Faithlife Sermons

How to End Wars

James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The world is constantly talking about peace
Peace is universally wanted
James is telling us about 3 wars that are going on in the world. He is also telling us how to stop these wars.

4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 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. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 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. 5 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”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

11 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. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

At war with Each Other (4:1a, 11-12)

When you examine the early church, you realize they had their share of disagreements
Corinthians were suing each other
Galatians were biting and devouring one another
Ephesians were admonished to create spiritual unity
2 women at philippi had problems with each other
James mentions several disagreements among the saints
Class Wars (2:1-9)
Here is the age long rivalry between the rich and poor
Rich gets affection, poor man is ignored
If fellowship in a church depends on external things, the church is out of the will of God
2. Employment Wars (5:1-6)
Laborers not getting paid what they deserve
3. Church fights (3:13-18)
Selfish ambition ruled their church meetings, not spiritual submission
4. Personal Wars (4:11-12)
Evil with one another and judging one another
Christians must not act like God in passing judgment
If we are the same family and indwealt by the Holy Spirit, why are we at war with one another.

At war with ourselves ()

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (, niv) The war in the heart is helping to cause the wars in the church! “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth … For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (, ).
The essence of sin is selfishness. Eve disobeyed God because she wanted to eat of the tree and become wise like God. Abraham lied about his wife because he selfishly wanted to save his own life (). Achan caused defeat to Israel because he selfishly took some forbidden loot from the ruins of Jericho (). “We have turned every one to his own way” ().
Often we veil our religious quarrels under the disguise of “spirituality.” We are like Miriam and Aaron who complained about Moses’ wife, but who really were envious of Moses’ authority (). Or we imitate James and John who asked for special thrones in the kingdom, when what we really want is recognition today (). In both of these instances, the result of selfish desire was chastening and division among God’s people. Miriam’s sin halted the progress of Israel for a whole week!
Selfish desires are dangerous things. They lead to wrong actions (“ye kill, ye fight and war,” ), and they even lead to wrong praying (“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures,” , niv). When our praying is wrong, our whole Christian life is wrong. It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth.
“Thou shalt not covet” is the last of God’s Ten Commandments, but its violation can make us break all of the other nine! Covetousness can make a person murder, tell lies, dishonor his parents, commit adultery, and in one way or another violate all of God’s moral law. Selfish living and selfish praying always lead to war. If there is war on the inside, there will ultimately be war on the outside.
People who are at war with themselves because of selfish desires are always unhappy people. They never enjoy life. Instead of being thankful for the blessings they do have, they complain about the blessings they do not have. They cannot get along with other people because they are always envying others for what they have and do. They are always looking for that “magic something” that will change their lives, when the real problem is within their own hearts.
Sometimes we use prayer as a cloak to hide our true desires. “But I prayed about it!” can be one of the biggest excuses a Christian can use. Instead of seeking God’s will, we tell God what He is supposed to do; and we get angry at Him if He does not obey. This anger at God eventually spills over and we get angry at God’s people. More than one church split has been caused by saints who take out their frustrations with God on the members of the church. Many a church or family problem would be solved if people would only look into their own hearts and see the battles raging there.
God made us a unity; mind, emotions, and will should work together. James stated the reason we are at war with ourselves and, consequently, with each other.
At War with God ()
The root cause of every war, internal and external, is rebellion against God. At the beginning of Creation, you behold perfect harmony; but sin came into the world, and this led to conflict. Sin is lawlessness (), and lawlessness is rebellion against God.
How does a believer declare war against God? By being friendly with God’s enemies. James names three enemies that we must not fraternize with if we want to be at peace with God.
The world (v. 4). By the “world,” James means, of course, human society apart from God. The whole system of things in this society of ours is anti-Christ and anti-God. Abraham was the friend of God (); Lot was the friend of the world. Lot ended up in a war, and Abraham had to rescue him ().
A Christian gets involved with the world gradually, as I pointed out in chapter 4 of this study. First, there is “the friendship of the world” (). This results in being “spotted” by the world () so that areas of our lives meet with the approval of the world. Friendship leads to loving the world (), and this makes it easy to conform to the world (). The sad result is being condemned with the world (), our souls saved “yet as by fire” ().
Friendship with the world is compared to adultery. The believer is “married to Christ” () and ought to be faithful to Him. The Jewish Christians who read this letter would understand this picture of “spiritual adultery” because the Prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Hosea used it when rebuking Judah for her sins (see ; ; ). By adopting the sinful ways of the other nations, and by worshiping their gods, the nation of Judah committed adultery against her God.
The world is the enemy of God, and whoever wills to be a friend of the world cannot be the friend of God. Neither can he be if he lives for the flesh, for this is the second enemy James named.
The flesh (vv. 1, 5). By “the flesh” is meant the old nature that we inherited from Adam, that is prone to sin. The flesh is not the body. The body is not sinful; the body is neutral. The Spirit may use the body to glorify God, or the flesh may use the body to serve sin. When a sinner yields to Christ, he receives a new nature within, but the old nature is neither removed nor reformed. For this reason, there is a battle within: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so that you do not do what you want” (, niv). This is what James terms “your lusts that are in your members” ().
Living for the flesh means grieving the Holy Spirit of God who lives in us. “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us longs jealously?” (, niv, margin) Just as the world is the enemy of God the Father, so the flesh is the enemy of God the Holy Spirit. There is a holy, loving jealousy that a husband and wife have over each other, and rightly so. The Spirit within jealously guards our relationship to God, and the Spirit is grieved when we sin against God’s love.
Living to please the old nature means to declare war against God. “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (). To allow the flesh to control the mind is to lose the blessing of fellowship with God. Abraham had a spiritual mind; he walked with God and enjoyed peace. Lot had a carnal mind; he disobeyed God and experienced war. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” ().
The devil (vv. 6–7). The world is in conflict with the Father; the flesh fights against the Holy Spirit; and the devil opposes the Son of God. Pride is Satan’s great sin, and it is one of his chief weapons in his warfare against the saint and the Saviour. God wants us to be humble; Satan wants us to be proud. “Ye shall be as God,” Satan promised Eve, and she believed him. A new Christian must not be put into places of spiritual leadership “lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” ().
God wants us to depend on His grace (“But He giveth more grace”), while the devil wants us to depend on ourselves. Satan is the author of all “do-it-yourself” spiritual enterprises. He enjoys inflating the ego and encouraging the believer to do it his own way. In spite of Jesus’ warnings about Satan’s plans, Peter fell into the snare, pulled out his sword, and tried to accomplish God’s will in his own way. What a mess he made of things!
One of the problems in our churches today is that we have too many celebrities and not enough servants. Christian workers are promoted so much that there is very little place left for God’s glory. Man has nothing to be proud of in himself. There dwells no good thing in us (); but when we trust Christ, He puts that “good thing” in us that makes us His children (, ).
Here, then, are three enemies that want to turn us away from God: the world, the flesh, and the devil. These enemies are left over from our old life of sin (). Christ has delivered us from them, but they still attack us. How can we overcome them? How can we be the friends of God and the enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil? James gives us three instructions to follow if we would enjoy peace instead of war.
Submit to God (v. 7). This word is a military term that means “get into your proper rank.” When a buck private acts like the general, there is going to be trouble! Unconditional surrender is the only way to complete victory. If there is any area of the life kept back from God, there will always be battles. This explains why uncommitted Christians cannot live with themselves or with other people.
“Neither give place to the devil,” cautions Paul in . Satan needs a foothold in our lives if he is going to fight against God; and we give him that foothold. The way to resist the devil is to submit to God.
After King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and killed her husband, he hid his sins for almost a year. There was war between him and God, and David had declared it. Read and 51 to discover the high price David paid to be at war with God. When he finally submitted to God, David experienced peace and joy. This too he recorded in and 51. Submission is an act of the will; it is saying, “Not my will but Thine be done.”
Draw near to God (v. 8). How do we do this? By confessing our sins and asking for His cleansing. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” The Greek word translated purify means “make chaste.” This parallels the idea of “spiritual adultery” in .
Dr. A.W. Tozer has a profound essay in one of his books, entitled, “Nearness Is Likeness.” The more we are like God, the nearer we are to God. I may be sitting in my living room with my Siamese cat on my lap, and my wife may be twenty feet away in the kitchen; yet I am nearer to my wife than to the cat because the cat is unlike me. We have very little in common.
God graciously draws near to us when we deal with the sin in our lives that keeps Him at a distance. He will not share us with anyone else; He must have complete control. The double-minded Christian can never be close to God. Again, Abraham and Lot come to mind. Abraham “drew near” and talked to God about Sodom (), while Lot moved into Sodom and lost the blessing of God.
Humble yourselves before God (vv. 9–10). It is possible to submit outwardly and yet not be humbled inwardly. God hates the sin of pride (), and He will chasten the proud believer until he is humbled. We have a tendency to treat sin too lightly, even to laugh about it (“let your laughter be turned into mourning”). But sin is serious, and one mark of true humility is facing the seriousness of sin and dealing with our disobedience. “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” ().
Sometimes we hear a believer pray, “O Lord, humble me!” That is a dangerous thing to pray. Far better that we humble ourselves before God, confess our sins, weep over them, and turn from them. “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word” (). “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” ().
If we obey these three instructions, then God will draw near, cleanse us, and forgive us; and the wars will cease! We will not be at war with God, so we will not be at war with ourselves. This means we will not be at war with others. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever” ().
Put the government of your life on His shoulders, and let Him become the Prince of Peace in your life ().
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