The book of James has some harsh words about who we really are and how it impacts our relationship with God. The wonderful part with his harsh plain-spokenness is that it is clear to the one who wants to draw near to God what the path forward looks like. James clearly states what God is looking for. This is a walkthrough of James 4:1-8. Take time to read and meditate on what James the brother of Jesus has to say. God is available and He is near for those who are ready to humble themselves.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. James 1:1-2 ESV
James opens with the point that our passions are at war with the new person we should be in Christ. We fight amongst ourselves. We hate our brothers. We want what others have and plot to take it from them. Then James points directly at such evil children and reminds us that we do not have because we did not ask.
So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Romans 9:16 ESV
We do not ask because we live life apart from God. Do we turn to him and ask him to provide for our needs? Do we turn to him and ask him to provide for the desires in our heart? Do we turn to him and ask him to put Godly passions in the foundation of our soul? No we don’t, we life live like the atheists striving and working in our own will as if God our creator did not even exist.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3-4 ESV
Then there are those of you who will say “I prayed and asked for a Job and God has not answered” or I asked for a perfect girlfriend or car, or whatever and God did not provide. Where is the answered prayer that God promised? This is hard to answer because only you know in your heart what God has to say to you. However I will give a few possibilities. First it is out of wrong motives that you ask. If you pray for a 100 score on a test for school and you do not receive it then I must ask why you prayed for the 100? What was your motive? Did you want the 100 because you wanted to boast to your friends at how smart you are? Did you want the 100 because you needed it to pass because you neglected the responsibilities of study? What obligation does God have to answer such a prayer? Is he simply someone that grants wishes for your own selfishness? Second you ask God for things that will allow you to continue your selfish life filling the passions of this world and not focusing on the eternal things that are important to God. Third, what if God’s answer for now is “No” to that job? Has he not provided for your daily needs? Has he not been faithful in this time without steady income? Is there not joy to be found in trusting him daily? What if he has a season of life where you must truly trust him for your daily bread? I have been there for a season and God can restore what is taken away and to him I give the credit and appreciate what I have now even more.
And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Luke 12:29-31 ESV
James calls it adulterous that we seek to fill our own passions. God knows what you need and he has promised to provide that. Has he not been faithful? Jesus wants for us to seek after him, his kingdom. He wants you to put your trust in Him. However God never promised to make us rich in material things. What good are those material things anyway? Will they aid in your future eternal destiny? Doubtful.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4 ESV
James is as straight forward as he can be here. If you love the things of this world more than God, if you choose the pleasures of this world over the life Christ is calling you to live then you choose to be an enemy with God. It is that simple.
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore 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. James 4:5-8 ESV
Do you love Christ? Do you love God and what he has done to create you, save you, and provide for you in eternity? We are adulterous in God’s eyes because he will not accept our cheating on him with the world. James makes it perfectly clear that if your ambitions and your plans are consumed with the things of this world you are his enemy. God’s ambitions and plans do not involve this world. This world is temporary just like our mortal bodies. But James has good news for us double-minded sinners. Submit to God, and humble ourselves to God because through Jesus he gives more grace. Lastly if you do not already know the joy of salvation in Jesus then today is the day to give up the selfish ambition and seek what life Christ has for you. All that is needed to get started is to speak to Jesus with honest words admitting that you need him. Eternity is at stake.