Friday, August 16, 2013

God’s Ten Step Program

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  ~James 4:6
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. ~James 4:1,2

This letter written by James has been a call to examine your life for evidence of true salvation. The title of the sermon series Pastor chose couldn't have been more appropriate: Living Proof – How Faith Works. We have been challenged with the idea that if we have experienced saving faith, then there must be a change in our lives. There should be a change evidenced by good works, repentance, and a struggle against sin. This chapter in particular is directed at those who call themselves Christian, but give evidence of something else.

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. ~James 4:3,4

James uses the subject of strife and contention in the church born out of hearts filled with evil desire and lust. He does this to point out how some people who call themselves Christian really aren't. This past Sunday Candice Smock shared with us her testimony of being saved out of that very thing. The solution for her self deception and false Christianity was the saving grace of God in Christ. That is the very thing James turns to after bringing up the subject, he offers God’s grace as the solution.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” ~James 4:6

Pastor pointed out James issues ten commands as a call to salvation and as a right response to the truth of God’s grace is for the humble not the prideful; Pastor called it “God’s Ten Step Program.”

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. ~James 4:7-10

With what Pastor said in mind, take note there are ten verbs issued as a command in these verses, they are:
  1. Submit to God 
  2. Resist the devil 
  3. Draw near to God 
  4. Cleanse your hands 
  5. Purify your hearts 
  6. Be wretched 
  7. Mourn & weep 
  8. Be turned from joy to gloom 
  9. Humble yourself 
All of these things are a correct and right response to an awareness of one’s own sin and the working of God’s Spirit in your heart. This is how those who are Born Again react at the moment of their new birth when, for the first time, they see their sin as God sees it. What we should take away from this message is that if this has not been our response to sin in our own lives then maybe we are like Candice was… maybe we have been calling ourselves Christian when in reality we aren't. If this is you, take heart! There is good news! Jesus Christ came and died to save sinners, so repent and believe the Good News!

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ~Mark 1:14

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