James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 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. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 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. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.


In chapter four and most of chapter five, James answers the question, "What happens when faith fails?" What if you do not exercise faith? What if you are a Christian, but you do not live by faith, believing continually what the Lord Jesus has said and done. What happens? First, wars and fighting break out, and the direct cause is a lack of prayer. Prayer is an example of faith. Prayer is the perfect expression of faith, because prayer is the manifestation of dependence upon God. James traces this whole matter of wars, fighting, arguments, and disagreements among us to a lack of prayer. That is the trouble. We fight with each other because we do not ask God for anything. We do not take from him the nature of love and compassion that he offers us, but we would rather lash out at one another and fight with one another. So it is a direct result of the lack of faith that wars and fighting break out.  A depending on self instead of God.

Daniel 2:21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.

He gives us two reasons for worldliness in the church

Our desires and envy.

  1. War is a fact of life in spite of treaties and world peace organizations
  2. But can you believe wars between believers in Christ
  3. He describes three types of conflicts going on in the world
  4. WAR WITH EACH OTHER (v1, 11-12)

 V1Surely "brethren" ought to live together in love and harmony

Ps 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

  1. Yet often they do not
  2. Lot quarreled with Abraham
  3. Absalom created a war with his father David
  4. The disciples of Jesus argued over who would be greatest
  5. Paul and Barnabas had great conflict over John Mark
  6. Churches in the New Testament often had problems...
  7. At Corinth

1) Brethren were suing each other

2) They were competing in the public assemblies

  1. In Galatia - brethren were "biting and devouring" one another
  2. Even at Philippi - two women were having trouble getting along with each other
  3. In this epistle James gives several kinds of conflicts among brethren:
  4. Class wars (upper class, middle class, and lower class - 2:1-9
  5. Employment wars - 5:1-6
  6. Church fights - 1:19-20; 3:13-18
  7. Personal wars
  8. Notice 4:11-12 we are admonished not to speak evil, nor to judge one another

The consequences of worldliness -1. A lack of prayer corporately or individually with God

  2. Our desire for things to satisfy our pleasures (like power, possessions, etc.) is what makes us fight with others
  3. Putting it simply, the key problem is "SELFISHNESS"
  5. Wrong Actions (2)
  6. "you murder...you fight and war"
  7. not literally, but certainly so in God's sight – an ongoing attitude of hate towards someone

1Jn 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

  1. Wrong Praying (3)
  2. The kind of praying that goes unanswered
  3. Because the prayers are for selfish motives

Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give because He would give the best, and man will not take it.

George MacDonald


  1. Here is the root cause of every war!
  2. Rebellion against God!
  3. ...those at war with others are also at war within themselves...
  4. ...because they are first at war with God!
  6. By being friendly with God's enemies!
  7. James mentions three enemies we must not associate with if we want to be at peace with God:

The World (v4) That is, human society that is contrary to God

  1. a) Any conduct, belief, thought...which is anti-God, anti-Christ

   To be a friend of such...Makes one an enemy of God!

  1. Makes one a spiritual adulterer or adultereress!

Suppose that in a certain community lives a man and his wife who love each other very much. Across the street lives a man who develops a hatred for the woman’s husband. One night he invades their home and kills him. Although he is arrested, a loophole in the law allows him to escape punishment, and he is released to return to the community. Now imagine that in a few short weeks you see the widow and her husband’s murderer walking down the street together. Her hand is slipped into his arm and she looks smilingly into his face. She says to him, “I’m so happy.” What would you say about a woman like that? Surely, you would brand her as disloyal to her husband’s memory and unworthy to bear his name. We must never forget that this godless world hated Jesus enough to kill Him. One who walks hand in hand with a system headed by our Lord’s enemies and becomes friendly with them is disloyal to Jesus Christ. Only those who keep themselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27) have a right to bear the name Christian. Let’s avoid all unholy alliances. -P.R.V. Quoted from Our Daily Bread

2 Co 6: 17 “Therefore ‘Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty’.”

  1. The Flesh (v1,5)

   1) The unlawful desires that would lead us away from God

   2) These desires wage war within us, but we must not give in to them

1Pe 2:11-12 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

3) Such desires are in direct conflict to what the Spirit of God would have us to be and do

Ga 5:16-17 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

4) To submit to these unlawful desires (works) of the flesh sets one contrary to God and His Spirit!

  1. The Devil (v6-7) v6 parallels Romans 12.1

1) Pride is Satan's greatest temptation

2) When we give into pride, we become friends of the devil and enemies of God

  2. Submit To God (v7)
  3. Literally, "get into your proper rank"
  4. Unconditional surrender to God is the only way to victory!
  5. Submission is saying: "Not my will, but Thine be done" Luke 22:42
  6. Resist The Devil (v7)
  7. He is behind every war that we have
  8. But if we just resist, then he will flee!

James 4:7“Like many sheep ranchers in the West, Lexy Fowler has tried just about everything to stop crafty coyotes from killing her sheep. She has used odor sprays, electric fences, and ‘scare-coyotes.’ She has slept with her lambs during the summer and has placed battery-operated radios near them. She has corralled them at night, herded them at day. But the southern Montana rancher has lost scores of lambs—fifty last year alone. “Then she discovered the llama—the aggressive, funny-looking, afraid-of-nothing llama. ’Llamas don’t appear to be afraid of anything,’ she said. ‘When they see something, they put their head up and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won’t have anything to do with that. Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.’” Apparently llamas know the truth of what James writes: “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7). The moment we sense his attack through temptation is the moment we should face it and deal with it for what it is. Barry McGee, Denver Post

  1. Draw Near To God (v8)
  2. And He will draw near to us!
  3. How do we do this?

   1) "Cleanse your hands" - Get your sins forgiven!

   2) "Purify your hearts" - Be single-minded in your devotion to God! (not double-minded, like a spiritual adulterer)

Ps 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.

Pr 1:28 Then will they call upon me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me:

 Pr 8:17 I love them that love me; And those that seek me diligently shall find me.

 Isa 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways: as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God, they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near unto God.

 Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

 Ho 5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly.

  1. Humble Yourselves In The Sight Of God (v9-10)
  2. It's possible to submit outwardly and not be humble inwardly
  3. True mourning for our sins is how we can humble ourselves before God
  4. The end result of such humility. God will lift you up! - v10

1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,


  1. If we obey these four instructions, then God will draw near to us, cleanse us, and forgive us!
  3. For we will not be at war with God
  4. So we will not be at war within ourselves
  5. And we will not be at war with others!
  6. As Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs:

When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)

Are we diligent in making sure our ways are pleasing to the Lord?