Unpacking James chapters 3 and 4 at TGCW21, Paige Benton Brown teaches us how to discern where worldliness has crept into our lives:
- Worldliness in Our Logic
- Worldliness in Our Longings
- Worldliness in Our Loyalties
As we recognize our worldliness, we can become humble, draw near to God through repentance, and reflect the wisdom God gives. Worldly striving is no longer necessary since Christ already exalted us and seated us with Him in the heavenly places. Brown ends with the glorious news that Jesus rescues us by giving more grace—and there is always more grace.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Paige Brown: Take out your bibles if you’ve not already and turn to James chapter three. We are going to pick up exactly where Jackie left off this morning. So pick up with me, right there in chapter three, verse 13. who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct, let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above but is earthly. unspiritual demonic for jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there will be disorder in every vile practice, but the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, and a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace, by those who make peace. What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you, you desire and you 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 descended on your passions, you adulterous people do 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. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the scripture says He yearns jealously of the Spirit that He is 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 we let your laughter be turned to morning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you do not speak evil against one another brothers, the one who speaks against a brother or judges, his brother speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you’re not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is only one law giver and judge he was able to save and to destroy, but who are you to judge your neighbor? Now that seems almost like a brainstorming board for like everything that’s wrong with me. And it’s like, is there any coherence here at all? And you know what, we just don’t want to see the coherence that’s here. But it’s right there. A group of us from our church, we’re going we were reading, we were tutoring reading at a nearby elementary school whose students are all below the poverty line. And we were going to be doing third graders for the year. And the first week we were there, I was assigned a little boy. And he came and sat down beside me. And as I’m pushing the picture book over in front of him so that we could share it. He looked down. He was like, where did you get that rain? And I said, Oh, my, my husband gave it to me because you got a husband? And I said, I do. And he said, does he have a job? And he does. He goes, does he have lots of shoes? And I said, Yes, he does. And he said, does he have a car? He does. Did he get you a car? He did. And he said like he goes, so you are really rich. And it caught me. So Oscar, I was like, no, no. And I stopped. And I said, I am really rich. James asked a lot of questions in this passage. And what we don’t realize is that they are diagnostics. Now hope, you know, God never asked a question to get information. Only to give it he never asked for an investigation but only for indictment. And he asked a number of questions through James, do you think you’re wise? Why do you fight and why do you quarrel? How are you to judge someone else? Do you have any idea what’s going on inside of you? Do you think that you can be spiritually savvy and you can be spiritual and savvy at the same time? You’re okay, okay. And then he says so do you realize that you are worldly?
Whoa, say, I mean, I might be a lot of things. But nobody has ever called me worldly. I mean worldly depends on like, what you wear and what you spend and what you watch and whether you’re like a tick tock star, and that what makes you worldly. And anybody can tell you we drive a really old car, we homeschool our kids. We are we are just living handed, but we are so not worldly. None of those diagnostics are here. Confucius said in 500 BC, the beginning of wisdom is learning to call things by their right name. So the reason that this talk is called wisdom tonight is its wisdom about one thing, wisdom to discern our worldliness. wisdom to discern our worldliness and we’re going to impact that in three ways. The first thing that’s required of us in this passage is the recognition of worldliness for us here. So that’s why this passage is about wisdom. It starts with our recognition of worldliness and we’re going to recognize worldliness here in three ways. Jas digs deeper and deeper and deeper first, we have to recognize it in our logic. So true wisdom that Mary taught us about last night is a God given God centered orientation that permeates every part not of our thinking, but of our living. Okay, wisdom is not a what is it is a how to, it’s always shown in a beautiful lifestyle that’s described for us there are verses 17 and 18. And chapter three is always issues fourth in a beautiful lifestyle that’s lived in meekness and in humility. So what those other verses that we read in chapter three, say, not what, you know, you might be terribly, wonderfully knowledgeable, not about being knowledgeable, but living in the way that is described in verses 14 through 16. And at the same time, claiming to be wise is a big fat lie. It is a false boast here, according to James. And yet, there is a logic at work