February 14, 1999, posted, edited and used.

The Devil did not make me do it.

Wars & Fightings, James 4:1-10

Victory in Jesus

James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Wars and fightings refer to chaos, quarrels and conflicts of all kinds, both within ourselves and with others.

Wars and fightings are common in our own hearts.

Wars and fightings are common among families.

Wars and fightings are common among church members.

Wars and fightings are common among any two people who must work together.

Wars and fightings are common among races and among nations.

James spells out the single cause of the many conflicts we have.

First, the hateful people around us are NOT the problem.

Second, the people who might be in authority are not the problem, even though they might be wicked.

Third, the devil is not the problem --- he is not even listed until v. 7.

The cause can be blamed on no one but ourselves. The problem lies within our own hearts. The problem I may have with you, the problem you may have with me, the problem we have among one another is only an outward working of an inward conflict.

Part of the problem is found in v. 10, pride. My fallen nature refuses to admit the conflict is within, so I will blame it upon everyone else.

I may blame it upon my spouse, or my children, or my parents.

I may blame it on the preacher.

I may blame it upon the ungodly around me, including the ungodly in authority.

Regardless, my fallen nature demands that I blame someone else for my conflict. But God's Spirit clearly tells us that the conflict is that war in your members.

Wars and fightings --- James identifies both the source and the solution:


1) v. 1, uncontrolled lust -- lust is a product of The Fall. Lust drives each person to pursues his or her own desires.

(Lust) Sinful longing; the inward sin which leads to the falling away from God #Ro 1:21 "Lust, the origin of sin, has its place in the heart, not of necessity, but because it is the centre of all moral forces and impulses and of spiritual activity." In #Mr 4:19 "lusts" are objects of desire. (Online Bible.)

Lust is identified as those sinful longings -- longing to do those things that bring pleasure to ourselves, but those things do NOT bring pleasure to the Lord according to his word.


2) v. 2, lust leads to war -- the war is in the members of our bodies. The war is not against those around us, nor is it against wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12.) The war is within, and it leads to fighting with God and fighting with others around us.

Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

The picture here is of a military campaign. There is an army camped within the soul of the believer. It is a strong, rebellious army. That army riots against even the slightest desire to do those things pleasing in God's sight. (1 Jn. 3:22.) This rebellious army within is intent on having its own way. The war is over who will control my eyes, my emotions, my tongue (words), my feet (where will I go?), my hands (what will I do?).

Lust motivates hatred, covetousness, fightings and wars.

Lust motivates the conflicts I have within my own heart.

Lust motivates the conflicts we have with each other.

Lust is the reason I cannot get along with that person, or with people in general.

Lust is the reason that a particular sin has a grip on me.

Christ has subdued this rebellious army.

3) v. 3, lust leads to improper prayers -- motivated by the uncontrolled lust.

4) v. 4, lust leads to friendship with the world -- trying to have the "best" of both worlds when the world is against all Christ stands for.

5) v. 5, lust leads to envy -- our naturally fallen spirit desires what the world offers and what others have. The fallen nature (the old man) is given to envy, jealousy and covetousness. Scripture continually warns us that our nature is maliciously against anything godly: every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen. 6:5.)

In v. 5, James asks a question: "God has told you what is the source of man's problems, inner sin. Why do you ignore God's warnings? Why do you act as though the problem is elsewhere? Why do you blame others for your problem?"

The only hope of victory over lust and envy is through Christ. He places his new spirit within us. That new spirit gives the power to change the imaginations of the heart. It is the lust and envy of the heart that lead to conflicts within and without.

The wars and fightings are not the devil's doings. He simply takes advantage of our lusts and fans them as one would fan a fire. But he is not the cause of man's sin.

There are many warnings that this fallen spirit can only be recognized and dealt with through a working of God's Spirit within us. (See Psalms 19:7-13, 139:23. I have a message on Ps 139, named at this point, ps139.wp. Used, 11/22/98. Also, he will subdue our iniquities, Micah 7:19, used.)

