Monday, March 19, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 27 ~ Adulterous People

Day 27 ~ Adulterous People

James 4:4-5 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?

Adulterous people? Geez, James, ease up! Why the strong language? This is a verse loaded with language that we must be very careful to understand. To understand the language of "adultery" James employs, we must spend some time in the Old Testament where the term is used to describe idolatry (Read Hosea 1-3). God loved Israel like a husband loves his wife. He rescued here, protected her, provided for her, and cared for her with tender mercy. Israel responded by worshipping false gods, breaking God's law, and indulging their sinful desires with the very gifts God had provided for them. (Incidentally, adultery was a very appropriate analogy as worship of false gods consisted of fornication in the temples that belonged to those "gods.") God loved Israel with all His heart and she abused that love with other suitors who treated her shamefully. God was thus righteously jealous for Israel. He loved her, wanted to provide for her, and give her all things. But she sought pleasure in the world. Israel was cast off into exile as a result.

The people of God never learn. The church, as the new Israel, is called the bride of Christ in the New Testament (Eph. 5:21-33, Rev. 19:7, 21:2, 9). Yet, like our ancestors in the faith, we find ourselves seeking "friendship" with the world. Do not think that James is saying here that we should not enjoy goodness of God's creation. We are certainly to enjoy what God has made and rejoice in it. However, we are not to worship it. The creation is not supposed to replace God. When the gifts of God begin to replace God they become idols. When turned into idols money produces greed, sex becomes pornography, rest becomes laziness, gifts become trash. In our sin we turn the gifts that God gives-which are supposed to result in worship of God-into gods themselves, something to distract us from God. We do so because we love the immediate gratification they provide more than the grace of God! If we act this way, we are like the woman who marries a man for his money and not because she loves him.

Such a life will produce sorrow, frustration, and bitterness. Our idolatrous/adulterous eyes wander away from our heavenly Bridegroom who loves us and has given all things for us. As Paul says of Jesus when instructing husbands, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:25-27). We are a sinful, adulterous bride. But we have a Bridegroom who has washed us clean of our stains by giving Himself up for us. His love is all we need for in this love we lack nothing!

Confession: Dear Jesus, for the sake of your holy, innocent, and bitter sufferings, have mercy on me. I confess to you that I have wandered from your love in thought, word, and deed. Forgive me, again, and teach me to cling to you in faith, to trust your love, and to realize that you are all that I need. AMEN.

Challenge: Read Hosea 1-3 and memorize 2:19-20. Rejoice that this is what Jesus has done for you on the cross and in your baptism!

Pastor Bob

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