11 Avoid Adultery James 4:1-10


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Avoid Adultery James 4:1-10 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/avoid-adultery-tim-bond-sermon-on-holiness-49444.asp

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11 Avoid Adultery James 4:1-10

  1. 1. Avoid Adultery James 4:1-10 <br />Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon<br />http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/avoid-adultery-tim-bond-sermon-on-holiness-49444.asp <br />
  2. 2. One summer a young boy from Minneapolis went to stay with his cousin in St Paul for a couple weeks. The Church his cousin’s family attended had Vacation Bible School those weeks so of course the cousins attended it. <br />When the boy returned home his parents wanted to know all about the fun he must have had going to VBS with his cousin. <br />
  3. 3. He said they had a lot of fun doing crafts & playing games, but he was kind of upset about the Bible stories. <br />“What was wrong,” his Dad asked? “They kept talking about St Paul this & St Paul that, but the teacher never said nothing about Minneapolis!”<br />
  4. 4. One of the most common Bible characters for children to learn about is Samson. Kids love to hear about the guy who was so powerful that nobody could beat him up. His physical strength was so great that he was able to bring a huge building down by pushing on the columns. <br />
  5. 5. Kids in Bible classes learn how Delilah tricked Samson into letting his hair be cut, and how Samson lost his strength because of that. Kids would think it was like magic, that there was something about Samson’s hair that mysteriously gave him strength.<br />
  6. 6. Well it’s possible to understand it like that when you’re a kid, but as an adult the magical hair idea sounds a little like the talking mirror in Snow White. But if you go back and read the story of Samson in Judges 13-16 you’ll see that the story isn’t about magical hair at all. <br />
  7. 7. Samson’s story is about a man who was supposed to be totally set apart for God’s service, but who never completely gave himself to God. Oh, he toyed with following God, but he had a wandering eye, and every time a choice arose where he had to decide whether to follow God’s will or do his own thing, Samson almost always, in his pride and arrogance, did his own thing.<br />
  8. 8. We first learn about who Samson is supposed to be before he is even born. <br />Judges 13:2 NET There was a man named Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe. His wife was infertile and childless. 3 The LORD's angelic messenger appeared to the woman and said to her, "You are infertile and childless, but you will conceive and have a son. <br />
  9. 9. 4 Now be careful! Do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 5 Look, you will conceive and have a son. You must never cut his hair, for the child will be dedicated to God from birth. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines."<br />
  10. 10. We can learn a lot about Samson in those verses. One of the main things you learn is about the lifestyle he is supposed to live. He is going to be a special man, a Nazirite. The Old Testament prescribed that a person who took a nazirite vow wasn’t supposed to drink alcohol, and they weren’t supposed to do anything that would make them ceremonially unclean like touch the dead body of a person or an animal. <br />
  11. 11. If they did there was a prescribed ritual that they had to go through to become ceremonially clean again. A nazirite also wasn’t supposed to have his hair cut. Those rules might sound strange to us, but they were a way to distinguish a person who was totally set apart to God’s service. Usually a nazirite vow was a temporary thing, something that a person did for a portion of their life.<br />
  12. 12. However, there were special cases when God determined that Israel needed a leader who would be dedicated in His service. When that time came, God would command that a man be set apart as a nazirite for life even before birth. John the Baptist and Samuel were two of those special people. Samson was another.<br />
  13. 13. Because of Samson’s special responsibility, “He will begin to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines.” God gave him enormous physical strength. Evidently, he didn’t look like a pro wrestler all bulked up on steroids, but he was so powerful that he could defeat enemies with his bare hands. One time he picked up the jawbone of a donkey and killed 1000 men with it.<br />
  14. 14. I’d like to see anyone from the WWF try to do that! But when you read about Samson’s life, in spite of His incredible potential as a leader set apart by God before birth, in spite of his special gift of miraculous strength, he never became what he could have been. Samson’s life is a textbook case study of unreached potential.<br />
  15. 15. The reason was, Samson loved to flirt with the enemy. He was called by God, before birth, for a special job. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines. It was his job to start driving these pagan people out of Israel’s Promised Land. But the Philistine lifestyle and culture captivated Samson. Now we have to understand a little background.<br />
  16. 16. The Philistines were a sea going people originally from Greece, Crete, or, as some think, the Delta of Egypt who migrated to Palestine several hundred years before God gave the Promised Land to Israel. Sometimes when we think of the Philistines we only think of Goliath, a knuckle dragging, nine-foot tall thug. But that’s not a true picture of what the Philistines were like. They had a highly developed culture.<br />
  17. 17. The Philistines had built great cities, where there was a tremendous night-life to enjoy. Their women were sophisticated and beautiful. Not only that, they worshipped a pagan fertility god named Dagon, and part of their worship ritual was to have sexual relations with prostitutes.<br />
  18. 18. In contrast to that, Samson’s people from the tribe of Dan were nomads. When God gave Israel the Promised Land, they never completely took their part of the land, so they were suffering the consequences. They were very poor, basically living as slaves under Philistine rule. They lived in the mountains. Their settlements were more like refugee camps than cities. Their homes were mostly tents.<br />
