1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. ~ James 4:1-2
Today, we transition into James 4 where we are introduced to another test of genuine faith in the God of the Bible. The believer in Christ has two natures as a result of believing in and receiving Christ as our Savior. So, we have a constant civil war within, and if we feed the old nature, we will not experience the life of the Lord Jesus. We will not experience the life He died to give us.
When we are motivated by the values of this world, we are motivated by the fulfillment of self. When we are being defined by the flesh or the evil desires within us, we believe we will be happy if we are self-fulfilled. The problem with this approach to life is it is predicated on a false understanding of freedom.
Most believe freedom is the ability to do what we want, when we want, wherever we want. This definition ignores the fact that we are fallen and we no longer operate according to the specifications that we were created with by God. This is why when we give an inch to the flesh, we are taking miles down a long, dark and destructive road which was not intended for us by God.
In v.1 of today's text we read, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?"
Our external conflicts come from our internal conflict. The word translated "desires" in this verse is the word from which we get our word "hedonism" which is the theory that says pleasure is the highest good and proper aim of a human life. But, all external conflict in the world rises out of the uncontrollable desires of people that are not in tune with the God who created us.
In Romans 8:6 we read, "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace."
According to Romans 5:8 and Hebrews 1:13, when we were not believers in Christ, we were the enemies of God. This was the case because we had rejected God's definitions of all things. That is to say, we had rejected the truth and we had embraced the lie.
According to physics, the second law of thermodynamics, alerts us that in an isolated system energy is lost over time, that things don't stay in their constant state, but they deteriorate, they degenerate over time. The day Mankind sinned in the Garden of Eden, the second law of thermodynamics was set into action. And, as a result, we are now subjected to death in all of its forms. This explains why the unsaved man's default mode is to obey his flesh. When we obey our flesh, we sin, we rebel against the truth.
When we were slaves of sin, we were trapped in one choice, the choice of the god of this world. Good for us that the Lord Jesus agreed to come and sign the edict of God to free anyone willing to receive redemption through Christ. The Lord Jesus signed that edict or covenant with His blood. In Romans 8 we are given the Christian's emancipation proclamation. It begins in Romans 8:1 with NO CONDEMNATION for the believer in Christ. And, it ends with NO SEPARATION from God.
In v.2 of today's text we read, "You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God."
Even though you and I are born again believers in Christ, we can, yet, be enslaved to sin. And, at the root of all sin is covetousness, wanting what does not belong to us. Even though we have been made alive in Christ to God, we can still be slaves to our fallen, evil desires.
The "you kill" and the "you quarrel and fight" statements in v.2 are the things that we do when our evil desires for gratification are thwarted. When the believer in Christ gives the flesh free reign, we are inviting destruction into our lives. Most often, we arrive at this place due to the fact that we have not asked God for His definitions for our lives. James has set before us a choice to submit to the will of God or to gratify our own evil desires for the pleasures of this world. He has warned us if the satisfaction of our evil pleasures is more important to us than the will of God for our lives, nothing but strife and hatred and division can possibly follow. Our souls passionately want and yet are unsatisfied, because we are not being defined by God.
Finally, it is only when believers in Christ are bound by the will of God that we experience true freedom. Of course, if we are not being defined by the God of the Bible, the previous statement makes no sense. In John 4:37 we read, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink." The Lord Jesus did not point us away from Himself to a body of teaching. He called us to come to Him personally and to depend upon Him to live His life in us and through us. This is how we overcome the battle that we have with the flesh on a daily basis. This is how we realize the wisdom of God on a daily basis because the Lord Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God.