In the last verse of Ch 3 James points out that the wise man is a peace-loving man. Quote.
In chapter 4 he reminds us of the tragic strife that sometimes exists among God’s people.
The reason for this is that some are ceaselessly striving to satisfy their lust for pleasure … possessions … and position. The danger of worldliness.
v. 1-20 The source of all strife.
From whence come wars and fightings among you?
The reason … strong, fleshly desires striving to be satisfied.
Some of these desires are: to accumulate material possessions … the drive for prestige … the craving for pleasure … the gratification of fleshly appetites.
These power forces work within each of us in some they become unharnessed and break loose.
v. 2 James says “Ye kill” … this is not literal murders … it means that some brethren in order to obtain their fleshly desires will trample roughshod over anyone who obstructs their progress. 1 John 3:15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.”
In essence of course, anger-wrath-jealousy-cruelty are murders in embryo form.
Ye fight and war, yet ye have not … because ye ask not.
The bickering and strife among believers comes from the desire for more things and from jealousy.
Many believers do not have what God wants them to have because they do not ask God in prayer.
Don’t argue … don’t fight … “pray”. This is the right approach to this problem. Put your life in God’s hands.
One of the reasons for unanswered prayer. Asking with the wrong motives … to gratify the flesh.
The psychology of these three verses is to be content with what we have and to rejoice in what God has given to us and to wait with anticipation on the good things He will give us.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
James in v. 4 condemns the excessive love of material things as spiritual adultery.
An adulteress is one who is unfaithful.
God wants us to love Him first and foremost with everything we have. Thessalonian believers “turned to God”.
If we set up material idols and value them above God we are spiritually unfaithful, and in Biblical language we are adulteress. The same of being an adulterer physically.
Not also the admonition that friendships with the world’s systems makes us at variance with God, in fact says James it makes us the enemy of God.
Never let us forget that it was the world’s systems – political and religious that crucified the Lord of Life and Glory … our Lord.
How can a believer walk hand in hand with the world that murdered their Savior.
This verse would draw our attention to the spirit that worketh in us. This would refer to our old nature – the old man – the Adamic nature.
v. 16 “But He giveth more grace.” Not the change in thought here.
In the first five verses we saw how wicked the old nature in a believer can be. Now we learn that we are not left to deal with the lusts of the flesh in our own strength. Grace for every need.
“He giveth more grace”, i.e. strength whenever it is needed. “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
To prove that God gives strength as it is needed, James quotes Proverbs 3:24. God resisteth the proud … but gives His all-sufficient grace to the humble – the needy.
Verse 7-10 True Repentance
In these verses there are “six steps” to be followed where there is true repentance.
1. We must submit to God. Submission – subjection – surrender. We must be subject to Him … we must be ready to listen and obey Him … We must not be proud … we must be tender and contrite.
2. Resist the devil. We do this by closing our hearts and ears to his suggestions and temptations. We do this by using the Sword of the Spirit – and putting on the armour of God. If we resist him by these means then he will flee from us.
3. Draw near to God. We draw near to God in prayer … on occasions we must come in desperate believing prayer … pouring out our hearts at all times. When we do this He draws near to us … even when we have sinned and we come to Him confessing, He restores our soul.
4. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners and purify your hearts ye double minded. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Ch 1-8. The hands, speaking of outward actions and the heart speaks of inward motives.
We cleanse our hands and purify our hearts through confessing and forsaking our sin, both inward and outward. See Psalm 24.
1. Confession should be accompanied by deep sorrow for sin. Verse 9. “Be afflicted and mourn and weep,” let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. When God visits us in conviction … it is time to prostrate ourselves, and mourn over our sinfulness … powerlessness … coldness … and barrenness. We should humble ourselves and sorrow over our materialism – secularism – and formalism. We should show the signs of godly repentance. We should mourn and weep.
2. Finally we should humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. If we honestly take our place in true repentance at His feet … then says James, He will lift you up … he will restore you and exalt you. Job 22-29 “When men are cast down then thou shalt say there is lifting up and He shall save the humble person.”
v. 11-12 The sin of evil speaking.
The next sin James deals with is speaking evil of our brother.
The royal law (Ch 2-8) says that we should “love our neighbor as ourselves.” To criticize a brother unjustly is breaking this law and will be held accountable.
We are not under the Law; we are doers of the Law. James says in v. 12 that God is the only Judge … he alone has the power to save or destroy. See E ph 4:31, “Let all evil speaking be put away from you.”
v. 13-17 The sin of self-confidence
The next sin James condemns is that of boastful planning in independence of God.
He pictures an aggressive business man laying plans for the future.
Notice the details of this plan.
This business man was meticulous in his planning.
He thought about the time – today or tomorrow
He thought about the personnel – we
He thought about the place – this city
He thought about the duration – spend a year there
He thought about the activity – trade
He thought about the anticipated result – get gain … make money.
These are detailed and well-laid plans … one thing is missing
God was never one taken into the plans. The rich farmer
This is a dangerous procedure … we are provoking God when we act in this way.
James says that self-will is sinful. To say “we will” or “I will” is sin.
Note the “I wills of Lucifer” in Isa 14:13, 14. There are five of them.
It is wrong to take your life into your own hands.
We do not know what a day may bring forth.
God should be consulted in all our plans … and they should be made in His will.
There is no certainty in life … our life is frail … and unpredictable … it is like a vapor which appeareth for a little, then vanishes away. “It is like a puff of smoke.”
We should live and speak knowing that our destinies are in His control. We should say in all our arrangements. “If the Lord will we shall both live and do this or that.”
Paul believed in this principle.
Acts 18-21 I will return to you “if the Lord will”.
1 Cor 4-19 I will come to you shortly “if the Lord wills”.
Sometimes Christians use the letters “D. V.” to express their dependence on God. These letters are the initials of two Latin words, “Deo volente” meaning God willing.
“But now you glory in your boastings” This verse is a strong admonition. These believers were boasting of their plans for the future. They were arrogant and lived as though nothing could interrupt their time schedule. They were acting as if they were masters of their own life.
Therefore to him that knoweth what is right to do good, and doeth it not (fails to do it), to him it is sin (he is guilty of sin).”
The doing good here in context would be the taking of God into every area of our life.
Living in a moment by moment dependence upon Him.
If we know that this is God’s will, that this is the right way, to fail to do it, is sin.
Chapter 4 has put us on trial with regard to covetousness … conflict … evil-speaking … planning without consulting God.
Some questions to ask ourselves: Do I covet to get more, or am I content with what I have?; Am I envious of what others have?; Do I pray before buying?; When God speaks do I submit or resist?; Do I speak evil against my brethren?; Do I make plans without consulting God?