13 Overcoming Spiritual Idolatry

James 4v1-10

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 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”? But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. (ESV)

We see from the Passage before us:

  1. Warring Passions (v1-6)
    What causes quarrels? Our warring passions within us. During these quarrels we must differentiate between problems of life and death. Life comes with challenges that stir quarrels amongst us. We must have consideration for others and think before we get angry with each other. The whole point of Christianity is that if we are saved we are different, a visible change in our behaviour should be evident. We also ask with the wrong motives – to spend on our passions! We must watch these worldly passions that make us an idolatrous people. How can we be friends with the world? Remember our God is a jealous God. Be careful of worldly pleasures. These worldly passions are due to concupiscence within us! See Romans 12, 1 Corinthians.

  2. Wise Principles (v7-10)
    These principles are impossible for us to apply by ourselves unless the Spirit of God within us helps us. 
    a) Submit to God – Glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Have you and are you submitting?
    b) Resist the devil – We need God to help us to resist the devil. Resist the devil and he will flee from you!
    c) Draw near to God – The Lord draws near when we draw near to Him.
    d) Cleanse your hands – Stay away from the filth in the world and cling to God.
    e) Be wretched, mourn and weep – Consider those around us and have empathy for people who are struggling and face difficult afflictions. Also, have contrition for our sin!
    f) Humble yourself before the Lord – Fear God and repent for your sins.