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Post by Rohn on Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:33 am

James 4

I would like to try to shed more light on what James is trying to say, so I am going to read the first four verses from the Amplified New Testament:

What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members?
2 You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask.
3 [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.
4 You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.

It is especially so with those who have had light, whether they have walked in that light or not.
What causes this turmoil?  Where does it come from?  

(James 4:1) From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  (KJV)

       James is the apostle of reality – he just tells it like it is.
We try to put the blame for our strife and upheavals on conditions or people or circumstances around us.
Workers strikes are blamed on labor conditions under which the strikers have to work.
Countries go to war to protect their interest or maintain their countries honor.
Personal quarrels are brought on by some provocation on the part of the person we fight with.
But James doesn’t buy these excuses.
Strife and conflicts have their source within the soul.  Often these don’t have to be against another person but because of a heart not right with God there is a quarrel and conflict within ourselves.  Do you ever argue with yourself over what you know you should do or should not do?
That can be worse than a quarrel with someone else because we don’t have anyone to put the blame on but our self.
James says they originate not from without but from within.
“They arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members.”
Pulpit commentary says, “They come of the pleasures of the cravings of your carnal heart.”
It is the wild and selfish passions of the natural heart that stir up the animosities and conflicts of private life.  The passions that war upon your members.

       (1 Peter 2:11) Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;  (KJV)

The first stage is unreasonably desiring something which we should not have.
The second stage is envying those who have what we haven’t been able to have or the envying of their going or doing what we know we shouldn’t do.  This falls into the area of coveting.  
David got into all his trouble that way.  He saw, he coveted, he took, he tried to cover up, he got into more trouble.  This is what he said:

(Psalms 32:3-4) When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.  (KJV)

That is what James is talking about.
Sin caused what David was going through.  It causes us to go through the same type of soul unrest.  It causes war within the heart.
Although people do what they want to and get what they think they want there is a continue want down in the soul.  A fighting there – an unsatisfied feeling there.  “Ye have not…”
It is because of the discord in the soul that will never be on-cord until it is righted with God.
It has its source in that devouring hunger of the heart which only the bread of God can appease.  To cure it,  it must be fed from God.

Our prayer must be acceptable prayer.  All prayer isn’t acceptable, because it only cares about oneself – to quiet our spirit or fulfill our desires and  not to change our lives and being.
The plaque says that, “Prayer changes things,” but real prayer changes people.
What is unacceptable prayer?

(James 4:3-4) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  (KJV)

“Ye adulteresses.”  God is the rightful husband of every individual, especially those who call on His name.  He has a right to us – our loyalty – our love – our dependence.  
But James says, “Ye adulteresses, friendship of the world is enmity with God.”
What is this friendship?
1.  Practice of friendship with wrong things or with legitimate things wrongly.  
2.  A daily pursuit of those things that replace God.
3.  Seeking things of creature comfort and pleasures outside of God.

Worldliness does not depend on outward acts or habits alone.  Worldliness is in the state of the heart.
These things, whether in act or spirit, cause strife and conflicts in the soul, simply because it leaves God out.
But God promises us grace in our time of need.  This is more than supplying our material needs or giving us answers.  It is grace that meets our need in the midst of strife and conflict  of soul.
How?  By prayer and submission to God.

What is this submission?

(James 4:7-10) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  (KJV)

In these verses is a powerful and heart stirring appeal to those whose hearts have been troubles and full of worldly pleasures, whose hands have been occupied with wars and fightings.

(James 4:6) But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  (KJV)

God sets himself in array against the proud; therefore be subject to Him.
This means to come to Him and be saved.  It means to obey and accept His dealings with you.

There are eight things that we are told to do here:
(1)  Submit to God (v. 7)
(2)  Resist the devil (v. 7)
(3)  Draw nigh to God (v. 8)
(4)  Cleanse your hands (v.8)
(5)  Purify your hearts (v. 8)
(6)  Be afflicted – be penitent and weep over your disloyalty (v. 9)
(7)  Be serious – salvation is a serious thing – it is life or death, heaven or hell (v. 9)
(8)  Humble yourselves in the sight of God (v. 10)

       He becomes our Lord.
       Our sovereign King.
       King of my life I crown Thee now
       Thine shall the Glory be.

