Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Test of All Tests

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  ~James 4:1
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? ~James 4:1

Part of James’ purpose for this letter is to call professing Christians to test their faith to see if it is a genuine saving faith. It is also a warning for true believers against worldliness creeping in and influencing their lives. The issue James addresses in these opening verses of chapter 4 are an indicator of the sort of influence worldliness can exert over the lives of a congregation.

Since true saving faith means to be at peace with God and a member of the household of faith, the idea of infighting and quarreling should be a thing of the past.

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. ~James 4:2,3

This past Sunday Pastor noted the quarreling and fighting among professing Christians is only a surface problem; it is only a symptom of a far deeper issue. When people who claim the name of Jesus argue and fight among themselves, it indicates there is remains internal conflict with oneself. James reveals these sort of disputes are the result of trying to please self at the expense of others. Conflicts among professing Christians like this happen because the drive to fulfill one’s own lust rises above what should be there instead…

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:34,35

If someone is a true disciple of Jesus, the distinguishing characteristic of that saving relationship will be love for other believers, not quarrels and infighting. This passage is directed at people whose lives don’t match up with their confession. James is talking about people whose lives are filled with strife and hostility towards themselves, each other and God. Pastor told us the root of this problem is conflict with God.

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 4:4

Worldliness. Another word that best describes this sort of behavior among people who claim to be Christians is worldliness. Pastor described it as:

 A sin of the heart that displaces God with self and preoccupied with pleasure, possessions, and position apart from God.

Pastor made four points about worldliness in his message Sunday. He said worldliness is:
  1. A heart issue (not an activity, but an attitude). 
  2. A choice (a desire for the world that supersedes a desire for God). 
  3. Progressive:  
    • Captivated by the world 
    • Contaminated by the world 
    • Conformed to the world 
    • Condemned with the world 
  4. Key indicator of the authenticity of your faith (there should be a difference between you and the world). 
So what is the solution for this worldliness and conflict with self, others, and God? James tells us the answer is the Gospel!

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. ~James 4:5-10

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