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Summary: Using James 4:1-10 and an old Bob Dylan song, this sermon makes our choice of a master "black and white"

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You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody

Mark Christian

Today may be a day that thought you would never see. Today, we will begin our lesson with a quote from that great theologian, Bob Dylan. I guess that if some of my teachers from Southern Christian were aware that I was using Bob Dylan as part of a lesson, they might change their minds about letting me pass some of those classes! Anyway, the following is from a song entitled “Gotta Serve Somebody”, and apparently, Bob may have been reading from the book of James when he wrote this.

(from Gotta Serve Somebody by Bob Dylan)

You may be an ambassador to England or France,

You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,

You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You’re gonna have to serve somebody,

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

We don’t always like the idea of serving someone, do we? Somehow, we get the idea that being a servant is beneath us, but the truth is, Bob had it right when he wrote, “…it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody”. The thing is, most of us would quickly choose to serve God if we thought those were our only choices, but the father of lies has many of us convinced that we don’t have to serve anyone; we can just do as we please.

Make no mistake about it: if you live to serve yourself, you are serving Satan. Don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying that you are Satan. I am saying that if you are trying to be self-serving, then Satan has you fooled. You are not serving yourself. In fact it is just the opposite. You are despising yourself by serving Satan instead of God.

Please turn to the book of James, chapter 4. We will be looking at verses 1-10 today, and contrasting two lifestyles. One is to serve fleshly desires; that is to serve Satan. The other is to humble ourselves to God, living a life in His service.

James 4:1-10

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?

6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

"God opposes the proud

but gives grace to the humble."

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

In verse 1, James says that the fights and quarrels among us come from the desires that battle within us. The fights and quarrels are among us, the members of Christ’s body. The Christians who first received this letter had some issues with one another. They fought and quarreled with one another. I’m certainly glad that Christians today don’t fight and quarrel! (Tongue firmly in cheek) We would never let pride or envy come between us, because we are so firmly rooted in scripture that we couldn’t fight or quarrel. … Right!

Because Christ’s body is made up of men and women who still live in these fleshly bodies, Christ’s body struggles with fleshly desires. We are living a “dual life”. We are spirits, trying to live in agreement with the Holy Spirit within us, yet we still feel the desires of our fleshly selves. We can be proud. We can envy. We fight and quarrel with one another because we think we can handle things on our own. We try to be self-sufficient.

Look at what James says in verses 2 and 3:

2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

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