FOREVER TRIUMPHANT, Day 17—Lenten Devotionals
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 Unfaithful creatures! 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. 5 Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. 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 purify your hearts, you men of double mind. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. James 4:3-10
Yes, a host of enemies come from our old nature, the “flesh”, within. But there is also a structure of pride, party spirit, and group-righteousness without. This structure, a sinful foundation in every culture (note: culture, just like individual humans, bears at the same time glorious traces of God’s image and the horrible disfigurement of rebellion against God’s loving will—a rebellion that the Bible calls “sin.”). Yes, God DID love the world and send his only-begotten Son to save it (and to redeem culture), but just as humans left to their own devices live in enmity with God, so does the world.
FJ HUEGEL: The world with its vain pomp, its greed of gold, its pleasure madness, its lust for power, its determination to domineer, its racial discriminations, its silly pride, its strife and its defiance of God and neglect of the great salvation provided by His only-begotten Son, the Christ—the world to which Paul said he had been crucified inasmuch as it had crucified his Savior, is forever at variance with the life which is from Christ. There is no mitigating this variance. No amount of dressing up the world with the attainments of learning, art, and culture can tone down in the least this deep-seated, implacable variance. This sin-cursed world crucified its God-given Redeemer and thereby laid bare its wicked heart. The stuff that the world is made of even at its best when it speaks the language of culture, hides behind the beauties of art and feigns friendship with God, is all laid bare in its true nature by the verities of Calvary; for there it was that the flesh, which as Paul says is enmity toward God, came to its consummate expression.
PRAYER: Dear God,
I have felt the attraction of the world in the beautiful things of my country and my culture. I love the flag, the traditional songs, the food, the holidays, and the history and heritage that we share. But I am driven to recognize that in my country and my culture there is an abundance of “vain pomp”, “greed of gold”, “pleasure madness”, “lust for power”, “determination to domineer”, “racial discrimination”, “silly pride”, “strife”, “defiance of God”, and “neglect of the great salvation” won by Jesus. Drive me to recognize that if I am to be victorious in Jesus, I must utterly renounce any share in the pride and victory of country. Show me also that those who so humble themselves serve their country best because they become God’s instruments to resist the Devil. Grant indeed that we may so live in submission to God’s will that the Devil would flee from our land. Amen!