James 021 – Sins Against the Spirit

James 021 – Sins Against the Spirit
James 4:5-6 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 31, 2021 • James


James #21

Sins Against the Spirit

James 4:5-6

James 4:5 — we are continuing our verse-by-verse study through the book of James.  James, as you know, is the half-brother of Christ, who pastored the Jerusalem church writing to his dispersed congregation in the Diaspora, which means dispersion.  You might remember that it was Saul of Tarsus who drove that Hebrew Christian audience into dispersion.  James is addressing a book to them, not about how to become a Christian, as they are already Christians, but how to live for God in the new age of the Church.  This is not a book about positional righteousness, that is assumed, but about practical righteousness.  It is a lot like the book of Proverbs, in fact, James has been called the Proverbs of the New Testament, but it is also about how to let our practice catch up with our position.

The first half of the book, James 1:1-3-12 is all about faith — not so much saving faith but living by faith as a Christian.  How do you live by faith as a Christian?  Adopt God’s perspective on trials, and his audience was experiencing a big trial having been evicted from their homeland, per 1:2-18.  In 1:19-27, begin to obey God’s Word; avoid favoritism in the assembly, based upon criteria that God does not use to show favoritism, such as treating certain people differently than others because of their financial status per 2:1-13.  Then he moves on to the paragraph that required a lot of time because of its controversial nature — allowing our faith to manifest itself in good works, which means not that our faith exists but now our faith is useful, productive.  Faith without works is dead, so he dealt with that in 2:14-26, and before wrapping up this section, let me tell you the ultimate work you can do as a Christian:  keeping your mouth shut basically; learning to control the 2×2 slab of mucous membrane between the gums called the tongue per 3:1-12.  If we can do that, we can do anything.  Amen?

From there, James switches subjects somewhat and begins to talk about wisdom:  knowledge applied, and he starts talking about that in 3:13, and he talks about wisdom all the way through the end of the book.  It is hard to apply knowledge so that knowledge becomes wisdom because wisdom is knowledge applied, unless we know what wisdom is.  He starts off here by telling us what wisdom is: it is demonstrated by her actions (3:13), and then he draws a distinction between satanic wisdom, or wisdom from below (3:14-16) versus wisdom from above (3:17-18).

And now that we understand what wisdom is, he spends the rest of the book applying wisdom to every area of life, and he starts out with our spirituality.  From there, he moves to commerce, wealth, waiting for the Lord’s return, prayer and restoring the erring brother.  The first thing he does is to describe what wisdom looks like in someone’s spiritual life.

  1. Avoid wrangling (4:1-3)
  2. Avoid worldliness (4:4-6)
  3. Pursue the essence of spiritual wisdom (4:7-12)

Now, we have already completed the section on wrangling.  Wrangling involves infighting among Christians, and we dealt with it in 4:1-3.  Remember that he described the problem, interpersonal conflicts within the assembly, and then he arrives at the source of the problem:  ultimately the sin nature (middle of 4:1 through the middle of 4:2).  What happens is that we become jealous of another brother or sister in Christ because they have more money than we do, or they are better looking than we are, or more talented, or how come sister so and so is so good on the piano, and I am not, and what happens is that if we are not careful with those thoughts, they will turn into jealousy.  Rather than going to the Lord with those thoughts, saying, ‘Lord, I would like to be talented, too.’  Is it wrong to pray something like that?  I don’t think it is.  Or, ‘Lord, so and so is being used of You; I would like to be used of You also.’  So, often, we initiate a whispering campaign against someone we don’t like rather than going to the Lord.   That becomes the source of conflicts within the Church.

The source of it is the sin nature, and another source of it is prayerlessness.  That is where James says that ‘You have not because you ask not.’  It is interesting that he mentions this subject of asking God a second time in the book.  The first time that he mentioned it was in James 1:5-8, and there it dealt with wisdom related to tribulations.  When we go through tribulations, we don’t really see things from God’s perspective.  James 1 grants us the divine perspective on tribulations — how they are in our lives to bring us to a different level of maturity and growth, but rather than seeing it that way, we charge may God foolishly, saying, ‘God you brought this into my life to destroy me.’  The problem then is that we don’t have the wisdom of God on trials.  So, James says that if you don’t have that wisdom, then implement 1:5, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.’   Would God really answer a prayer like that?  ‘Lord, give me Your mind on suffering.’  Obviously, He would answer a prayer like that because James says that God gives to all generously and without reproach and it will be given to him.  This wisdom that God wants us to have related to suffering will be given to us.  So, that is the first time he has told us to ask God.

