The Transforming Friendship! James 4:1-10

Points Covered: The transforming friendship is the friendship with God. God is our best friend. Read this blog to know more on friendship with God…

Sermon series on James

Introduction: We all have friends in life. A good friend can benefit you in lifting your-esteem and help you to be the best person you can be. We are so careful in choosing a friend, isn’t it? Likewise we need to have the right spiritual friendship to lead a good Christian life.

Well, I want to bring to you a message titled ‘The Transforming Friendship.’

A transforming friendship starts with having God as your friend and if God is your friend, it will translate into every area of your life.

Do you know that God is waiting for a friendship with you? Anyone who is a child of God, God delights to call them his friend. John 15:15 I no longer call you servants……. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

James 2:23 Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

Do you also know that God also calls some his enemies? James 4:4 Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. This is a very frightening statement that people could be the enemies of God. It is a tough thing to be the enemy of God because God always judged and destroyed his enemies.

Psalm 68:21 Surely God will crush the head of his enemies.

Nahum 1:2 The Lord vents his wrath against his enemies.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Dangerous friendship is the friendship with the world. Now the question facing James is how to identify the God’s enemies or who are the friends of the world?

1. Friends of the World.

a. The ones who reject Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. 

Other than this category, it is difficult to differentiate God’s enemy. Now James is writing to believers on friendship with the world and sometimes they can be found in the group of believers.

b. They may have a certain level of morality. Their morality could be like the rich young ruler from Mark 10 who couldn’t think of any commandments he had ever broken, but didn’t enter the kingdom. There are a lot of people who have a certain visible morality but they’re they enemies of God.

c. They may have some knowledge of the truth. They are like the Jews of the time of our Lord who knew the entire law backwards and forward and yet were a generation of snakes. Jesus said: Matthew 23:33 You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

d. They may possess a form of worship. They may go through some religious motions like the form of worship, prayer, and godliness but knows no power of it. 2 Timothy 3:5 ..having a form of godliness but denying its power.

e. They may listen to wonderful sermons. They may even feel badly about their sin like Felix who trembled before Paul but never forsook his sin and never confessed Christ. Acts 24:24-25 24Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

f. They may even be ministering in Jesus’ name.

They are like the people in Matthew 7 who claim to cast out demons and prophesy and do many mighty deeds in the name of Christ but who never really were known by Him at all. Matthew 7:22-23 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

So when you’re looking for the friend of the world there are those who are overtly living a godless live but sadly there are some who are believers but still having allegiance to the world. Therefore, a friend of the world is automatically an enemy of God.

The Book of James and James gives its readers a series of tests to examine our faith. In chapter 1 James says true believers respond properly to trials, to temptation, and to the Word of God. In chapter 2 he says true believers respond properly to one another without favoritism and they are characterized by living faith. And here James says that true believers are the friends of God and false believers are lovers of the world. James 4:4 Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

2. Effects of worldly friendship.

a. Conflict with others.

The first thing that happens when a person loves the world is conflict with others. Why? Because the dominant sin in the world is pride. Therefore, you have all these people who are consumed with pride and that creates immense conflict among them because it’s every man for himself.

James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Worldliness inevitably creates conflict. Conflict in marriage, conflict at home, conflict at work, conflict at school, conflict everywhere from an individual basis all the way to the society.

1 John 2:16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (Everyone consumed with their own ego) —comes not from the Father but from the world. With those kinds of motives everyone is really at war with everyone else because they’re all trying to fulfill their lusts and push themselves up the ladder a little higher. Inevitably this creates conflict with anyone who stands in the way of the gratification of anyone’s desire.

James 4:2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. So, the first cost of worldliness, the first danger of friendship with the world is conflict with others.

b. Conflict with self.

James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? A person who loves the world is in tremendous conflict with himself. Why? Because he has driving lusts and his lust and spirit is always in conflict.

i. They have uncontrolled desire. James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? So, it involves an uncontrolled desire for pleasure that wages a war within a person. The word desire or lust here have to do with desire for pleasure, the yearning for pleasure that cannot be stopped until it is fulfilled. That kind of longing, that kind of tremendous compulsion toward the fulfillment of bodily desire. Desire is a very cruel master. These are the people of whom Jude says: Jude 16 Walking after their own lusts.