  19. 19. Not only that, but the worship that the God of Israel prescribed was much different from Dagon’s worship. God’s people were to be sexually pure. <br />Samson’s problem was that he preferred Philistine life to life among God’s people. He demanded to be married to a Philistine. This is one time we know for sure Samson was following God’s will.<br />
  20. 20. Judges 14:4 NET Now his father and mother did not realize this was the LORD's doing, because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines (for at that time the Philistines were ruling Israel).<br />In the end this Philistine woman was given to another. Eventually she & her family were murdered because of Samson. <br />
  21. 21. It is never said he actually married Delilah but he loved her. He engaged in sexual relations with at least one Philistine prostitute & probably more .<br />He hung out in the Philistine cities, enjoying the night-life and the sophistication of their culture. He was a mighty warrior and on a few occasions he used the strength that God gave him to defeat many Philistines, but He never became everything God had set him apart to be.<br />
  22. 22. Remember, as a child Samson was set apart as a Nazirite: no strong drink, no dead bodies, no razor to the head. Well, over the course of his life he must have drunk plenty and he had killed so many people with his bare hands that they couldn’t even keep count any more. But the one thing he had maintained was that his hair had never been cut.<br />
  23. 23. It was a last vestige of his obedience to the vow he was supposed to maintain before God. <br />The Philistines were well aware of Samson’s power and position as a leader of Israel, so they offered a bribe to his lover Delilah to find out how he was so powerful. She snuggled up next to him and did her best to get him to tell her. <br />
  24. 24. He told her that a freshly made rope could bind him, then he told her that if his hair were braided he would become weak. Every time she learned that he had lied to her.<br />Judges 16:15 NET She said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you will not share your secret with me? Three times you have deceived me and have not told me what makes you so strong."<br />
  25. 25. 16She nagged him every day and pressured him until he was sick to death of it. 17 Finally he told her his secret. He said to her, "My hair has never been cut, for I have been dedicated to God from the time I was conceived. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be just like all other men."<br />
  26. 26. 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her his secret, she sent for the rulers of the Philistines, saying, "Come up here again, for he has told me his secret." So the rulers of the Philistines went up to visit her, bringing the silver in their hands. 19 She made him go to sleep on her lap and then called a man in to shave off the seven braids of his hair.<br />
  27. 27. She made him vulnerable and his strength left him. 20 She said, "The Philistines are here, Samson!" He woke up and thought, "I will do as I did before and shake myself free." But he did not realize that the LORD had left him. 21 The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze chains. He became a grinder in the prison. <br />
  28. 28. What a tragic downfall for a person who had so much potential! A man set apart for God’s service. Empowered by God with the gifts to lead His people and begin to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines. He winds up treading grain like an animal in the Philistine prison.<br />
  29. 29. I tell you that story because it so perfectly describes what James wants us to understand in today’s reading from his letter. According to James the biggest problems that we face don’t come from outside sources. It’s not the world, or the devil or other people that hold us back from living the kind of life God wants for us.<br />
  30. 30. Petty conflict, unfulfilled hopes and desires, James says they are the direct result of our unwillingness to submit ourselves to God. According to James when we become like Samson, when we in our pride seek self-fulfillment over humble service, we wind up far from where God wants us to be. When we are self-consumed rather than God consumed, then we will never be everything God longs for us to be, and we will never achieve the potential that awaits us as children of God.<br />
  31. 31. James 4:1 NET Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? 2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.<br />
  32. 32. 4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world's friend makes himself God's enemy. 5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, "The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning"? 6 But he gives greater grace.<br />
  33. 33. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." (Proverbs 3:34) 7So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.<br />
  34. 34. It is perhaps one of the ugliest words in our language. It’s a sinister word with a dark cloud looming all around it. The word has such an evil connotation that our society has sugar coated it by using other words in its place. An affair, a sexual liaison, a tryst, there are all kinds of ways to get around using the word, but it doesn’t make the reality any less ugly. Adultery is nasty.<br />
  35. 35. What makes the word adultery so ugly is not the sound it makes but the pain it represents. When you talk about adultery, you talk about a betrayal of trust at the highest level. Stealing, lying, coveting and all the other sins that the Ten Commandments prohibit cause much pain and certainly are evil, but the pain of adultery is more intense. <br />
  36. 36. It is the pain of someone who has placed themselves in a most vulnerable position, placed the most intimate portions of their life in the hands of another, only to have those precious things crushed by betrayal.<br />
