Man is always standing in the Crisis. He is evermore in the critical moment in which, as a moral-rational creature, he has been placed by the Holy One!
And man, the image-bearer of the thrice holy God, can never escape this divine crisis. He always, in all his thoughts, words and deeds must respond to God. He always assumes a certain definite, spiritual, conscious attitude toward God.
Man is never neutral!
He is never neither nor, but always he is either or. He is either for God, or against Him.
Man is also never both for and against God at the same time. This is just as impossible for man, God’s image-bearer, as it is for him to be neutral.
Man can never be neutral!
He can never truly be double-minded!
“For the friendship of this world is enmity with God,” James 4:4.
It is for this reason that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. For no man is able to serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other; or else cling to the one and despise the other.
God or Mammon. Either or. Never both. For God is the eternal antithetical God. He is the Holy One, Who is eternally dedicated unto Himself as the Summum Ronum, the Highest Good. And as Summum Ronum He is the eternal I AM THAT I AM.
Therefore He is the Unchangeable, Self-sufficient God in Himself. The norm of all moral-rational action, the divine criterion of every inward thought of man, is God!
It cannot be without profit to call one another’s attention to these matters. And indeed it is necessary to do so. Especially in the age in which we live.
Godlessness is becoming more and more pronounced on every hand. The Serpent is lifting up his vile head, and seeks the dethronement of God.
And God’s heritage is beginning to clamor for the dainties, and the friendship of this present world. The children of God are in grave danger of falling in with the world; of not being true and faithful to God; not being of His party in the midst of this world. So that we go a whoring after the world, becoming spiritual adulterers and adulteresses, rather than being the faithful spouse of God our Husband.
For this reason man is either a “friend of this World” and then he is an “enemy of God,” or he is a “friend of God” and an “enemy of this world.”
This is the unchangeable, adorable ordinance of God for man the image-bearer.
To be a friend of this world, presupposes the highest possible likeness to the world. Not the world to be sure in the sense of the creation of God. That is not the significance of world in Holy Writ, when it speaks of the Friendship of the World. The “world” is the creation of God as it now stands under the spiritual domain of the Prince of this world. He has access to the hearts of men. They do his bidding. They seek the things below. And all under the dominion of sin and ethical darkness, stand as one great machine, standing in reverse. They seek not the Living God! They live in vanity, emptiness, and they miss the mark. They hate the truth and love the lie; love the darkness rather than the Light. Always the world keeps the truth of God under in unrighteousness!
And so the wrath of God is revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness!
And they gather themselves treasures of wrath in the day of wrath and of the just judgment of God.
For He shall reward every man according to his own lies!
He who is a friend of the “world” must be like unto her. He must love what the world loves, seek and strive as the powers of darkness only desire to, must live as the world dictates, must in every sense of the world fall in line, must be conformed to the world. He never must be out of step, but must march in line.
The friend of the world feels at home in the courts of wickedness, rather than in the congregation of the saints. And thus it must be, for God is GOD!
But he who will be a friend of this “world” is an enemy of God. Him he hates. God is not in all his thoughts, he can not rest except he has done evil.
He despises God’s law and tramples it under foot with his whole heart and mind and strength. He is rebellious, for he cannot subject himself to the law of God.
And that not merely in the abstract. It is not merely so that this is theoretically so, but in reality, in practice not. Man has received a “reasonable service.” God has placed him in this world, with all its relations, ties, laws, and content. It is the capital, the material with which he must work, act, and live. In and through all things man must serve the Lord, his Maker. He can never serve God in any other way.
Man is a part of the human race. From this race each individual is born. And when man wills, desires, acts, he always does so standing in the reasonable service, in the “workshop of God.”
And in this place of God’s appointment he is either God’s friend or enemy. He is either obedient or disobedient. He either loves God or hates Him. He cannot do both. He is either or, never neither nor!
And so the friend of this world seeks the dethronement of God. God must be cast out of his heart and thoughts in all his pursuits. God must not have a place, the supreme commanding position in his life.
When he goes to work in the morning, he intends to work for a living. What! is it so wrong to work for a living, an honorable living? No, it is not wrong in itself. But the friend of this world does not go to work for a living for God’s sake. He does not live for God. He does not end in Him, “out of whom, through whom and unto whom are all things.”
He does not go to work with “Soli Deo Gloria” as the guiding purpose and motive of his heart.
