Passage: Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on you pleasures. 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. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?" But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
Journal: James moves from the subject of chapter 3 (sins of the tongue and the pursuit of authentic wisdom) to yet another test of genuine salvation in chapter 4; that is, the attitude of the professed believer to the world. He begins with dissension within the physical Church ("Where do wars and fights come from among you?") This dissension is within the context of testing one's action against one's claim of salvation. Therefore, it goes to follow that disputes within the Church are often (though not always) the result of the interaction of believers and non-believers, those genuinely saved and those merely professing salvation. (See Matthew 13:24-30 concerning the parable of the wheat and the tares.) Since Satan has scattered the tares (weeds) among the wheat (the Children of God), it is incumbent to be wise concerning those with whom you place trust and confidence. Thus, external conflict within the Church is a by-product of internal conflict within the hearts of the members of the Church ("Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?") Here, James is referencing the internal conflict of the fallen human condition, and the losing battle that a non-believer (whether or not professing faith in Christ) has against overcoming his or her natural sinful tendencies. A child of God has a resource to successfully fight against his or her warring members; that is, a reliance on the very presence of God ("Yet you do not have because you do not ask."). Conversely, the non-believer (whether or not professing faith in Christ) cannot overcome his or her sinful nature ("You lust and do not have . . . You murder and covet and cannot obtain . . ."). This inability to persevere in the face of temptation is because they refuse to submit to God, and instead depend upon themselves for their moral righteousness.