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 Warning Against Worldly Indulgences: Part 2 - James 4:2a

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PostSubject: Warning Against Worldly Indulgences: Part 2 - James 4:2a   Warning Against Worldly Indulgences: Part 2 - James 4:2a EmptyTue May 13, 2008 7:47 am

Warning Against Worldly Indulgences: Part 2 - James 4:2a
Written by LaRosa Johnson
Tuesday, 13 May 2008

In our previous study, we took a look at James' rhetorical question concerning the very serious matter of quarrels and disputes among believers in the assembly. In the study, we outlined the depth of this conflict as well as the source (lust) that was at the root of such disputes. Today, in verse 2, James continues to describe the problem and the source of the conflicts that have arisen in this congregation. So, let us prepare our minds and hearts to study Scripture as we read and investigate James 4:2 in our study today.

Quote :
James 4:2a (NASB) - You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

Looking at the totality of this verse, we can break it down into three segments or sentences. For our study today, we will take only take a look at the first two sentences and see what they have to say regarding the fights that were taking place in this congregation. As a quick look, we see that the first sentence deals with the lust and its result, while the second sentence deals with the jealousy that also caused the fighting. With that as our focus, let us dive into the verse.

Our first sentence gives a very harsh accusation and gives his readers the grim reality of what is truly taking place. James tells them, "You lust and do not have; so you commit murder." I don't think that we need to spend very much time looking at the first part of this sentence, as it is very self explanatory, especially in regard to the previous verses that we have already looked at in regard to lust. Just as a point of summary and descriptive for this verse, the believers here were coveting and desiring things that they should not have been. Here we get a clearer indication that they were lusting after things that they did not and possibly could not have, either because it belonged to someone else or it was out of their reach (for whatever reason, i.e. financially).

The harsh truth comes in the second half of this verse when we are told that as a result of such lusting they committed murder. Now, in many respects, it is hard to determine whether this is a literal or figurative murder that is taking place, as it cannot really be seen one way or another in the text. Although this very well could be seen as a figurative form of murder (1 John 3:15, and as can be inferred from the following verses of this chapter which we will cover soon), we must go take this in its most literal sense because there is no indication otherwise that we should not. The case for this is also helped in the fact that of all of the eleven other uses of this word in the New Testament, they all speak of a literal murder, and it would make sense to do so here also. How gruesome is that?! These believers were so engulfed in their pursuit of worldly passion and desire that there was no stopping them from achieving what their eyes were set on. This is exactly what we learned when we looked at James 3:14-16, when we saw that worldly motivated wisdom will stop at nothing to achieve its goal, no matter who it hurts (or kills) in the process. And one final thing to keep in mind here is that this murder also includes everything that leads up to it; you don't just up and decide to kill someone one day. Instead, you try numerous methods of getting what you want (i.e. deceit & stealing), all while feelings of bitterness and hate continue to fester and grow inside of you. It is when these reach their peak, and normally when all other methods are exhausted, that murder results.

This next sentence isn't really all that hard to understand, but it is still worth taking the time to look at, especially considering that James chooses to reemphasize the point that he made with his rhetorical question in verse 1. With this sentence, James reinforces two thoughts: 1) they are exhibiting jealousy and lustful desires over things that they cannot have, and 2) the fact that there is quarreling and fighting going on that shouldn't be. The word given here in English in the NASB is "envious" and with its Greek wording it carries with it the idea of being jealous or coveting. This is precisely what is taking place here with these Jewish believers; they were allowing their flesh to cause them to be jealous and have desires for things that they simply could not have. And because they were not able to have these things, it caused them to fight and quarrel with one another. Now, these are not the same two words that were used in verse 1, but they are very similar and have the exact same meaning as the other words. The words used in this instance are machomai (Strong's #G3164) for "fight" and polemeō (Strong's #G4170) for "quarrel."

Tying this together with yesterday's study, our picture and warning against worldly indulgences is starting to become less foggy and we're starting to see the light shining on the other side. The pieces that we have so far are these: 1) there is quarreling and fighting going on in the church, 2) the source for said fighting is worldly passions and lusts that take root in the heart and war against the Spirit within, 3) because they cannot have what they want, they fight and quarrel with one another, and 4) as their passion for what they cannot have grows, it ultimately ends with them committing murder to finally get what they had so been longing for.

It's amazing how all of this can take place from a thought that is placed in our mind and by thinking on it we can give birth to murder and the like, even in the life of a believer. Let us not forget that James is writing to believers. The question remains though, why were they doing all of this to begin with? There has to be a reason for it all, and James gives us that answer in the remainder of verse 2 and verse 3. We will take a look at those verses next time. Until we meet again, keep your armor on and stay fighting the good fight of the faith!

devotion courtesy of Trailblazin Ministries
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