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last week we discussed the difference between the worlds wisdom and Godly wisdom..
this week we will see a struggle in the church that James is working with. He obviously needs to bring this up because there is some issues going on with some. there is a dis unity within the church and James knows the reason for it. He doesn’t hold back. we see that a church can have struggle in it.... people in church can fight with each other. is it what God wants? certainly not. James gives the way out of fighting and a way forward for the church.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
you know, if we have lived for any length of time, we have gone through a fight. kids fight at times, adults do too. and yes, the church does as well.
if we look at the fight, usually there is something to fight over.....a wrong perceived that we want made right....a hurt that we want justice with.....a disagreement on a decision that we want our way with.
this verse points at one thing that if we take the time to look at, we may find an incredible amount of freedom in our lives as we come to terms with, and that is our desires or our passions within us. simply, what we want. now i am not saying that what we want is always the wrong thing or that it is bad. for us to know if it is good or bad, right or wrong, we need to bring it before the Lord. it is the Lord that will reveal our true motives to our desires.
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.
we see some really strong words that James is using....and for good reason.
if they cant get what they want they......
he uses murder? or kill? fight and quarrel.
you know, if people could just slow it down.....see what is happening when they get offended…catch on to what is going on within them....they could allow God to show them their heart.
but when offence goes unchecked.....when selfish desire takes hold....it can lead to all sorts of struggles. fights, quarrels, even physical abuse or killing! that is where it can lead.... so let’s know this and use the wisdom from God in this area of life.
He finishes with pointing out that they do not ask.... he is speaking about praying. prayer needs to be the first place they go. but even if there is prayer, still the heart needs to be checked for motive.
James points out motive in his next verse...
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
So he goes from them not praying to praying with wrong motives.
ever prayed a prayer because you wanted something so bad........but later to realize it was your own desire and not Gods will?
James is revealing the power of motive..... how it leads to prayers that go no where. God knows what we need.... His will is where we find answered prayer. when we are outside His will and looking for our own desires to be filled, we are not looking to God. that is why James can say in verse 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.
God is meant to be the one that we look to in this life for our peace, our joy, our salvation. that is why he can say to them these words. they were looking for their own desires to be fulfilled, as the world does instead of looking to the will of God.
in essence, they were committing spiritual adultery. they were still desiring and living worldly ways. they were still living for self.
before we look down on these people James is dealing with....we must reflect on our own lives. how easy is it to slip back into what we had practiced in our life before Christ?
but still, we must be awake to the life in Christ. we must see the difference. we must know that God called us to much greater things. He wants to be the one that we look to instead of the world.
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”?
James is speaking to Christians here .....the early church. she is certainly not without her problems.... the reference to the spirit here is the spirit that God created to live within us from the start. We see that He desires to be connected to our spirit when using words like jealously.... God wants to be close to His people! God wants to be close to you.
the NT opened the way for the Spirit of God to dwell inside us. this is pointing out the first and most important truths of how the church is to deal with the struggle between each other. the Spirit of God indwelling us will lead and guide us into God’s will. the Spirit of God is where we find unity....as the church.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
another issue and another solution is revealed here as we see a verse connecting with proverbs and also Peter references this ......pride is a divider, a destroyer....God is seen here as against pride.
the opposite of pride his humility.. humility is power in control. there are so many great pictures of humility in scripture but i think might top them all seeing the picture of Jesus being led to the slaughter but not opening His mouth...... basically the picture of the cross where Jesus had the power to take Himself down but did not because of you and I. He submitted to the will of the Father. and this is the next insight, submitting to God.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
a life verse here.....and a truth that has the other two within it. to truly submit ourselves to God we must have the Spirit within us and humble ourselves. the flesh fights against God which we see in Galatians with the flesh contrary to the Spirit and the pride can’t allow God His rightful place because it wants to be first and the most important.
this is the battle. it is really within us. it is a surrendering of our flesh and pride and getting closer to the Lord.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
again, we see James being direct. but what he is telling them is to look at their life....at what they do, at where their hearts are at......and get close to God!
take life serious..... James even tells them how they should be expressing themselves as they see evil within them...
Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
when we are not walking close to God we see our life reflecting that. We know....so does God. at these times we need to take it serious. we need to see where our life and heart is at. and we need to repent.
in ancient days they would show their grief and sadness with sackcloth and ashes..... it was and outward expression of an inward reality. the sackcloth was rough and rubbed on their skin as a reminder of the irritation and frustration. the ashes were symbolic of humility and sorrow. it speaks to us today about showing our attitude toward our own sin. the closer we get to God, the more we will hate sin.
as we do this, God meets us there...
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
as we see our position before the Lord, and we submit ourselves to Him....in His time, He will raise us up. He will strengthen us....He will cause us to have joy!
in the next two verses James reveals another issue we can have in the church which is connected to pride and rebellion.... which is being judgmental.
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.
James is clearing up an issue. the church is not meant to take a place of being above one another. also, we are not to speak evil or slander each other.
look at what how James explains speaking evil against another....it is equal to speaking against the law and judging the law. Ouch! what a position to be in! no one wants to be there. No one has the right to be there but One.
this is the power of words ..... and gossip is one of those things that can be hard to repair.
There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
God is the Judge. He is the only One who has the ability to judge perfectly.
And when we are judgmental over another, whether we know it or not, we are trying to take the place of God. that is the epitome of pride. it was the sin of satan. He wanted the place of God.
also, when we look down on a person.....what happens to love? we cannot love when we are being judgmental.
So, we have been looking at fighting within the church..... it can happen. and if it does, it can reak havoc on the people. Scripture teaches us how to deal with it. it really begins within our own heart.
to deal with it....
first, the Spirit of God indwelling the people. We find unity and the power of God there.
humility. knowing our position here in life. we are children of God. He is always above us. and that is a comfort and a guard against pride.
submit. God has a way for you and I. if we come to Him humbly, guided by His Spirit,looking for His way and not our own… God will speak to us and show us the way.