I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are ready to dig back into our study of James. We begin this week in chapter 4.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
The 12 tribes scattered among the nations that James was writing to were obviously not living lives that were peace loving James talked about at the end of chapter 3. He is addressing fights and quarrels that were occurring amongst the people. James blames these fights on their own desires.
The Greek word for desire is “hedone” is defined as “pleasure, desire, enjoyment”. It is where we get the English word hedonism. Hedonism is defined as “the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life”. Do your desires for your own pleasure or enjoyment cause arguments or quarrels in your life? Do you ever have arguments over having “time to yourself” or having time to do your favorite hobby or sport?
James says that these “desires battle within you”. He is describing the internal battle Paul spent a lot of time talking about between the desires of the sinful nature or our flesh and the desires God has for us. Let’s take a look at what these two types of desires look like. We will start by looking at the desires of the sinful nature followed by a Scripture that looks at the fruit of following the desires of the Holy Spirit.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
When you look at the two lists which describes your life more accurately today? Which areas do you struggle with on a regular basis? Paul explains that this internal struggle we have between the desires of our flesh and the desires of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is something we will always struggle with in our lives.
Romans 7:19, 21-23
19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
We have the same struggles both Paul and James talk about between our own desires and the desires of the Holy Spirit. In order for us to be able to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we need to yield our desires to His. This is not easy and it is not a one time decision. It is a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day laying down of our desires in order to pick up His. We cannot do it on our own; we can only do it through His power working in us. However, he does not force us to do it, we must yield to it.
The only way we can know what His desires for us are is to spend time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word. Take some time to allow the Lord to reveal to you ares in your life where you are choosing your own desires over His and to reveal what His desires for you are today.
All Scripture references from http://www.biblegateway.com
Greek definition from “The Key Word Study Bible”, AMG Publishers
- Hedonism definition from http://www.merriam-webster.com