We must learn to live by the Spirit and not follow the desires of our flesh…
The Bible tells us that where your heart is there your treasure will be (Mat 6:21), and inevitably whatever we focus on will dictate our actions.
In the Hall of Fame chapter on faith, we learn the true motivation of the Patriarchs of old, in that they were not seeking the things of the world, but rather the things of God.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
The Bible tells us that loving and identifying with the world’s ways (and thereby ignoring God’s law and will for our lives, and instead following the lust of our flesh) puts us at enmity against God.
James puts it this way,
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Enmity is animosity, the state of being actively opposed to someone.
A common biblical metaphor for spiritual unfaithfulness in our relationship with God is adultery (e.g., Jeremiah 3:20; Ezekiel 16).
Nowhere is this imagery more evident than in the book of Hosea (Hosea 2:1–23).
While God showed unfailing love to Israel, they responded with faithlessness, immorality, and idolatry.
Scripture depicts God as the husband of His people (Isaiah 54:5; 2 Corinthians 11:2) and believers as His bride (Jeremiah 2:2; 2; Ephesians 5:22–33; Revelation 21:7, 9).
So, when James calls his readers “adulterers and adulteresses” (James 4:4, NKJV), the implication is clear.
To the God who has loved His people unsparingly and relentlessly, what could be more painful than their heartless betrayal?
James calls out a challenge to people who have turned their hearts away from God and fallen in love with the world.
When he speaks of “the world,” he means the world system or world order, consisting of people whose beliefs, values, and morals are in opposition and rebellion to God’s.
The goals and objectives of “the world” are in direct contrast to God’s commands.
To cling to the world is to choose enmity with God.
James warns believers not to cultivate a lifestyle that resembles “friendship with the world.”
We must never pursue the ideals, morals, goals, or purposes of the world but instead “seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Through repetition, James emphasizes that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
With the same Greek word translated “enmity” in James 4:4, Paul denounces the worldly mindset:
5 If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh.
But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God’s indwelling presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit.
6 A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace.
7 You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God’s law and is incapable of following His path.
In the above verses of scripture, Paul is basically contrasting between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
And in Galatians 5:19-23, Paul plainly lists the deeds of the flesh, verses the fruit of the Spirit:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are:
11. Outbursts of wrath,
12. Selfish ambitions,
and the like of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!
But the fruit of the Spirit is,
And against such there is no law.”
We must be careful not to deceive ourselves into thinking that we can live in close fellowship with God and, at the same time, set our hearts on the things of this world.
The apostle Paul teaches Christians to cultivate a singular focus:
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1–3).
One clear indication that we have made friends with the world can be found in our behavior.
First of all, are we loving God with all our heart, mind and strength and are we loving our neighbor as we do ourself; or are we coveting what he has?
Are we acting like the people of the world?
Do we quarrel, covet, and fight (James 4:1–2)?
Do we “harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition” in our hearts?
Do we “boast” and “deny the truth?”
Do we “find disorder and every evil practice” in our lives?
Or instead, do we display “deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom?”
Are we “peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:13–18)?
Friendship with the world rubs off on our character.
If anything or anyone takes a more important place in our lives than our relationship with God and Jesus Christ, we have probably entered into friendship with the world and enmity with God.
Love for God and love for the world are mutually exclusive.
Jesus said that, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).
Pursuing friendship with the world puts us at odds with God and in danger of forfeiting our souls (Mark 8:36).
On the other hand, if we seek intimate fellowship with Jesus by giving up our own way, taking up our cross and following Him, we gain everything we need in this life and in the one to come.
If we try to hang on to the old worldly way of life, Jesus said we will end up losing everything.
But if we give up our lives to cultivate friendship with Christ for the sake of the gospel, then we gain salvation and everlasting life with Him (Mark 8:35).
Again Paul is dividing people into two categories: those who are dominated by their sinful nature and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit.
All of us would be in the first category if Jesus hadn’t offered us a way out.
Once we have said yes to Jesus, we will want to continue following Him because His way brings life and peace.
Daily we must consciously choose to center our lives on God.
Jesus in John 14:15, and 23 said, “If you love me, keep my words and obey my Commandments.
The “words” John uses in the original language are not merely to be understood as obeying a series of moral instructions, but rather these “commands” encompass ALL of Jesus’ words and teachings, which, in truth, are God the Father’s words:
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Anyone who does not love me will not obey my TEACHING, and these words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me’”
Use the Bible to discover God’s guidelines, and then follow them.
In every perplexing situation, ask yourself,
What does Jesus want me to do?
When the Holy Spirit points out what God wants you to do, do it eagerly.
One rule of thumb to always know is that God NEVER tells you to do anything that contradicts His Word.
Have you ever worried about whether you really are a Christian?
If you have sincerely trusted Jesus Christ for your salvation and acknowledged him as Lord, then the Holy Spirit lives within you and you are a Christian.
You can be assured that you have the Holy Spirit because Jesus promised that He would send Him.
Since you now believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that eternal life comes through Him alone (1 John 4:9), you will begin to act as Christ directs (Romans 8:5; Galatians 5:22-23); you will find help in your daily problems and in your praying (Romans 8:26-27); you will be empowered to serve God and do His will (Acts 1:8; Romans 12:6-21); and you will become part of God’s plan to build up His church (Ephesians 4:12-13).
The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee of eternal life for those who believe in Him.
The Spirit resides within us now by faith, and by faith we are certain to live with Christ forever (see 8:23; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). Amen
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