James 4:1-10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 4, 2001

Introduction – Finding God’s Peace

James has been talking about true wisdom and godless wisdom.  He had ended chapter three by saying that God’s kind of wisdom was found in a life of peace.  Ungodly wisdom is filled with strife and confusion.

And so now, James is going to talk about how to get God’s kind of peace inside you.


One man’s account of trying to find peace:

Aug.12 --   Moved to our new home in Montana. It is so beautiful here. The mountains are so serene and picturesque. Can hardly wait to see them with a covering of snow. God’s country. I love it here.

Oct.14th-- Montana is the most beautiful place on earth. The leaves are turning all different colors. I love the shades of red and orange. Went for a ride through some beautiful mountains and spotted some deer. They are so graceful, certainly they are the most peaceful animals on earth. This must be paradise.....I love it here.

Nov.11th-- Deer season will start soon. I can't imagine anyone wanting to kill such elegant creatures. The very symbols of peace and tranquility. Hope it will snow soon. I love it here.

Dec.2nd--It snowed last night. Woke up to find everything blanketed with white. It looks like a postcard. We went out side and cleaned the snow off the steps and shoveled the driveway. We had a snow ball fight (I Won) and when the snow plow came by we had to shovel the driveway again. What a beautiful place. I love Montana.

Dec.12th--More snow last night. I love it . The snow plow did his trick again ( that little rascal ),A winter wonderland . I love it here.

Dec.19th--More snow last night . couldn't get out of the driveway to get to work this time. I'm exhausted shoveling. I need a snow plow.

Dec.22nd--More of the white stuff fell last night. I've got blisters on my hands from shoveling. I think the snow plow hides around the corner and waits until I'm done shoveling the driveway. Chump! They should use more salt to melt the ice on the roads.

Dec.25th--White Christmas Yeah right! More darn snow. If I ever get my hands on that person who drives the snow plow, Lord forgive me for thinking that thought. Don't know why they don't use more salt to melt the ice.

Dec.28th--More of that white stuff last night., Been inside since Christmas Day except for shoveling out the driveway after " Snow Plow Harry " comes by every time. Can't go anywhere. Cars buried in a mountain of white. The weather man says to expect another ten inches of  the stuff tonight. Do you know how many shovels full of snow that is.

Jan. 1st--Happy New Year. The weatherman was wrong (again ) . We got 31 inches of  white stuff this time. At this rate it won't melt till the 4th of July. The snow plow got stuck up the road and the driver had the guts to come to my door to borrow a shovel. I told him that I had broken 6 shovels already from shoveling the stuff he's pushed into my driveway. I broke the last one over his head.

Jan4th--Finally got out of my house today. I went to the store to get food and on the way back a deer ran in front of my car and I hit it. Did $3,000.00 damage to the car, those beasts are a menace. Wish the hunters had killed them all last November.

May 3rd--Took the car to the garage in town. Would you believe the thing is rusting out from all the salt they keep dumping all over the road?

June 1st--Packed up and moved to Arizona. I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would ever want to live in that state of Montana.

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

James is talking about all the kinds of strife and fighting we go through, whether it’s an “inner conflict”, or a conflict we have with another person.

whencepothen – of place: from where, from what condition; of origin or source: from what author or giver

warspolemos – a war; a fight, a battle; a dispute, strife, quarrel

fightingsmache – a fight or combat; of those in arms, a battle; of persons at variance, disputants etc., strife, contention; a quarrel.  While polemos means the whole course of fighting, the war, mache means a single battle engagement.

youhumin – you.  Plural.

henceenteuthen – from this place, hence

lusts hedone (“hedonism”) – desires for pleasure

that warstrateuomai (“strategy”) – to make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or to battle, (spoken of a commander); to do military duty, be on active service, be a soldier; to fight

membersmelos – a member, limb: a member of the human body.  James could be talking about the kinds of “inner conflicts” we might have, but I think he’s mostly aiming at the kinds of disputes that come between people in the church.

:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war,

lust epithumeo – to have a desire for, long for, to desire; covet; of those who seek things forbidden

haveecho – to have, i.e. to hold; to have i.e. own, possess

ye kill phoneuo – to kill, slay, murder; to commit murder. It might not be that church people actually “murder” each other, but some of the things come awfully close.

desire to havezeloo – to burn with zeal; to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger; to desire earnestly

cannotdunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

obtainepitugchano – to light or hit upon any person or thing; to attain to, obtain

fightmachomai – to fight; of armed combatants, or those who engage in a hand to hand struggle; of those who engage in a war of words, to quarrel, wrangle, dispute; of those who contend at law for property and privileges

warpolemeo – to war, carry on war; to fight


Lust leads to conflict

You see this in the world.  War boils down to one thing:  Somebody is lusting for something they can’t have.  There have been odd wars through the years:  “The War of the Whiskers”, “The War of the Oaken Bucket”, and “The War of Jenkins’ Ear”.
Sometimes the “lust” is for power and position in the church.  I end up butting heads with other people in the church.  It happened with Jesus’ disciples:
(Mark 9:33-34 KJV)  And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? {34} But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
disputeddialegomai – to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss
Sometimes the conflict is in me.  I want something I shouldn’t have.  I fight with myself over the issues.
When you find tension between yourself and another person, or tension inside of you, do you know what kind of “lust” is involved?
The other day I was pulling some weeds and as I grabbed a clump of weeds, I grabbed a stick that had some thorns on it.  One of the thorns broke off after having embedded itself in my thumb.  It was very, very small.  I tried getting it out with a pair of tweezers, but I couldn’t.  Boy did it hurt.  Every time I put pressure on it by picking something up, it really hurt.  As the day went by, my thumb got a little bit swollen and it still hurt.  Finally I had to use an x-acto knife to dig the thing out before my thumb started to heal.
When we have tension and strife, we need to deal with the lust involved.  If you deal with the lust, you’ll find the tension disappear.

:2  yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

ye ask aiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require


Learn to ask.

Part of the tension that comes in our life comes because we don’t have certain things we’re supposed to have.  And one of the reasons we don’t have some of those things is simply because we haven’t asked for them.
Some things God gives to us unconditionally.  We call that grace.  We didn’t ask.  He just gives.
But some things require a request from us.
Mr. Jones Goes To Heaven
There’s a little fable about a Mr. Jones who dies and goes to heaven. Peter is waiting at the gates to give him a tour. Amid the splendor of golden streets, beautiful mansions, and choirs of angels that Peter shows him, Mr. Jones notices an odd-looking building. He thinks it looks like an enormous warehouse-it has no windows and only one door. But when he asks to see inside, Peter hesitates. “You really don’t want to see what’s in there,” he tells the new arrival. “Why would there be any secrets in heaven?” Jones wonders. “What incredible surprise could be waiting for me in there?” When the official tour is over he’s still wondering, so he asks again to see inside the structure. Finally Peter relents. When the apostle opens the door, Mr. Jones almost knocks him over in his haste to enter. It turns out that the enormous building is filled with row after row of shelves, floor to ceiling, each stacked neatly with white boxes tied in red ribbons. “These boxes all have names on them,” Mr. Jones muses aloud. Then turning to Peter he asks, “Do I have one?” “Yes, you do.” Peter tries to guide Mr. Jones back outside. “Frankly,” Peter says, “if I were you....” But Mr. Jones is already dashing toward the “J” aisle to find his box. Peter follows, shaking his head. He catches up with Mr. Jones just as he is slipping the red ribbon off his box and popping the lid. Looking inside, Jones has a moment of instant recognition and lets out a deep sigh like the ones Peter has heard so many times before. Because there in Mr. Jones’s white box are all the blessings that God wanted to give to him while he was on earth ... but Mr. Jones had never asked.
“Ask,” promised Jesus, “and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). “You do not have because you do not ask,” said James (James 4:2). Even though there is no limit to God’s goodness, if you didn’t ask Him for a blessing yesterday you didn’t get all that you were supposed to have. That’s the catch-if you don’t ask for His blessing, you forfeit those that come to you only when you ask. In the same way that a father is honored to have a child beg for his blessing, your Father is delighted to respond generously when His blessing is what you covet most.

- Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez, pgs. 25-27

:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

askaiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require

receivelambano – to take; to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back

amiss kakos – miserable; improperly, wrongly

lusts hedone – pleasure; desires for pleasure

consumedapanao – to incur expense, expend, spend; in a bad sense: to waste, squander, consume


Ask for the right reasons

Another reason we don’t have certain things is because we are asking for the wrong reasons.
One of the keys to learning to pray correctly is learning to check your motives in your request.
Prayer is not about getting our will done in heaven, it’s about getting God’s will done on earth.
I wonder if it isn’t possible to even be praying for something that looks so spiritually correct, but down deep my motives aren’t in the right place.
I think it’s even possible to be praying for a person’s salvation with the wrong motives.  I sometimes a person might be praying, “Oh God, please save my spouse” when the motive for praying that is so I might have an easier life.  I might pray for my spouse to be saved so they are nicer to me.  I might pray for my spouse to be saved so I won’t have to sit alone in church.
Will God hold up in answering that prayer because my motives aren’t right?  I’m not sure.  But in the meanwhile, let God work on your attitude.
I think that sometimes we have a hard time understanding what our motives really are.  Sometimes I think it’s unrealistic to think that our hearts are going to be completely free from impure motives.  That’s where we need to put it all into the Lord’s hands and let Him do what He knows is best.
Sometimes we can tie ourselves up over a question of motives that we never take the step of asking.
So just ask.
I find that sometimes God will use my act of praying to be the very thing that will purify my motives.

Sometimes the answer to the prayer doesn’t come by receiving the thing I’ve asked for, but it’s the purifying of my motives.  I realize that I’ve been asking for the wrong thing and God will use His “no” answer to help me get closer to His heart.

:4 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.

adulterers moichos – an adulterer; metaph. one who is faithless toward God, ungodly

James is talking to the church in spiritual terms.  As believers, we are in a type of marriage with God, a love relationship.  When we get too “friendly” with the ways of the world, it’s like we’re committing spiritual adultery.

adulteressesmoichalis – an adulteress; as the intimate alliance of God with the people of Israel was likened to a marriage, those who relapse into idolatry are said to commit adultery or play the harlot; fig. equiv. to faithless to God, unclean, apostate

friendshipphilia – friendship

worldkosmos – an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government; the world, the universe; the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ

What is the “world”?

(1 John 2:15-16 KJV)  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The “world” is that system of “stuff” that Satan uses to tempt us to sin.  It’s not the people, it’s the “stuff”.  It can involve things that tempt us through bad thoughts.  It can involve things that tempt us because they “look good”.  It can be just having a lot of “things”, lots of “stuff” that makes us feel puffed up.

Be careful that you make a difference between the people of the world and the “world”.  God loves the people of the world, God hates the world.  John gives us three things that are ingredients in what we call “the world”.

1)  The lust of the flesh
These are the things or actions that our sin nature wants to have.  These are the sinful things that our own internal sin mechanism just craves to have.  You can tie a person up, blindfold them, and stick them in a sound proof room, and they will still crave things that are wrong.
2)  The lust of the eyes
Whereas the lust of the flesh can simply start in the mind and heart, the lust of the “eyes” are the things that tempt us through our senses.  This is a very great part of the world, presenting temptation to us daily.  It might be on a billboard as you drive by on the freeway, it may be on your television set, it may be on your radio station.
3)  The pride of life
The idea here is “empty bragging about the things that sustain your life”.  We might call it “pride in possessions”.  One of the major concepts of the “world” is “stuff”.  Do I have enough “stuff”?  Do I have good enough “stuff”?  I may be a homeless person who is embarrassed by not having enough “stuff”, but because I crave it so much, I could actually be quite worldly.