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. It isn’t just believers that battle. Our battle is more intense because of the presence of new life in us. But even an unbeliever battles against the residual image of God created within him in his conscience and against that which he knows is right. And so he’s in conflict with himself. There is a raging war.

And in verse 2 we see the level of that rage, that uncontrolled desire: James 4:2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Violent terms. There is an internal hostility boiling in men that creates external destruction. They are driven by the passion for self-satisfaction and if anyone get in the way and they get very hostile which can even result in murder.

ii. They have an unfulfilled desire

James 4:2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. They can’t even fulfill it. Every time the intensity of the lust or desire gets deeper. There’s never any fulfillment. You lust but you don’t have it. You desire to have but you can’t obtain. You fight and war. Passion and frustration go hand in hand. It can’t be fulfilled. Every time you fulfil one desire, your body yearns for more the next time.

iii. It is an utterly selfish desire.

Utterly selfish, totally self-centered. James 4:2b You do not have because you do not ask God. You don’t ask. The word is really to submit and ask. It’s a word for the humility of an inferior as he bows before a superior seeking for something. It’s used in Acts 3:2 of a beggar seeking alms, in Matthew 7:9 of a child asking a parent, in Ezra 8 a commoner comes before a king and the word is used. It’s used of a man before God in Matthew 7:7 and many other places. You don’t come in submission. When you do come you ask amiss, motivated by personal gratification and pleasure.

James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Earlier James says, “You have not because you ask not.” Then he says when you do ask you’re not going to get it because you ask for the wrong reasons, selfish motives; not for the glory of God, not for the honor of God, but that you may consume it on your own lusts.

That’s how it is for people who love the world. They exist for pleasure. They exist for the thrill of the moment. The word “spend” is to spend freely, to literally spend everything, to throw it around. In fact, that’s the very same verb used in Luke 15:14 of the prodigal son who spent everything on riotous living. You ask in order that you may have it so you may spend it riotously without thought on your own pleasure. And you’re never going to have the fulfillment of those things, God does not fulfill the request of people seeking worldly things for the sole purpose of selfish and sensual pleasure. So you’re left with a terrible conflict within yourself.

On the contrary, all that you really would desire to have of true satisfaction is available from God if you would ask properly. Go back to James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. God is the giver of all good gifts if you’d only ask. You have not because you ask not. When they do ask they ask for only the purpose of self-pleasure.

3. Conflict with God.

Friendship with the world means conflict with God. James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Friendship with the world puts you in conflict with God. And this is really frightening. Three aspects of conflict with God.

a. Personal hostility to God. James 4:4 You adulterous people… He’s not talking about actual women who are adulteresses. He is talking about unfaithfulness. He’s talking about a prostitution of life. The word “adulteresses” would immediately remind his Jewish readers that Israel was an adulteress wife. God spoke through Hosea: Hosea 1:2 ….for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to God.

Israel was the covenant bride of God, and it was symbolized in the relationship of Hosea and Gomer. And when Israel went whoring after other gods, Israel became an adulteress. Jesus too used such terms for the Jews on a couple of occasions: Matthew 12:39 A wicked and adulteress generation…. That’s what He called them.

Here, James is talking about Christians who attach themselves outwardly to the church. They apparently maintain some interest, some commitment to God and Christ and yet they hold a deep affection for the evil system of the world. And they then become like the wicked adulteress Jews of Israel who were unfaithful to God. This is a term for people who attach themselves to the church, who attach themselves to Christianity, but then with their tremendous consuming love for the world, give nothing to God and give themselves holy to the world and thus are adulteresses.

There’s really no middle point in Christian life. One is either the faithful friend of God or His enemy, either a faithful lover of God or an adulteress. Jesus said: Matthew 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me. Peter says to Simon the sorcerer: Acts 8:21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. It’s either one or the other, no middle ground.

