Your Passions are 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.”

There are many people today professing faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in the flesh, still habitually and deliberately doing what they know is wrong, doing what is evil, and making a practice of what hurts other humans, to do them harm. Even though they profess to have been delivered from their sins, they are still walking in their sins, still determined to have their own way no matter who gets hurt in the process.

Some of them may claim that they have ceased from living in sin, only to go right back to it. Others may make many attempts in their own flesh to stop with their habitual sins, and to even take certain measures to insure that they won’t return to those particular sins, only to then remove whatever security devices they had in place, when severely tempted, so that they can go right back to living how they were before.

This is called addiction, but it is not a sickness nor a mental illness. The Bible calls it sin. And we were all there before we trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. We were all enslaved to sin and headed to hell and without hope of eternity with God. But then Jesus died on that cross to deliver us from our enslavement to sin so we will no longer live as slaves of sin but so we will now live as slaves of God and of his righteousness.

And then we have many people who are doing away with or who are altering the gospel as Jesus taught it, and as his New Testament apostles taught it, so that they can continue living in their sin, only now without guilt and without remorse. And since they removed the protection that Jesus provided for us against us continuing to live in sin, they have opened the door wide for themselves to continue wandering aimlessly, denying God’s Spirit.

Even though many of them have seared their consciences through repeated (habitual) offenses, and so they are able to sin against God and against others without conscience, if confronted with their sins they may fight back. In pride they will excuse away their sins and attack those who are trying to help them out of their sin, because they don’t want to hear the truth, for they want to believe the lie so that they can live in their fairy tale world.

And so they will stir up fights and quarrels, sometimes to get the opposition to remain silent or in order to attempt to accuse falsely the opposition so that they can continue living in their sin freely. We see this a lot on the internet with the addicted attacking the righteous who are teaching the truth of the gospel. And the addicted attempt to discredit the true gospel so that they can continue living in their sin without conscience.

Those who are addicted to sin of any kind, in order to keep feeding their addiction, will go to great lengths to make the way possible for themselves to continue in their addictive behaviors, which includes stirring up fights and quarrels, and which includes slandering the righteous, and which includes hurting anyone who stands in the way or who opposes them. And this is because their passions are at war within them and they are fighting back.

Some of them will make pretenses of following Jesus Christ with their lives to make a good impression on others but while they are secretly holding on to their sinful practices, and while they are secretly denying the Lord and stomping on the hearts of those they are sinning against. For many of them do live double lives in order to protect their addictions from being discovered. In other words, they are much like the Pharisees.

Some of them still make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and they may even claim that they are in communion with the Lord, in fellowship with him, and that he is listening to their prayers, and that he is answering them, but that is not what the Scriptures teach. If we are double-minded, and if we are praying out of the will of God, from selfish motives, then we should not expect to receive anything from God (see also James 1:5-8).

James 4:4-5 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’?”

What makes someone adulterous? Well, on a physical level, having to do with sexual relations, according to Jesus, a person is adulterous if he lusts after another (to whom he is not married), for Jesus said that he has committed adultery in his heart (Matt 5:27-28).

Therefore, this would include lusting after actors or actresses in porn or in sexually charged and/or sexually suggestive movies (videos), or lusting after other people in the mind only, whether or not another human is present. And this would include lusting after oneself if one is addicted to self-gratification. And of course this also includes literal physical and/or emotional involvement with others in adulterous affairs.

Now, this kind of adultery is part of what this is talking about here regarding the passions that war within humans. But when this speaks of the people being adulterous, this is speaking of spiritual adultery against the Lord. For, when we believe in Jesus with genuine faith, we enter into a marriage contract with him, and he becomes our husband. And we are to honor him as such. So, if we go back to living in sin, this is a lot like a wandering spouse cheating on his spouse and going after other lovers.

So, we need to be made aware here that we can’t have it both ways. Not only can we not be faithful in marriage if we are committing adultery on a regular basis, and therefore we can’t be one flesh with our spouses, but if we are wandering off from our pure devotion to our Lord to go after sin and idols and the ways of this sinful world, we can’t be in fellowship with the Lord. The two don’t mix. So we then become enemies of God. But Jesus longs for us to return to him in faithful surrender to his will.

James 4:6-10 ESV

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ 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.”

If you are living in addiction to sin, deliberately choosing your sin over God and over loving others with his love, then the call here is to humble yourself before God, repent of (turn away from) your sin, and follow Jesus in obedience to his ways, and let him empower you to walk in holiness and righteousness. For if you are willing, he will supply all the grace you need to resist the devil, to purify your hearts, to mourn over your sin, to turn from sin, and to walk in righteousness and holiness the rest of your days.

People remain in addiction to sin, not because they can’t help it, but because they choose the sin over God and over healthy and loving relationships with other people. It is a choice. And if you choose wrongly, and you choose your sin over God and others, especially if it is over your spouse, then don’t expect God to hear you or to speak to you or to do anything for you, because you are making yourself his enemy. And if you continue on this path and you do not repent and obey the Lord, you will not have salvation from sin nor will you inherit God’s eternal kingdom. Please take this to heart.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

The Lily of the Valley

Lyrics by Charles W. Fry, 1881
Music by William H. Hays, 1871, arr. Charles W. Fry, 1881

I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tow’r;
I’ve all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His pow’r.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

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