A second time, James says that rather than tearing someone down behind his back, ask the Lord to bless you.  It is in James 4:2, the second part of the verse, ‘You do not have because you do not ask.’

The third time that prayer really shows up is at the very end of the book where he talks about Elijah who was able to alter meteorology for 3.5 years simply by prayer.  He explains that Elijah was a man just like us; in other words, he had the same sin nature that we have; he was a human being; the same struggles of life; he put on his shoes one foot at a time as we all do, yet because he approached God in prayer, he was able to alter the weather for 3.5 years.  It is in that context that James says that the prayer of a righteous person when it is brought about can accomplish much.

So, per James 1, pray to the Lord for wisdom; in James 4, ask God; in James 5, there is power in prayer.  Put those three together and one of the major themes that James is seeking to communicate is this tremendous power that we have in prayer.  Then he says that ‘When you pray, make sure your prayer is not misdirected.’  He says that when you pray to make sure your prayer is not misdirected.  He says in 4:3 that when you ask and do not receive it is because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures.  So, if someone who you know is getting ahead financially and you aren’t, then rather than asking the Lord to bless you financially, too, is not to go the Lord, but to tear down the blessed brother.  That comes out of our insecurities of our sin natures.  James says that rather than doing that which does nothing but cause quarrels within the assembly, to go and ask the Lord to bless you.  And by the way, when you ask the Lord to bless you, don’t expect God to answer if it is a self-centered or self-seeking motive: ‘Gee, I want to be as talented as someone else because I want to be world-famous.’  I would say that is probably not the best motive.  A better one would be ‘Lord, I would like You to bless me with talent because I would like to be a blessing to others the way that so and so is a blessing to others.’  That is a better motive the latter of which God would answer, James says.  ‘Lord, I want to be as wealthy as someone else, because I want to go on a lot of cruises down the Riviera.’  I don’t think that is probably the best motive.  Why not rather say to the Lord that you want Him to bless you financially so that you can actually lower your standard of living to have more money to give away to those who need it?  God says, ‘Now we are in business.’  So, don’t feel bad about petitioning God for things.  Three times in this book, James tells us to do that, but he just ways to watch your motive because if your motive is wrong, God won’t nor is He under any obligation to answer.

1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”  How would I know what God’s will is?  I would suggest that this is a good starting place:  These 66 books will tell you what God’s will is.  As you know God’s will, then you will know how to tailor your prayer requests in alignment with His will, and James says that those prayers have a better chance of getting answered.  By the way, you don’t want God to give you things that He doesn’t want you to have as that would wreck your life.  It is like a 5-year-old child who is asking his parents to give him the keys to the car.  Obviously, a parent wouldn’t honor that petition because the child would destroy himself and others.  So, often we ask for things that God won’t answer because He loves us too much and He knows what will destroy us.  If God doesn’t answer a particular prayer request, then take comfort in that rather than becoming angry with God.  Perhaps He wants to answer it later, and He is preparing you for the next level of maturity, so when a parent denies their 5-year-old the keys to the car, they aren’t saying that he will never drive, it is just that I have something better for you.  Let’s wait until you mature and until you pass your driver’s education test, etc.  God is like that with us.  All of that goes under the subject heading of avoiding wrangling.

The way to apply wisdom in one’s spiritual life is to avoid worldliness.  Worldliness is the system of philosophy that energizes our world; it isn’t necessarily speaking of the globe; it is the Greek word, ‘cosmos’ from which we get the word, cosmopolitan, worldy.  It is essentially the way the world thinks, the philosophy that the world marches by — to the beat of a different drummer than the Christian.  Why?  Because they are following the world, and we are following Jesus.  Who orchestrates the philosophy of the world?  Satan, of course.  It has been that way since the fall of man in Eden.  It will continue to be that way until satan is thrown into the bottomless pit, the abyss, at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.  That is why he is called the prince of this world, the god of this age, the prince and power of the air.  He is the reason we have to put on the full armor of God because we wrestle ‘not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and rulers of this dark world.’  He is called ‘a roaring lion who roams about seeking someone to devour’, and 1 John 5:19 says that the whole world lies in his power.  Lewis Sperry Chafer used this example of a mother rocking her baby to sleep.  In the same way, satan has the whole world under his jurisdiction, and he is just rocking it to sleep with his value system to the point where people are marching to a value system that they believe is right, but it isn’t of God, and that is what we mean by ‘the world.’

