Stop the War!

I would like to read this morning from the very practical book of James. He speaks to our weaknesses straight on, hoping to wake us up in case we are getting spiritually “drowsy.”

Is James talking about “wars” and “fights” and “lust” among the brethren? May seem too strong, but he doesn’t want anyone missing the point. Our everyday interactions right at home and with one another DO matter. We can’t justify our little rubs by saying, “That’s just me, that’s just my way.” The little things make us what we are. What did Brother Nichols say in the General Letter?

Be careful at home, with children or wife
If not careful, they—little things—will take away life!

What is underneath our feelings? Our attitudes, our motives, our intentions. It is MY selfishness, or MY impatience, or MY pride, or MY will. These are things we have to watch out for them all the time. We may feel these unlovely emotions even when we are alone.

It is so easy to REACT to someone or something, rather than ACT as we know we should.

Notice what James is concerned about as he writes to his brothers and sisters in Christ. And then realize, here we are 2000 years later with the same issues.

Because we are dealing with the same human nature.

James 4:1-8, 13-17  1Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

It is the conflict we all experience, flesh against spirit, old nature against the new. It is the conflict Brother Paul said he had.

Romans 7:18–21  18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

It is flesh against spirit all the way, for Paul and for us. James says the same.

James 4:2 2You lust and do not have. You murder and covet

Do you get the point of contrast? A HUGE difference in the literal action between MURDER and COVET? but wrong is wrong. Can’t say it is ONLY a coveting spirit or desire.

James 4:2 2You murder and covet  and cannot obtain. You fight and war.

“Fight” describes the impulsive strike-back reaction. “War” is the ongoing battle.

James 4:2 2You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

Then James speaks to their faulty way of praying.

James 4:3 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Think about that: we need the right intention when we pray… not selfish, not for our pleasure—or we “ask amiss.”

James 4:4 4Adulterers and adulteresses!

Guilty of adultery?

Yes. If we are praying to get what we want, we are being unfaithful to the God we have promised to serve, and He calls it spiritual adultery. We are putting our love in the wrong place, for the wrong things, for self-satisfaction rather than for God.

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.

We surely don’t want to be God’s enemy!]

James 4:5 5Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

Any love that is competing with our love for God jealousy.

James 4:6 6But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

The solution?

James 4:7 7Therefore submit to God

SUBMIT. Not a natural action on our part. James says: Submit to God, let God’s law direct us. That requires another virtue: humility.

Resist the devil

Do you want to see what he looks like? Look in the mirror, as Brother Nichols said, and you will see him.

Resist the deviland he will flee from you.

James 4:8 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

The first step is from OUR side, we make the move toward God, and THEN…then Jesus makes us clean? No, we have to wash our own hands.

Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Literally James says, YOU cleanse your own hands, YOU purify your own hearts, you who are double minded. And what makes us double minded? Wanting both OUR way AND God’s way. Great lessons here for us. A job for us tob e doing, every day all day.]

Do you think you make your own schedule? Not for a moment! Everything is only “if the Lord wills.”

James 4:13-15 13Come 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”; 14whereas 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. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Do you think you make your own schedule? Not for a moment! Everything is only “if the Lord wills.”

James 4:16-17 16But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

So how do we STOP the War?

Simple answer: KILL the ENEMY. The OLD MAN of the flesh. Paul says it exactly:

Colossians 3:5–9  5Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth:

And then he lists them. Of course we know what they are! These are the traits that cause so much trouble. And if you think about them, they include a whole lot of troublemakers:

fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

6Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

And there are more, very common. And to be sure we don’t miss the point, he says “You YOURSELVES” must do it:

8But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

9Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

And when the old man is dead, the WAR will be DONE!

Then we can ENJOY! ENJOY the PEACE!! James says that too.

James 3:17–18  17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

18Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Those who “MAKE PEACE,” not WAR. What a change! What a contrast!

So today, STOP the WAR and you can ENJOY the PEACE, sweet PEACE, now and future!