II JAMES 22
BE CONCERNED WITH YOUR SPIRITUAL SELF:
AT THE END THAT IS ALL THAT IS LEFT
James’ statement that friendship with the world is enmity with God is so incredibly dire in its import that I want to spend a bit more time talking about it. I realize that the things I am about to say are not easy to understand, nor have you ever heard the concepts presented very much, if at all. They are the result of 74 years of preaching, reading the Bible and many hours of thinking.
When we talk about God, we are not talking about some other person. We are talking about a Spiritual Being that dwells in a dimension we cannot comprehend except by faith. None of our five senses can experience Him, and none of our logic, created and applicable only to the world of time and space, can make any determination about Him.
We will use the term “place” when talking about where God is, and Heaven. However, that does not mean the same thing that it means to say, “I am in a place”. The word “place”, in this instance, means a dimension outside of all space and time and not limited by either. It is not a “here” or “there”, for, as David said, no matter where he went, God was there. By faith He is in my heart but also on the most distant star.
When we talk about spirit, there are certain things we need to recognize. When we die, our body is gone, with all of its senses. Only our spirit lives, to go to a “place” called Heaven, if we have lived and walked with the Lord. But the spirit is an invisible part of us that cannot be comprehended by any of our five senses. I cannot see what you are thinking, nor can I hear it (unless you talk). It has no taste, smell or feel that I can comprehend. God is Spirit; we cannot see Him with our human eyes, but we can know by faith that He is present. When I pray, I often do so silently, with unspoken words. However, I know that God can hear and understand what is only a spiritual conversation.
When Jesus said, “Our Father who art in Heaven”, what did those words mean? God can hear my unspoken words and be present with me, but I am in the world. So Heaven is not a “place” removed from the world. It is a dimension, beyond the space and time we can comprehend, and from which God can communicate with the world, but never be physically a part of the world. He is not limited by time or space, so He can hear all prayers the world over, and hold the most distant planet or star in its place. Therefore, those who write a description of Heaven, using the metaphors of the book of Revelation and other metaphors used in the Scriptures, simply do not understand the world of the spirit where the physical senses cannot touch, see or comprehend, and no physical entity could be found. Paul says we will be changed, and talks about being given a “spiritual body”. Such a body does not have, or need, eyes and ears. It will have “spiritual comprehension”. All metaphors in the Bible are to try to give weak and limited man a concept of the glory and wonder of the “place”, or dimension of the Spirit where God dwells. It will not be filled with things which appeal to our physical senses or desires. James says we are tempted by our physical desires and lusts. There will be none of that in Heaven.
I have said all of this to try to emphasize the true meaning of the statement James makes when he contrasts our love of the world with loving God. God is not a worldly creature. Therefore, when we find our pleasure in the things we can experience with our five senses, we are not comprehending or loving God. We can only do that when we deny our physical desires and turn our attention to our spiritual self. Here the emotions of love and hate, the drive to succeed or develop an honest concern for other people, to build a character of integrity and humility, the desire to get, or the will to give, all challenge our concern, and our efforts to build a spiritual relationship with the One who is the author of all righteousness. He is the determiner of what is good and what is not, and making all the right choices in the things listed above is what is called “loving God”, for this is the way He wants His children to act.
Do not let the concerns for the things you can see, hear, smell, taste or feel, override your concern for the spiritual qualities you have that cannot be seen or heard, except by the One who created you and wants to walk with you down the pathway of righteousness and truth. The standards of the world demand and build a desire for the pleasure and satisfaction of the physical man. They put his spiritual needs aside. Every ad you see on TV, every bill board beside the highways, and even a great many preachers appeal to the needs and desires of the physical man. The spiritual man is pushed aside so he will not get in the way of the message of satisfaction for numero uno. James says this is the voice of the devil.