Summary: 1. Choose to be friends with Christ (vs. 4-5). 2. Humble your heart before God (vs. 6-7a & 10). 3. Move toward the Master (vs. 8). 4. Complete your cleansing (vs. 8-9). 5. Trust God for your triumph (vs. 6-10).
How to Grow Closer to God
James 4:4-10 (Read vs. 1-10)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 22, 2015
*Nothing is standing still in this world. You may think you're still, but every moment of every day, we are on a planet spinning at over 1,000 mph. On top of that we are racing around our sun at 67,000 mph. (1)
*Christians: Not one of us is standing still. This is true both physically and spiritually. Every day we are either getting closer to God or farther away. I wish this Christian walk was a one way street, but it's not. Sometimes it's two steps forward and one step back, and some people are headed in the wrong direction.
*Many of us know people who used to be in church every time the door was open. They used to come, teach, serve and give, but now they don't. Many of them aren't just pulling away from church. They are pulling away from God.
*But things can get better when it comes to our relationship with God! We can grow closer to God, and we must. Considering all that is going on in the world today, and the uncertainties of life, there has never been a more crucial time for us to get closer to God. And God wants us to be closer to Him. Today's Scripture shows us how.
1. First: We must choose to be friends with Christ.
*Choosing the right kind of friends makes all the difference in the world. And above all, we must choose to be a friend of God. That's why James put it so strongly in vs. 4, when he said, "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity (or hostility) with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
*Everyone has a choice to make: Be a friend of the world or be a friend of God. You can go along with the world or you can go along with God, but you can't do both.
*When James talks about "the world" here, he's talking about the world system, the evil system that believes might makes right. It puts outward beauty over inward beauty. It believes that the end justifies the means, and it is based on a foundation of lies.
*This evil world system rejects Jesus Christ, and puts someone else on the throne. It puts self on the throne. It is selfish, sensual and sinful. It celebrates the darkest parts of our hearts, and it gives great rewards to the trashiest kind of talent.
*Everyone has a choice to make: Be a friend of the world or be a friend of God. This doesn't mean we can't have friends in the world. I thank God for my friends. I thank God for you. But God Himself deeply desires to be our Best Friend.
*That's why vs. 5 asks Christians: "Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously'?" God has a holy jealousy to be number one in our lives. He wants us to see Him as our best friend, because He is our best friend.
*As Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." That's what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins. Thinking about the cross, Charles Spurgeon said, "See what (our) sin deserved. It was all laid on Him. Ridicule for the folly of sin, scorn for the pretension of sin, shame for the audacity of sin, and Jesus took it all." (2)
*Martin Dale told about a woman who was sentenced to death during the French Revolution. Her only crime was being a duchess who came from a wealthy family. She was thrown into prison, but still allowed to be served by a maid who loved her dearly.
*While the exhausted duchess slept, the maid quietly put on her mistress' clothes. And when the duchess' name was called, the maid went out, and was executed in her place.
*Later, the duchess woke-up and found her clothes gone, so she put on the servant's clothes. And when the jailer came in, he said, "You are free to go. Your mistress has just been executed." (3)
*That's what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us. He took our place. How could we ever choose friendship with the world over friendship with God? God wants us to be closer to Him, so choose to be friends with Christ.
2. Also humble your heart before God.
*We will never get closer to God unless we humble our hearts before the Lord God Almighty. James made this truth very clear to us in vs. 6-7, where he said: