"Cheating on God"

Preached by on January 16, 2011
— From the series,

An affair! It sounds horrible. Why would anyone cheat on God? God sees us in a marriage covenant. Like the Jews of old, we, too, can be guilty of cheating on God.

Cheating On God

(James 4:1-10)

Introduction:

A.  If you were to examine humanity and seek to determine our some of greatest weaknesses, I believe we would find that selfishness or self-centeredness as one of mankind’s greatest sins.  It is so easy to make things about me.  Most of us really do like ourselves.  We may not always like the consequences of our actions, but we like ourselves enough to enjoy the sin for season.  Another weakness that goes in hand with selfishness is envy.

B.  God’s word is living and active.  It is able to cut to the very soul of a person and bring them back from the pits of sin into the arms of righteousness.  But there was a problem in the early church.  James wrote a letter to Christian people dispersed throughout the Mediterranean world.  But the church was not behaving as it should.  Christians were under trials, and often when those trials come, tempers follow.  Sometimes we take out the pressure we have on the people we love.

C.  Jesus understood the positive side.  He taught that all men will know who are his disciples by the love those disciples show.  He prayed for his apostles and for all of us who would believe that we would be one, even as he and the father are one.

D.  But there are times when our weaknesses of selfishness and envy rise and even among Christians trouble comes.

I.  Fights and Quarrels

A.  James begins by asking the question to get his readers to think.  What is that causes fights and quarrels among you?  Churches can be in conflict when Christian people stop thinking like Christ and in their own demonic wisdom start turning on one another.  When Paul gave us the great letter of joy to the Philippians, he talks about two women in the church who were fighting and their quarrel was hurting the church.  These two women were listed as contended at Paul’s side in the cause of the gospel and whose names were in the book life.  But they were not acting in a way that was bringing glory to God, instead, they were hurting the cause they had been one helping.  When we fight amongst ourselves God hurts.

B.  James gives us his own answer as to why Christians fight just like people of the world.  It is because we are selfish people.  Our own passions become our downfall.  Whether you interpret this passage to mean the conflict is within the church body or within individual Christians, the end result is the same.  When our passions, our desires, our lust take over the body – personally or collectively – suffers.

C.  Remember, this is to Christian people that James writes these words.  As Christians we kill and covet, quarrel and fight.  Brethren these things ought not to be.  I know there are fellow Christians that can push your buttons, but you decide if you ignite.  No one makes you do some or say something you shouldn’t.  People can place circumstances around us, but we are responsible for what we do, say and think.  The conclusion that James brings to this opening is that what we seek we do so for our own pleasure.  It becomes all about me.

II.  Spiritual Adultery

A.  When Christians behave in unchristian way there is a reason.  James tells us that we become friends with the world.  Paul tells us that bad company corrupts good character.  Friendship with the world draws us away from our covenant relationship with God.

B.  The reality is that commit spiritual adultery.  We cheat on God.  Why would we not take our vows more seriously?  When we were buried in baptism, we professed that we died with Christ.  When we were raised in baptism we professed that we were raised as one with Christ.  The church is referred to as the bride of Christ.  When Paul talks about the relationship between husband and wife he uses the relationship between Christ and the church as the example.

C.  Becoming a Christian is far more than just having our sins removed, it is making a covenant bond with Christ.  It is a marriage between us and him and when we start to live in a worldly manner is like cheating on your spouse.  We hear the stories and sometimes are in great shock as to why someone would hurt their spouse so deeply, but James takes that analogy and applies it to Christians who turn to the world as their friend instead of turning to God.

D.  God desires so much to have us be faithful to him.  He wants that relationship and even in our sin provides a way out for us.

III.  Humble Repentance

A.  The facts of the matter is we have to choose to whom we will submit.  To submit to God he calls us to resist the devil.  When we do, he will flee.  When we submit to God he will come near to us.  it sounds easy, but it’s not.

B.  Too often people should run to the arms of a God who forgives, but instead find themselves simply backing away from the fires of hell.  Brethren, there is a difference.  I don’t simply back away from sin, I must turn from it and run to God.  I need to get out the pig-pen and go home again.  But to do so is humbling.

C.  Wash your hands, purify your hearts, grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughing about your sins to mourning about your sins.  Humble yourself before God and he will lift you up.

D. No marriage relationship can be restored from infidelity until the one who committed adultery humbly repents.  Change must take place in order for a restoration of the union to be complete.

Conclusion:

A.  Israel played the harlot, and in doing so suffered the consequences.  Let us as a church not become like Israel of old.  Let us see our sinful passions that cause the problems we have between us as just that – sinful passions.  Let us not envy or covet.  Let us not seek only what self desires or flirt with the world and carry on a spiritual affair.  Let us submit to God.  Let us humble ourselves before Him, for God gives grace to humble.

B.  You may feel the weight of sin upon you.  If that is the case, then I beg you to know that God desires you to come home.  He hates your sin, but loves you and wants you to be restored to him.  Humble repentance is not what the world would teach.  It means to face your own shame by claiming God’s grace.  Humble repentance means to accept that without God you are nothing.  Don’t back away from the fires of hell, but turn and run into the arms of the one who loves you.  If we can help in your spiritual journey, then come as we stand and sing.