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A Worldly Desire & View What Not to Have

The Book of James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What is the source of your troubles?

James 4:1 NASB95
1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
One would think that in the church there should be peace and tranquility, no fighting or quarrels We know that in the world we live in that the church is a hot bed of fights and disagreements, from the color of the carpet to pew placement when in reality it is really all about control, control because this is the way it was always done or because this is how the "family that built this church" set it up. The miss conception we usually have is that the first century church was any different, this chapter starts off with a question what is the source of the problem? This question is not one that James leaves unanswered, the desire of your pleasure is the source and he was speaking to the first century church so now we know this has been an issue from the start. The easiest way to tear a church apart or make it ineffective is for personal pleasure to get into the way of ministry, James in the next verses describes this in detail.

Your Pleasures

James 4:2–3 NASB95
2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious 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 with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
This verse starts out with "you lust" in some versions it says desire or want but they all mean the same thing, it is a deep burning desire and we can see how it is motivated because James gives us the end result "you commit murder" this means to literally to kill for what you want. (Does David and Bathsheba sound familiar in this?) Next is "you are envious" this can be translated "you covet, desire, filled with envy, or jealous" they have the same result in meaning for this text, "a grudging regard for the advantages seen to be enjoyed by others." The result is that we fight and argue and usually within our own ranks, and we "hate" those who have what we want...but look what James tells us "you do not have because you do not ask" (this continues to remind me of David, when he is being reprimanded by the prophet and God spoke through the prophet and told David in that if he had desired or asked for more God would have given it to him.)
2 Samuel 12:8 NASB95
8 ‘I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!

The Reality

James 4:4–6 NASB95
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
James starts off with what these Christians are doing "you adulteresses" why would he be calling them that? Because just like the Israelite nation, they seek after the pleasures of the world when they are supposed to be seeking the pleasure of their Savor. James tells them that friendship with the world is hostility toward God, why is that?? because the world (kosmos) is the system of evil controlled by Satan and this includes all that is wicked and opposed by God on this earth, its purpose is to lure the hearts of people from God by pleasure, and being friends with it is to be on good terms with God's enemy.
Verse 5, James asks us, "do you think the scripture speaks with no purpose?" this is a hard question because if the scripture speaks with no purpose than our salvation has no purpose and that means our eternity is bleak. James does not leave the question in the air but instead answers it with a reference to the Old Testament most likely coming from
Genesis 2:7 NASB95
7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
God is jealous of that spirit and wants us to be with Him, also once we are saved we have the Holy Spirit living within us and it wages war against the desires of the flesh.
Verse 6, James changes the tone and gives hope, stating that "God gives a greater grace." Here James quotes
Proverbs 3:34 NASB95
34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
Pride is frequently listed among the human short falls and is closely associated with the sin of envy. Unlike envy with its rivalry against everyone, God maintains a favorable disposition toward believing sinners. Much like Paul's assertion that when sin is increased that God's grace increases
Romans 5:20 NASB95
20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
This is not meaning we have a free reign to sin as shown in Prov 3:34, it means that no matter how bad we screw up God is still waiting to restore us to fellowship with Him.

The Final Result

James 4:7–10 NASB95
7 Submit 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 miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Verse 7 starts with Submit (hypotasso) this means to humble yourself before God, this is a repentance of your sin, your actions against God. Before we can proceed to freedom and a relationship with God we must first submit to Him and seek forgiveness of our disobedience. Then can we "resit the devil" - "Evil cannot coerce the human will but is dependent upon it, much like a parasite. The devil is the active opponent of God and his people, but he resorts to his lying, deceptive capacities. Human creatures who believe these lies contribute their physical and mental strengths to his cause of influencing humanity for their destruction and his glory. The devil is not called the tempter within James, for temptation results from evil desire within the self (James 1:14). But the devil is close by the temptations and conflicts that humans cause. Nevertheless, if he is consciously resisted, in submission to God, the devil cannot fight back and must flee the attack that is our resistance to him. How do believers know that he is present? Wherever envy and selfish ambition are present in the conflicts and quarrels of the body of Christ, the devil is there. [James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (185)]."
Verse 8, we are given actions to take, we are to draw near to God, in doing so He will draw near to us, this is the base action of a Christian and what our daily duties are to be. Next we are to "wash our hands - this is symbolization repentance, the Hebrews pray with their hands lifted up showing that they are empty and that they are relying on God only, purify the hearts was also a form of repentance and the second step of the priest before they could serve the people in the temple. The double mind is in reference to sin in a believers life, if there is sin in your life you are torn in being able to properly serve the Lord, you must repent from that sin in doing so will remove the pollution that divides the mind.
Verse 9, this can be depressing, is James telling us that we should never be happy? Are we never to have laughter, never to have joy? No, look in the context of verse 8 and verse 9 is a continuation of that thought, when we confess our sin, that evil desire is acknowledged, then can we truly understand the darkness of that condition and then realize what we are being saved from. When one realizes what they are forgiven of and saved from there will tears, morning the deeds done, a gloom of how close you were to destruction.
Verse 10, again a command, this time to "humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord," this is to show the proper respect to our savour, humility in realizing we can do nothing in of ourselves but allowing God to work through us we will be exalted.
So what does this all mean? the message is simple, we are driven by our selfish desires, even when we have convinced ourselves it is for the better good of the people we are in reality working to get our way and have power and control. We as a people are driven by fleshly desires and as James tells us we are double-minded, we live with unconfessed sin in our lives and it hampers our ability to truly serve God. What would a church look like truly driven by the will of God, that all the people of that church had only a focus to do as God leads them, they actively sought righteous living, they spent time in prayer to ensure there was no unconfessed sin in their life, and their only goal was the furtherance of Gods kingdom. This church would be not only in the presence of the Lord but will also be exalted, as spoken of in James 4:10.
My challenge is to for you to examine yourself, are there unconfessed sins in your life, are there things you are not letting go, I call you to repentance, not for my sake but for yours, so you can be free and see what life truly under the control of God can be like.
My other challenge is for you to pray for what is the will of God in your life and possible involvement in this Church.
For those who do not know what I am talking about, there is a God that wants a personal relationship with you, and is seeking you and wishes to free you from a life of sorrow and misery, if you want to know this God, if you want freedom today is the day you surrender and submit yourself to God and repent from your life of sin, ask God to become the Lord of your life.
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