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Every day (hour?) the media unleashes stories of strife, conflict, war, tension & destruction. Such constant bombardment makes is difficult to maintain faith in God's sovereignty. James 3 ends with a reference to peace and peacemakers but chapter 4 opens by referring to fights and tensions, presumably among God's people as well as in the world at large. What are the causes of endless battles over just about everything at every level of life & existence?

Session No. 8 THREE PENETRATING QUESTIONS James 4/1-12

[1] WHAT CAUSES FIGHTS & QUARRELS AMONG YOU? (vs.1-3)

a. Here is an honest recognition that even among Christians, sin's residue can still impact our lives. In this case that residual sinfulness reveals itself in tension, conflict and disunity.

b. James answers his question with a question - "Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" What we see and experience outwardly by way of conflict is the product or manifestation of what is happening within us. It all comes back to our understanding and motivation.

c. Our internal desires & motives are often basically self-centred, not other-centred or God-centred. The very essence of sin is wanting our own way (Isaiah 53/6) - sin still seeks to dominate us.

d. Is there an answer to this human condition? Yes, but not before another question.

[2] DON'T YOU KNOW THAT FELLOWSHIP WITH WORLD IS HATRED TOWARDS GOD? (vs.4-10)

a. "Adulterous people"??!! What school of diplomacy and tact did James attend to produce this outburst? The problem is not with James' lack of diplomacy but with our lack of sensitivity to "worldliness" and the sinfulness of sin. In the Old Testament particularly the relationship between God and His people is often presented in terms analogous to the bride and groom.

b. James is very black & white on this issue of friendship with the world. This world's values etc. are so different and opposed to God's Kingdom that to befriend the world is to collaborate with the enemy of God. There are no shades of meaning. For James it is just that black and white.

c. When the Bible writers talk about the "world", they are most often referring to the system of values, priorities and actions that are independent of God and hostile towards His Kingdom.

d. Read James 1/27 "...being polluted or corrupted by the world". This is a very strong statement of the world's influence in life.

e. Read John 15/18,19;  John 17/6,11; 1 John 5/19 - the world is in a state of rebellion against its Creator.Part of the reason for our inner conflict (4/1-3) is because we try to love God AND the world. James takes seriously the OT concept of God/Husband and Church/Bride. Hence the imagery of adultery. Friendship with the world is like having another lover. That, in turn, compromises the exclusiveness of our relationship with God.

THE ANTIDOTE is decisive action. *Submit to God, *Resist the devil.  This is the exact opposite of world's position which is *Resist God *Submit to the devil.

f. Read vs. 7-10.  Here is a powerful appeal (command?) for submission, repentance and humility.

[3] WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE YOUR NEIGHBOUR? (vs. 11,12)

a. This is a good question! And one that we should ask & answer for ourselves more often than we do! Again, note that here is another reference to the use of the tongue.

b. James brings the issue of conflict down to a personal level. One of the devil's names or titles is "Diabolos" which means" slanderer". To speak critically or destructively of another is to do the devil's work.

c. To speak against a fellow believer is to put ourselves above the Law rather than be submitted to it because God alone is qualified to make such judgments. There is only one Law-Giver and Judge - and that's not you or me!!

APPLICATION:

1. The "world" has access to us in many ways. What are some of those ways?  Are we sufficiently sensitive to that reality?

2. What specific adjustments do you and I need to make in our lifestyles in order to counter that subtle but powerful influence worldly values?

3. Remember, inner battles, outward strife and slander are all symptoms of the world's pervasive influence on our thoughts, words and actions.

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