Summary: The battle that wages between lustful/worldly desire and submission to God.
Most of you have heard of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. The two famous families from Kentucky, but most do not know why this feud lasted over a decade, or why at least 12 people died. It was over a pig, that’s right, it started over a pig It turned into timber rights Escalated because one Hatfield was interested in a McCoy… until bullets fly and years later they don’t even remember why they hate each other. They just do!
Fussing and fighting isn’t new. One of the first stories in the Bible is about Cain getting mad at his brother Abel and killing him out of jealousy. (Illustration by Anthony Zibolski Sermon central)
Today we just need to pick up the newspaper or turn on the news. There is conflict everywhere around us. Just this week we saw domestic violence in the worst way in Edmonton.
In James 4:1-10 we see battles and conflict raging with other people… with God and even with ones-self. There are two main issues that seem to arise from these conflicts and they are selfishness that leads to fighting….and selfishness that keeps us from submitting to God. Let’s read James 4:1-10:
4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
I. The War that Rages
There is a war that rages. Philo writes: “Consider the continual war which prevails among men even in times of peace, and which exists not only between nations and countries and cities, but also between private houses,… [and in] every individual;”… (And I would add even in the church today)
Philo goes on to wonder: Can “Anyone enjoy tranquility in such a storm”.
Plato wrote: “The sole cause of wars and revolutions and battles is nothing other than the body and its desires.
Lucian wrote:” All the evil that comes upon man…springs from desire.
Cicero wrote: It is [-] desire which overturn not only individual men, but whole families, and which even bring down the state. From desires there springs hatred, schisms, discord…. and wars.
The philosophers seem to be right on par with James in James 4:1we read: 4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
William Barclay writes: The New Testament is clear that overcoming desire for the pleasures of this world is always a threatening danger to the spiritual life. It is the cares and pleasures of this life which combine to choke the good seed in the parable where some of the good seed fell among the thorns.
Paul wrote in Titus 3:3 that he had struggled with this desire: 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
Barclay goes on to say: The ultimate choice in life lies between pleasing oneself and pleasing God; and a world in which men’s first aim is to please themselves is a battleground of savagery and division. This is the battle that can rage.
II. Understanding desire
There are three things I think we should know when trying to understand desire.
1. These desires can drive apart friends, families and associates. When we are trying to gratify the desires of worldly things we are going to come in conflict with others who have the same desires for the things we want. But… obedience to the will of God brings people together. James 4:1 from The Message says: Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.