼs the second step in humbly submitting to God
Resist the devil and draw near to God, cleanse your hands and purify your hearts, and...
7. The third aspect in humbly submitting to God is in v9 - Be Wretched and Mourn and Weep
a. Thatʼs a little grim. Why would the Lord want us to grieve and mourn and weep? Doesnʼt he love us? Doesnʼt he want us to be joyful?
i. Yes, he does! b. Joel 2:12 - “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With
fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” i. This is the language of the prophets calling Israel to repentance. ii. In the OT, time and time again Israel sinned against God, worshipped false
Gods, but God kept giving them chance after chance after chance. iii. Being Wretched and mourning and weeping is not our level of joy, but our level
of sorrow and regret of our sin and abandoning the Lord. iv.Itʼs a call to repentance
c. Our sins need forgiveness and the Lord asks us to acknowledge that and turn to him...and our mourning over our sin will turn to Joy in heaven.
i. There is only one place to find forgiveness - in Jesus Christ, who humbled himself to the cross out of love to offer us forgiveness.
Resist the devil and come near to God, cleanse your hands and purify your hearts, mourn your sins and repent, and the last aspect: 8. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
a. Thereʼs a song out there currently that really expresses this blissful ignorance of friendship with the world
i. Time of Our Lives by Pitbull 1. The song is about being broke, not being able to pay bills, but having
enough money to go to the club and have a night to remember a. Lyrics:
i. I knew my rent was gon' be late about a week ago I worked my BLEEP off, but I still can't pay it though But I got just enough to get off in this club Have me a good time before my time is up
ii. This is the last twenty dollars I got But I'mma have a good time ballin' tonight Tell the bartender line up some shots 'Cause I'mma get loose tonight
b. Laughter and Joy sound good, but these are not positive emotions. 1. Itʼs not true happiness, but the expression of ignorant pleasure that comes
from worldly indulgence a. Itʼs our Friendship with the world that is expressed here. b. Itʼs having a divided heart - not a singularity of heart focused on God c. Itʼs letting our lusts take precedent over our relationship with God
c. Turning laughter and joy into mourning and gloom is reversing the lie that friendship with the world, following our lusts, and having a divided heart bring happiness - they donʼt.
i. They ultimately bring mourning and gloom in light of God and His love and grace for us in Jesus Christ humbled for us.
Friends, we have created a problem but God has created a solution. We have made ourselves enemies with God, and this divide with God can and has expresses itself in our community in many ways. But God, who gives more grace, has fixed it through his son Jesus. By humbling himself to death on a cross for the sake of all our sins, he has given us love, grace, forgiveness, and joy - all he asks is that we humbly submit and acknowledge his love for us and his rule in our lives by resisting temptation, drawing close to him, letting go of our lusts, singularly focusing our hearts on Him, being repentant, and believing that true joy comes from Him, not the world. We created a problem, but God created a solution. Any solution we can think of will ultimately fall short of the solution He has provided for us in Jesus. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all relationships, desires, passions, and pursuits - humbly submit to God our creator, our King, our redeemer, our joy.