James ch. 4
In this particular chapter James reminds us of a continual struggle within the life of a Christian. He identifies these fightings as quarrels and conflicts, lusts and envies, murders, and adulteries.
The writer reminds us that our sinful nature effects our relationship with God. First, we cannot even pray because we (our fleshly nature) asks with wrong motives. While we should be praying for “God’s will be done” in our life, in our home, and in our world; we ask for our will to be accomplished in these areas. Second, our friendship with the world is hostility toward God; this friendship has caused us to become enemies with God. Jesus simply said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches)” Matthew 6:24.
James has already told us in 3:15 that characteristics such as jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance, and lying do not come from above but rather they come from influences of the earth, the natural man inside each and everyone of us, and demons. The apostle Paul describes our struggle like this in Romans 7:18, 19, 20, 24, and 25: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me……. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on one hand I myself with my mind am serving God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”
Both James and Paul agree, as Christians, we have a spiritual battle going on inside of us. We have influences from the world around us; we have our own selfish fleshly nature pulling at us; and we have all of Hell trying to convince us to move further away from God.
With all of these forces at work in and around us, we have to make a choice. Will we continue to be hostile toward God, or will we yield to Him?
In James 4:5, we are told that God is jealous for us. Wow! What an concept, God is jealous for me. He loves you and me so much that He is jealous for us.
Imagine it like this. A young man falls in love with a beautiful young lady. Eventually, they get married. He is madly in love with her. He does his absolute best to try and please her. He goes to work every day. He works hard, and he scrimps and saves until he can buy her a nice but simple home. He gives her a car, jewelry, etc. Even though he gives her the best that he can, he can never satisfy her worldly desires with his affections of love.
She decides to find comfort in the arms of another man. One who will give her the things that she wants, and in return, she satisfies his fleshly desires.
The husband loves his wife so much that he still tries to get her attention. He pleads with her to stay, but she ignores his pleas and goes to her lover.
One day, the lover decides that she is not what he wants. So, he beats her, abuses her, and sell her into slavery. All the while her husband is looking for his wife because he still loves her.
The day he finds her, she is has been beaten and bruised, she feels ashamed and abused by the world that she loved, and she sitting on the auction block. The man looks at his wife. He looks beyond the scabs and the wounds, and sees the young lady that he fell in love with earlier in life. The bidding starts, and he is the only one who makes an offer. His offers is for more than the auctioneer is asking.
You see, this man was jealous for his wife, and that’s how God is with us. Even though we’ve been beaten up by the world that we abandoned God for because of our own selfish desires; and now we feel guilty and ashamed; God sent His Son to pay the price for our sin.
James 4:5-10 provides us the instructions that we need to grow in our relationship with God. We are commanded to submit to God; resist the devil; draw near to God; clean our hands and our hearts; be miserable, mourn, and weep (for our sinful condition and the condition of our world; we are to have a broken and contrite heart); and we are to humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord.
The reality is that all of us struggle. We struggle every day. What we need to do is hold our hands up and say, “God I surrender my selfish will and desires to You.”
The last verse (James 4:17) says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.”