1. Hello, listening friends. We are delighted you have joined us again.
2. We are delighted to be able to bring you this series of messages from the Epistle of James;
3. and we have been looking at the different steps for growing up in the Christian life;
4. and, today, we see in James, Chapter 4, he points out to us, to another sign of a growing Christian, and that is that we are engaged in a battle of epic proportions.
5. This is a war on three fronts.
6. These are the world, the flesh and the devil.
7. The Christian life is a warfare. It is a fight all the way home.
8. Satan will do all in his power to employ any means that he can to prevent you from growing spiritually.
9. Satan will appeal to our flesh, and he will use the world.
10. The big three—the world, the flesh, and the devil—feed on one another in a constant effort to keep you as a spiritual infant.
11. Enemy number one is our passion.
12. Let’s read together James, Chapter 4, verses 1 to 3.
AT YOUR DISCRETION, PLEASE READ THE REFERENCED BIBLE PASSAGE HERE, IF TIME PERMITS.
13. Our passions are often referred to as the "flesh," or the "old nature."
14. Simply put, it is the inclination, or the capacity to sin, which is still with us, even after being born-again.
15. It is what we have inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve.
16. Before Christ, you have sedated your conscience or rationalized your sinful actions;
17. but, after Christ and the new nature, you have to get the old one under control by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
18. Every time you let the old nature’s selfishness and self-centeredness out of the cage, you get into turmoil.
19. James said, “You murder and you covet;”
20. and James, here, is obviously recalling the words of Jesus in Matthew, Chapter 5, that you can murder with your tongue.
21. Murder with your tongue can be just as devastating as murdering with a gun.
22. Listen friends, please listen carefully, to what I’m going to tell you.
23. When your covetousness gets out of control, you can break every one of the other nine commandments.
24. When you covet someone’s possessions, or someone’s position, or someone’s authority, vindictiveness becomes your way of life;
25. and, if there is a war on the inside, sooner or later, there’s going to be a war on the outside.
26. People who are at war with themselves because of selfish desires are always unhappy people.
27. They are never thankful for the blessings they have received,
28. but they always complain about the blessings that they don’t have;
29. but not only will you be led to wrong actions, but selfish desires will also lead you to pray the wrong prayer,
30. because you are praying with the wrong motive.
31. Next, there is enemy number two-
32. verses 4 to 6-
33. it is the world.
34. By the world, the Scripture does not mean the great outdoors, or the love of nature, or the love of life itself.
35. The root cause of every war, whether it is internal or external, is rebellion against God.
36. It began in the Garden with Adam and Eve, and it continues today;
37. but you say, "Well, how can a believer declare war against God?"
38. James said, "By loving the world,
39. by being friendly with God’s enemies,
40. by fraternizing with any system or organization that denies God and His power and the power of His Word."
41. Friendship with the world can be very subtle, and it can happen very gradually.
42. First you say, “Well, I’ll go there and be a witness…”
43. and, then, you say, “Well, I’ll get more involved so I can be a better witness...”
44. and, before long, instead of you witnessing to them, they will influence you;
45. and James compares friendship with God’s enemies as a form of adultery.
46. Because believers are, figuratively speaking, married to Christ, they ought to be faithful to Him and Him alone.
47. The early Christians, who received the Letter of James, understood exactly what he was talking about in calling them "adulterers,"
48. because the Prophets, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Hosea, used that same figure of speech to rebuke Judah for its sin of compromise.
49. Paul tells us, in 2 Timothy 4:10, that Demas, who once was a companion of Paul in his missionary journeys, has now succumbed to the lure of the world and deserted Paul.
50. How many Demases are there in the Christian church who do not give any glory to God?
51. When this world becomes your vision, you will befriend it.
52. You will love it,
53. and you’ll be part and parcel of it.
54. Those who are friends of the world’s system are always out for self; and they will pray the wrong prayer.
55. The consequences of self-centeredness are conflict and frustration.
56. In verses 6 and 7 of James 4, we read that enemy number three is the devil.
57. The world is in conflict with the Father.
58. The flesh fights against the Holy Spirit,
59. and the devil opposes the Son of God.
