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Summary: This is the twelfth of a series of sermons based on scriptures where a rhetorical question beginning with the phrase "Do you not know. . ." is asked. This sermon deals with the rhetorical question asked in James 4:4. "Do you not know that friendship with

Series: Do You Not Know?

Sermon: Friendship with the World

Text: James 4:1-10


There’s a war going on at this very moment. And whether the battlefield is Iraq or Afghanistan, or your mind, the causes are the same. Someone wants what you’ve got or you want something someone else has. We fight for land, we fight for freedom, we fight for ideologies, we fight for a better life. It seems to never end; it’s all around us.

But who are we fighting?


We Fight against Ourselves.

We can’t even get along with ourselves. Isn’t that pitiful? Our passions are at war with each other. The desire to do what we want is at war with the desire to do what we ought. Paul explained it like this in Romans 7:

15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Sometimes we do what we hate, then hate ourselves for having done it. Paul points out that our abilities lag behind our desires. Our “ought to” is not as strong as our “want to”. Paul also points out that this is a wretched situation to be in. What he is referring to is sin that is life encompassing sin. We are obsessed. We are addicted. We are controlled. Our bodies are POW’s to our desires. We need deliverance.

Self-control isn’t the answer—that’s beyond our ability. We need deliverance. We need God to come in and take control.

We Fight against Others.

We want what they’ve got—covetousness. Why do we always want what someone else has?

We Fight against God.

Friendship with the world will make us enemies with God. Does this mean that God doesn’t want us to have friends that aren’t Christians? No. We should be constantly trying to make new friends that aren’t Christians. We need to develop relationships with people whom we can share the gospel with. So what does James mean here? Don’t get too close to the people and institutions that are destructive to a relationship with God. When we see the word “world” in scripture it can have one of several meanings:

•It can mean the planet we live on, but that’s not what it means here.

•It can mean that which is natural versus that which is spiritual, but I don’t believe that that is what is meant here either.

•It can mean things associated with the natural inclinations, which is getting closer to what James means here.

•It can mean those things that are opposed to God, which is what I believe James means here (see Luke 16:8; John 12:31; John 14:30; John 17:14; John 18:36; Romans 12:22; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 4).

Why are we so willing to risk our relationship with God? Do we think we can get away with it? Is the world more important than God? I suspect this is the case many a times. We only want God to be God over the areas of our life that we don’t care about. Most people want about a half-pound of God. Not enough to do them any good. Not enough to make them feel uncomfortable about their lives. But if he is not God over all, he is not our God at all.

Submission to God

Resist. The Devil is not the Borg, resistance is not futile. He’s not used to much resistance. Resist and he’ll flee.

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