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Now that we see the destruction of bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, James continues to move toward the root cause of conflicts among us-even the cause of wars on the planet. In chapter 3 we saw the comparison between earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. Here in chapter 4 James compares the human ways (do it my way) with God’s ways. Doing things according to your way or the way of the world will end in quarrels, fights, interpersonal conflicts, stepping on one another, cut-throating in the marketplace, etc. He simply lays out the primary cause and the cure in these matters.
THE CAUSE-(James 4:1-5)-selfish desires.What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasuresthat wage war in your members? You lustand do not have; soyou commit murder.[You lust after something and take on a murderous disposition of anger in order to get it.]
You are enviousand cannot obtain; soyou fight and quarrel.[You want something you can’t have or don’t have and become disagreeable and quarrelsome.]You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend iton your pleasures.[From God’s perspective, you don’t have for two reasons-(1) you do not ask and (2) you ask with the wrong motives-to satisfy your selfish desires. You are not seeking things from God but are acting like people of the world system who live outside the kingdom of God.]
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. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?[Friendship with the world (even acting as they do) makes you an enemy of God. Don’t you get it that God passionately desires His work within you and will do anything to hold on to you?]