James 4:1- What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you?
• James asks what the source is of the “wars” we fight.
• James is not talking about actual wars with armies and airplanes and bombs.
• James is talking about the fights, feuds, conflicts and struggles that we have on a daily basis with other people.
• James then uses a second question in a rhetorical way to answer to his first question.
• James identifies that source of these conflicts as the internal “cravings” that we all have.
• Another translation uses the word “passions.”
• We all have internal cravings and passions which fuel external fighting and discord.
James 4:2 - 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.
• The internal struggles that we face often come from unfulfilled desires in our lives.
• We desire to be loved and accepted by others.
• We desire to have a good (and long, and healthy) life.
• We desire for our kids to be happy and comfortable.
• We desire the material possessions necessary to provide the things we just listed.
• And our desire for material stuff is seldom satisfied.
• If we were honest, we would also admit that we desire pleasure.
• Our lust for pleasure is seldom satisfied either.
• Though we do not like to admit it, our desire for “stuff” and our desire for “pleasure” are often driving factors in our lives.
• James uses hyperbole to make his next point.
• Hyperbole is when a statement is EXAGGERATED on purpose in order to make a point.
• James says that we murder in order to obtain our desires.
• Though in some rare cases people have actually committed murder in order to fulfill such desires, most would never go that far.
• But we will destroy someone’s reputation or their hopes and dreams if they get in our way.
• But such desires will never be fulfilled because they are like a cancer that keeps growing.
• In our human depravity, we will never have enough pleasure, or possessions, or love.
• If we need more fulfillment in life, we need to seek it in our relationship with God.
• Have we asked God to meet our inner needs?
Psalm 42:5 - Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.
• When our inner longings begin to push us to take external actions that are inappropriate, instead of ignoring those longings, we should talk to the Lord about them.
• We should ask God to meet our inner need and then we should refocus our external activities on praising God.
James 4:3 - You ask and don't receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.
• Some might argue that they have asked God to meet their innermost needs and God has not done it.
• James points out that when we ask God for help, it is often for selfish purposes.
• When we ask selfishly, God seldom gives us what we want because it would cause us to become even more selfish.
James 4:4 - Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world's friend becomes God's enemy.
• There are few things in life that hurt more than when one spouse cheats on another.
• Though the pain of adultery can be overcome, it is very difficult and takes a long time.
• James uses the word “adulteresses” to illustrate how God feels when we are more concerned with getting our desires met than in communing with Him.
• Friends are the people that we enjoy being around and whom we often have things in common with.
• When we enjoy being in the world more than being in the spirit, we are committing spiritual adultery against God.
• When we make a conscious choice to have more in common with the world than we do with God, we have made the choice to be God’s enemy.
• While that may be an acceptable situation for non-Christians, believers are supposed to be on God’s team, not warring against Him.
James 4:6 - But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
• God knows that we are only human and that we make mistakes.
• That is why God gives us grace.
• Grace is the undeserved favor or blessing of God.
• Every good thing in our lives is a gift of grace from God (James 1:17).
• Proud people do not think they need God in their lives. They think they can do it on their own.
• When we try to do it all on our own, we tend to make a big mess of things.
• If we could fix all the mess on our own, we would have already done it.
• But James takes it one step further by saying that God “resists” the proud.
• God is actively working to help proud people see their weaknesses and learn humility (James 1:9-10).
• If God is against us, there is NO CHANCE for us to be successful!
James 4:7 -Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
• Since we obviously want our inner desires to be fulfilled, and cannot make that happen without God’s help, then we MUST submit to God.
• The word “submit” comes from the Greek word “hypotasso” which means “to place under.”
• When we submit to God we place ourselves under Him.
• That might sound overly simplistic.
• But far too few of us have actually placed ourselves UNDER God.
• Most people have placed themselves OVER God by choosing their desires over God’s desires.
• Some have removed God completely from their lives leaving only their own desires to guide them.
• Learning to submit to God is far more challenging than we realize.
• One way we learn to submit to God is by resisting the Devil.
• The word “devil” comes from the Greek word “diabolos” and means “accuser.”
• The Devil delights in reminding us how our inner needs have not been met and that it is our fault. He accuses us of being failures.
• We must resist Satan’s attempts to convince us that we are failures at the things we desire most.
• We must instead receive the grace of God afresh and anew.
• We may have some failures in our lives, but we’ve read the last chapter, and in the end, we win!
• Romans 8:28-30 reminds us that ALL things work together for good, even our failures, to make us more like Jesus and one day we WILL BE what God wants us to be.
• When we resist the Devil, he WILL FLEE from us. Why? Because he has read the last chapter too!
James 4:8 - Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people!
• We must not only resist Satan, but we must draw near to God.
• There are many ways to draw near to God, but the best part is that once we start heading His direction, He runs out to meet us!
• For those who do not know how to start heading God’s direction, we can try confessing our sins (cleansing our hands) and reflecting on our motives (purifying our hearts).
• We can try having a single focus in life, which is to glorify God in EVERYTHING we do.
• That eliminates a lot of inner conflict.
James 4:10 - Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
• When we make Christ our single focus, then God begins to meet our inner needs.
• Once our inner needs begin to be met, we have fewer external conflicts.
• When we have fewer external conflicts, we tend to gain more of the things that we wanted but could not attain on our own.
• It is through humility that we are lifted up (exalted).
• Unfulfilled desires cause us internal struggles which often result in external conflict.
• We should ask God to meet our internal needs in a supernatural way instead of trying to meet them ourselves in merely human ways.
• God will not do that unless we draw near to Him through confession and spiritual reflection.
• When we draw near to God, Satan no longer has the power to remind us of our failures and life gets better.