60. Pride is Satan’s great sin, and it is one of his chief weapons in his warfare against the saints and the Savior.
61. God wants us to be humble, but Satan wants us to be proud.
62. Satan promised Eve in the Garden, “You shall be as God,” and Eve believed him.
63. Let me give you an example.
64. Despite of the fact that Jesus warned Peter, Peter still pulled his sword in Gethsemane and wanted to accomplish God’s will his way.
65. In this passage, James warns Christians against falling prey to Satan’s temptation of trying to accomplish God’s work without paying the price of obeying God’s will.
66. These are the three enemies that are conspiring all the time to turn us away from God—the world, the flesh, and the devil.
67. According to Ephesians 2:1 to 3, these enemies are left over from the old life of sin.
68. Christ had delivered us from them, but they still attack us.
69. Some of you might be asking by now, “How can we overcome these three?
70. How can we be friends of God, and enemies of the world, the flesh and the devil?”
71. James gives us three keys to enjoy peace, instead of war.
73. in verse 7, he says, “Submit… to God.”
74. Now, submission is not very popular, perhaps.
75. We live in an age that has been described as "unparalleled self-pleasing."
76. The Greek word that James uses is borrowed from the military term, which means, "get into your proper rank."
77. When a private or a sergeant begins to act like a general, the army is in deep trouble.
78. Unconditional submission is the key to victory.
79. God has placed leadership in the church.
80. It is never perfect leadership.
81. You may not agree with that leadership,
82. but God placed that leadership for you to submit to it,
83. and submission to that leadership is a key to victory and blessing.
84. If you think leadership in the church is wicked or evil, then, leave that leadership and go and find godly leadership to which you can submit.
85. Spiritually, it works the same way.
86. If you want to have victory over the flesh and the old nature, submit all areas of life to God.
87. The way to resist the devil is by your submission to God.
88. The way to overcome the world and to become the enemy, not the friend, of the world, is by submitting to God.
89. After Bathsheba, David was at war with God.
90. Later on, you can read Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 to discover the high price David paid for being at war with God.
91. When David finally submitted to God, David experienced peace and joy.
92. The second key to victory and the inner peace is found in verse 8.
93. “Draw near to God...”
94. How do you draw near to God?
95. First, by confessing our sins and asking for His cleansing.
96. Without a question, the one thing that hinders us from drawing near to God is sin.
97. Generally speaking, we do not want to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
98. By drawing near to God, James does not mean going to church or Bible study.
99. By drawing near to God James means an intimacy with God.
1. It is when you know that He is hearing you and you are hearing Him.
2. The third key to victory is humbling yourself before God.
3. Did you know that it is possible to outwardly submit to God, but not inwardly?
4. How do you inwardly submit to God?
5. By humbling yourself, by lamenting and experiencing sorrow over sin,
6. by experiencing sensitivity to the burden of sin,
7. by realizing how sin grieves the heart of our heavenly Father when we persist in it.
8. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
9. A broken and contrite heart, God will not despise.
10. There is nothing more that God despises than haughtiness and arrogance,
11. whether it is haughtiness of position,
12. or family,
13. or religious affiliation,
14. or whatever it may be.
15. The final caution James gives us, in verses 11 and 12, is vitally important.
16. Please listen carefully.
17. The one thing that will stunt your Christian growth is a critical spirit.
18. He said, “Stop speaking evil of one another.”
19. Criticizing someone else is a subtle form of self-exaltation.
20. We criticize to make ourselves look better.
21. Critical people are not humble people.
22. James is saying that, when we criticize, we are saying that God is not the Judge, but we are.
23. Someone may be asking, “What does this final warning against the critical spirit and criticism have to do with the big three?”
24. Please listen carefully. It has everything to do with it.
25. When we are critical of each other, especially among Christians, we are losing the battle against the big three.
26. When we are critical of one another, we forget who the enemy is.
27. Being busy criticizing others means that we are losing the battle on all fronts.
28. Let me give you and example.
29. Imagine an army being busy fighting each other, instead of fighting their enemy.
30. They most likely will lose the battle.
31. Stop criticizing brothers and sisters in Christ, if you want to win the spiritual battle.
32. It is my prayer that this would be the standard by which you live.
33. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.