Followers of Jesus have three enemies that attempt to ruin our relationship with the Savior.
(1) The World’s System – God loves the people of the world, but not the system of the world.
We are familiar with God’s love for humans. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3.16).
We are less familiar with a portion of Jesus’ prayer in John 17.
“I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours” (John 17.9).
Jesus didn’t pray for the world’s system, because it opposes the purposes of God.
Psalm 2 describes the attitude of the world’s system toward God.
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast their cords from us.” (Psalm 2.2-3)
At the root of the world’s system is a desire to shake off obedience to our Creator.
If we are friends with the world, we make ourselves enemies of God.
(2) The Flesh – We are in the flesh when we live a self-sufficient life that is separate from God.
Paul knew the power of the flesh and described our common experience of the flesh in Romans 7. One verse summarizes his experience with the flesh.
“For I know that the good does not dwell within me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do the good lies close at hand, but not the ability” (Romans 7.18).
(3) The Devil – The devil and demons are supernatural opponents to Jesus and his redemptive purposes for humans.
The devil and demons bring great harm to humans as a way to bring grief to God. They can’t touch God, but they can torment humans through a variety of means.
Friends with the World’s System
James is quite aware of all three enemies. He focuses his attention on the world’s system.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4.4).
I once read that there are three kinds of Christians: (1) Marines, (2) Traitors, or (3) Prisoners of War.
Marines actively work to promote the will of God.
Traitors claim to be followers of Jesus but are friends with the world.
Prisoners of War have been captured by the enemy and are sitting out the war on the sidelines.
No matter what we say about our relationship with Jesus, if we live according to the world system’s rules then we are either traitors or prisoners of war.
We are hostile to God.
What is God’s purpose for humans? Paul asked a question that indicated God’s plans for people.
He wrote, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6.19).
The Most Holy Place in the Temple was the location where God met with humans. The crucifixion, resurrection, and gift of the Holy Spirit made it possible for the temple to reside in humans.
God desires to meet with us through the Holy Spirit. James describes God’s desire with the strong word, “jealously.”
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? (James 4.5).
God is jealous to give us a personal relationship with him through the Spirit.
If we are prisoners of war to the enemy or aligned with the world’s system, then we will not experience this greatest of all gifts.
Self-Sufficiency or Humble Obedience
Self-sufficient humans will join forces with the crowd in Psalm 2 and try to shake off God’s yoke.
Humble people will accept Jesus’ offer and come under his yoke.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls: (Matthew 11.28-29).
James lays the choice before us.
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4.6)
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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