Yesterday we ended the post pondering how we can praise Him daily and continue to be filled with awe at His majesty and holiness: “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord—glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders? You raised Your right hand, and the earth swallowed our enemies. With Your unfailing love You lead the people You have redeemed. In Your might, You guide them to Your sacred home.” (Ex 15:11-13)
He continues to lead His people He has redeemed by His might, and in His unfailing love, to His sacred home in heaven that Jesus Himself has gone to prepare a place for us. If we become still, abide in Him and His Word and listen for His guidance, He will guide us every day to what He wants us to do for His glory. But we must walk away from the chains of sin, and not try to succumb to the yoke of sin again. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)
If we don’t submit ourselves to His Spirit’s transformation of us, then we are choosing to be friends with the world and become God’s enemies (James 4:4). Being friends with the world is about loving ourselves more than God, which is spiritual adultery to God. It is prideful. The translation “entity” means a hostility to God because self-love over love for God is idolatry. “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?'” (James 4:4-5)
To cheat on God by living according to the world’s system of self-reliance, refusing to let go of getting what we want, puts us in the category of God’s enemies. God is a jealous God, whose jealousy is righteous and holy. God is jealous for His relationship with His people because He passionately loves us and does not want us to be destroyed by idolatry.
“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” (Ex 20:4-6)
Even if we have been living as enemies of God, we haven’t outrun the grace of God. This grace is given to all who trust in Christ. Our sin is serious, devastating, and wicked, but God gives more grace. He forgives our sinfulness in Christ and continues to give us the good we have not earned. “And He gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’.” (James 4:6) Our refusal to trust God to provide what we need, what He wants for us, and our insistence on getting what we want for ourselves is an act of pride. We are attempting to be the God of our own lives. God will lovingly, jealously oppose us when we do so—but He will not reject us in Christ.
Instead, He calls us to humble ourselves and receive more grace from Him. He calls us to repent of the sin of self-reliance and demanding what we want and yield to Him, receiving with gratitude all the good He chooses to gives us and all the seemingly good He chooses to withhold. “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and He will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:7-10)
God is calling us back to the peaceful, faithful path of trusting Him. “I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14) He promises to lift us up if we humble ourselves before Him. For me, and I’m sure most of you, it is truly a daily struggle between flesh and spirit. Thankfully, He gives us more and more grace.