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Friend of the World, Enemy of God (9 of 11)
The introduction and parts of the message are influenced by Joel Gregory's, Faith Works.
Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote of a man who was dominated by the driving desire for self-gratification. To possess land was his highest pleasure. Someone promised him that he could own all the land he could walk around between sunrise and sunset on a given day. He began to walk at a normal pace and driven by his ambition, he began to accelerate, sprinting faster and faster. As the sun set he flung himself toward his destination. He reached the starting line as the last bit of light faded in the west. Exhausted, he died. The only land he got was a grave, 6 feet by 2 feet. Tolstoy's story underlines the raging power of the drive for self-gratification. Men and women die for their pleasure. "For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?" (Mk. 8:36).
James wrote to churches that were being divided by pleasure-seeking members. They were being worldly-minded. They were following the wisdom which is "earthly, unspiritual, demonic" (3:15) and this was showing itself in strife, confusion, and all kinds of evil.
Our main purpose in life is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. But there is another philosophy of life which affirms pleasure as the chief good in life. This philosophy says that the chief end of man is the gratification of self, not the glorification of God. The English word for this philosophy is "hedonism," a term that comes from the biblical word used twice in this passage. It is translated "cravings" or"lusts" in the KJV (v.1), and "desire" (v.3). As a word of warning and instruction, four things are said about this worldly way of life.
The passion for self-gratification . . .
1. Is the cause of wars and fightings (4:1-2)
"Wars and fights" refers to conflicts in the Christian community, although larger conflicts are certainly caused by ...
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