here. I got to take care of me. I got to take care of my people, I’ve got to see if I can get something going on here. I got to get what I deserve. I see all these other people at work, or at school, or in a social setting. And everybody seems to be doing better than I’m doing. All of their kids seem to be doing better than my kids. I’ve got to make something happen. And that is the logic here of the world. I got to promote me and you know what, we’re not even really ashamed of it. I believe children are our future. Now. I know I got people of the 80s out there. Okay. And, you know, Whitney’s ultimate self love anthem, right? The greatest love of all is happening to me, right? I found the greatest love of all inside of me, learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all, that’s actually promoted as emotional health is promoted because it makes such good sense. And if we’re honest, it does sound sensible, except for the fact that it is soaked through with this antagonistic spirit of both self concern. Look back at the past, I really don’t want to see your face. I will see the tops of your heads. Because I want you looking down to see that this is what’s going on here. Okay, look back at verses 14 through 16 is soaked through with this antagonistic spirit of self concern, the jealousy and self promotion, which is the selfish ambition there. And in case we think that it might be okay, he then goes Oh, and by the way, it’s Earthbound. It’s unspiritual. And it’s even demonic. Which is that same triumvirate of attack that summarize for us in Ephesians, chapter two of the world, the flesh and the devil, and that’s exactly what is going on here. But this is a logic it is actually a proactive thought process that is centered in envy. Envy is at the core of all of this and envy is the antithesis of Christian living, because it grasps instead of gives is always self seeking. It is always self serving. And yet it’s that logic of envy is that logic of jealousy and selfish ambition that opens the door to all manner of nastiness or as James calls it, look down every vital practice.
all angry competition, all undermining all meanness of word and deed, all promoting ourselves over another, all rejoicing in the hurt of another, all resentment in the good of another, all of our boasting all of our rivalry, all of our identity and success and possessions and position, and status, those things don’t happen. They’re actually our calculated approach. And unless we’re sitting like in a Bible study or a Christian conference, we see that in ourselves and think that was pretty savvy. That was true, that was smart, that was streetwise. What’s happened in that logic is that the vial is actually cool. The vial is actually cool to us. How do we recognize that we are worldly, it will show up in our worldly logic that leads to every Bible practice. But the recognition goes deeper. Not only must we recognize it, our logic, we must recognize it in our longings. And when James begins to deal with this, he’s like, pulls out the x ray machine on our hearts. Because he’s not just dealing with our subtle calculations of our logic, he is dealing with all of our gut desires. And so he brings out the x ray for the gut, or as the Bible would say, on the heart. And you’ve got three areas of longings here that at first seems scattershot, but you begin to see them take shape. In the first place, we must recognize it in our passions, look back at verses one and two, in chapter four. And you know, it’s interesting to King James actually has better language here than any other translation, because it’s so stark, from whence it says, comes all of your fighting and animosity. And it says from this is all of your desires and passions within you, from whence, from that this is not some great mystery. Look, he’s saying, look at your own heart. And it’s right there. I did a million years of university campus ministry at Vanderbilt, and then later at University of Virginia. And I was sitting with a bunch of my close kind of leadership girls waiting for a meeting to start one day and I had met with a student earlier that day that was struggling and they just asked if any of them knew her, that that she was really struggling with loneliness. And one of my friends said, yeah, I get that. It’s really hard to have good friends here. And then they asked our chairman, I agree with that. Vanderbilt has made me so snobby. MurderBot has made me so discontent Vanderbilt has made me so competitive. Vanderbilt has made me so insecure, bad, but I know Vanderbilt has made me so critical variable has made me always compare myself to others. I’m just watching this ping pong around. And I was like, You know what? I’d like to meet Vanderbilt. Who is this has such power over you? Because from where I sit, there’s no such thing as Vanderbilt. It’s just you. It’s just you. That’s exactly what James is saying. Do you see all this yuck in your life? And you’re wondering where it comes from? From where I sit, says James. It’s just you. He’s not talking here about our inner conflict with ourselves he is talking about are completely unchecked, unrestricted, I mean, desires and our hearts that lead to nothing but conflict with other people. This is played out in conflict with other people. In 2000, there was a beautiful, visually beautiful film made anglais made this film called what? Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon. That could be the nickname for my heart. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that stands ready to count. Anytime anyone gets in the way of some desire upon which I’ve set my heart.
