by Mike Ratliff
4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. James 4:4 (NA28)
4 Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world, is made an enemy of God. James 4:4 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)
The Seeker-Sensitive and Purpose-Driven paradigms are rooted in a form of Pelagianism. Of course, the theology I grew up with as a Southern Baptist in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, et cetera was somewhere between semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. The Social Justice paradigm that is causing so much division in the visible church in our time as “Woke Theology” is actually based in Cultural Marxism not the Word of God. In each of these forms of theology, man is at the center. God has done all he can do to create the possibility of salvation, but it is up to man to exercise his autonomous free will in order to be saved. Even in this, after salvation there is a time of working to please God, to become perfected, to become moral, et cetera. Again, the focus is on man, not God. The reason I brought this up is to reflect on how far I have come in my understanding of these things since God revealed to me the veracity of His Sovereignty over all things. From that, I rapidly rebuilt my theological understanding of justification and sanctification. It was probably not as dramatic as Luther’s awakening when he discovered the doctrine of Justification by grace through faith, but, for me, it was. I was utterly amazed and spent days and hours in prayer of gratitude and praise before the throne of grace expressing it the best way I could of how utterly unworthy I was that I was totally justified before God with the Righteousness of Christ and His perfect obedience imputed to my account. My righteousness, in God’s eyes, actually did exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees because it was the imputed righteousness of Christ.
All those years of struggling to please him and seeing how utterly helpless I was at being perfect and sinless no longer mattered at all. Yes, we are to seek to walk upright in the power of the Holy Spirit, but, in this, I am not climbing my way to heaven. My place is already set at the marriage supper of the lamb. Oh how I want to live holy and blameless before Him, but that is to bring him glory, not to somehow earn my salvation. It is as if a huge load has been taken away.
What has any of this to do with Ἰάκωβος 4:4? In this year’s Shepherd’s Conference much controversy was made of three men being invited to it who had refused to sign the Dallas Declaration last year which was a stance of the those signing it against the invasion of “Woke” Theology and what “Social Justice” was and how it was to be excluded, et cetera from our churches. The leader of this declaration was John MacArther who was hosting the Shepherd’s Conference and the three men who publicly refused to sign it were Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, and Ligon Duncan. Of course there were many others who refused to sign it like Russell Moore, but he was not invited to the Shepherd’s Conference. These three men were invited to come and be keynote speakers. Much controversy was made about this. The worst part was that a Q&A session was setup on state with these three, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, and Sinclair Ferguson. During the session Phil Johnson asked all the questions while everyone else had a microphone and could answer the questions. It was a train wreck. The questions were not that hard. They were not that deep. However, the three men became very defensive of their positions on Social Justice in their ministries. It was painful to watch.
My takeaway on that was that there is an attempt going on to maintain those ministries at a very high level of doctrinal precision while including Social Justice even though it is completely incompatible Biblically. That brings in relativism issues doesn’t it? That means compromise, which is simply the application of relativism. The move to the left is happening quickly just as it has in our society. We have all seen what has happened there. What is going to happen in our churches if we don’t take on the mantle of Social Justice like these leader are going to demand that we do, which is being taught in our seminaries now? It will be just like it is in the world. Those who refuse to compromise will be excluded. Those welcome in are those willing to compromise with the world and it’s ways. Those not welcome are those who refuse to do so.
What is friendship with the world? It is doing whatever it takes to imitate worldly ways of thinking and worldly activities. This very thing, according to James 4:4 makes these people enemies of God. What is their motive for imitating the world and its ways? Rick Warren comes right out and says it. They do it to satisfy the expectations of unbelievers. They want unbelievers to feel comfortable in their church. They want their church to be church for the unchurched. Steven Furtick uses that model as well. However, when this is the goal, they can never change gears. Why? It will always be impossible to satisfy the expectations of unbelievers whose hearts are set on this world and at the same time please God. You cannot do both. Add to this the Social Justice mantra and those of us who will not bow down to “Woke Theology” will be seen as less than Christian.
What are we to do? We must continue to stand firm in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must continue to stay in the Word of God, presenting our bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is our spiritual service. And we must not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. If we will do these things, praying for discernment and wisdom and obey God in all things then the enemy will have absolutely no ability to deceive us into compromise on any of these things. Those who are in that darkness are so because they did none of this.
Soli Deo Gloria!