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”  In other words, why would you spend your life marching to the value system of the world, when the whole thing will be melted down one day by God?  That is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  I heard one businessman quote and sum it up in this way when he looked back on his life and said, ‘I spent my whole life climbing the ladder of success only to learn that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.’  That is the problem with becoming worldly because you are living for something that will pass; it is much better to live for the things of God because those things are eternal.

Now, James is getting into the subject of avoiding worldliness as a Christian because it is possible for a Christian to become worldly.  If they couldn’t then there would not be any sense in this warning.  One of the verses I think about a lot, and I think I shared this last time, 2 Timothy 4:10 where Paul says, ‘Demas having loved this world has deserted me.’  Now, I am of the opinion that Demas was a believer because I don’t think Paul would have put an unbeliever into his ministry team as he did Demas.  He doesn’t say that Demas has lost his salvation; he says that Demas became intoxicated with the world system and went back to it, and he is no longer interested in the things of God, serving alongside of me in ministry.  So, that is essentially what worldliness is, and here we are given the consequence of it.  The first consequence we covered last time in James 4:4 was that friendship with the world is enmity against God.   Then he called his audience adulteresses.  That is how God feels when His people become worldly and live for the world’s values.  God looks at it almost like He is the jilted spouse who has just discovered an adulterous relationship.  So, James is very clear here that if you want to be friends with the world then it puts you at odds with God.  The opposite is true because what did Jesus say in the upper room in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”   It is there in the upper room that Jesus is sending out His disciples into the hostile world, and He is saying not to expect that the people out there to applaud your Christian convictions as you go out and share the gospel.  In fact, He is saying that they will hate you, but don’t feel bad about that because Jesus says that they don’t really hate you, they hate Me because the world hated Me long before it hated you.  It is true that every single one of those disciples who He was speaking to — eleven of them — Judas, by that time had already left the upper room, John 13.  Every single one of them died a martyr’s death; with the only exception that I can think of that is argued is the apostle John, but none of them died of natural causes; every one of them was either crucified upside down, speared, thrown off the top of the Jerusalem wall, like our author, James.  They were hated by the world wherever they went, so Jesus said that ‘If you want to be friends with Me, you will be hated by the world.’  Here, James is saying the exact opposite: ‘You want to be friends with the world, then you are at enmity with God.’  The world system is being orchestrated by Lucifer, so there isn’t any way to embrace the world’s value system and think that God is okay with it.  Conversely, there is no way to embrace God’s value system and have the world okay with it.

You will be judged by someone:  either God or the world.  As for me and my house, it is a better bet to be judged by the world than by God.  But every single day of our lives, we have to make this decision.  Our youth who are coming of age, what will they be taught in the school system concerning sexuality?  Probably along the lines of just as when you purchase a car, you look under the hood first, right?  Everyone looks under the hood before they buy the car, so pre-marital sex is normal.  The problem is that in the Bible, God doesn’t approve of that, so if I go that route with that philosophy, then I am at enmity with God, but if I embrace God’s model of sexuality, chastity; abstinence until marriage, and I reject what the school system is teaching — safe sex, to me this is akin to setting up a bar in the public school system and teach them how to mix drinks correctly since they are going to drink alcohol.  So, if I reject that mindset and embrace God’s value system, everyone in the public school system will think I am weird.  On the other hand, if I reject God’s system and embrace the world’s value system, then I am at enmity with God.  This is James’ point here: you have to stand up for something at some point in your life.  All of us are called to make decisions like these all of the time, whether I will march according to the world’s value system or to God’s.  James says that true spirituality avoids worldliness because it puts one at enmity with God.

Now, we get to a verse we haven’t covered yet, so everything we have covered preceding this is introduction.  James 4:5, the second consequence is worldliness is that it alienates the Holy Spirit, who is inside of us.  “Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:He jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us?” We have in today’s church age, privileges with the Holy Spirit that those in Old Testament times could not even dream of.  This is how the Spirit operated in Old Testament times even through the ministry of Christ right up to the day of Pentecost.  These verses summarize the Spirit’s operation; this was written 1,000 years before the time of Christ.  1 Samuel 16:13-14, “So, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him [David] in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon (an important preposition, upon] from that day forwardAnd Samuel set out and went to Rahma [Samuel having anointed David].  14 Now the Spirit of the Lord left Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrified him.”  So, this is the great Saul-David exchange in the book of 1 Samuel.  Both men, I am convinced, are believers who we will see in heaven.  But the Spirit came upon David, not in, but upon.  Then it says that the Spirit left Saul, so the Spirit could come upon people temporarily for certain tasks such as David’s appointment as the first king, and the Spirit could also leave people when God no longer had a specific task for them.  In this case, the Spirit is coming upon David to enable him to be King.

