Summary: Message 19 in our explorations of James. This message focuses on the war on the inside that triggers wars on the outside.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Living Above the Passions”
The book of James is all about living by genuine faith. James describes the kind of life the one who claims to live by faith lives.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
III. Faith’s True Nature 2:14-26
IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12
V. Faith’s way of life 3:13-18
A. Instruction – If you think you are wise, live wisely 3:13
James instructed the readers to live according to God’s ways. He called them out for claiming to understand God’s ways but not living by them. Admonitions to live what we believe flow throughout the whole letter.
Blessed is the one who hears and DOES the word of God. James follows this instruction with eight insights pertaining to living wisely. We explored four of them last week.
1. Claiming wisdom without living wisely makes you a liar. 3:14
2. Human wisdom arises from three sources. 3:15
3. Jealousy and strife breed a multitude of other evils 3:16
4. Peace promotes righteous living 3:17-18
God’s wisdom revealed in God’s implanted truth produces specific results. I suggested using this list as an effective template to examine our hearts. Pay attention to what comes out of our mouth. Pay attention to how we relate to others.
a. Purity vs stained
b. Peaceable vs hostile
c. Gentle vs inconsiderate
d. Reasonable vs stubborn
e. Full of mercy vs indifferent
f. Full of good fruits vs bad fruits
g. Unwavering vs unstable
h. Sincere vs hypocritical
James continued further insights regarding the differences between human wisdom and divine wisdom; between life according to the ways of God and life promoted by earthly, soulish and demonic sources. After the eight insights, James issues seven curative commands. He lists seven actions we should take to restore our heart to function according to God’s ways; the way of wisdom.
5. The war within triggers wars without 4:1-3
James already exposed the chaos created by a heart driven by bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. He provided additional insight into the cause of human conflict. He traces human conflict to an internal war of unbridled passions.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
“Your passions that are at war within you.” We are a walking civil war that breaks out into global wars. The word translated wars indicates a long drawn out battle. The war within triggers wars without.
James referenced these unbridled passions earlier.
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. James 1:14
Peter referenced the war within.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11
Paul referenced this war of inner passions.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. Romans 7:18
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Galatians 5:17
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:13-14
Christians wage war on three fronts. Selfish passions still imbedded in our brain and physiology, an anti-god world systemin which we live and a devil who energizes it all through an army of demons. If you lose on the inner personal level, you will lose on the relational level. We struggle with conflicting inner passions vying for control of the soul/heart. It looks something like this.
Self-serving passions and pursuits lie at the core of nearly every conflict. We get our English term “hedonism” from this Greek term.
It carries the idea of the gratification of sensual, natural, fleshly desires. When used in the New Testament, it is always used in a negative, ungodly sense. Hedonism is the uncontrolled personal desire to fulfill every passion and wish that promises sensual satisfaction and delight. Mattoon's Treasures
Paul warned Timothy about those who would be “lovers of their own selves”. 3:2 James wrote you “desire, set your heart upon” something and can’t have it.