7) v. 6, lust leads to pride -- God resists the proud. God gives the proud over to their own lusts and to the results of those lusts.

8) v. 7, lust leads to pride -- submit yourselves therefore to God. The issue of pride is so important that it is mentioned twice, not counting the warnings given by Peter. (1 Pet. 5:5, 6. It is significant that both James and Peter speak of humility and submission; these two men were two of the three inner circle of special instruction by the Lord. The third was John. All were present when the Lord washed the feet of the 12.)

9) v. 7, lust leads to the devil -- seven verses into this chapter, and only now does James tell us about the devil. We give him far too much credit. He is a liar, and the father of lies. One of his lies is to convince us that he has more power than what he does. His lie tells us we are powerless victims of his, or of society, or of others. Basically, he tells us we are victims, and being victims, we are powerless to change.

The devil is a problem, but he is not the problem, according to James. The problem is uncontrolled lust, which can only be controlled by conversion through Christ.

James has identified the single cause of the fightings and conflicts among people. It is the lusts that war within our own members.


Now James gives the two part answer to the conflict within:

1) vv. 8, 9, draw nigh, cleanse, purify, be afflicted, mourn, weep -- these things deal with the problems of vv.1-6. James clearly identifies the source of our problems, which is the lusts that war within our members.

These things are not given as an answer to the problem of the devil. We are to weep and mourn over the power of sin in our lives. There is no hint of weeping and mourning over the power of the devil in our lives.

Until we are broken (afflicted, mourn, weep) over sin, the devil has free access to us. But we cannot give the devil credit for that access, nor can we blame the Lord, nor can we blame others. The fault lies in the believer, James 1:6.

2) vv. 7, 10, James tells us that as we humble ourselves under proper authority, especially before God, he will give the grace to overcome the ENEMIES of our souls --- the flesh (v. 1, fallen nature), the world (v. 4) and the devil (v. 7).

The problem is that we fail to submit to the Lord in one area or in many areas. James, John (1 John) and Peter warn us that failure to properly submit is a problem common to all people. They also tell us that we have been provided with a means to remain "righteous" and "justified" through confession and forsaking sin.


1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore {10} under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

(10) Because those proud and lofty spirits threaten the modest and humble, the apostle warns us to set the power of God against the vanity of proud men, and to rely completely on his providence. (Geneva)

Ver. 6. Humble yourselves therefore, &c.] Or be ye humbled before God, and in his sight; quietly submit to his will; patiently bear every affliction without murmuring, repining (expressed complaint, ed.) , or replying against him; be still under the rod, and despise not the chastening of the Lord; mourn over sin as the cause, acknowledge your vileness and unworthiness, and stand in awe of his majesty, (Gill)

(1.) The consideration of the omnipotent hand of God should make us humble and submissive to him in all that he brings upon us. (MH)

(2.) Humbling ourselves to God under his hand is the next way to deliverance and exaltation; patience under his chastisements, and submission to his pleasure, repentance, prayer, and hope in his mercy, will engage his help and release in due time, #Jas 4:7,10. (Emp. added. MH)

Under the mighty hand of God. This refers probably to the calamities which he had brought upon them, or was about to bring upon them ; represented here, as often elsewhere, as the infliction of his hand--the hand being that by which we accomplish anything. When that hand was upon them they were not to be lifted up with pride and with a spirit of rebellion, but were to take a lowly place before him, and submit to him with a calm mind, believing that he would exalt them in due time... (Barnes' Notes)

Under the mighty hand of God (1 Pet. 5:6) probably means under his affliction. The purpose of that affliction is found in 1 Peter 3:15, to get us to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. Though we may not verbalize it, affliction can lead to pride, "Look at how much I am suffering." Affliction can lead to rebellion, "Why me, Lord?"


First, humble and submit go together. We cannot be humble without submitting to the Lord, nor can we submit to the Lord without being humble.

