Summary: James tells us about the symptoms, the source, and the salve for self centeredness.


Text: James 4:1 – 10


· Between 250 and 262 AD a pestilence raged all over the Roman Empire. In some Italian cities, 80% of the population died out. Historians and scientists estimate that ½ of the human race died in those 12 years.

· The Black Death ravaged Europe in 1347 and 1348. About 25 million people died, about ¼ or Europe’s population. Worldwide, as many as 75 million died.

· In 1918, a flu epidemic killed 21 million people around the world; 850,000 were in the US. The disease killed more people than WWI.

· Today we worry about AIDS, bird flu, and cancer. Some diseases attack people of a particular age group, nationality, race, or sex, but there is one disease that has been ravaging untreated in some of our churches for decades – self centeredness.

· Self centeredness is when the only person that you worry about is yourself.

· All of your decisions are based upon what’s good for you and what you want.

· James tells us about the symptoms, the source, and the salve for self centeredness.

I. James describes the symptoms of self centeredness in the lives of believers.

A. Self centeredness leads to disagreements. (v. 1)

· “Wars” and “fightings” are plural, suggesting ongoing conflict rather than a one-time event

· Don’t know specifically what they were fighting about, but James indicates that the disagreements centered around pleasing themselves.

· Greek for “lusts” is the word that we get our word “hedonism” from; means a desire for pleasure and the things that cause it

· Jesus used this word in the parable of the sower and the seed when He described how the cares and riches and pleasures of this life choke the life out of the Word’s influence in our lives

· Some churches are fighting over Bible version, type of music, dress; all based on personal preferences

B. Self centeredness leads to relying upon one’s self. (v. 2)

· James points out to these believers that they had stopped relying upon God to answer their prayers, and that they had been trying to make things happen all by themselves.

· Suggests that they were guilty of murder because of their self centeredness.

· Matthew 5:21, 22 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:”

· In spite of all the hurt and turmoil that had been caused by their self centeredness, they still didn’t get their way.

C. Self centeredness leads to an improper prayer life. (v. 3)

· Some had even dared to ask God to fulfill their selfish desires, but God said “No” because of the attitude of their hearts.

· 1 John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”

· 1 John 5:14, 15 “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

· God wants us to bring our needs to him, but these people were trying to outdo one another, and were going to use God’s blessings to hurt others and to get their way

II. James ascribes the source of self centeredness in the lives of believers.

A. Self centeredness is caused by rebellion against God. (v. 4)

· James accuses these believers with deliberately siding with the world in order to get what they wanted.

· God wasn’t going to answer their prayers; they had no where else to turn.

· This is what made Lucifer fall – he was proud and self centered, and rebelled against God in order to get his way.

· How many people do you know that didn’t get their way in a church and turned their back on God as a result?

· “I don’t agree with how the church is being ran…I won’t pay my tithes.”

· “They voted against my motion, so I’m going to get as many people as I can to vote against theirs.”

B. Self centeredness is caused by left-over remnants of our old nature. (v. 5)

· These believers were clearly walking after the flesh instead of the Spirit.

· Galatians 5:15 – 17 “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

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