Compare that to what Jesus said in the upper room where He signaled a change that was about to take place in the work of the Holy Spirit.  To His disciples in the upper room,  in John 14:16-17, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Greek word for Helper is the ‘paraclete’ or the One who comes alongside to assist, speaking of the Spirit], so that He [notice the Spirit is a person, He] may be with you forever, [see how different that is from Saul’s experience where the Spirit left him?  Jesus is saying that there is coming a time, and I think this started on the day of Pentecost where the Spirit is with you forever, and that becomes the basis of our belief that once saved, always saved, because if the Spirit is inside of you, He is inside of you forever as a New Testament Christian]… 17 the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive [that is why the world is marching to a different value system because they don’t have the Spirit], because it does not see Him or know Him; but you [the eleven] know Him because He remains with you [they knew about the Spirit because the Spirit was active in the Old Testament, and you can see that with Saul and David, so they were aware of the Spirit’s involvement in the affairs of man, but Jesus is signaling a change of rules about to happen] and will be in you.”  Totally different than what happened with David where the Spirit came upon him temporarily.  With you and me, as church age believers, the Holy Spirit is not upon us, He is inside of us because the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and He is inside of us forever.  So, if you had announced these workings in Old Testament times, they would not even have been able to fathom the riches that we have.

See slide on the Work of the Spirit in the Old Testament (32:07 into video) and even through the ministry of Christ.  Oftentimes, people received the Spirit after they believed.  Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness.  It doesn’t say there in Genesis 15:6 that he received the Holy Spirit as a package deal because the Spirit oftentimes came upon someone after they were believers to empower them to do a task.  The tabernacle workers, ?Bezalel and (I always forget the other guy’s names), had tremendous ability in carpentry because the Spirit per Exodus 31:3, came upon them for that task.  And the Spirit could leave them when the task was completed.  Is that true today:  does the Spirit come upon people after they are saved?  No, He does not.  Paul says that if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, He does not belong to Christ, so there is scenario today where you believe and you get the Spirit later.  The Spirit takes residence in us at the point of salvation. 

A second category:  For how long does the Spirit dwell?  In the prior age, as in the case of Saul and other biblical characters, for example, Samson, the Spirit of the Lord departed from him and other characters as well — the Spirit came upon people temporarily.  That is why David in the Psalm 51:11` said, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”  Do you pray that prayer?  I hope not.  David had to because of the Spirit’s coming upon people temporarily.  Compare that to today where the Spirit is inside of us forever.  There is no scenario where you can lose the Holy Spirit once you are saved.

Who was indwelt?  In the prior age, not every single believer was indwelt by the Spirit.  Some were temporarily and they weren’t even indwelled, the Spirit came upon them to complete a task; that is why Joel predicts that the day will come when the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh per Joel 2:28.  If the Spirit was already being poured out on all flesh, all of God’s people, then Joel 2:28 wouldn’t be much of a prophecy, but Joel predicts a time when the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh.  That is important because Joel wrote that during a time when the Spirit was not being poured out on all flesh.  Compare that to today where every single person who has trusted in Christ for salvation at the point of faith alone in Christ alone is instantaneously indwelt and baptized by the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Corinthians 12:13, says “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”  In the church age, we are all baptized meaning that we are taken by the Holy Spirit and identified with Christ’s body, and the Spirit has indwelt all of us who are believers in Christ.  That is not the way it worked in the prior age, but it does work this way today.  By the way, the church to whom he wrote that, 1 Corinthians, was not exactly a model church.  In fact, some refer to 1 Corinthians as 1 Californians because you have a totally messed up church here.  They are fighting with each other in 1 Corinthians 1-4; incest, 1 Corinthians 5 and they’re suing each other and shacking up with the temple prostitutes in 1 Corinthians 6; there is rampant divorce and remarriage in 1 Corinthians 7; the stronger brothers are flaunting their freedom in the presence of the weaker brothers in 1 Corinthians 8-10; they are drunk at the Lord’s table in 1 Corinthians 11.  In 1 Corinthians 12-14, they are taking the tongue talkers and placing them on a pedestal without interpretation, and Paul says that if an unbeliever were to come in here right now, they would think that you are stark-raving mad in the name of the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Corinthians 15, they are denying something that we will celebrate this Sunday, the concept of the resurrection; not a minor doctrine.  So, what do you do with this crowd?  They were still believers in Christ.  They were indwelt by the Holy Spirit; read through