Our lives are to be lived from then on to “the praise of His glory.”
Included in this is that we allow Him to control us in body and mind, in intellect and conscience, in heart and will (that is where the battle and strife are) in act and habit.
We forsake our sins and are subject to God.
We long to be like Him in holiness.

(Matthew 5:6) Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  (KJV)
We will find that if we do this God will calm the inner recesses of our soul and we will be satisfied in Him.

(1)  We must resist the devil.  “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (v. 7)
No matter how long you walk with the Lord you have a lifelong job of resisting the devil.
Resisting the devil consists of standing for God.
We have the necessary equipment  to defeat the devil.

(Ephesians 6:10-18) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;  (KJV)

We have the blood of Jesus Christ.  We have Jesus Christ Himself.
(Ephesians 4:27) Neither give place to the devil.  (KJV)  Then the scripture goes on to tell us that we are to live so as not to give place to the devil.
As soon as we let the devil have a little ground he takes complete possession.

The design of the devil is to keep us from doing just that.
The best way to resist the devil is to seek God’s face.
He opens for us a new and living way through access to the Blood of Jesus Christ.

Three ways to draw nigh to God:
1.  Pray.  
2.  Express within our own heart a longing to be what He wants us to be.
3.  Put away our sins.  We cannot draw nigh to God with one hand and hold on to the world with the other.


1.  Being saved always involves repentance.  
John McArthur visited Eastern Europe and said they called new Christians, repenters.  When describing they always said they repented.  He went on to say they were given opportunity to stand before the church and testify and their testimony was of their repentance and conversion.

A. W. Tozer wrote,
“The formula “Accept Christ” has become a panacea of universal application, and I believe it has been fatal to many…
“The trouble is that the whole “Accept Christ” attitude is likely to be wrong.  It shows Christ appealing to us rather than us to Him.  It makes him stand hat – in – hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us.  It may even permit us to accept Christ by impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no loss to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life.
“For this ineffectual manner of dealing with a vital matter we might imagine some parallels’ as if, for instance, Israel in Egypt had “accepted” the blood of the Passover but continued to live in bondage, or the prodigal son  had “accepted” his father’s forgiveness and stayed among the swine in the far country.  Is it not plain that if accepting Christ is to mean anything there must be moral action that accords with it?”

Accepting Christ and simply believing isn’t the answer.
The Lord’s great commission was to preach repentance.

(Luke 24:47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  (KJV)

Repentance was the church’s message in the book of Acts.

(Acts 3:19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;  (KJV)

Look at Peter’s message to Simon, who wanted to purchase the power the apostles had in the Holy Ghost.

(Acts 8:22) Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.  (KJV)

Someone has said that, “Repentance and faith are the two sides of the same coin.  That coin is called conversion.”  The two cannot be separated.
A theological dictionary give this meaning for repentance:  “Radical conversion, a transformation of nature, a definitive turning from evil, a resolute turning to God in total obedience.  It is addressed to all without distinction and presented with unmitigated severity in order to indicate the only way of salvation there is.  It calls for a real surrender, a total commitment to the will of God.  It embraces the whole walk of the new man who is claimed by the divine lordship.  It carries with it the founding of a new personal relationship  of man to God.  It awakens joyous obedience for a life according to God’s will.”

It is more than saying a few words.
It is a change of heart and actions.

Godly repentance is true humility –

(James 4:9-10) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  (KJV)

The promise is when we humble ourselves before God “He shall lift you up.”
Wars and strife, quarrels and fightings in your soul press you down.  But when you submit yourself t God, He will lift you up.
You may think it is hard to do and be what God requires of you – not if you obey the Word.
He giveth more grace.
Submit yourself to God.
Resist the devil.
Draw nigh to God.
Cleanse your hands and purify your hearts.
Humble yourself before God and He shall lift you up.
Do you have a conflict going on in your heart? Does it tear you one way then another?  It makes getting along with someone else hard?

This is the answer.  The answer not only for now but for eternity.

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