Second, humble means to willingly submit to the refiner's fire to see if there is any wicked way in us:

Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Third, humble means complete submission to the Lord's providence, i.e., his omnipotent hand, in whatever situation he has us in. We must be confident in his loving care shown in his providence.

We must be resigned to the Lord's will. We must be content with whatever state he has us. We must be content with what he has provided us. We must lay aside all envious desires.

Psalms 47:4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.

Fourth, humble means submitting to God and doing all things without murmurings and disputing:

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Note the context of 1 Corinthians 10:10 -- v. 12 deals with pride.

Fifth, humble means to submit to God's standard of righteousness; the humble will not despise the chastening of the Lord, for he will readily recognize where he has violated God's righteous standard. (Job 5:17, Pro. 3:11, Heb. 12:5.)

2 Chronicles 12:6 Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous.

Sixth, humble means submission to his way of salvation; the humble will submit to God's method of righteousness and justification, which is through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Timothy 2:5 There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Seventh, humble means to face up to sin as the cause of one's problems; the humble will then mourn over his sin. He will acknowledge his wickedness in his very emotions (not just with his head). He will recognize his unworthiness, and then he will be amazed at the majesty of God as seen in Christ.

Psalms 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Eighth, humble means confession, repentance (turning from sin), prayer and helplessly casting one's self upon God's mercy. (Pro. 28:19, 20.)

Psalms 6:2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

The humble realizes he is totally empty and worthless without God's mercy and grace. (John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.)

Ninth, humble means submission to God's divine providence, whether for affliction or for blessings. The humble will submit to God's divine pleasure without rebellion nor pride.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Tenth, humble means submission to God's time table:

1 Peter 5:6, 7, 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Here we have a clear call to patience and long suffering, if needed, in whatever situation he has us.

Eleventh, humility and submission is to the Lord, not to man. However, we show our submission to God by our proper submission to the proper authority God has over us.

The result of genuine humility is that we can cast our cares upon him, 1 Peter 5:7, above.

"Throw your cares, which are so cutting and distracting, which wound your souls and pierce your hearts, upon the wise and gracious providence of God; trust in him with a firm composed mind, for he careth for you. He is willing to release you of your care, and take the care of you upon himself. He will either avert what you fear, or support you under it. He will order all events to you so as shall convince you of his paternal love and tenderness towards you; and all shall be so ordered that no hurt, but good, shall come unto you,"

#Mt 6:25; Ps 84:11; Ro 8:28. Learn,

1. The best of Christians are apt to labour under the burden of anxious and excessive care; the apostle calls it, all your care, intimating that the cares of Christians are various and of more sorts than one: personal cares, family cares, cares for the present, cares for the future, cares for themselves, for others, and for the church.

2. The cares even of good people are very burdensome, and too often very sinful; when they arise from unbelief and diffidence, when they torture and distract the mind, unfit us for the duties of our place and hinder our delightful service of God, they are very criminal.

3. The best remedy against immoderate care is to cast our care upon God, and resign every event to the wise and gracious determination. A firm belief of the rectitude of the divine will and counsels calms the spirit of man. We ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done, #Ac 21:14. (MH)

Casting. Simply submitting, doing the Lord's will, and casting all care on him. (PNT, Online Bible.)

The disciples cast their garments upon the colt for Christ, Lk. 19:35. Peter is referring to

Psalms 55:22, Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Worry will not add one hair to our head, nor one inch to our height. Worry will not add one dollar to our wealth -- that takes work and God's blessings.

Failure to submit to God and to cast our cares upon him are the primary reasons why lust has such good success against us. If we desire the devil to flee from us, we must be willing to submit to God, which includes casting our cares upon him. Find from his word what he would have us to do, and do it.

For each vice the enemies have to use against us, the word of God gives us a positive virtue. Find it, and use it in our thoughts and in our actions.

The world, flesh and the devil must be seen as enemies determined to destroy us. Their influence must be opposed by all that is within us. Every weapon at our disposal must be used: the whole armor of God, the sword of the Spirit, prayer, &c. (See John Gill)