The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

James 4:4-8

God Yearns Jealously over Your Spirit

Friendship with the world is a constant temptation because of our passions warring within us.  It is these passions, these sinful desires that we must put to death; after all, without those inward desires, the outward temptations of the world would have no effect on us.  But because putting the “old man” to death is a lifelong task, the world will tempt us though those temptations should lose their power over the course of a life lived in constant communion with God.

And herein lies a matter of fact about the Christian faith and it has to do with what our world calls “binaries”; for instance, there is right and wrong, and God’s people and not-God’s people.  Yesterday, we discussed the Church and the world.  Today, we focus even more on the world, and James is abrupt about what our relation towards it should be: “Do you 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.”  So here we have yet another binary: Friendship with the world or friendship with God, but you cannot be friends with both.  And if you will be a friend of one, you will be an enemy of the other.  We are reminded of our Lord’s words: “You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

But then James tells us something truly wonderful about our God: “Do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us?’”  When God told Moses on the mountain, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image,” He explained why: “For I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:4).  And God desires that we be equally jealous for Him: “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).  And as our desires become His desires, the world recedes further into the night such that we no longer see it nor care.  Again, as we draw closer to God and His desires become ours, the world’s charms seem ugly to us, and we wonder how they once held us in their sway. 

And how does this desire for God grow within us?  “He gives more grace,” that we may freely submit to Him.  This submission God calls “humility.”  And as we humble ourselves before Him and submit to Him, as we draw near to Him as He draws near to us, we have more power to resist the devil, to resist the world, and to resist sin.  Pant for God.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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