Passions at War within You

James 4:1-3 ESV

“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.”

Irrational and Senseless

When people professing faith in Jesus are being driven by the flesh, and not guided by the Spirit, the cravings (lusts) of the flesh are toxic and/or intoxicating in their lives. They are irrational. They are senseless. And people do irrational and senseless things when the flesh is what is driving them.

I think especially for those who make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, who were taught good from evil, they have this inner conflict between doing what is right and the cravings to do what is wrong. So, when they do wrong, and then they cover it up with lies, it only eats away at them inside.

But when they let the flesh rule their lives they will stomp on other people in order to fulfill the cravings of the flesh. Marriages and families will get destroyed, jobs lost, relationships torn asunder, incomes slashed, children abused, and hearts are crushed and spirits are broken all because of lust.

And this is because they are not seeking God and his will for their lives, but they are seeking after the lusts and pleasures of the flesh. So, they go after what they want, no matter who gets hurt in the process, for the flesh demands to be satisfied, and so they give it what it wants.

Instead of seeking God to meet their legitimate needs, they are ruling their own lives, doing what they want. But even if they should pray and ask God for anything, they aren’t living in submission to him, and so their motives are selfish and fleshly, so God will not give them what they want.

James 4:4-6 ESV

“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.’”

Our Marriage to Christ

In a marriage relationship between a man and a woman, if one of them has a romantic and/or sexual relationship with someone else, and/or if they do so only in their minds, and/or if they cheat on their spouse via pornography or via self-gratification (self-lust), God calls that adultery.

Well, our relationship with Jesus Christ is a marriage relationship, too. We who believe in Jesus with genuine God-ordained and God-persuaded faith in Jesus, collectively we are the church, his bride, and he is our husband. But it is more like the old Jewish marriage/engagement.

In other words, right now we are in the engagement period although it is regarded as a marriage contract. Our husband is preparing a home for us, and one day he will come for us and we will go to be with him forever, and only then is the marriage consummated and our salvation complete.

While we are waiting for the day when he comes for us, we are to be those who, by God’s grace, are making it our practice to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions, and who living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives, for this is what God’s grace trains and instructs us to do (Titus 2:11-14).

These are also the actions of a faithful spouse in a marriage relationship. We don’t cheat on, lie to, or lie about our spouse. We don’t go after other lovers to gratify our own fleshly lusts, and those “other lovers” don’t have to be actual physical people, either. They can be images in our own minds.

In the same way, we don’t cheat on our relationship with Jesus Christ. We are faithful to him, to do what he says, and to not sin against him. We don’t go after other gods of men and follow man in place of following Jesus. We also don’t allow the pleasures of our flesh to take the place of our passion for Jesus Christ as our only Lord.

For, again, God’s grace trains us to say “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to righteousness. God’s grace delivers us from our slavery to sin so that we can now become slaves of God and of his righteousness. God’s grace put sin to death on that cross so that we could be crucified with Christ in death to sin and so that we could now live to him and to his righteousness.

So, God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble, and his grace not only delivers us from our addiction to (the empowerment of) sin, but it empowers us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, for the glory and praise of God, and for our own good.

James 4:7-10 ESV

“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.”

Submit Yourselves to God

Therefore, since as followers of Jesus Christ we are in a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ, and he is our husband, and we are his bride, we are to be faithful to him to do what he says, and we are not to chase after the pleasures and the gods of this world.

Instead, we are to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is to be our owner-master, and we are to be his bond-slaves who are willing servants who do what he tells us, and because we love him and we want to please him. For he died that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

We are to resist the devil. And this means putting on the armor of God and fighting Satan’s evil schemes against us. It means fighting Satan’s lies with the truth and being aware of his schemes so that we don’t fall easily into his tricks and traps. And it definitely means saying, “NO!” to sin and “YES” to righteousness. We can’t budge on this one iota!

And know this. Satan doesn’t always flee at the first resistance. Sometimes we have to persist, but then he does flee. But also know this: he will come back and try again and again, and so this is a battle we are going to face throughout our lives on this earth. But we can resist him. Amen!

But we aren’t going to be able to resist Satan if we are, so to speak, “tempting fate.” We can’t play with sin. We can’t go places where we have been tempted and given in regularly and expect to be able to resist. We have to go the opposite direction! We have to cut out all stumbling blocks!

We must take sin and God and righteousness seriously. We can’t be casual about this or we will fail, and then again, and again. It is inevitable. And this is why the Scriptures teach us to throw off those weights and those sins and to cut off or shake off all that might lead us into sin, too. We have to get radical about this or we won’t survive Satan’s onslaughts against us.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 6:44; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15, 21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8]

Only Hope

By Jonathan Foreman

I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all

So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope

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