We were I mean, that’s why so and so was my best friend in first grade for two minutes. And then so and so I mean, why, why are we that way in our relationship because somebody got in our way and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I mean, why aren’t you still friends with the people you see? Because their kid did something to your kid or whatever it is, somebody got in your way again in V goes right back to envy and covetousness in these verses, just like it did at the end of the last chapter, always looking for what we don’t have and we think that we deserve and all James is saying here is that we put our desires and our pleasures over every other consideration. You know what the word there is for passions or desires. It’s he donee and what comes from the word he donate hedonism, again, It’s all hedonism in that way. Now James is so smart here, because there’s all this really strong language. And he is completely dealing with the motivations of all the selfishness and the bitterness, and all of the relationships of the quarreling and the fighting. But you know, what he never mentioned? What are the objects of the passions and desires? I mean, what are people murdering each other over here? What are they fighting about? And he never deals with that content. He only deals with the worldly part that can do that, no matter the content. It’s not certain things is not certain amounts. It’s not certain positions. It’s anything that shows that this is the way our hearts are. And we think he’s got to really have big bad stuff in mind here because he is talking about murder. And you’re thinking like Wanda Holloway in the 80s. And like the Texas cheerleader mother murders, you know, because their her daughter got cheerleader in mind didn’t surely that’s what he has in mind here. And we think there’s no way that our small time there are small town squabbles and arguments can be in view here. And yet, if we think that our small time squabbles and arguments cannot be in view here, we have not heard Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, say that anger and insults and name calling violate the sixth commandment. Because the sixth commandment is exactly where he’s going in the way that we violate that with our own hearts. This is not some notorious, outrageous, crazy passions that are calling, they’re causing quarrels, and fights among everybody. This is just normal, ordinary self centeredness, and self interest. That’s what he’s dealing with. The daily, the normal, and even the acceptable desires that are just part of what living in the world. They’re all understandable. We have empathy for all of them. We all share them in common. And yet, he stopped me saying, how do you recognize that you are worldly? Because it’s showing up in quarreling, and squabbling and rivalry with people. But he doesn’t start with just the passion, he takes the X ray. And he goes deeper in an almost surprising way didn’t just deal with the longings that show up in their passions, is the longings in their prayers. Look down here, a verse that the second part of verse two and verse three, we can be so self focus, we can be so world driven in our desires that we don’t even bother to pray about them. Or perhaps we don’t even day or two. I have to ask myself, Am I harboring some desire that is so obviously, outside of the will of God, that I can’t even pray about it? He’s like, you don’t have these things? Because you don’t ask because you really don’t dare to ask because we’d rather grass than ask or maybe we get really, really bold. And we do come to the Lord in prayer. And what are we coming in to him in the war to Him in prayer about to do our bidding? You don’t have because you don’t ask or he says you do ask. And you don’t receive because all you’re doing is praying about those very passions that are your enemy, and not your friend. Look closely at what it says it does not say that God will not hear and it does not say that God will not answer it says we will not receive. It’s exactly what Mary was talking about this in the first part of chapter one last night do we even want what he has already promised to give? This is the double mindedness you know, that that that this this use in James is the earliest usage of that double minded language and all of Greek literature, James coined that term.
