At War with God

Isa 42:13 –  The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies. The image of God as a “manof war” is not unusual in the O.T.  In fact, as we have seen in our study in the  Wed. evening class, it was Jehovah who fought for his people and subdued the enemies of Israel. This image is not condone physical war nor promote violence or some type of holy war. But rather to teach us about the spiritual power and victory that God provides.  God is not a weakling. He is like a mighty man who prevails against His enemies.

  • God has always had His enemies. They were defined by their opposition His moral laws and their defiance of His rulership over them. They were those who opposed God’s people.
  • What would it be like to be an enemy of God? Are You the Enemy Of God? Most people would not be inclined to put God as their enemy. Most however would also not feel comfortable calling Him their friend, in the sense that Abraham was God’s friend. He fits somewhere in between. Sort of a detached acquaintance. Talk to once in awhile. Visit every now & then, but rarely spend much time with, or involve in our daily lives.
  • Return to James 4:1-4Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
  • Last week we considered the rhetorical question of vs. 1 and discussed the nature of conflicts and wars among us. Today I would like to consider the rhetorical question of vs. 4Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? James’ conclusion is simple: Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

I.   Only Two Sides: A look at the context reveals that James is presenting the irreconcilable nature of right and wrong, good and evil. One cannot simply profess to be good and practice evil. James 3:9-12 – 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. So earlier (2:14-17) he made it clear that if you have faith, it will show by the works you do – one without the other is dead. In vs. 3:13-18 James contrasts the wisdom of the earth (beneath) with the wisdom from above.

A.  The Cause of the War: The foundational context of James’ statements is not only the moral dichotomy between good and evil, but the spiritual war that rages on the spiritual plane. God is at war with all evil; and all sin.  Thus, it is the practice of sin that creates enmity with God.   Isa. 59:2But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. God’s wrath is not arbitrary or malicious. It is an essential element of His holy character. His sinless character demands that He oppose sin and war against it.

1.  The apostle Paul describes our reconciliation to God in the context of the enmity caused by our sin. Ephesians 2:1-32 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.   He declares that Christ died for us when we were the enemies of God. Rom. 5:6, 10 – For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly… 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

2. In the familiar words of Isa. 53, the prophet speaks of Jesus’ vicarious suffering- Isa 53:5But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

a. What was the “chastisement for our peace”? Jesus’ suffering on the cross reconciled us to God and brought peace between us and God. That indicates the severe nature of our sinful conduct. We are not guilty of mere shortcomings or mild imperfections but of desperate wickedness. Sin is a violation of the essential nature of man’s relationship with the Almighty.

II.  The Enemies of God: In our text James says that those who are friends with the world are the enemies of God. What does this friendship entail?  How does one become a friend of the world?

A.  The word is Kosmos, and at times does refer both to the globe and to the people of the earth. James use of the word here is in the same view as John’s usage. It denotes society as it opposes God. Vine’s says it is the “present condition of human affairs,” in alienation from and opposition to God.

1. John MacArthur says.. Kosmos (world) does not refer to the physical earth or universe but rather to the spiritual reality of the man-centered, Satan-directed system of this present age, which is hostile to God and God’s people. It refers to the self-centered, godless value system and mores of fallen mankind. The goal of the world is self-glory, self-fulfillment, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction, and every other form of self-serving, all of which amounts to hostility toward God.

B.   The threat is what we sometimes call “worldliness”.  That word conjures up images of skimpy bathing suits or sensuous dancing. Although these would certainly be sins of worldliness, the problem goes much deeper. The worldly person adopts the thinking of the world, and is influenced with the ideas and goals of the culture around him.

  • He is driven by materialism, as it is the motivation of the world
  • He is impressed with the accolades and honors of men, as these are world’s goals.
  • He lives to satisfy the desires of the body and is sensually oriented.

1.  See how John describes this: 1 John 2:15-16 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.

2. The worldly mind is not responsive to God’s word. It is enmity toward God. Rom 8:6-8 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

C.  Adulterers and Adulteresses –  Notice the words James chooses to identify those who are friends with the world in v. 4. These are unmistakably uncomfortable designations for us. The Greek word here is moichos (moy-chos) which indicates one “who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) This denotes one who had abandoned a covenanted relationship. As a spouse leaves their mate and chooses to show affection to another.

1.  This would indicate that those who are designated as God’s enemies are those who are in a covenant relationship with Him. They have entered a bond, but have chosen to commit spiritual adultery.  James is talking about you and me.  It is possible for us to become the God’s enemies. (It would never be true that those who are God’s faithful children are His enemies, but it is possible for us to abandon Him and the covenant) Have you..

  • ever done something, knowing God wouldn’t want you to do it?
  • told a lie?
  • ever hurt one of his children with an angry or critical word?
  • ever supported or applauded the work of his adversary, the devil? Laughed at an unclean joke, or had a lustful thought?
  • ever turned against your heavenly Father in public, or been ashamed to speak for His cause? If so, have you not taken the role of an enemy?

a.  How good can you be? I’d be thrilled with a sinless day! Let’s say you lived a life in which you averaged only one sin a day. Shall we do the math? An average life span of 72 years (discounting those early years when God did not hold you accountable) would mean 20,440 sins. Now envision the moment you stand before God. He is a perfect God, remember, and heaven is a perfect place. And you? You would be perfect, too, except for the 20,440 failures on your record. Separating you and God is an insurmountable flood of imperfection and sin. We have a problem: We are sinners, and God says “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

D.  the Christian is called out of the world to a new mind coupled with new activities. Rom 12:2 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Col 3:2-3 – 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

1. In fact this renouncement of the world is so distinct that it is called a death. Gal 6:14 – 4 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Paul says Christians have not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:12) We must allow our minds to be influenced by the spirit of God, rather than the world.

III.  What will become of God’s enemies? God has no problem conquering all those who oppose Him.

  • Nah 1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
  • 1 Cor 15:24-25 – 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.

A.  But not all of God’s enemies will face His wrath. You see, God loves even His enemies. Abraham Lincoln once said “I will destroy my enemies by making them my friends” God conquers some of His enemies by making them His friends.  God can reconcile those who are odds with Him. He makes a way for peace. This is not through negotiation or compromise. It is only possible through the blood of Jesus and our faith.

  • Col 1:19-22 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight —
  • Eph 2:15-17 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near
  • Rom 5:8-10 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

B.   What does God require? When the apostle Peter was asked this question at Pentecost, he responded through the Spirit;

  • “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
    • Jesus said, He that believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mark 16:16)
    • You must put your trust in the sacrifice of Christ and obey His commands. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:14“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”