Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:1-6)
Pastor John’s Notes:
When we first become followers of Jesus Christ, we often feel as though God has finished a great work in us and we have arrived! Indeed, the justifying work of Christ is done once for all, but the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit has just begun. Many desires remain in us which are contrary to God’s will for us, and so the Spirit begins the long process of remolding us. Even our prayer life is hindered because the things we pray for are so far out of alignment with God’s purposes that he cannot answer our prayers.
Once we are saved, there are other decisions we must make, and James here highlights one that is most important: we must decide where our true friendship lies, with the world or with God. The kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God are in conflict, and we must decide where our true loyalty lies. Much of the hindrance of our spiritual progress is rooted right here. We cannot use God to obtain worldly goals. But if we forsake the world with all of its corruption and lies, we will become true citizens of the kingdom of God.
Lord, teach me to desire your kingdom above all else. Show me how I have been deceived by the world’s lies.
Set me free from the love of the world to love you with my whole heart. Bring my soul into alignment with yours, and let me experience the true joy of friendship with you.