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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
Preached At:Mission Smithers -- Fort Babine
 Fort Babine, British Columbia
Title:Christians Must Not Have Friendship With the World
Type:Mission Sermon
Text:James 4:1-6 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Christians Must Not Have Friendship With the World

Beloved congregation,

A few minutes ago, you heard the Ten Commandments again. One of those commandments is, "You shall not commit adultery." Another way of saying that is, "Do not have sex with somebody who is not your husband or your wife." That's what adultery is. Adultery is when you sleep with someone you're not married to. Many people have done this and still do it. Many people do not care what God says. But if we are Christians, we have to care what God says in the Bible. And God says, "Do not commit adultery. Keep marriage pure. Don't make marriage cheap and dirty by fooling around."

It's important for us to be clear about this. That's because in our text for tonight, the apostle James calls his readers a name. In verse 4, he says, "You adulterous people." You people who commit adultery, he's saying. Why does he say this? Is he talking to us, too? The people who he was writing to were probably not sleeping with people who weren't their husbands and wives. James is talking about spiritual adultery. The Bible often says that the church, God's people, are like God's wife. If we are God's people, then we are married to Him. If you are married to God, then you have to give yourself totally to God. You can't give half of your life to God and half of your life to somebody or something else. God wants every part of you, the whole works!

And that's where those people were going wrong. That's where we go wrong a lot of times, too. James asks them and us, "Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." What does it mean to be a friend of the world? The world is everything and everybody who does not follow the Lord Jesus. If we are living a life of sin, then we are a friend of the world. If we think getting drunk is better than following God, then we are a friend of the world. If we are lying and gambling and we don't see anything wrong with that, then we are a friend of the world. To be a friend of the world means that you find all your joy in the world and not in God. To be a friend of the world means that you turn to the world when things are going bad, instead of turning to God. To be a friend of the world means that you love the world and all the things in it, instead of God.

So you can see how this is just like a wife cheating on her husband. God wants us to know that Christians cannot have friendship with the world. If they do, they are going to be cheating on God. They will be hating God.

James shows us some of the ways friendship with the world turns us away from God. In the first two verses, James talks about fighting. When people love the world, they are only thinking about themselves. People want, want, and want more. They want the things that other people have. Somebody else has more money - I want it. Somebody else has a better truck - I want it. And I'm not going to like that other person because they have what I want. I'll fight them too, if I get a chance. Even kill them! That's the way those people were thinking. That's the way we sometimes think too. Maybe we wouldn't kill somebody, but we would sure be against that person. We would be very jealous. Beloved, God wants us to learn how to be happy with the things that we have. God says in 1 Timothy 6:6 that "Godliness with contentment is great gain." Another way of saying that is, "A God-like life gives us much when we are happy for what we have." We have to learn this, it does not come all by itself. We have to ask God to help us to learn to be happy and not always want more. Because when we always want more and more, this causes fights and problems in our lives. When you are happy with what you have, then you will also find peace and happiness.

Friendship with the world makes us unhappy with what we have. Friendship with the world brings fighting. It also makes us pray in the wrong way. There are things that God wants us to pray for. That's why He gave us the Lord's Prayer - to teach us things we should pray about. Last week, we also learned from Proverbs 30 about how to pray right. But the people that James was writing to, they were praying in the wrong way. They didn't care about what the Bible says. You can see that in verse 3 of chapter 4. They were praying for things that they should never pray for. They would pray to God and ask him to give them the things they were wanting. They saw their neighbour's truck and they wanted it bad. So they prayed to God, "Please let me get my neighbour's truck." It's like people today who pray for things that they should never pray for. "Please let me win the lottery." "O God, please let me have sex with my girlfriend." "Please help me to beat up that guy." "Please help me to tell a good lie so that I don't look bad." And so on. People really do these things and maybe you have too. I know I have. This is what happens when the world is more important to us than God. This is what happens when we are cheating on God, committing spiritual adultery.

We have to learn how to pray right. That means that we learn to pray according to God's will. We need to pray for the things that God wants us to pray for. Listen to what He says in the Bible and pray for those things. Like we heard last week, pray for what you really need rather than what you want. We should learn to pray like the Lord Jesus, "not my will be done, O Father, but your will be done." If we are serious about serving the Lord alone, we will do our best to pray in the right way. If we really want to be friends with God, and not with the world, we will listen to the Bible and pray right.

There is one more thing that friendship with the world will do to us. We find that in the last verse of our text. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." When we are friends with the world, we listen to what the world tells us about ourselves. The world says, "You know you are really something special. You are number one. You are the best. Everybody should listen to you. You need to be proud of yourself." The world tells you to be proud and think highly of yourself. And when you are friends with the world, then you listen to this way of thinking. You think, "I am number one." And you become selfish and self-centred. The whole world has to go around you. You only help somebody if you can get something out of it for yourself.

Tonight, God warns you in the Bible that this is a dangerous way to think. It is dangerous because if you are filled with pride, God is AGAINST you. You cannot be friends with God if you are full of yourself and full of pride. You can be friends with the world, but you cannot be a friend of God. To be a friend of God, you have to think of yourself in the right way. You have to know who you are. Listen to what God says in Romans 12:3, "For by the grace give me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought." How should we think of ourselves? Paul shows us in Romans 7:24, "What a terrible, miserable man I am!" We are sinners, and we have to know that. We have no reason to be proud. God wants us to look to Him and not to ourselves. He wants us to find all our strength, all our joy, all our hope in Him. Not in us.

God wants us to be His friends. And he gives us things to do that are hard. But the good news is that He also gives us grace. It says that in verse 6 of our text. And in verse 5, it says that we have the Holy Spirit living in us. When we believe in the Lord Jesus, God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can do these things. We have to pray for His work in us. And when we fall into sin, hope is not lost. There is still grace in Jesus Christ. John 1:17 tells us that grace came through Jesus Christ. No matter how far we have fallen into sin, God's grace in Jesus Christ is always there for you. You must hold on to it tightly, embrace it. When you do that, you can be sure that you are a friend of God. Because Jesus has made you a friend. Nothing that you have done can make you God's friend. But everything that has been done by Christ has done that for you. So, that means we have to have it in our heads to live like God's friends. We have to be careful that we do not fall back into being friends with the world. Pray that God will help you and keep you strong. AMEN.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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