1 Corinthians; Paul never says, ‘You all wouldn’t act that way if you were Christians.’  What he says is ‘Do you not understand that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you forever.  And when you go visit the Temple prostitute, then you are bringing the Holy Spirit into that sin.’  He uses their privileges with the Spirit as a basis for warning them about their fleshly choices.

Back to the book of James 4:5, “Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?”  Now we believe that James is writing to a Christian audience also because he says here that the Spirit is inside of you.  He doesn’t just say that Spirit is inside of you, He says, “the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.”  When James says, ‘us’ he is identifying with his audience; he is saying that just as the Spirit is in me, and we all believe the Spirit was in James, the author of this book, the Spirit is inside of you.  This is why in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul says, “Or do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought for a price, therefore, glorify God in your body.”  That is why you don’t visit the Temple prostitute because you are dragging the Spirit of God into that sin.  He doesn’t say, ‘Too bad, you guys lost the Spirit.’  You cannot lose the Spirit because the Spirit is in us forever.

The point that James is getting at here is that the Spirit that is inside of me is not interested in a corner room somewhere.  He isn’t interested in living in the broom closet; He wants all of us, and that is why it says, “He jealously…” {In this sense, God gets jealous].  You become the worldly, and you tell the Holy Spirit to go and live in the backroom somewhere, then the Spirit gets jealous.  The Spirit doesn’t leave you because he is in you forever, but He gets jealous and says, ‘I want to come into the living room, into the kitchen.  I want to sit down for family dinner, but I can’t do that with a worldly Christian because he marches to a different value system than God’s.  So, when we become worldly, we alienate the Spirit inside of us.  Maybe a better way to say that is that we shrink His influence that He would like to have.

So tonight, I will go home, and I may have a little difficulty falling asleep after Bible study, so just to relax, I will channel surf, which is not the most spiritual thing I can do.  Inevitably, something will come on TV that I probably shouldn’t watch; it will be violent, have sexual overtones, so the Holy Spirit will say to me, ‘Yeah, you can watch that if you want, but I will go over here in the broom closet; I will not be involved in that.’  So, I took the Spirit who jealously desires all of me, and I just limited His influence, and that becomes a consequence of worldliness.

Consequence #1 is that I develop enmity with God.

Consequence #2 is that I alienate the Spirit inside of me.

So, we end up committing certain sins that can only be committed against the Spirit.  By my count, and maybe there are more, but I was trying to think through this, what are the sins that a Christian can commit against the Holy Spirit?  One sin is that we grieve the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:30 says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  The sealing of the Spirit is on you forever, so if you become worldly then the Spirit becomes sad because the Spirit is a person, right?  The Holy Spirit is not like the force in Star Wars, an impersonal source of energy; He is a member of the Trinity who has emotions and feelings.  That’s why Jesus, if I can back up here for a minute, in John 4:17, “…the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.”  Notice how He is referred to as Him, not ‘it’ or ‘that.’  If it is an impersonal source of energy, you would just say it or that, but if it is the Holy Spirit, you call them He or Him, which is the same personal pronoun that Jesus would use to speak or refer to Peter.  Just as Peter is a person with feelings, so is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the eternally existent third member of the Trinity.  I like to refer to Him as the forgotten member of the Trinity because we don’t talk about Him too much, and those who talk about Him a lot will sometimes put Him on a pedestal that He doesn’t want to be on.  The Spirit directs attention to the Son.  The Spirit is akin to (pardon the crassness of this, Ed McMahon on the Johnny Carson show, and I won’t do the rendition}.  Until Ed McMahon got his own sweepstakes, then he bottomed out, but until prior to getting his own sweepstakes, was trying to attract attention to Johnny.  ‘Here’s Johnny.’  That is what the Holy Spirit is to Jesus — the Spirit always wants to put the spotlight on Jesus.  That is why, by the way when you walk into a church, you can tell if the Holy Spirit is in charge, because of who is getting the glory.  The senior pastor and the marketing strategy of the church?  No, the Spirit won’t be involved in that; the Spirit will attract glory to Jesus Christ.  Anything the Spirit gets influence over will immediately attract attention to Jesus, so that is why in some groups within Christianity, it is evident that they’re out of balance because their whole focus is on the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit Himself would be embarrassed by what they are doing.  So, the Spirit is an actual He or Him, not the force, not an impersonal source of energy.  When we become worldly, we grieve the Holy Spirit inside of us.