  37. 37. Let’s take a closer look at this word adultery. The KJV translates it: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses” hence it seems there are two versions of the same word, one male & one female.<br />The male:<br />G3432 μοιχόςmoichosmoy-khos‘<br />Part of Speech: noun masculine<br />1) an adulterer 2) metaphorically one who is faithless toward God, ungodly<br />(Thayer Definition)<br />
  38. 38. The female:<br />G3428 μοιχαλίς moichalis moy-khal-is'<br />Part of Speech: noun feminine<br />1) an adulteress 2) as the intimate alliance of God with the people of Israel was likened to a marriage, those who relapse into idolatry are said to commit adultery or play the harlot 2a) fig. equiv. to faithless to God, unclean, apostate (Thayer Definition)<br />Gives you a whole different view of what the word adultery means doesn’t it?<br />
  39. 39. I wonder if you were offended when James pointed his bony finger at us and cried out “Adulterers....”<br />Certainly he could have been more tactful. Doesn’t he know that we’ve all made the grand sacrifice by coming out on this cold December morning to go to church?<br />
  40. 40. Surely he’s forgotten that many of us have given our lives to Jesus! Perhaps he has failed to realize that we read our Bible’s when there is time and that we give an offering whenever we can afford to!<br />If I didn’t know better, I’d think James must be talking to someone else. <br />But I do know better.<br />
  41. 41. You and I both know who he is talking to, and we know all too well why he is coming down so hard. It is because we are adulterers, guilty of the most heinous of sins. We have taken the gestures of intimacy, the absolute faithfulness of one who loves us more than we can ever imagine and we have treated them as if they were insignificant.<br />
  42. 42. We’ve allowed our eyes to wander from the passion we once felt for God, and we have all too often been seduced into a relationship with the world that will only cause us grief and pain. <br />• How many times do we get into a conflict with somebody, and rather than forgive and reconcile we nurture a grudge and avoid them all together?<br />
  43. 43. • How often, when we let our minds wander, do we fixate about the things we don’t have rather than giving thanks for the abundant blessings that God has poured into our lives?<br />• How frequently do we borrow, buy and binge because our wants are more important to us than our obedience to the one who has called us to serve, love and be generous.<br />
  44. 44. James has a word for those of us who act like that. He calls us “Adulterers.” We have let our eyes wander, we have been seduced into believing like Samson that we can do our own thing, live our lives as we please and somehow God will lag along and bail us out when we get in a mess. Samson learned the hard way the truth that James quotes in verse 6, "God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." (Proverbs 3:34)<br />
  45. 45. You know, those words cut both ways. On the one hand they are a warning for those who are proud, “You don’t want to be opposed by God.” On the other hand, they are a tremendous promise to the humble. God always gives grace to the humble who come to Him recognizing their failure and repenting of their pride. As the song says, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Even for us “Adulterers,” God is always faithful.<br />
  46. 46. And now, <br />the “rest of the story” of Samson. <br />Judges 16:22 NET His hair began to grow back after it had been shaved off. 23 The rulers of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate. They said, "Our god has handed Samson, our enemy, over to us."<br />
  47. 47. 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, "Our god has handed our enemy over to us, the one who ruined our land and killed so many of us!" 25 When they really started celebrating, they said, "Call for Samson so he can entertain us!" So they summoned Samson from the prison and he entertained them. They made him stand between two pillars.<br />
  48. 48. 26 Samson said to the young man who held his hand, "Position me so I can touch the pillars that support the temple. Then I can lean on them." 27 Now the temple was filled with men and women, and all the rulers of the Philistines were there. There were three thousand men and women on the roof watching Samson entertain. 28 Samson called to the LORD, "O Master, LORD, remember me!<br />
  49. 49. Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge against the Philistines for my two eyes!" 29 Samson took hold of the two middle pillars that supported the temple and he leaned against them, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. 30 Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!"<br />
  50. 50. He pushed hard and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it. He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life.<br />You remember that passage I read earlier about Samson’s purpose in life. He was set apart to God’s service with his Nazirite vow for the purpose of “He will begin to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines.”<br />
  51. 51. That last sentence is very important. He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life. It was only when Samson was willing to die to His own needs that He accomplished what God had set for Him to do. Unfortunately, it took God leaving him to suffer the consequences of His actions before He was willing to give himself fully to God.<br />
  52. 52. What will it take for you to be humbled enough to give yourself fully to God?<br />James is warning us to avoid the adultery in our lives by giving ourselves obediently over to the one who loves us enough to die on a cross. His words in verses 7-10 are both a challenge and a promise to anyone who will hear and obey them. Let me conclude the message with them.<br />
  53. 53. James 4:7 NET So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.<br />
  54. 54. It’s not too late! <br />Even when we’ve turned our back on God by putting other selfish things before Him, He is willing to put His gracious, loving arms back around us when we turn away from those selfish desires & run to Him pleading for His forgiveness.<br />