To be double monitors, Mary said last night to be double sold. James actually coined that term is the word will you get in? And then he gives, and we will not receive it? I mean, the number of times my kids have said, I don’t know. I mean, what should I wear? Oh, honey, I think you should wear this No. What how shall I study for this test? Oh, I think you should this and this. Now. What should I say to my teacher? Oh, you should say Yeah. No. It’s not that it was not. They will not be Why did you ask me right? And now it’s the Lord. Why are you praying about you will not receive what I am giving you? And you’re like, Well, I wish he would give me something else. He says it just doesn’t work that way we can cannot turn to God to serve ourselves because he doesn’t just know our prayers, even if you dress them up really nicely. He knows our hearts. He knows our hearts, He loves our prayers, but He knows our hearts. He knows all of our true desires, and all have our true passions. How do we know that we’re worldly? How do we recognize that we’re worldly, it will show up in our prayers, or our lack thereof. I mean, the number of times one of my colleagues, she has to say, there’s just kind of just nothing is working for me. Nothing is working for me. And I’m like, tell me, Have you prayed about it? And they’d be like, well, I said, well tell me what’s not working. And they would begin to describe and I said, your best defense against that is to pray about that because you cannot pray and say, Lord, please help those people to be miserable with each other and breakup. Please help everyone else to do terribly on this test. Please help this bouncer to have bad eyesight and believe I’m 21. I mean, how do you know if something is okay? Can you pray about it? I mean, part of the way we know we’re worldly is so many of the things we want most we would never dare pray about. And he is sitting here saying that that’s what we’ve got to look at our prayer life to understand our longings, but not just our passions and our prayers and our longings. He goes further to our presumption, looked down at verses 11 and 12. How dare you speak evil against a brother? How dare you Plexi. This is this passion not only to have but to be above, you know the adage, it doesn’t matter what you have, you just have to have more than someone else. It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, you just have to place yourself more highly than someone else. And so he goes on to say, Not only have you placed yourself above a brother and our sister live down, you’ve placed yourself above the law. And therefore you’re placing yourself above the law giver. When it says there in verse 11, do not speak evil, the word there actually is do not denigrate. into, you know, to denigrate means to speak critically of someone in order to damage them. But it’s not necessarily slander. This doesn’t mean that what you’ve said about someone is not true. It’s not whether what you’ve said is right. What James is saying is do you have the right? Do you have the right to say that? Do you have the right to sit above them? And that way we will in our worldliness you serve God’s place and sit in God’s place. And he’s so frustrated by this. Verse ptosis, who do you think you are? Who do you think you are? And then he doesn’t just say brothers and sisters, he says to judge anyone? Because the word there is neighbor? Who do you think you are to judge? Anyone? Now? It’s these verses that are an x ray of meat. I’m not necessarily a fighter. I’m not necessarily quarrel or Oh, but am I a critic? About what about everything? Did you see how they spent their money? Did you see how new the car was they got for their kid? Do you know what they let their child watch on Netflix? Did you see what she had on? Did you see what she posted? Can you believe who they’re letting him day? I don’t know. She never seems to be happy with her husband. I don’t know why they spent that money. I don’t think they have that money. I’m wondering if they’re just living on the trust fund. I mean, what I mean, we question everybody’s motives behind every decision every time that they spend money and especially the way that they raise their children. In James’s says,
Who do you think you are? To sit in judgment over anyone? Our worldly self exaltation will show up in the way that we criticize and step on other people. How do we recognize our willingness we recognize it in our logic, we recognize it our longings that are being billboard through our passions, and our prayers and this presumption of our other people, but thirdly, here, we recognize it in our loyalties. Looked at I want to see tops of heads look down. We recognize it in our loyalties. Back to our attempt at a divided loyalty is not just not recommended. It’s impossible. Your heart did not belong in two places. James is not here speaking of the loyalty of a customer, or the loyalty of a sports fan, he is speaking of the loyalty of a wife. Look at verse four. That’s why adultery is the charge. This is the loyalty of fully and exclusively belonging to someone already. That’s why adultery is the charge and not fornication. Because he is writing to people who already claimed and profess to be married to God. And he is saying, not only are you looking the other way, you are in friendship with the world and friendship in the ancient Greek world was a much stronger concept than our friendships day, it was this lifelong commitment and pack a mutual of mutual love, mutual understanding mutual identity in that way. And so James asked, again, to expose the doubleness if you think you can belong to the world, while you at the same time, belong to God. There are some times when we’re back and forth. And our ultimate loyalty, you know, is not at risk, some relationships that you can bought back and forth, but marriage is not one of them. You cannot be married to one and dating someone else. And when this is saying friendship in the world, this is not talking about our care for the world, our steward our stewardship in God’s world, this is talking about our commitment to the fallen world and all of its institutions, all of its godless systems, and all of its values. And then he goes really even further, because he doesn’t just say, can you be committed to both? Can you even have intimate fellowship with the Lord, while you’re just longing for the world, look at the language, whoever wishes to big. Now, whoever I mean, whoever wishes to be, this is not whoever chooses the world, or takes vows to the world or made some seismic decision that they are going to belong to the world. James is here talking about just the normal catalogue of everyday wants, everyday desires, every day, pleasures that just are centered, and that self pleasing life and that simple, old, normal, self pleasing life is what submerges us in the world, even as we are turning away from the Lord. How do we know that we’re worldly because that’s what we are longing for. Let me be clear, because I don’t want this to be vague. James is not here, addressing all manner of worldly things. He is addressing how we are worldly about all things worldly, about family, worldly, about our kids worldly, about our church, worldly, about our money, worldly, about our jobs, worldly about all these things that are the gift of God. And it doesn’t just say that it hurts God’s feelings, or that it taints our relationship with Him. It says that just wishing this just wanting for this makes him our enemy.
