Faith Produces Humility
Verse 1 – Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James is talking about conflicts among Christians and Jews or Christians among Christians. This desire for pleasure can be anything from ambition of fame, lust, or indulgence of any corrupt propensity of the mind.
Most of the wars which have occurred in the world can be traced to lust. The lust of conquest, the ambition to rule, the gratification of revenge, are all reasons for war.
Verse 2 – You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
That is, you wish to have something which you do not now possess, and in which you have no just claim, and this prompts to the effort to obtain it by force. The causes of war on a larger scale by nations is, extension of territory, wealth, and total rule over people, and leads to bloodshed.
Yet you do not have because you do not ask – if you sought that from God which you truly need, you would obtain it.
Verse 3 – You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James mentions the most common problems in prayer; either not asking at all, or asking with selfish desires. When we start to line our attitudes and desires to God’s will for our lives, we will start to see answered prayers.
Verse 4 – Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Sometimes having friendship with the world involves seeking pleasures at other’s expense or at the expense of disobeying God. Pleasures from disobeying God is sin; pleasures from God which enrich our lives is good!
Verse 5 – Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain,”The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?”
Verse 6 – But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
God gives more grace to overcome evil passions, and to subdue the corrupt inclinations. And this “more grace” will be given to the humble, not to the proud.
Verse 7 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
So how do we submit to God? We start with a repentant heart and then receive forgiveness. We submit our ways to God’s ways and we learn God’s ways through Scripture and the Holy Spirit. And then we resist the temptation that the devil has put before us and he will flee!
Verse 8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Verse 9 – Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
James gives us five ways to draw near to God: (1) submit; (2) yield to His authority and will; (3) resist the devil; (4) purify our hearts; (5) be sincere for our sins and humble ourselves before Him.
Verse 10 – Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.
Verse 11 – Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Jesus summarized the law as love for God and neighbor and Paul said that love demonstrated toward a neighbor would fully satisfy the law (Romans 13:6-10). When we fail to love, we are actually breaking God’s law.
Verse 12 – There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
Verse 13 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit”;
Verse 14 – whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Leaving God out of our plans and desires, is paramount to arrogance and unbelief.
Verse 15 – Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
Verse 16 – But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Verse 17 – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Most tend to think that doing wrong is sin, but James reminds us that not doing what is right is sin also. Yes, it is a sin to lie, but it is also a sin to know the truth and not tell it. Think about that the next time you withhold from someone who needs help and the truth needs to be told.