enmityechthra – enmity; cause of enmity

will beboulomai – to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded; of willing as an affection, to desire

friend philos – friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well; a friend; an associate; he who associates familiarly with one, a companion

enemyechthros – hated, odious, hateful; hostile, hating, and opposing another

iskathistemi – to set, place, put; to set down as, constitute, to declare, show to be; to constitute, to render, make, cause to be; to show or exhibit one’s self


Don’t be cozy with the world

You see an example of this in the life of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
Abraham and Lot decided they needed to part ways because they were both becoming too wealthy to keep their flocks together.  Abraham gave Lot the first pick of where to go, and Lot made his choice based on what he saw,

(Gen 13:10 KJV)  And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

He did this even though he knew that the people of Sodom were wicked (Gen. 13:13).  At first, he only moved closer to Sodom (Gen. 13:12), but as you follow the story, he eventually moved right into Sodom.
In Genesis 14, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were invaded by a group of kings from the east.  And because Lot was living in Sodom, he and his family were taken captive by these kings and he had to be rescued by uncle Abraham.  It was kind of like the Christian who keeps visiting his old drug buddies and one day when the house gets busted, the Christian ends up in jail too.
By Genesis 19, God is fed up with Sodom and Gomorrah and is planning on destroying the cities as soon as He can get Lot and his family evacuated.  The Lord sends a couple of angels to warn Lot, but they did not have an easy time getting the family out.  When Lot went to talk to his sons-in-law:

(Gen 19:14 KJV)  And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

They didn’t take him seriously.  Why should they?  When it came time to leave, Lot was a bit reluctant to leave Sodom, and the angels had to grab him by the hand and force him to go.  On the way out of the city, Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt because she looked back, not being able to let go of the world.
Lot went through much trouble because he had become a friend of the world.
Some of the most miserable people are those who have too much of the Lord to be comfortable in the world, but too much of the world to be comfortable with the Lord.

:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

thinkdokeo – to be of opinion, think, suppose; to seem, to be accounted, reputed

vainkenos – vainly, in vain

to envyphthonos – envy; for envy, i.e. prompted by envy

lustethepipotheo – to long for, desire; to pursue with love, to long after; to lust, harbour forbidden desire

dwellethkatoikeo – to dwell, settle; metaph. divine powers, influences, etc., are said to dwell in his soul, to pervade, prompt, govern it; to dwell in, inhabit; God is said to dwell in the temple, i.e. to be always present for worshippers

(James 4:5 NLT)  What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful?

scripture – James doesn’t mean to quote a particular Scripture here, but is talking about the general idea throughout all of Scripture, that God wants us to be faithful to Him.

:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

(James 4:6 NLT)  He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble."

moremegas (here in the comparative) – great; splendid, prepared on a grand scale, stately; great things

givethdidomi – to give; to give something to someone

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour

proud huperephanos – showing one’s self above others, overtopping, conspicuous above others, pre-eminent; with an overweening estimate of one’s means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty

I think that with some people they feel that their “pride” is a necessity.  They are afraid of appearing “weak” or “stupid”.  They work hard at showing everyone how much better they are.  They are constantly at work trying to “sell” you on how much you need them.

resisteth antitassomai (“against” + “ordain or arrange”) – to range in battle against; to oppose one’s self, resist.  If your life if filled with pride, you will find that God is actually fighting against you.

humble tapeinos – not rising far from the ground.  The last place to be in an earthquake is on top of a tall ladder.

:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

submit hupotasso – to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection; to subject one’s self, obey; to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice; to obey, be subject; A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

Whereas God is “arranged against” (resists) those that are proud, we are to “arrange under” His leadership.

resistanthistemi (“against” + “stand”) – to set one’s self against, to withstand, oppose

devildiabolos – prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely; a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer, devil

flee pheugo – to flee away, seek safety by flight; to escape safely out of danger. I like this idea.  The devil is in danger if we resist him when God is on our side.  He has to flee for his own safety.


