AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH

 November 6, 2006

 

The Divine Fire and the Ashes of the Devil

James 4

 

 

I  Wilful War

At once, James shows the lore of war and the Lord of peace. Lust engenders desire and war; for such desires are not given divine warranty, and being humanly depraved, remain deprived, leading to violence. Why not ask God, instead of telling man! Often the answer is simple: what you want is for mere lust, unsupervised desire from your own body or psyche; thus you do not obtain. Hence war rushes in like a robber: with grabbing, graceless, faceless folly, indulged in by the spiritually explosive, never satisfied, always seeking to be satiated.

This is like spiritual adultery, talking of God and acting as if He were not there, as if some other Lord controlled you! and you were his!

In view of this, James stresses that if THIS, the way of this world, is yours, then you should realise now, while there is still time, that this brings entry to a principle. It is this. Friendship with this world is ENMITY WITH GOD; it involves actual HOSTILITY towards Him. You see this in the gross misrepresentations of Biblical Christianity found recently in the Press, concerning creation, and of its place in science,  as also in the education area in this State. Indeed, all this current  talk, of self-esteem, self-fulfilment and self-knowledge and so on - ONLY God knows the heart and those who do not know God know but in vain! It is rather like an arm deciding on just how it wants to spend the day, and forgetting the heart attack; or the whole body resolving on a plan of action, and merely omitting to get counsel from the head! and the Head is Christ (James 1:1, 2:1), the Lord of glory.

 

II Divine Desire

Moreover, says James in 4, do you not realise the scripture's impact, that the spirit that lives within us lusts to envy! This reference appears to be to Genesis 6:5 with 8:21, where it was found before the flood that the imagination of man's heart was bent towards evil continually, yearning for evil like motherís milk, equilibrium banished, eccentricity the rule, with improper marriages and desires illicit seen teeming on earth, long before the rain and reign of the flood came.

In contrast to that, God gives more grace to the lowly, he declares: God resists the proud but gives more grace to the lowly (Proverbs 3:34). Burning up your resources with the panache of pride, when it becomes pandemic and even endemic brings results: then, a dousing and drowning in intemperate waters to match the intemperate heart and spirit of man; and in the end, with the incineration of flames with other flames. God is patient, not inept. He is longsuffering, not inane. He is loving, not a dupe. Judgment is slow in coming, since love is kind; but it comes in the end, where mercy is rejected and grace reviled.

He scorns the scornful and does not provide help for rash pursuits of pride and mere noxious yearnings and burnings of the psyche, as if it were some little god. Indeed, He asks one in Ezekiel 28:9, this - Will you still say you are god when I slay you!

 

 III The Contours of Spiritual Life

In fact (4:7ff.), go to the source of it, he counsels: Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  That lustful, self-filled, glamour-ridden, recalcitrant lover of his own glory, he is to be cashiered, quashed, sent to his own place. It is not to have place in you or access to you! RESIST!  Fight, put heart into it, and fearing God, fear nothing else.

This done, draw near to God, for is He not so disposed that He will not then draw near to you! (cf. Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2:3ff.). Come near to Him and Heíll come near to you! This however means cleansing of heart for the double-minded, who want God from afar but lust near at hand, in mind, body or spirit. Rambunctious self-love is not the need, but mourning, for blessed are they who mourn, chaste and chastened; it is then that the Lord loves to lift (James 4:10).

Who does not know the appeal of the contrite child, the stunned adolescent, brought to reality, the charm of the poor in spirit, whose agenda is to complete the will of God in love, not that of flesh with shove. Who does not feel drawn, even to help them! The Lord is ABLE to draw the righteous, the redeemed to each other, and not to be resisted. Very different is that evil one, to be resisted!

In this frame of mind, you may be more inclined to avoid merely pernicious, self-assertive judgments on others. It is the true law of God which judges (James 4:11ff. cf. John 5:41-47); if you try to take over from it, becoming the judgment centre as you assess others loosely, then you are in fact setting yourself up over the law, and judging it, as if even it were your fief! Yet there is ONE lawgiver, and it is He who saves or destroys. His eternal name is not that of mere mankind, His creation! Do not displace His word in judgment therefore.

In fact, if you take your cue from Him, you will be circumspect even about your own intentions. You would not even say, I am going here or there tomorrow, but add this: IF the Lord wills, I'll do it. That is the source of our DV, which is a Latin acronym, from deo volente, meaning - God willing. Plans of the human mind are to be subject and subordinated to the divine plan, for a man's heart plans his way, but God directs his steps! (Proverbs 16:9).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean to your own understanding, acknowledge HIM in ALL your ways, and HE will direct your steps! (Proverbs 3:4-5).

How ludicrous then  to say such things as this: Off to Honolulu tomorrow, then some work in San Francisco, and back in time for ... the Melbourne Cup! Human life apart from the protective and inordinate power of the Lord is like a vapour, gone like mist (James 4:13-14). It is not a dynamic that controls, but a recipient for even the stature of CHILD, though child of God the Christian be.

Such devisings and self-assured plans are boastful, and arrogant. What matters, in chaste reliance on God, is seeing the good and DOING it! Look for it ... Act (cf. Acts 13:1ff.). Seek in order to find.

Sin is a virus, so get divine disinfection.

 

 

IV  Courage not to Worry, To Work and to Rest in His Power:
this is the Need, with Love, Grace, Truth  and Mercy the Friends of your Heart.

Pleasant after rain, is the meadow, after cleansing the house, after chastening, the spirit of man; and great is the crop from due care, and this is the more so spiritually. James is certainly strong on purity, on grace and sincerity; but why not ? It is far better to be so, than with the Romanists to invent a system of penalties and rewards of man, conditions for divine blessing, as if these particular ecclesiastical men, priests, were indeed gods, and Godís law were a remote thing: precisely an approach which James condemns. If you want to live the life eternal, then do not trust in yourself or others, but in the Lord alone (Jeremiah 17:5-8, Psalm 71:16, Romans 3:23ff.), whose righteousness ALONE is to be regarded for your standing before Him, whose fire is fervent and pure, and whose life in a person who is His,  is like a fast-flowing stream, moving one wherever the abundance of divine mercy and desire, seeks (cf. Isaiah 48:18-19). It is HIS life, but live it in HIM.