What Does James 4:1 Mean?

What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you?

James 4:1(HCSB)

Verse of the Day

Having just delivered an important paragraph about the qualities of being of a peacemaker... where sowing in peace is the key to raising a harvest of righteousness, James dives headlong into a stinging treaties on the detrimental effects of fights, quarrels, lust, hate, envy, and pride, within the Body of Christ.

The wise man is the one that pursues peace and speaks the truth in love, while the tragedy is that those who wallow in interpersonal war and chase after conflict have their roots in sin and self.

Then as now, the general defence of an argumentative person is to point to other people as being the cause of any inter-Christian fighting, quarrels, criticism, anger, jealousies, and pride... instead of recognising that one's own, egocentric self is too often the main culprit for such controversies and division.

James is not shy in identifying the real root of such problems and strife... and asks the rhetorical question, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?" He then pointedly delivers the correct answer in a follow-up question, "Is it not the source of your pleasures, that wages war in your members?" Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? Paul points out that quarrels and arguments are birthed from the selfish desires that are at war in our bodies.

The sad truth is... that within the Body of Christ, now as then, the source of such sinful pursuits is self. Too often it is one's own inner lusting after personal pleasures, possessions, power, and a pharisaical hypocrisy, which is the underlying root of such conflicts.

This is a tough truth to assimilate... and this passage is sometimes assigned to the unsaved rather than to believers. But the bitter truth is that Christians can often be worse offenders than the ungodly, pagan majorities when it comes to fights, accusations, criticisms, envy, and pride. James makes it clear that conflict emanates from a covetous heart, an inclination towards pleasure and amusement, and self-centred cravings.

In Roman 7, Paul also identifies the real source for the quarrels and conflicts among the people of God. It is the old, sinful self that lusts against the new-man-in-Christ... and it is the new, born-again spirit that lusts against the sinful flesh, which wages war in the members of the Body. 

The carnal cravings of the flesh always conflict with the spiritual desires of the 'new-man-in-Christ'. And the fleshly drive for prestige and a carnal desire for pleasure, is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the spirit - between the old-sin-nature and the new-life-in-Christ - between our former 'Old Man,' and our new position as a member of the Body of Christ.

But praise be to God, that when we recognise that the good we want to do in the spirit is opposed by the evil that we want to carry out in the lusts of the flesh, we have an answer!! Jesus Christ is the one who can separate us from this body of sin and death and its suffocating power over us. He not only paid-the-penalty for our sin but broke-the-power of sin in our lives - and has promised that His grace is sufficient for all the battles that we may have to face in this body of flesh.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that 'in-Christ' I have the sufficient grace and power through Him to overcome the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient for all my needs, for my sufficiency is in Christ alone. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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