Lesson 23. The Source Of Worldliness (James 4:1-10) PART 3
by John Lowe
So, salvation leads here and now to renouncing ungodliness, and because we are redeemed, we zealously obey God. As new creations, we joyfully submit ourselves to God and actively resist the devil. The devil/Satan in the NT is often referred to as “the god of this world.” He seduced Adam and Eve, and he drew us away from God to the world. We didn’t resist him because, in our spiritual adultery, we were sleeping with him. As we repent and turn to God, renouncing our friendship with the world, Satan, like a jilted lover jealous not out of love but out of pride/anger, is now an enemy we resist by God’s power. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:8).
It doesn’t say Satan will no longer battle us or attack us, but we have the assurance that we will be delivered from him by God’s power. It’s still a battle, day by day; we resist his temptation and seduction, knowing, in the end, we will be victorious, not by our power, but because our allegiance is to the Creator.
It’s important to understand that life in Christ is still going to be a struggle. We are given challenging instructions to partner with God in our sanctification, where we are shaped in the image of Christ.
8. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify. your hearts, you double-minded
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Through His grace, He breathes life into a relationship that, for all purposes, was dead. His grace is not the end but rather a new beginning for life with Him. We haven’t just traded in one Master for another. We submit to Him, yes, but it’s more than reluctant obedience; it’s the restoration of an entire, deep, affectionate relationship with God through Jesus. He doesn’t pursue us, save us, and then leave the rest up to us. When challenges and temptations come, and they will come, He tells us to run to Him as our help, our strength, and our confidence. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. With confidence draw near to the throne of grace, we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
This is beautiful! In our struggles, our pain, our temptations, our failures, he still longs for us and calls us back to Him. With Christ, we are never alone! He says, “Come! Come to the throne; there’s mercy here, there’s grace here, I AM here!” When I was a good church boy, I proudly came before God in my self-righteousness. When I was in rebellion, I resisted and ran from Him. When I approached Him in my sin, I hid in shame unworthy to be in his presence. But by the Cross, no longer God’s enemy, I will stand with him face to face at His throne with confidence, not pride, because of Jesus’ blood shed on my behalf. He instructs us to continually seek and desire him to promise that He will be there! So over the days, the weeks, the years we are granted on earth, we move towards Him in every aspect of our lives. The alternative is standing still, remaining paralyzed when He’s told us to rise and walk, or worse, deceiving ourselves that we can receive his grace, turn, and walk away again.
“Wash your hands, you sinners.” Justified before God, by the cross, our relationship is restored. He found us in the filth and mire of sin, dove into a world set up as His enemy saves us by His grace and calls us friend. As our relationship grows in depth and intensity, we begin to work with the Holy Spirit through the process of sanctification, which means cleansing and purifying. He accepts us in our mess, but He loves us enough not to let us stay there. Hands symbolize actions, deeds, behaviors. The Holy Spirit is cleaning us, so we stop playing in the mud. Our lives look different; we are not just hearers of the Word but doers. But what does that look like? “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:16).
We have to stop doing evil!! This doesn’t mean throwing away your CDs or erasing your iPod, but it might mean you’ll have to chuck out the porn or even your computer; it might mean some relationship you have to change or even end. It might mean there are places you can’t go to anymore, activities you don’t engage in, and behaviors that need to change.
Learn to do good! We can’t just rid ourselves of evil, leaving an empty void for evil to return to. We have a lifetime of sin and man-centered worldliness that needs to be deprogrammed and a new Christ-centered worldview that needs to be installed. Ask God for wisdom in prayer and to seek it in his Word. You might need to humble yourself and sit under some teachers. You might surround yourself with Godly people that can speak the truth into your life and walk alongside you. Christianity is never intended to be lived alone; we need to be surrounded by mirrors shining light into our lives; without them, we can’t see where we need to be cleaned. Self-reliance is NOT a virtue! “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (Proverbs 30:12). “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (18:1).