Sinclair Ferguson says this, where does adultery start? Often the marriage relationship has been jaded, we become prone to the attractions and the attractiveness of someone else. We begin to prefer to spend time with them we find their company more stimulating. One thing leads to another the friendship develops. And then we commit adultery. It may happen in a matter of hours. It may take months but in the process and enmity towards our spouse is built up whatever pretense is made. Listen. The fatuous expression, I still love her. But I’m no longer in love with her confuses emotional conditions with personal commitment. How can it be that two people who committed themselves to spending the rest of their lives together can no longer tolerate living in the same house promised love has turned into enmity now as an echo of our spiritual adultery, although I still have God, this other love is important to me, I must have it. But the truth will emerge in the entail. I can no longer live in the same home as God in Mutti will build up against him and he will become ultimately my enemy. Ladies, we have to check ourselves on this. This is one of those areas in life that no one else knows about you. No one else can do that for you. And so we have got to just stop right now and ask ourselves, what do I prefer? much prefer to time with the Lord. Do I enjoy the company of secular people much more than I enjoy the company of godly people? Am I increasingly frustrated and bothered by the ways that I feel like the Lord is keeping me or especially my kids from fitting in? And my tired of having to be different? What are the real goals that I am pursuing in my conversations? And in my spending, and it with my energy? And with my registrations, and my signups and my volunteer things, who am I promoting? Through all of those things? Do we recognize that we are worldly? How do we know it will show up in where we belong? Where is home to us? Jesus isn’t really starkly in John chapter 15. If you belong to the world, the world would love you as its own. But as it is, I’ve called you out of the world and therefore the world hates you. Now you can say that verse in reverse. And for me, it’s more telling him more helpful, not just if you if you belong to the world, the world would love you as its own. But if the world loves you as its own, is because you belong to the world. That’s just all there is to it. It will show up. How do we recognize our worldliness, you know how condensation works. Two things are brought together that are such different temperatures, that condensation forms. So if you make your car really, really warm, when it’s really, really cold outside, you end up with a lot of condensation on your windshield. Or if you take a nice, cold, icy drink outside in the summer, immediately it’s in a puddle because immediately condensation forms, the only way around condensation is what to keep it the exact same temperature as every thing around it. Look for the condensation. It will show up Do you understand that godliness will show up in the world as surely as worldliness will show up in the presence of the Lord. They’ve got to be so different that there’s condensation and where there is not visible condensation of the difference in my life. And in your life. It’s because we are swimming in the water. And James does not point that out with any talk of possessions, or fashion, or social media, or entertainment or education. He talks about it in the way that we want things and the way that we relate to other people. Now all of the diagnostics hurt. But like all scriptural diagnostics, they’re only there for one reason. It’s always diagnostics to draw us. See, we expect that we’re going to turn from this to verse six, and say, and therefore God walks away from us. Because what adultery is legitimate grounds for him to do so.