The second sin that we can commit against the Holy Spirit is to quench Him per 1 Thessalonians 5:19, which says, “Do not quench the Holy Spirit.”  Quenching the Holy Spirit, say some translations, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”   When I become worldly, the Spirit doesn’t leave me, it is akin to not only telling Him to move into the broom closet, but like throwing water on 25-75% of His fire, quenching Him.  By the way, sadly, Elder Boards do this all the time, hopefully not here at Sugarland Bible Church, but I have watched Elder Boards destroy churches by making decisions in a business mindset rather than a Spirit-filled mindset, or they try to cram the church into some kind of marketing model, or elevate people to positions of influence within the church based on their success or pedigree or degrees in the world, not on the criteria that God gives.  This happens all the time particularly in North America, and I have been in situations, where, repeatedly, you see a decision from the Elder Board, where you can say, ‘Well, that was the Board and not the Lord.”   They simply quench the Spirit.  So, God help us to understand this.  So, Paul says that the second sin that we can commit against the Spirit is to quench Him.

The third sin we can commit against the Holy Spirit is resisting the Spirit.  To his audience, Stephen said in Acts 7:51, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” He told them, ‘You always resist the Spirit.  In other words, the Spirit wants to do A and you want to do B; the Spirit wants to go this direction and you want to go the opposite direction.’  So, what is the consequence of worldliness?

What is worldliness?  It is marching to the value system of satan?  Can a Christian do that?  Yes, they can, or this warning wouldn’t be here.  Are there consequences for that?  Yes.  Are one of those consequences the loss of salvation?  No, because the Spirit is inside of you forever.  Then, what are the consequences?  You can be at enmity against God, and then you commit the sins against the Holy Spirit that in inside of you, quenching, grieving and resisting Him, shrinking His influence.

I want to show you something interesting here that Dr. Toussaint pointed out when I was his student.  He did a trick on us.  He asked, ‘Can anyone find this quote in the Old Testament?’   The quote is in James 4:5,He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.”  Someone find that in the Old Testament.  I will save you a headache because it isn’t in the Old Testament.  There is no verse in the Old Testament that says that.  It isn’t really quoting a verse, it is expressing a common idea that is replete throughout the Old Testament that the Spirit, when He takes up residence in a person or begins to influence a person, isn’t interested in living in the broom closet.

James 4:6, and with this, we will stop.  We have seen the consequences of worldliness.  What is the cause of it?  Why do Christians become worldly?  James 4:6, “But He gives a greater grace.  Therefore, it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”  What causes worldliness?  It is a simple word that begins with P and ends with ride.  That quote is in Proverbs 3:34 is probably what he is alluding to, “Though he scoffs at the scoffers, yet he gives grace to the needy.”  But pride is the killer; it is what causes us to be worldly because pride says, ‘I know better than God.  Yes, I know that God has His standards for sexuality but what they taught me in the public school system about checking under the hood before you buy the car, sounds so much better, and I like that better because it appeals to my sin nature.’ So, what I just did was to substitute my human viewpoint for God’s.  The moment that I did that was when I bought into worldliness, which makes me at war with God and it alienates the Spirit that is inside of me.  Pride is the killer; it is what got Lucifer thrown out of heaven with the five, “I will” statements he made in Isaiah 14:12-15.  I will:

  1. Ascend to heaven
  2. Raise my throne above the stars of God
  3. Sit enthroned on the Mt. of the Assembly
  4. Ascend above the tops of the clouds
  5. Make myself like the Most High

Which pronoun do you see repeatedly here?  ‘I’ and ‘my.’  Different from what Jesus said, ‘Not My will be done but Your will be done.’  Lucifer is doing the exact opposite, and that is why his system designed as it is:  to get people to make decisions independent of God; to do what is right in their own eyes rather than what God said.  It is as old as Genesis 3:5, where the serpent said to the woman, “For God knows that in the day you eat form it your eyes will be opened, and you will like God knowing good and evil.”  ‘After all, your intellect is so superior, you can become God yourself; do things your own way and live life on your own terms.’  That is how worldliness entered our world.

