you adulterous people! do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the scripture says, “he yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? [james 4:4-5]
what makes an adulterer? in order for adultery to occur, there has to be a covenant between a man and a woman. when one party rejects and breaks that covenant through lusting after another outside of that covenant, they have committed adultery. many of us are adulterers. it is a sin against ourselves, our spouse, and our God, and so many others. thank the Lord for his grace upon grace!
when God calls us, he gives us a new heart of flesh. he calls us into covenant with himself. he gives us a new purpose in life, and a passion for his glory. he puts his Spirit within us to birth and feed that passion. however, as we have heard, the passions of our flesh still battle against the passion of the Spirit. they are at odds. but the Spirit is stronger than the flesh, and as we grow in him, the things of earth grow strangely dim. our flesh is subdued and we begin to joyfully submit to the ways of the Lord as our passion for them grows.
our adultery against our Lord and Savior is our lust after the things of the world. when we see the ways of the world and wish we could partake, or often times do partake, we break the covenant he has made with us. we sin against him, flirting with the way of death.
when this happens, it can end one of two ways. the first is for the true believer. the one who has been given the Spirit. as the Lord is jealous for the Spirit, the Spirit stirs and convicts, revealing the lust, driving us to repent and return to his joy. we have the Spirit forever, he will never leave us, and in his grace, he uses discipline to call us back to himself, for the sake of his name, because this covenant depends on the perfect blood of his Son, not on our ability to stay true. [hebrews 6:17-20] praise him for his mercy and grace he pours out on those who believe!
the second outcome is for the one who is not a true believer. [and before we go pointing any fingers, we must remember that we are not God and that we cannot see the heart of man. God chooses whom he chooses. we share his love and truth with all, we urge repentance, we long for reconciliation, but only the Spirit can do the work of salvation.] the one who is not a true believer may fool themselves and many others. they can participate in the things of God. they can be a part of the local body. they can even minister and do works in the name of Christ. [matthew 7:21-23] but these things do not save. believing in the sufficient blood of Jesus Christ, which leads to living a life of following him is what marks the true believer. the fruit of one shows life. the fruit of the other eventually shows death. for the latter, lusting after the world will eventually show their true love. a passion for themselves instead of a passion for their Savior. it may be subtle, or it may be obvious, but james makes it clear here. we cannot serve a passion for both.
so how do we know? how do we evaluate our own salvation? we cannot find our salvation by staring at ourselves, but by turning our eyes from ourselves and beholding the Savior! when we fix our eyes on Christ, we will continue living a life of repentance, we will listen to the convictions of the Spirit and return to his joy every time, again, and again, and again, until one day we are no longer restricted by our flesh but can live for eternity, in perfect unity with Christ, our husband!
so believer, listen to the Spirit who dwells in you! fix your eyes on your Savior in whom you have been given everything! reject the lusts of the flesh and the friendship with the world and cling to Christ. you have victory in him!
and unbeliever, come to Christ. he is offering his free gift of salvation to anyone who believes. his blood can cover every lust, every sin, every thought that comes from a hard heart. no one is beyond his reach. come to Jesus. he will give you rest.
come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest. take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for i am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [matthew 11:28-30]
~ arwen eastman