Peace and Victory

Peace comes when we stop fighting God and we start yielding to Him.
Victory over the devil comes once we are submitted to God and we take a stand against Satan.

:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

draw nigh eggizo – to bring near, to join one thing to another; to draw or come near to, to approach.  First occurrence is an aorist imperative.  Second occurrence is a future indicative.  Meaning:  We are commanded to draw close to God.  When we do, God will definitely draw close to us.


Peace through Intimacy with God

My greatest peace comes when I am close to the Lord.

Do you want to be close to God?  Then simply take a step in His direction. James goes on to explain…

:8  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

cleansekatharizo – to make clean, cleanse; from physical stains and dirt; in a moral sense; to free from defilement of sin and from faults; to consecrate, dedicate; to pronounce clean in a Levitical sense

handscheir – hand; by the help or agency of any one, by means of any one

sinnershamartolos – devoted to sin, a sinner

purifyhagnizo – ceremonially; to make pure, purify, cleanse; morally

heartskardia – the heart; the vigour and sense of physical life; the centre and seat of spiritual life; the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours

double mindeddipsuchos – double minded; wavering, uncertain, doubting; divided in interest

This was the word used in:

James 1:8  A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways.

One of the steps of drawing near to God involves confessing my sin and asking for His cleansing.

Jesus Christ died on a cross in order to pay for my forgiveness.  He died in my place so I could have my sins paid for.

I receive God’s forgiveness when I get to the point where I admit that I’ve been wrong, that I need Him, and that I want to change.

(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

be afflictedtalaiporeo (“talent” as in huge weight + “trials” or “testings”) – to toil heavily, to endure labours and hardships; to feel afflicted and miserable.  James is saying that this person needs to feel wretched about their sin.

A related word is found in:

Romans 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Another related word is in:

James 5:1  Go to now, [ye] rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon [you].

mournpentheo – to mourn; means properly to lament for the dead. It is also applied to passionate lamentation of any kind, so great that it cannot be hid.

I think James is talking about mourning over our sin.  Mourning over the death of our flesh.

weepklaio – to mourn, weep, lament; weeping as the sign of pain and grief for the thing signified (i.e. for the pain and grief)

laughtergelos – laughter

mourningpenthos – mourning

turned tometastrepho – to turn around, turn around

joychara – joy, gladness

heavinesskatepheia – a downcast look expressive of sorrow; shame, dejection, gloom

Drawing near to God happens when I decide to get serious about my sin.  James isn’t talking about the Christian not having any fun or joy.  He’s talking to the person who has been walking in the ways of the world and indulging themselves with ungodly pleasures.  He’s saying that they need to turn around.

:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

humbletapeinoo – to make low, bring low; to level, reduce to a plain; metaph. to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances; to assign a lower rank or place to; to be ranked below others who are honoured or rewarded; to humble or abase myself by humble living; to lower, depress

in the sightenopion – in the presence of, before; of occupied place: in that place which is before, or over against, opposite, any one and towards which another turns his eyes

lift you uphupsoo – to lift up on high, to exalt; metaph. to raise to the very summit of opulence and prosperity; to exalt, to raise to dignity, honour and happiness


Peace comes from being right with God

Humble yourself by coming to Him. Turn from your sin. Let Him cleanse you. Yield to Him.
It had not been a good year for King David.  It probably started when he had decided he needed to take a break from work, from doing the business of going to war.  That’s when he saw her, and that’s when it happened.  Bathsheba next door in a bathtub.  He had an affair with her.  Then he tried to cover it all up, even having her husband killed to keep things quiet.  But God knew.  And David was miserable.  He had no peace.  When God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David, David finally quit fighting God.  He admitted that he had sinned.  Later, David wrote,
(Psa 32 NIV)  Of David. A maskil. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. {2} Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. {3} When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. {4} For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah {5} Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah {6} Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. {7} You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah {8} I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. {9} Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. {10} Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. {11} Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!