How does it go for people in the Bible when they become inflated with pride?   Proverbs 6:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”  See the word spirit?  Pride is an attitude of the heart before you physically do anything.  Satan or Lucifer, in Isaiah 14:12-15, said in his heart, so that is why the Bible places so much emphasis on the heart: ‘Guard your heart for out of it spring the issues of life.’  I think that is Proverbs 4:23.

1 Peter 5:5 says, “…GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”  That is why verse 6, says “But He gives a greater grace.”  Notice the word greater in front of grace.  In Greek, mega in front of charis.  Why would he say ‘greater grace?’  Because these people already had grace since they were believers.  Now he is saying, ‘Do you want greater grace?  Then avoid worldliness which is rooted in pride because God is opposed to the proud.  James is saying what a tragedy it is to receive the grace of God for salvation, but then become worldly where you are now being opposed by the God who gave you grace to begin with!  Why not get the double grace; the ‘greater grace?’  Why not receive Christ for salvation and not become worldly and stay humble so God can bless you rather than oppose you.

I have here a list of the Hall of the Humbled — some of the people in the Bible who were lifted up with pride, and how God dealt dramatically with each one, beginning with Satan himself.

See slide on Hall of the Humbled at the 57:47 mark of video.  By the way, this relates to the elder selection process because 1 Timothy 3:6 says, “Do not appoint a novice to a position of eldership in the ministry lest he fall under the condemnation of satan.”  Lifted up with pride, followed by the fall.

Uzziah, lifted up with pride in 2 Chron 26:16, he decided to become a priest, which he wasn’t supposed to do.  He is the King, not the priest.  The King comes from Judah, the priests come from the tribe of Levi.  But like Saul before him, Uzziah got tired of waiting on the Lord.  So, he went into the Temple and usurped privileges that belonged only to the priest; he defied what God said and he was smote from head to toe with leprosy.  He spent the rest of his days as a leper living in an isolated house somewhere.  In 2 Chronicles 26:16 says that what caused that was pride.

Herod, in Acts 12:20-23, liked the sound of his own voice.  We don’t have any politicians like that, do we.  He was giving his speech and the people said, ‘The voice of God and not man.’  He said, ‘Yeah, I am a pretty good speaker.’  “And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten head to toe with worms and died.”

Paul, the apostle, struggled dramatically with pride, I believe.  It is hard for me to believe a man as gifted as Paul was, didn’t have pride issues, particularly when you are taken to the third heaven and hear things that people just don’t hear.  Because of those surpassing revelations, to keep Paul in a place of dependence and usability, because  God won’t use you if you are prideful per 1 Peter 5:5 that says that God opposes the proud, God had to keep Paul in a state of humiliation through a thorn in the flesh.  Whatever it was, it hurt; we don’t know exactly what it was, but a thorn hurts.   It was bad enough where Paul didn’t just ask but he pleaded with God three times to take it away!  God said, ‘No, My grace is sufficient for you.  What I will do is to give you grace to bear up under it, but I won’t take it away, because if I do, your life and mind will be inflated with pride, and I can’t use you anymore.’

Here are several verses, most of which we covered that deal with the subject of pride, and I think we have actually covered all of these, so we don’t have to go through them.

  1. Proverbs 16:18
  2. Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezek 28:12-17
  3. 1 Timothy 3:6
  4. Acts 12:21-23
  5. 2 Cor 12:7
  6. 1 Peter 5:5

What is the bottom-line time as he deals with worldliness or concludes his thoughts on worldliness?  The cause of worldliness is pride, and don’t become worldly, Christian, is what he is saying, because that will put you at enmity with God per James 4:4, and it will alienate the Holy Spirit inside of you, 4:5.

I love this about the Bible — that it is not a book about ‘don’ts’ although we interpret it that way.  It is true that there are a lot of ‘don’ts in the Bible, but it is a book of ‘betters.’  Instead of worldliness and wrangling, he is what to embrace:  spiritual wisdom, a better substitute.  I am not really sure the world really hears our message; they hear us saying: ‘Don’t be a homosexual’ don’t get an abortion, etc.,’ and I think that a lot of that is appropriate, but we need to tell people that there is something better for them than being a homosexual or whatever sin that besets people.  It is a relationship with Jesus.

That is it.