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Where Do Wars Come From?


Text: James 4:1-10 

Where do wars come from? It’s not the question that we usually ask, when we are talking about conflict. The more common question is, “Who’s to blame?” “Who started it…?” But James isn’t asking who starts wars and conflicts, he’s asking WHERE do they come from. James gives us an insight into the real source of war…  Let’s look at this text and see if there are any lessons for us, on this special day, when we remember those who went to fight in wars in our defence. The apostle makes two specific points, particular to the church, and he concludes with a more general observation. Notice firstly it is…


1. The War that is AMONG YOU! wars and fightings among you?

The language is the language of war, but James is teaching his readers about the tensions and disagreements that are frequently found among Christians, and found in many churches. I know you will immediately say, that this should never be so, – surely the Christian church, the local assembly should be a place of peace, and brotherly love.  Yet realistically we know that this is not always the case, in fact, probably, rarely is it the case. We know that over the last couple of millennia disagreements and splits and schisms, have been a constant feature in the history of the church.  

You would wonder why Christians, who profess to have known the grace of God in their lives, and to be following the Saviour, the Prince of Peace, would be involved in such bitter rancour and quarrel!  It is totally the opposite of the true Christian nature! There is a set precedent in Matthew 18:21-22   When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. READ  Matthew 18:32-34

The true Christian nature is to offer forgiveness to those who repent and plead for forgiveness, just as Jesus has freely forgiven him or her.  And in fact Jesus issues a stern warning to those who refuse to forgive…  Matthew 18:34-35  Let’s move on to…

2. The War that is WITHIN YOU. …come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Now, right away, let me stress that every Christian believer has an internal struggle going on. The Christian has the peace of God, indwelling, – the peace that passes all understanding, yet within the Christian there is a mighty battle taking place. There is a daily battle against sin and it never ceases until we are at home in heaven with the Lord. And if you are not having that battle, then your faith is defective. The puritans and the reformers called it “The Mortification of the Flesh.” Paul the apostle describes it for us in that classic passage in Romans 7. James lists some of these temptations that we struggle with here, in James 4:2-3 In a series of logical steps, he describes sin as:-

  • Lust. VAnd why do we lust?  Because of…
  • Distrust.   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.  James note that by nature we have…
  • Wrong motives!  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.   James gives his final reason for war…
  • Worldliness.  Too much affinity and friendship with the world!  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.  

The antidote for a sinful heart is the application of the grace of God to the heart of the sinner, cleansing it from its sin, and preparing it for heaven. Finally, let’s see…

3. The War BETWEEN YOU! 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.

Now we get to the very root cause of all human conflicts, the more general point that James observes here, for all wars,  – whether in a local congregation, or a major conflict between nations. The ROOT CAUSE of sin and war is Rebellion against God!  In some way those at war with others are also at war within themselves because in their heart they are at war with God! We are all rebels, fighting and struggling and warring against the One who created us, and who by divine right, as our Creator, has laid down how we should live, in order to please him, to have continual fellowship with him, in time and forever. We are, within us, enemies of God, both by birth, and by practice.

It is that basic rebellion against God that is the root cause of every conflict, and every war. The easily identifiable source of every war, conflicts big or small is the condition of the rebellious human heart. Talking to his Christian brothers and sisters, James gives the solution… we must SURRENDER. We are to SUBMIT to God, we are to give up warring and quarrelling with God, and we are to resist the devil, and he will flee from us!  So, in the Christian that war between God and man is over, the conflict is ended. This is the explanation of that dichotomy; that seeming contradiction that I mentioned earlier – that the Christian is, at the one time, at peace with God and at war with sin.

So this is James’s argument. There is war between you, because there is war within you, and so there must therefore be war between you and God.  What is the answer to all of this?  James says that when all of these things would seem to prevail, God GIVES MORE GRACE.  James has a simple remedy that every one of us can easily understand and it is found in 7-11. It is to cast ourselves upon the Grace of God! Grace is God’s unmerited favour, – that undeserved love issued in Him sending his Only Begotten Son, into this world to die, on a cross for sinners.  James applies this to us… V7 The result will be that God will lift you up! 

Today we must examine our own hearts, and like Paul, in Romans 7, be totally honest about our true condition. Romans 7:23  Look at me, see my own wretchedness before God, and in sorrow, repent of all my sins, and trust Christ, as Saviour, so my enmity, my war with God is over, and I am internally at peace with God. Here’s Paul again, Romans 5:1 

From → James

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