That’s not what we find. This passage doesn’t leave us in a recognition of worldliness. We move in the passage to the rescue from worldliness and we start right there in verse chapter in verse six. And it turns the whole passage because you know, what you find in verse six, is the best word in the whole Bible. But But and then it’s followed by the best words in this whole book. He gives more grace. Our needs are greater than we ever thought. No one came to the gospel coalition saying, I’m worldly. Nobody, nobody ever says they’re worldly. The same way. Nobody ever says they have money problems. Nobody ever says this. And yet he has pointed it out about us and then we feel our need growing and in response to that growing need and that growing panic, but not therefore he walks away but he gives more grace. How do we know that we are worldly? All the way in our heart? Because it shows up? How in the world and does he rescue us? He shows up. He shows up and that’s how we know what is in his heart. He came down from where he ultimately belonged. He came down as the very wisdom of God he lived for us that perfect life he earned for us a heart have righteousness. Go back to verses 17 and 18 and chapter three, you know what you find there in that list of beautiful things, you find a summarized description of the Lord Jesus. That’s exactly what you find there. In those verses. He came and he came with no selfishness, singularly focused on pleasing the Father. He came with no doubleness singularly focused on my redemption and after he did everything right, he became the enemy on the cross to pay for my worldliness. You know what Martin Luther said, you took what was mine, and set on me what was yours, you became what you were not, so that I might become what I am not. To say he gives more grace is not a Hallmark card. Grace is not just a nice thought it is an accomplishment, a legal accomplishment for us. And what he is saying here is, he will not withhold it from any one who humbly asks for it. He gives grace upon grace, upon grace upon grace. Alec Mateer hours, theologian has my favorite commentary on James, and he says this, I love it. What comfort there is in this verse, it tells us that God is tirelessly on our side, he is never less than sufficient. He always has more and yet more to give, whatever we may forfeit, when we put self first we cannot forfeit our salvation, for there is always more grace. Even if we were to turn to him and say, What I have received is far less than enough, he would say, Well, you may have more. His resources are never at an end, his patience is never exhausted. His initiative never stops. His Generosity knows no limit, he gives more grace. Or as Charles Wesley wrote, in his him, Oh, Jesus, full of pardoning grace, listen, more full of grace, than I have sin. Yet, once again, I seek that face open arms and take me in and freely and freely, my backsliding is heal and love this worldly sinner, still. Can he rescue us? And the answer is yes. Will he rescue us? The answer is yes. Does he rescues? The answer is yes. And he gives grace upon grace upon grace to convince us of Did you hear that him says he has more grace than I have sin. He has more grace than I have said he loves me more than I love the world. And that is the good news. It’s not even implicit. And James has so much good news is implicit here. But it is explicit for us. And so Jesus rescues us from worldliness, not only by paying the penalty for it, which he does, but by what making it unnecessary to me.
He makes it unnecessary to me how he is absorbed with me. I am the joy set before him. So I am free from self absorption. I don’t have to be the prettiest. I don’t have to be the best. I don’t have to be the smartest, I don’t have to be the most successful. I don’t have to be the center. Because I already am to him. There is one to whom you are the prettiest. You are the best. You are the center you are the most valuable. He loves you so much. It’s crazy. That’s what we do. I mean, everything that is worldly and us is trying not to grasp horrible things, is trying to grasp the things that we have been promised in Jesus, you matter more than life itself to him. So you have already been given those things. We just have to be convinced of it. And so we need more grace. Our family works with an adult Special Needs group that we just love. And so we’re all sitting down to dinner at one of our meetings and the director says okay, who would like to say grace and one of our just, you know, she said, Okay, will you please say grace for us? Yeah, we’ll stood up and she put up her hands. And she said, Grace I like literalism. I like it. Okay. But you know what? That’s kind of the whole story. We’re all words and everything else. God is not worthy here with everything that’s wrong with us and everything is a need. We need, you know when he says, give you more grace. And so when you can’t even diagnose it or recognize it enough, put your hands up and just say, Grace. Lord, give me more grace, grace, not just to forgive my worldliness but grace to free me from it. And so of course, that’s where the passage takes us is not just that we get covered, is that we are transformed. So we don’t just need to recognize our worldliness we don’t just need to be rescued from our worldliness. The third thing here is we have to have resistance to worldliness. And is in all the right order. And James as it should be, because this word, this beautiful word in verse six of this compounding li abundant grace is this, this then followed by this string of commands in verses six to 10. Boom, Ben, Ben, Ben Ben, like bullet point commands for us. And that has to be the order. It has to be a word of abundant grace that is then followed by commands that order cannot be reversed. You know, how jumper cables work? I found this out the hard way. Do you know how jumper cables work? What? You got to put them on in the right order, right? Read on the dead, right? And then you put red on the live and then you put black on the live and then you put black on the dead? Now, if you do it, right, what does that give you? Unbelievable reviving power. And if you have those exact same ingredients in the wrong order, you will what? Blow up. And so when you have grace, and you’ve got commands, you’ve got the same ingredients no matter what. And if you have them in the right order, abundant grace, and then command there is unbelievable power for transformation there and for revival there. But you get them out of order commands and then grace and you will wait. Say it. Okay, you will blow up. And so James is in the right order. They are commands, but they are commands of response, commands of response, and you’ve got to keep them there. And so whatever power the world holds over us, whatever power even the devil here holds over us. We have already been given the grace here to overcome to resist. We’re going to resist in three ways. According to this passage, and the first place, we must re position we must re position the first thing is lowness. As opposed to above, Michelle Obama said the Democratic National Convention that their family motto had become in the face of slander, and falsehood and media cruelty. When they go low, we would we go high.