And thus he manifests himself to be of a reprobate mind. He walks in the vanity of his mind, because of the hardness of his heart.
God is not in all his thoughts!
Is the above description of the friendship of this world too dark?
The Christian Reformed Churches in whose midst we formerly had our abode, but from whose midst we were cast out, will answer in the affirmative.
They will tell you that there is still much “good” in the world. And this “good” that the unregenerate sinner does is the result of the restraining influence of the “Common Grace” of God.
There still remain “the glimmerings of natural light” in man.
But what do the “erring brethren” who so tenaciously cling to the error of “Common Grace” forget?
This: “That the light of nature is so far from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God,” Canons of Dordt, Chapter III, IV, Article 4.
This article teaches as plainly as words are able to, that man is unable to use “the glimmerings of natural light” aright even in things natural and civil.
So, first of all, the erring brethren err, not having read the articles of the Canons of Dordt correctly.
But this is not all.
They also err because they have no eye for the truth, that “the friendship of this world is enmity with God”. The principal spiritual difference between the church and the world is no more seen.
The apostle James employs the figure of the wheel. He speaks of the “wheel of our birth.” The characteristic of a wheel is that it revolves. And, as it revolves, it turns in a certain direction. But, turning towards one pole, it revolves away from another. Never can a wheel revolve in two opposite directions at the same time. If this should happen, the wheel would break, or it would no longer be a wheel.
Thus also, the heart of man is easily to be compared with the revolving wheel. The heart of man, as the “wheel of our birth,” cannot seek two opposite objects at the same time. No one can serve two masters. Man cannot serve God and Mammon.
Now the heart of man, the “wheel of our birth,” is set on fire of hell! The heart of man always goes out unto sin, and thus away from the living God. The friend of this world always must be an enemy of God.
World-friendship is God enmity!
They are not two but one! They are two sides of the same matter.
They are like the revolving wheel.
Being a friend of the world implies being an enemy of God. Thus also, being a friend of God implies being an enemy of the world.
Thus “world-friendship and God enmity” is not a dualism, but the self-manifestation of the eternal thesis, the Holy One of Israel.
Thus man is always put by God on the “spot.” Man cannot escape. He must reveal who he is in the inmost recesses of his heart.
And he is either God’s covenant friend-servant, or he is the rebellious servant who through willful disobedience became the enemy of God.
He is either or!
And this always becomes manifest in his walk and life.
And therefore there is a twofold people, and a twofold manifested people in the midst of this world.
On the one hand there are the children of darkness, becoming manifest in their friendship of this world. Man may try to cover up his enmity for God. He may play the part of the hypocrite. And to a certain degree he may also succeed. He can deceive his fellow-men, who are not judges of the heart. But God Who tries the heart cannot be deceived. God also turns the hypocrite inside out, and searches him. Man cannot escape the searching eye of God. And God man must love or hate.
For God either hates or loves. God’s hatred is essentially His Self-love. God is His own party, His own friend! He gives His honor to none other. He is a jealous God.
And man must also become manifest as being either or.
This principle is also binding in the children of God. They are His people by sovereign, saving grace. God has called them out of darkness into His marvellous light, in order that they might be His friends in love and obedience, and that they might show forth His praises in the midst of the world.
He has not called this people because they had merited His consideration and love above others. They were “children of wrath even as the others.”
But God Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love, wherewith He sovereignly loved us, made us alive in Christ Jesus, and transported us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ.
And thus we, by grace, through faith, may stand in God’s own friendship for Himself, and in His enmity for the world!
And thus also, the children of God cannot help but become infested in the midst of the world.
They cannot be neutral. They cannot be a friend of the world and of God. They are either or, for His seed remains in them.
True, we only have a small beginning of the true obedience. We are not yet what we ultimately shall be, when we shall serve God perfectly in covenant friendship. We shall always need to confess this.
But confess it we do. And that is the redeeming feature of it all. Therein we become manifest as God’s friends. We sorrow after the Living God. We cry and yearn for Him, more than the hart for the streams of living water. But always when we confess our longing after God in the consciousness of great imperfection and of our many sins, we have the indelible seal of being the friends of God and the enemies of this world.
In this consciousness the child of God will not be conformed to this world, but will be transformed by the renewal of His mind and will approve what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
Soli Deo Gloria!