Warning Against Worldliness
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! 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. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Boasting About Tomorrow
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
These thoughts from America’s Declaration of Independence are beautiful and it is a privilege to be born here with such a foundation. But, somehow these thoughts have translated into the church today. Somehow we’ve taken these thoughts and made them to be ‘our rights’ when it comes to church and God and His ways. We’ve been misled.
When we follow Jesus, we have no rights. We laid them down to “come after Him.” Jesus’ definition of life and it being abundant is much different than we perceive in this world. And so we have projected this concept of entitlement into our spirituality. It is crippling our walk; stifling our outreach and affecting our relationships with one another and with God.
And this is exactly why there is strife among God’s people. James boldly lays questions of where the conflicts are coming from among one another. What descriptive terms he uses of fights and wars when it comes to strife for often the battle among Believers are bitter and severe. The war against another begins with the war within as people often are acting on their own rights in a situation or that feeling of entitlement. The hard truth is no two believers who are walking in the Spirit of God can live with wars among themselves. Outward battles are a sign of inward strife with God Himself. They take place when we are self-centered and self-indulgent.
Yet as James asks people to consider the internal fighting among one another he challenges his readers with a solution. And that is in humility get right with God.
“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”James 4:6-10
We tarnish the name of Jesus through our actions of fighting and quarreling among one another to the world. It’s time to lay down our rights, surrender ourselves and resist the enemy’s tactics he so cleverly and boldly uses to create the strife we have with one another. In humility seek Him, draw near to Him and ask for the cleansing and purifying of our own wills to be turned in line with His. We cannot be right with God and evil toward others.
James 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Consider these questions…
Does the indwelling Holy Spirit war against itself? Would a believer filled with the Holy Spirit continually war against another believer who is also filled with the Holy Spirit?
Look, I’m not talking about minor disagreements. I’m talking about wars.
Wars are not small disagreements. They are built up over a long period of time. Initially, there may just be an irritation. It may begin as a tiny seed. But like a weed that’s not pulled, it forms a root system and begins to take over. Throughout our history, wars have been fought to gain territory, execute revenge, and discriminate against people we hate. Don’t get me wrong, there are wars to defend and execute justice as well. But that is not the kind of warfare what James is referring to in this chapter.
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask.James 4:1-2 HCSB
So I come back to my question. Would two people filled with the same Holy Spirit war against each other?
James doesn’t weigh in on who is right and who is wrong. Notice, he doesn’t take sides. His disgust comes from the fact that people claiming to be believers are filled with bitter, selfish attitudes. Yes, people claiming to follow Jesus. They spew hatred and cause all kinds of division. Worst of all, they aren’t yielding to the Spirit who longs to bring maturity and unity to the body! Have you known someone like this? Are you like this?
I had no idea how much drama I would walk into when I first decided to go into ministry. Gossip. Bullies. Lack of confrontation. Petty disagreements. Politics. Grudges. The list goes on and on.
Aren’t we all Christians? Aren’t we all filled with the same Spirit?
James refers to such people as adulteresses.
Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. 5 Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously?James 4:4-5 HCSB
A true believer who is living in compromise knows it because the Spirit is jealous. Why wouldn’t they?
But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.James 4:6 HCSB
Ah, there it is. Wars begin when a selfish, immature “believer” embraces pride which blinds them to God and stunts their ability to receive conviction from the Holy Spirit.
“Pride demands that God bless me in light of my merits, whether real or imagined. But grace will not deal with me on the basis of anything in me, good or bad, but only on the basis of who God is.”David Guzik
Humility postures people to receive God’s grace, receive the Spirit’s conviction, and CHANGE! No more games. No more wars. No more burdens. The most discouraging part of an individual who causes war and division in the church is that they never lay down their burdens! They just pick them up and carry them off to another church.