“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:1-3 ESV
Not all disagreements have at their root that all parties involved in the disagreement are following after their own fleshly passions and desires. For, Jesus certainly had strong disagreements with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, as did Paul, John, Peter and the other apostles. And, we are going to have strong disagreements with people who are doing what the Pharisees did, too, but that is because we are standing on truth.
Yet, we should never be hateful or nasty or lower ourselves to name calling, etc. We can disagree civilly, but passionately, with those who are in error, and especially with those who have the potential of leading others astray. Yet, in all fairness, Jesus did use name calling with the Pharisees, as did Stephen and Paul, that I know of, but the names were their character.
Yet, it is certainly true that worldly and fleshly passions and desires, which are at war with the Spirit of God, will lead people to contend with God and with others, and especially with those who are sharing the truth of the gospel. And, those who are fleshly and who are chasing after the passions and desires of the flesh will fight with each other, too, out of rivalry, jealousy, and greed, because they want what other people have that they don’t have.
It is also true that those who are Christians or who profess faith in Jesus Christ, if they are yielding to the flesh, and not to the Spirit of God, will have a war raging within them, because they know that they are doing wrong. They know that they are disobeying God. But, they do it anyway. For, the flesh will never satisfy the deep longings of their souls. It will always leave them empty and craving for more and then fighting against God in order to get what they want. And, so they will never truly be at peace.
They don’t ask God to meet their needs, most likely because they want to do it themselves, and probably because they do want to fulfill the lusts of their flesh. Or, if they do pray and ask God, they don’t ask in the sincerity of their hearts because they know what they want, and they plan to go after what they want anyway, and so asking God is just a show or a formality, in many cases, because their hearts are not honest with God.
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:4-6 ESV
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 Jn. 2:15-17 ESV
In the gospels we have the parable of the seed and the sower, and four types of soil are mentioned. There are varied opinions on what these four types of soil represent, but I believe there are four categories of people, in general, that would fit with that parable (Matt. 13:1-23).
There are those who clearly have never made any profession of faith in Jesus Christ at all. They rejected Jesus Christ without question. Then, there are those who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but it was shallow, surface only, so it never took root in their hearts, for they never walked in obedience to the Lord, but they deserted the faith early on, even though they may have continued to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Then, there are those who did truly repent of their sins and who did turn to walk in obedience to their Lord, and they followed the Lord for a while, but then the trappings of the world began to choke out the Spirit of God and the Word of God from their lives, and then they became unfruitful in their walks with the Lord because they were now following after the flesh, instead. And, I believe this passage in James covers the two middle types of soil.
And, then lastly is the fruit-bearing follower of Jesus. This is the one who hears the Word of God, who understands it, and who follows the Lord in obedience and bears fruit for God’s eternal kingdom. This person, though, could have initially been one of the other three, but then he or she repented of their sins and they left that shallow or unbelieving or adulterous life behind them to truly follow Jesus in full surrender to his will for their lives.
I believe there is a fine line between number two and number three types of soil, but here is what the scriptures teach on that subject. Not only do we become enemies of God when we turn away from him to follow after our own flesh, instead, but if we love (agape) the world of sin, then it says here that we don’t have the love of God within us. And, it says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And, it is whoever that does the will of God who will have eternal life with God. And, we need to get this.
For scripture also teaches that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) after the Spirit and not after the flesh, and it is only such as these who have eternal life with God. For, if we walk (in practice) after the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God. If we make sin our practice, and godliness is not what we practice, then we will die in our sins and not have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, it isn’t what we profess with our lips which determines our eternal destiny, but it is our lifestyles which determine our eternal destiny, whether we live for the flesh or whether we walk by the Spirit of God.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:1-10 ESV
So, this is what we must do if we want to have a relationship with Almighty God and if we want to spend eternity with God in his glory. We have to submit ourselves to God and make him Lord of our lives. We have to resist the devil, not play footsie with the devil on a regular basis. And, the way we resist him is to remove from our lives everything which is leading us into sin, too. These must be cut out of our lives, or we will keep going back to sin.
And, then we have to make it our practice to say “NO!” to Satan every time he roars his ugly head, and then we have to say “YES!” to God and obey him, instead. And, we have to keep doing this every time we are tempted. And, just know that the devil may not flee the first time we resist him. He is a fierce opponent and he will work us over, but we have to keep putting on that armor of God and we have to keep fighting him off and submitting to God if we want to gain the victory over the flesh and Satan.
We have to leave our lifestyles of sin behind us. We can’t toy with sin. We can’t take things into our minds which may lead us into sin, either, no matter how “innocent” they may seem. For, sometimes it is just the slightest hint of immorality which may send our minds the wrong direction if we are not making it our practice to guard our minds and hearts against all evil.
We can’t be double-minded, professing one thing while doing the opposite, or being swayed back and forth by various waves of doctrine depending on how we are doing in the resisting of the devil any particular day. We have to grow up! We have to take responsibility for our lives and not remain childish and self-indulgent whenever the mood strikes us.
And, we truly have to mourn over our sins, but not with fake tears. The Bible says there is a difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow, for only godly sorrow leads us to repentance. And, remember the scripture that says,
“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” Hebrews 12:15-17 ESV
An Original Work / November 21, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
My people have forsaken Me,
Their Savior, who died on a tree;
Made idols, and they worshipped them;
So empty, they will ne’er fulfill.
Lord, You are the hope of Your chosen ones.
Those who turn away from You will be shamed;
The Spring of Living Water left behind.
Living Water satisfies.
The thirsty, let them come and drink;
Believe in Jesus as their King;
The gift of Jesus given them,
So they will never thirst again.
Indeed, the Living Water flows within.
It springs up like a fountain cleansing sin.
Eternal life in heaven promised them.
Living Water glorifies.
Oh people, won’t you come to Him?
Obey Him and repent of sin.
Let Jesus come and live within.
Surrender all your life to Him.
My people, won’t you turn your hearts to Me?
Forsake your idols and then you’ll be free.
Won’t you come now to Me on bended knee?
Living Water sanctifies.