What what James is saying here is where we’ve gone high, we got to go love. Every place that we have exalted ourselves, we have got to go low. So the book ends, if you look at verse six, and verse 10, you’ve got two verbs there that are the bookends here of our resistance. So submit and humble. Submit yourselves and humble yourselves. Not just in general, not before somebody else. Submit yourselves to God, humble yourselves before God. And then it explains because God resists the proud. Why does God resists the proud? It’s like, I thought God welcomed everybody. Why does God resists the proud not because he doesn’t like them? Because they’re not in a position to receive anything. I mean, it’s like Fonzie looking at himself, his mirror with this comb, and he’s like, Hey, I mean, that’s the deal. That’s what pride does for us. Whatever the Lord is offering, I don’t need that. That’s why we will not receive because we’re proud. So the reason that God was this, the proud is that they have first resisted Him they will not receive from him and then submit is an enlistment word is actually a military word. It’s an active word. It means to arrange under, we think of submission as passive, like, what else can I do? submission is actively arranging our lives under the Lord, and under here, his law. That’s why it says, You’ve got to humble yourselves before God Humble yourselves before God don’t just bring certain sense to him. It’s the same picture of denying your whole self and taking your cross. This is our overall position. We have humbled ourselves before God and The reason that wisdom is always accompanied by humility is that humility is true. It’s not like I’m really awesome, but I’m gonna pretend to be humble. Humility is accurate. And that’s why always accompanies wisdom in that way, we reposition with lowness and we also reposition with nearness, look at it, draw near to God. And He will draw near to give drawn near. It’s like a welcome home as he is running towards you with open arms. And this is this language of relationship that we are belonging to Him and not just behaving for him. But nearness is not just a hope it is a command here. We’ve got to cultivate it. Even when we already belong to Him, we have got to cultivate the nearness. If you’re already married, nothing’s going to legally change that. But you’ve got to work on your marriage. You’ve got to work on the intimacy and that is what is not just being commanded, but is offered us and the question is, why do we draw near to be near? I mean, the whole reason we’re chasing the world is because we don’t know what we have in the Lord, which means we got to worldly distance and move towards him. In that way. There’s no need to envy or to grasp or to self promote, because we have everything in him already given to us. And we will know it as we are near to him. So the first way we resist is we reposition. Secondly, here, verse eight, is we repent, again, has to think jumper cables, it’s got to be kept in order. We draw near in order to cleanse and purify, we do not cleanse and purify in order to draw near.
