In chapter 3 James described the weapon we all carry, the tongue. As we enter chapter 4 James turns his attention to the device that fires that weapon, our mind.
James starts with a question… where does all the fighting and bickering come from? Envy and strife come from the evil passions we allow inside the mind. James uses the plural form of the word lust to describe those passions. When we hear the word “lust” we usually reserve that for only one type of thought. Lust, as James uses it, is the pursuit of self-serving pleasure. You can lust after a shiny new sports car thinking it will give you pleasure. You can lust after a house, a new wardrobe or even a new look. Lusting after things has one common trait, to give pleasure to self at any expense. It’s “all about me”. When we have an “all about me” mindset then envy, strife and hard feelings are not far behind.
Our Sin Nature
Christians have the capacity to do evil. Salvation does not prevent a Christian from making bad choices. That is why we have a bible, to teach us how to avoid the evil passions still inside us. We covered this some time back; we called it the old sin nature. The closer we stay to God, assembling together, reading His word and praying the easier it is to control these evil passions. However, when we leave off these things that old sin nature rears its ugly head and we are in danger of making bad decisions. Wisdom is our best defense so we need to remind ourselves what these evil passions really are and what they can do to us.
If you are a parent you likely remember telling your children not to play in the street. Why? We all know why. God is trying to do the same thing here but we can be pig headed. I remember my son saying “it’s easier to ride my bike in the street”.
When I look back to times when I waved off the warnings and plowed strait into trouble I just shake my head. What was I thinking? Heavenly Father, please forgive my stubborn nature and heed your warnings.
Sins Pleasure is Temporary
In verse 2 James says “ye lust and have not“, “desire to have, and cannot obtain” and “ye fight and war, yet ye have not“. Running after pleasures will never satisfy. As the verse ends James says those who seek pleasure are looking in the wrong place.
Right here we need to also recognize that sin can have pleasure for a season. Many choose to sin and enjoy the pleasures of it. However, very soon that little bit of pleasure is replaced with guilt and condemnation. In the end sin will be bitter.