Welcome to the Onward Christian Soldiers Discipleship Class. I am Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society and pastor of Gospel Light House of Prayer International. The purpose of this time together is to teach young believers everything they need to know about their faith in Jesus Christ and provide them with the knowledge they need to live victorious Christian lives.
Our key Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Our lesson today is titled “How to Overcome Temptation, Part 43”
In this section of our Onward Christian Soldiers discipleship class, we are going to continue looking at specific temptations that are, as the Bible says, “common to man.” We are looking at what the Bible says about these sins so we can be aware of its dangers and so that we can hide Scripture in our hearts to use when we are tempted.
The sin that we are going to continue looking at today is the sin of “covetousness”. This is the second sin in a list of 12 temptations that comes from two sources — one ancient and one modern. The first source is a list that was developed by monks in the early church called “the seven deadly sins” or the “cardinal sins.” The second source is a Barna survey from 2011 which tracked the top temptations Americans admitted to struggling with.
We have already looked at 10 passages on this topic. Today, we are looking at James 4:1-6. (Remember, the text of this lesson is made available online after each class, so you can go to our website GLHOPI.com, click the “Onward Christian Soldiers” banner on the home page, and begin to learn these verses by heart throughout the week.)
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Warren Wiersbe said, “’Thou shalt not covet’ is the last of God’s Ten Commandments, but its violation can make us break all of the other nine! Covetousness can make a person murder, tell lies, dishonor his parents, commit adultery, and in one way or another violate all of God’s moral law. Selfish living and selfish praying always lead to war. If there is war on the inside, there will ultimately be war on the outside. People who are at war with themselves because of selfish desires are always unhappy people. They never enjoy life. Instead of being thankful for the blessings they do have, they complain about the blessings they do not have. They cannot get along with other people because they are always envying others for what they have and do. They are always looking for that ‘magic something’ that will change their lives, when the real problem is within their own hearts.”
Based on this passage, it is apparent that our prayer life can both expose and alleviate the condition of covetousness. If our prayers are selfish and vain, they will not be answered. But if we truly trust that God will supply what is best for us, our prayers are a way of putting our desires in God’s hands and leaving them there.
As we learned from First John, one of the outgrowths of covetousness is worldliness. James picks up on this when he says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” In the Old Testament, God likened the idolatry of the children of Israel to spiritual adultery. They had begun to put other gods before their own God, and that is essentially what we do when we are covetous; we follow the world’s way and put other things and other people before God in our hearts. James says, “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
James Moffatt said, “Such friendship with the world means that one is on a footing of hostility towards God, for it defies His will and despises His purpose; disguise it as one may, it is an implicit challenge to God.” The ways of God are at war with the ways of the world. We cannot be true followers of God if we live our lives by the standards of the world.
James continues, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” As you can imagine, there is much debate about this verse. Some scholars say this verse is about the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and some scholars say that this is the human spirit that lusteth to envy. Here’s what Dr. John Walvoord and Dr. Roy Zuck say about it:
“Whatever questions remain unresolved about verse 5, there is no question about the clear truth of verse 6. God opposes the proud. The word ‘opposes,’ or ‘resists,’ is antitassetai, a military term meaning ‘to battle against.’ To the humble, however, God gives grace. Whether a believer is called to resist his human spirit which tends toward envy or to rejoice in the Holy Spirit who jealously yearns for each believer’s edification, the call is to shun pride and to submit humbly to God’s authority. The cure for conflict is a humble spirit which is rewarded by God’s unmerited favor. James continued by showing in verses 7-12 how humility is related to peaceful justice.”
The Bible says that God is a jealous God. That is why he dealt so harshly with the children of Israel when they strayed from worshipping Him. The Holy Spirit, the manifestation of God within us, grows jealous when our covetousness causes worldliness to crop up in our lives. He is jealous over us because we belong to Him and He wants what is best for us, just as any parent who wants what is best for their children is upset when those children make bad choices. The only way for us to have God’s best for us is if we abstain from covetousness and worldliness and make God number one in our lives.
If you struggle with covetousness, take this passage to heart and begin to use it the next time you face that temptation.
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If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Saviour, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Bible also says in Romans 10:9 and 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Until next time, May the Lord Bless You!