James 4 Commentary

Practical Christian Wisdom from the New Testament Book of James

Warning Against Worldliness (James 4:1-12) 

Verse 1: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1 NIV). 

The Epistle of James was simply a letter from a first century apostle, yet it is a profound statement of divine truth concerning the very nature of ALL human conflict. James reasonably addresses “fights and quarrels” (James 4:1 NIV) within the church. James asks the question, “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” (4:1 NIV), then he gives the answer, “Don’t they come from your desires [Greek, hēdonē, pleasures] that battle within you?” (4:1 NIV). Notice that James places the blame for war on “desires that battle within you” (4:1 NIV). The same Greek word for “desires” (4:1 NIV), Jesus used to explain why some respond to the Word of God and others don’t. “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures [Greek, hēdonē], and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14 NIV). Again, neither James nor Jesus claimed sin to be the reason for war, conflict, or not receiving the truth of the Word of God. Instead, the simple “desires that battle within you” (James 4:1 NIV) are sufficient to cause us to go to war or neglect God’s truth. In other words, we do not sin because we are sinners, but we commit sin because we allow the desires that battle within us to master and control us. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV). Observation: The solution to not sinning is not merely possessing the Holy Spirit, but allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us, i.e., walking in the Spirit (Romans 8). 

Continue reading