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The Tragedy of Divided Allegiance

(James 4:1-17)

Lesson 5 -- third quarter 1996
June 30, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

From wisdom to foolishness. From spirituality to carnality. From peace to strife. From purity to lust. From humility to pride. From victory to defeat. From living faith to dead works. Perhaps this lesson strikes you more as real life than the previous one. Welcome, then, to life on the cutting edge...as God's Word and Kingdom slice unerringly through this present darkness.

God must be first. Because He will be first...someday. So why not make Him first now? How foolishly we live and think at times! We set ourselves up for progressive and ultimate defeat by daring to challenge God's absolute sovereignty. Why not bend before Him willingly now, while we can make it count in our lives and in the lives of other mortal beings about us?

God must be only. How dare we say He is first...among other competing (and at times equally attractive) lords and interests?! Jesus is Lord. See that period there?! That's it! That sentence stops right there! Banish everything and anything that would dare raise its hideous head to challenge Him. And don't leave yourself out. When I begin to make allowance and room for ME, I fling wide the gate and breach the walls that are supposed to keep all anti-Christ competition out of my life's throne room.

"Me? Adulterer? Enemy of God? Such strong language! Such foul language to describe me! I hate the sound of it--despise it. I'll fight the label and deny its application to me." Ever think that way? I have. And so often, it's just a bunch of hypocritical, defensive theatrics.

Because we befriend the world so readily, frequently, happily.

Let's make this plain. Our flesh loves the world, its stuff and its system of values. Our flesh swoons, "Why pursue God's Kingdom when this kingdom here and now has so much beauty to offer? Oh, what a place to live and enjoy! Why be distracted by anything else?!"

Ask the Spirit of God to show you yourself as you lived this past week. Well, maybe that's too much for now. Settle for yesterday, just as an introduction (to last week, last month, last year, your whole life).

Whose friend are you? To what are you attached? Why do you live the way you do? Which values matter to you? What are you trying to accomplish in this life? For what do you live? Who and what are really number one in your life--the object of your life search? What makes a good day for you?

If you were to die now (you get tired of such questions because they are so remote and unreal, right?), how would you feel? Like you missed a lot of yet-untapped joys and pleasures, like you were denied a full life here on earth? Or would you feel promoted to as-yet-unheard-of things, to a real life in God's heavenly Kingdom?

Wholehearted, singlehearted devotion to God dethrones self. When that happens, conflict with other people becomes an increasingly tough thing to relish and even accomplish. Our purposes in petitioning God go through a Psalm 51 cleansing. Our relationship to the world becomes more and more distant. Humility and the accompanying grace for godly living become some of our most distinguishing characteristics.

Seems unreal, right? Yeah. But it needn't be. You see, these things really do happen. To the friends of God.

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