So, whosoever therefore deliberately chooses to be deeply affectionate for the evil system takes his stand as the enemy of God. What a frightening thought to be God’s enemy.

In the parable of the ten minas Jesus said: Luke 19:27 But those enemies of mine who did not want to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me. I don’t want to be the enemy of God, it’s a frightening thought. God is personally the enemy of those who are lovers of the world’s system.

b. Conflict with the scripture. Conflict with God demonstrates a disregard for Scripture or disobedience to the scripture. James 4:5 KJV “Do you think, or do you suppose that the Scripture says in vain the spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?” Now he brings up the scripture. In other words, don’t you know that Scripture says that this is how people live? That natural man has within him a spirit that lusts to envy? Don’t you know you’re not a Christian if you love the world? Why? Because you’re an enemy of God. Two, because you are literally disregarding the scriptural diagnosis of yourself.

This is mentioned in Genesis chapter 4 when the Lord did not look with favor for Cain’s offering: Genesis 4:5-6 6Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. You go to the Kings and Proverbs, you find the same thing. Proverbs 21:10 The wicked crave evil. You find the same in Prophets: Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

So, James is saying here is if you are the friend of the world, you are thinking that Scripture says for nothing that the spirit within you is lusting to sin? Are you so foolish as to defy that scriptural diagnosis, go on with your lusting, go on with your worldliness and still think you’re a Christian? The evil impulses of man’s heart draw him toward worldliness and a worldly life brings one into a conflict with God which makes him disrigard the scripture.

c. Loss of forgiveness. James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Who are the proud here? They are the ones who are the friends of the world, the ones who lust for the world, the ones who are driven by desires of the flesh and mind, the ones who are led by their own ego. They’re the enemies of God. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

See what God does to the proud: Proverbs 3:34 He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

1 Peter 1:5 God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

God resists the proud. It means a person who is a show off Christian. If you’re going around parading that you’re a true believer but you are passionately in love with the world, if you are consusmed with lust, pride, and envy; you’re never going to experience grace. God gives grace only to the humble. And the Lord fights the proud. They are His enemies. So no forgiveness.

James 4:6b God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. The word “resist” is a military word and it depicts a full army ready for battle. It has the idea of God setting His troops to do battle against the proud. The world is filled with pride and God sets His army in military array to do war and battle against the proud. But He gives grace…what a wonderful way to finish unto the humble. He gives…present tense…always true, grace to the humble. What kind of grace? Saving grace, forgiving grace, undeserved grace.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Isaiah 66:2 “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

What does humble mean? Broken over…what?…sin. Sorrowful and repentant over rebellion against God. That’s being humble. Matthew 23:12 Those who exalt themseleves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. God is gracious to the humble.

Humility is the treasure chest in which all other virtues are contained. And when a person comes to the point where they are humbled, they seek no longer the fulfillment of the flesh, they seek no longer the driving pleasure of lust that pit them against the will of God, but the Spirit of God breaks that desire in their heart and by sovereign grace gives them a longing for what is right and a hunger for righteousness. Then they receive the grace of God.

Conclusion: So, James says here’s the test. Do you love the world? If you love the world, you’re in conflict with it, you’re in conflict with yourself and worse than that, you’re in conflict with God. God is your enemy. You have disregarded His scriptural diagnosis of your condition and you go on blissfully fulfilling your own lust and you forfeit grace because grace comes only to the humble.

So James says do the inventory again, will you? Are you in love with the world? In conflict with everybody? With yourself and with God?

James 4:7-10 7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands,you sinners, and purify your hearts,you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

That’s an invitation to salvation. That’s an invitation to stop being a friend of the world and become a friend of God. That’s an invitation to stop being an enemy of God and become the enemy of the world. In fact, Jesus said he that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy to be My disciple. We love God because He first loved us. And if any man have not the love of the Father in him, he doesn’t belong to the Father, he’s of the world and the world passes away.

Ask yourself the question…do I love the world? Is that where my affections are? If that’s true, I’m the enemy of God. And the life of conflict will end in a tragic judgment that lasts forever. On the contrary, there is grace if you come to Christ. Let’s pray.