James 4:1-12 Conflicts: Causes & Cures

by | Aug 25, 2023 | James, New Testament

I. Conflict Among Christians

A. The Causes Of Conflict Vs. 1-3

1. Wars and fights– Speaks of the environment of fighting, and the actual fights.
2. V. 1 Desire for pleasures cause conflict. Consider the fights on Black Friday.

a. These are not the desire for necessities, but for pleasures.
b. Desires for pleasures– a compound word from which we get the word hedonism.
c. That war in your members- basic, carnal, animalistic desires. Impulsive & fleshly.

3. James 3 spoke of those whose so-called wisdom is earthly, sensual and demonic.

a. They try to counsel others but their hearts are carnal, and their words are harsh.
b. James 4 goes even lower. Here, people are fighting over carnal desires.
c. Example- Black Friday-The day after Thanksgiving, people fight each other to buy discounted items at stores.

i. James 3-Carnal suggestions about how to purchase sale items before others do.
ii. James 4– If that “wisdom” doesn’t work, just fight them in the store.

4. V. 2a-c This is the outworking of unrestrained passionate cravings.
5. Vs. 2d, 3 The last part of V. 2 fits better with V. 3. No punctuation marks in the Greek.

a. James is not suggesting that unfulfilled lusts are due to a lack of prayer.
b. He is saying that when people have passionate cravings for the wrong things, they rarely pray. They just find ways to get what they want.
c. If they do pray, they don’t receive. God doesn’t answer prayers for sinful desires.
d. Praying for sinful things is a huge indication of a carnal heart.
e. Asking a holy God to give you unholy things is inconsistent with the Christian faith.

B. Analysis Of Those Causing Conflict Vs. 4-6

1. V. 4 When someone is unfaithful in a marriage, they create an opposition, a breakdown.

a. The Church (Christians) is called the Bride of Christ.
b. If we align or join ourselves with the world, we are creating a spiritual unfaithfulness.
c. It doesn’t mean we are unsaved (unmarried), but there is a breakdown and an offense.
d. It is forgivable, but damaging. Worldly lusts create relational separation from God.

2. V. 5 As a husband is rightly jealous for his wife, so God’s Spirit within us is jealous for us
3. V. 6 We can decide what kind of relationship we want with God.

a. Unfaithful and in opposition because we insist on being proud and getting our way.
b. Faithful & in harmony because we humble ourselves, and receive God’s grace.

4. NOTE- Who is James addressing?

a. Brethren/ Christians-1:2, 1:16, 1:19, 2:1, 2:5, 2:14, 3:1, 3:10, 4:11, 5:7, 5:9, 5:12, 5:19.
b. James is not a book that explains salvation; it explains Christian living.
c. Sometimes Christians don’t live like Christians ought to. Areas & seasons of failure.
d. We can be carnal, have sensual wisdom inspired by demons, use words that cause firestorms, and have passionate lusts that cause us to fight with one another.
e. This is a book of analysis, encouragement and correction.
f. In this passage, if you have ungodly desires, you put yourself in the place of a cheating spouse who is becoming estranged from their spouse, and who will experience relational separation and opposition from God.
g. In such instances, God doesn’t stop loving us, but He will pull back relationally & will eventually discipline us.
h. Two truths- God indwells the Christian, but He also relates to the Christian.
i. A married couple can co-exist, and yet have deep relational separation/breakdown.

II. The Cure For Conflict

A. Change Of Attitude-Submit To God Vs. 7, 8a, 9, 10

1. V. 7 If you find yourself creating an environment of war, and getting into arguments regularly, we are instructed on how to change that.

a. Submit to God. Surrender to Him, honor Him, agree with Him re. your sinful desires
b. Resist the devil. This is a conscious and deliberate act. Satan is a Tempter, but if you resist him and the temptations, he will retreat at least for a time.
c. Jesus resisted the devil in His wilderness temptations.

i. Luke 4:13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

2. V. 8a Draw near to God. Read His word. Pray. Be with God’s people in koinonia.

a. God will draw near to you. Relationally, you will be and feel closer to God.
b. God will never leave us or forsake us, but we can pull away from intimacy with Him.

3. V. 9 Have godly sorrow. Exchange a joyous attitude for a sorrowful one re. your sins.

a. 1 Samuel 15:30 (NKJV) Then he (Saul) said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.”
b. 2 Samuel 24:10 (NKJV) 10 And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”
c. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (NKJV) 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

4. V. 10 Humble- to bring yourself low. Insisting on your own way is to lift yourself up.

a. Lack of humility is pride, and that will cause God to oppose you and pull away.
b. Humility results in God lifting you up. He will lift you out of creating fights & wars.

B. Change Of Behavior Vs. 8b, 11, 12

1. V. 8b Drawing near to God requires that we cleanse our lives.

a. When you get something dirty on your hands, you wash it off to remove it.
b. If you want to draw near to God, remove the dirtiness of your carnal passions.
c. Ungodly desires lead to ungodly actions; godly actions restore godly desires.
d. Don’t wait for your emotions to change before you change your actions.
e. Change your actions and your emotions will follow

2. V. 11 In their carnal pursuits, they also judged and condemned others.

a. Do not speak evil– to maliciously and falsely, to slander and defame.
b. The word of God is the true standard of judging a man, not our opinions.
c. When we reset the standard of judging a man, we elevate ourselves over God’s word.

3. V. 12 We are not the Lawgiver, or the sentencing judge.

a. These Believers had haughty attitudes and judgmental actions and words.
b. Destroy- apollymi– To kill, render useless, condemn to Hell. Apollyon=Satan
c. If we are carnal about what we want, we will be carnal about how we condemn.
d. God is the Author, Interpreter, and Executor of His own Law.
e. If we have carnal hearts, we are adulterers and adulteresses “In Jesus’ name”.
f. This isn’t about the Christian who stumbles and falls, it’s about the one who embraces carnal passions, and as a result, is an unrepentant condemner of fellow Believers.