Lesson 23. The Source Of Worldliness (James 4:1-10) PART 4
by John Lowe
As much as we need the mirror of Gospel truth through His Word, we need the mirror of Gospel Community through his Church, to equip us to shine light into the world through lives lived on Gospel Missions. As restored and renewed brides that are ceasing evil and learning good, we don’t hide or retreat from the world. We reengage the world to proclaim and live out the Gospel by seeking justice, correcting the oppression of sin that binds our world individually and corporately, and act as agents of grace and mercy to the disregarded. Jesus didn’t tell us to hide or withdraw from the world in fear or disgust but re-enter it on a rescue mission to seek and save the lost with the power of His Gospel. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one…As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them…” (Jn. 17:15-18).
“Purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Cease evil, learn good, do good, engage the world, not to fulfill lusts, but out of an overflow of a heart that is singularly devoted to Christ. Our actions have to come from a new heart that is not divided in allegiance. James echoes the words found throughout Scripture:
o Joshua - we must choose this day who we will serve. Josh. 24:16
o Elijah – we will continually limp and stumble if we are vacillating between God and the world. 1 Kings 18:21
o Jesus- We can’t serve two masters, we will hate one/love the other Matt. 6
Our sanctification has to come from a heart that at its deepest desires no longer yearns for the world but has joyfully given its allegiance to Jesus. A new heart that by cleansing is humbled and contrite and is described in verse 9
9. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
This is a humble heart that is broken by the conviction of sin. It doesn’t see evil and rebellion the way the world does, happily laughing it off. It does not take sin lightly but sees it as God does with a weightiness that sees our hearts’ affliction and the world’s condition and is moved to tears. It’s a heart that praises God for his grace and mercy but looks at the world and our hearts through fresh eyes that cry out for the restoration that only He can give.
I have experienced this in my own life. My former life was best defined by spiritual adultery and rebellion. Last month, I listened to a sermon on the way to work that just cut to the core of the sin I was mired in during that time of my life. As I ran by my church, the sermon’s very words defined and encapsulated the pain of my life’s darkest period. I fell to the ground, not because I tripped, but because I felt the weight of sin and His saving Grace. I lay on the sidewalk, arms and legs spread, sobbing as tears fell on the old cracked sidewalk. I was there for minutes, unable to rise, mourning my sin and rebellion, brokenness before a perfect, loving, powerful Creator in a way that I had never felt before despite God working on my heart for years.
I am not known for my humility, you may know me as prideful and arrogant, but God humbled me on that morning as my face was pressed into the concrete.
I was only able to get back up and stand as I mediated on the Cross, that Jesus paid the penalty for my sin with his shed blood, and that I could stand before God, even as a selfish, rebellious murderer, because of what Jesus did. Because he rose again, I can rise as well and am no longer defined by who I am and what I’ve done, but by faith in Him, I am represented by who Jesus is and what he’s done.
10. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
I pray that our lives are defined by humility. That we are humbled by our sin, that we are humbled by a God that loves us enough to pursue us, that we are humbled by His grace shown on the Cross. We humbly submit and draw near to God. In pursuing sanctification by Gospel Truth and Gospel Community, we humbly pursue sanctification, leading us to engage the world by Gospel Mission. We humbly wait to be reunited to Christ in exaltation.
True Humility Comes from Above
Humility is essential, but submission to Christ must come first. You must not only submit to him; you must accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Humility will become a characteristic that defines you. Listen to what Micah said in Micah 6:6-8.
6With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD.