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The War WIthin, Part Two

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., January 29, 2017
Part of the James series.

As we discovered last Sunday, James 4 is another one of those rather blunt sections of the Epistle that tells us plainly the way things are with each of us. The brother of our Lord is addressing the real cause of relational discord within the body of Christ, and he identifies the source as our “passions,” which are “at war” within each of us (4:1). Behind every quarrel and fight and every relational fracture is a passion that is seeking satisfaction in an illegitimate way. Deep in our hearts we want what we want, how we want it, and when we want it. And if we don’t get it, then things fall apart.

This is what the inspired author means in verses 2-3 where we discover an unholy logic at work. Unrequited “lust” leads to things like “murder” and coveting. A believer under the influence of such lusts and “passions” will say and do things he never envisioned. When our lusts rule the day, there are always consequences and collateral damage. We never lust for something in isolation. Others are always affected. And this is a most serious thing when it comes to the unity, purity, and harmony of the body of Christ.

What is the answer to this persistent and pervasive problem of our unshackled “passions”? What do we do when we find ourselves in the heat of this “war” that is raging within each of us? How can our relationships within the Church be protected from the havoc wrought by our selfish desires?

As we will see this Lord’s Day, the simple solution is found in verses 2-3. And it is about asking—about asking the right Person in the right way. To better understand the pathway through this warfare, let your mind and heart reflect upon those familiar words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34. And then let’s all pray that the preaching of God’s Word will richly bless and edify His people.

James 4:1-3

1From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (KJV)