Are you an adulterer? I’m not asking if you’re unfaithful to your spouse; what I’m asking is if you’re unfaithful to your God. And as deleterious as adultery is to a marital relationship, adultery toward our relationship with God is so much more so because of its eternal portent.
“You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.” (James 4:4-5 NLT)
I sometimes think about what the world must have been like in the days of Noah that only eight people were spared, or in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that none but Lot’s family were saved. Then I think about our own times and wonder if we’re any better. The problem with objectivity is that you tend to lose it if you’re in the middle of whatever it is you’re trying to be objective about, and all of us are smack dab in the middle of this day and age.
Yet “the world”–the thought patterns and sinfulness commonly practiced by mankind since sin infected our existences–has always been there. The specialness of Christ is that He “…gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” (Galatians 1:3-4 NIV) Not to keep us in it–to rescue us from it.
Yes, we’re in it to begin with, but when we correctly understand His call on our lives, He pulls us out of it. Not physically, of course; we’re still alive. But emotionally, mentally, spiritually. And it doesn’t somehow happen “magically”–our sanctification is a very common sense process that happens as we obey how He instructs us to live and pull out of the “gook.”
But the problem is that most of the time we don’t really want to be pulled out of it. I just finished a wonderful time of fellowship and prayer earlier today, only to turn on Netflix’s The Crown–complete with its depictions of sins of various varieties. And I felt the call of Christ’s Spirit telling me not to, but did it anyway, rationalizing that it’s entertainment (or alternately at other times that we need to relax, or it’s history, or whatever other justifications we tell ourselves). And even though I didn’t approve of the sin–and tried to get past the “bad” parts–I grieved the Spirit; it injured my relationship with my God. And it was not good. And I sinned.
But am I alone? Am I the only one who has done this? I say this not to justify myself, but to show the strength of the pull of our “flesh”–and it can be strong, depending on how often we feed it. If we are accustomed to gratifying our every whim, it will be harder to say no. But if, through prayer and the ability God gives, we begin saying no to ourselves, we will get better at it.
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
(Romans 8:12-13 NIV)
Make no mistake, this is serious business because habitually giving in to that pull will result in our eternal death. Yet this is why Christ came–to save us from our sins, to give us the freedom to not give in. Granted, we will not be 100% sin-free this side of eternity, but even a superficial observation of the many giants of the faith reveal how much room there is for our own growth.
But why should I resist my urge to “enjoy” sin–to partake of it in any of the many forms it presents itself in? Because I cannot continue fellowshipping with it and fellowship with God too! It is like trying to have two husbands, like the nation of Israel that worshipped the true God in the temple, only to then go worship the idols in the groves. It doesn’t work! You can’t become the person God wants to make you into that way!
Yet somehow, today, even those of us in the church make excuses for ourselves as we try to sit on two horses. But we can’t–really; we can’t. At any given moment, we can turn to Christ or we can turn to the world; we can immerse ourselves in the pursuit of God, or we can immerse ourselves in the pleasures and distractions of sin. Distractions from what, you ask? From God, and our impoverished condition before Him, of course!
So, are you an adulterer or adulteress? Or are you going to take steps to actively get yourself out of whatever it is you’re into that is keeping you from growing closer to God? “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
(James 4:8, 10 NIV)
Help me draw near to You so that You will draw near to me! Help me be faithful to You!! Amen.