It is the welcome and the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, we are not repenting, so that we might earn the welcome here of God, Jesus gives the reason the love of Jesus gives the reason for repentance, it is never the result of repentance, ever. And so we saying that already. My name is graven on his hands. My name is written on his heart. And so therefore, look at the verse because my name is graven on his hands, because my name is written on his heart. Therefore, I can cleanse my hands and purify my heart. But it started with his heart. And not much because we’ve already been brought near Cleanse your hands, purify your heart, that is the Old Testament shorthand for repentance, you will find that throughout the Psalms, especially hands, all of our external activities could purify your hearts, all of our internal motivations. But then there’s this emotional follow up here. Because what repentance always means is I don’t see my worldliness in relation to me, I see it in relationship to God. Repentance never ultimately sees your sin in relationship to you. It sees our sin in relationship to God. And that’s why there’s morning. That’s what is so strange here. When you get to verse 13. There’s, there’s morning in the midst of all this draw near. But that’s why because as we draw near, we understand that why are we mourning because we betrayed him. We are mourning not out of a fear that he will ever stop loving us. It is out of a broken heart that we know he never will is not the fear of being abandoned is the certainty that we never will be abandoned. Have a couple who are dear friends from whom I have learned so much. And earlier in their marriage, the young husband was fighting a losing battle with sin that he had kept from his wife. And when he could just take it no longer. He went to her and said, I have to confess something to you. And I think it’s going to change your opinion of me. And I think it might even change our relationship. And she said stop. Stop right there. And she went over and she sat down on the couch. And she opened her arms at wide. And she said come right here. Lay your head right here. And let me embrace you. And then you tell me whatever you need to tell me and you will still be right here. And I will still be embracing you. That’s when he started sobbing. That’s what broke his heart. It was not a harsh response. It was the open arms for you to ever said anything. That’s why there’s morning. That’s why there is morning we can more now and rejoice later. Are we can rejoice now and mourn later. But who we are requires mourning, either now or forever. And it’s David himself who is that great repenter, who teaches us so much about repentance? He writes in Psalm 30, you, oh Lord have turned my morning in to dancing. We come low, and he left us high. We draw near and find out that he already was near. How do we know that we’ve repented? Don’t you always wonder, have I repented, it will show up. In resistance, number three, we reposition, we repent. And finally here we reflect. Go back to chapter three verses 13 and 14, there can now be this beautiful lived reality of a pure heart and clean hands, verse 13, a beautiful life as a whole lifestyle, this conduct and lifestyle, a beautiful lifestyle of ongoing works done in the meekness of wisdom. Why? Because we are just receiving and reflecting wisdom from where it tells us from above, we’re only receiving and reflecting his wisdom, and that begins in pure love for him issues in with peace within and peace with other people. It brings a harvest of righteousness, that whole catalogue of things that are there, but look down. What do you not see in that list? There are no verbs to do. There are no nouns to have. There are adjectives, characteristics to bake.
It doesn’t describe just certain things that we do, or certain things that we have it’s character traits, his adjectives to be who we are, who we are becoming because of who He is in us. And for us, do you understand what that means? No more worldly striving? Because there’s no need and why is there no need? Because we’re exalted. All of the worldliness is just trying to lift ourselves up. And he doesn’t say you were never meant to be up. He says, You will never take yourself as high as I will take you. How high are we exalted, we’re what? seated in heavenly places. And yet that height is still not the best part. Thomas Chalmers 1800s Scottish political economists, they allege in the love listen to this, the love of the world cannot be expunged by holding out a mirror of our imperfections. The love of the world cannot be expunged by a mere demonstration of the world’s worthlessness. But it may be supplanted by the love of that which is more worthy than itself the love of Him who is greater than all the world. See, it’s not that we’re going to be heavenly. Hi, is that good? We’re going to be seated with Him hidden, okay, that we are treasured in Christ with God. That is where my life is, is now a hidden treasure. Talk to my youngest daughter today on the phone, my 10 year old. I say what I always say, What are you doing? Just tell me I said, but what are you? She said, mommy’s treasure. And I said, Why am I sad today? And she said, Because you love to be with me. What are you you are not a worldly rich. You’re his treasure. And what he loves more than anything is to be with you. He can never not treasure you. And we are drawn to worldliness not because he has ever stopped treasuring us, but because we have stopped treasuring him. And so when we’re ready to resist and we’re ready to do battle with worldliness, it will do you no good to do nothing. But take a good long look at yourself unless you are going to take a better longer look at him. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and mindsets and passions and ambitions and priorities of this world will grow strangely Dan, in the light of His glory and grace and Grace Race and grace and grace. Let’s pray. Father, give us more grace. And we know what form that grace will take for all of us. If you give us more grace, we will see Jesus more clearly. And we will treasure him more dearly, and we will follow him more nearly, because we will learn more fully than ever before, how much you have already perfectly treasured us in Him. So we ask for more grace confidently and expectantly in his own great name. Amen. Thank you