Summary: If we want to live a victorious Christian life we must submit to God.


Text: James 4:1-10


1. Read James 4:1-10

2. There are no victories at discount prices.

General Dwight Eisenhower.

3. In order to have victory in our lives we have to do what it takes to obtain them.

Proposition: If we want to live a victorious Christian life we must submit to God.

Transition: James gives us three secrets to victorious living. First...

I. Pray According to God’s Will (1-3)

A. Because You Ask Amiss

1. James asks "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?"

a. The word wars refers to fighting without weapons, as in personal conflicts. These conflicts have nothing to do with quarrels with the pagan world; these are quarrels within the church, among believers.

b. The word fights refers to battles with weapons, an armed conflict. It was used figuratively to indicate the struggle between powers, both earthly and spiritual.

2. Obviously, disagreements will occur in every church. But when they happen, are we wise enough to understand why? Do we know their source?

3. Fights and quarrels are being caused, not by some external source, but by the people’s evil desires.

a. When everyone seeks his or her own pleasure, only strife, hatred, and division can result.

b. At war in your members suggests a raging battle fought between the desire to do good and the desire to do evil.

4. In verse 2, James gets to the real heart of the matter. He says "Ye 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."

a. The craving described here becomes so strong that the people scheme and kill to get it.

b. The word kill can be taken as a figure of speech for bitter hatred.

c. Instead of rethinking their desires, the people being described by James resort to jealousy, fights, quarrels, and worse.

5. In summary, James’s message is: The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. In other words, "You don’t have what you desire because you don’t desire God."

6. James says that even when you do ask, you do not receive because "you ask amiss."

a. The word "amiss" pertains to being incorrect or inaccurate, with the possible implication of also being reprehensible —Louw & Nida: NT Greek-English Lexicon

b. People should not be surprised when their prayers go unanswered because often their whole motive is wrong. They were going to spend what they received on their pleasures.

c. Our prayers may not get answered because what we are seeking is our will and not God’s will.

d. 1 Jn. 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

B. God’s Will Must Always Come First

1. Illustration: Do not hastily ascribe things to God. Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions or revelations to be from God. They may be from Him. They may be from nature. They may be from the Devil. J.K. Johnston

2. We always get ourselves into trouble when we seek our own will over God’s.

3. Seeking our own will leads to:

a. Quarrels

b. Strife

c. Heartache

d. Financial trouble

4. When God bolts the door, don’t try to get in through the window. The will of God never will lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.

5. If it’s not God’s will, you don’t want it anyway!

Transition: If we look after God’s will it always leads us in the right direction.

II. Love God More Than the World (4-5)

A. Friendship with the World

1. James wants to shock these people into reality when he says, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

a. The shocking words adulterers and adulteresses graphically describes the spiritual unfaithfulness of the people and intends to jar them into facing their true spiritual condition.

b. These believers were trying to love God and have an affair with the world.

c. James is doing exactly what God did with Israel in the book of Hosea, when He instructs Hosea to marry the prostitute Gomer as an illustration of the peoples unfaithfulness.

2. The problem is that some people try and live in two worlds. They want to be a Christian and live according to the ways of the world too.

a. But it won’t work, because friendship with this world makes a person an enemy of God.

b. For believers, the world and God are two distinct objects of affection, but they are direct opposites.

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Glen O'brien

commented on Sep 21, 2006

The excellent quote about not easily ascribing visions etc. to God is actually from John Wesley not J.K. Johnston.

Mark Schaeufele

commented on Apr 2, 2014

Thanks Glen, I actually got the quote from this website.

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