Lesson 15


The Epistle of James

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:1 Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don't they come from your pleasures that war in your members? 4:2 You lust, and don't have. You kill, covet, and can't obtain. You fight and make war. You don't have, because you don't ask. 4:3 You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. 4:4 You adulterers and adulteresses, don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 


Today's Lesson 

In Today's Scripture, James begins to confront headlong a problem that has been most troublesome for Christians throughout history. James has already touched on the idea that sin creates dissension in the body of Christ. He wrote that favoritism for the rich disrupted the worship of all. The tongue is a restless evil because out of the same mouth that praises God comes curses for the men that God has created. Now he confronts headlong the root of the problem of differences between Christians.

 

All good gifts come down from a perfect heavenly Father, but the evil that men do comes from the corruption that is in their hearts. So, where does division and fighting among Christians come from? James believes it comes from the sin that is at work within us, what the World English Bible translates, "your pleasures that war in your members." Sin between men comes from the unfulfilled desires that sinful flesh craves. The sin within us constantly lusts for more sin, an ever-increasing supply that can never be filled. We covet, but our covetousness can never be filled. As soon as we obtain one thing we covet the sin within us covets even more. Have you ever experienced wanting something such as a new car so badly that you were consumed with watching others with new cars? You had fantasies about how happy they must be with their new cars? When you get that new car, were you surprised that you needed something else almost that exact minute? Your desires will never be filled in this world. It is the Lord's desires that will bring you satisfaction.

 

The goal of sin is death. Sin that is within us will always seek to corrupt the holiness and the purity of God and His creation. By its very nature sin is never satisfied. For this reason the sinner is always on a downward spiral, circling lower and lower in depravity and debasement. How far will men go to feed their desires? Pick up a newspaper and see the latest headlines. Tomorrow's will be worse. The tragedy is not that today's sin is far worse than at any time before. The tragedy is that we learn none of the proper lessons from our sin.

 

Why does the adulterer return to his adultery every time, even when it did not satisfy him the before? Why do we continue to lie to each other when the previous lies have only left us feeling empty and worthless? It is because the sin that is within us feeds upon itself. Sin crushes our hope. It sucks at our life and given long enough, will suck the life away from us until we are hollow shells, incapable of emotion or passion.

 

The way of this world is to heap up sin on top of sin, always seeking a newer sensation or a deeper depravity. When we are stuck in the cycle of sin, there is no depth to which we will not allow ourselves to sink. When we seek to fulfill our lust, when we seek only to satisfy our desires, we become a friend of this world and an enemy of God's. The world is in opposition to God. We must choose to cooperate with one or the other, God or the world.

 

Each desire that we have originated with a desire that God placed on our hearts. Sin warps and twists the desires that God placed there. God wants us to love one another. Sin twists that love into lust and manipulations. God wants us to give of ourselves freely just as He gave Himself to us. Sin seeks to barter intimacy. I will love you if you fill my desires or meet my expectations.

 

If we ask of God, He will fulfill every desire of our hearts in righteous and holy ways. We don’t have this fulfillment because we don’t ask of God. We seek to fulfill these desires through our own means. This is the road to sin. Sin is the rejection of God's way and the substitution of our own ways. Sin is rebellion against God, rebellion against God's authority over us.

 

What do your actions say about the desires of your heart? What desires are you seeking to fulfill and what means are you attempting to fulfill them with? Is your heart filled with its own lusts or with the implanted word of God?

 

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