As James continues his letter to us, he mentions the source of personal wars and argument. Let us take heed and be careful of our attitudes and actions. God will help us.
My translation and notes for James 4:1-3
James Chapter 4
Origin of Personal Wars and Arguing
1 Where do yourp wars of words and quarrels [come] from? [Don’t they come] from yourp lusts that are warring in yourp bodies?
[Contrary to a life of seeking and following God’s chastening program (if needed) as in James 3:18, a life marked by unrighteousness leads to arguing, quarrels, and abusive language. The source of this unrighteousness is evil desires of our sin nature. Jesus came to destroy this sin nature by His atoning death and new birth. The Greek word for ‘wars of words’ is (G4171) πόλεμος polemos. It means long conflicts and wars. Here the reference is to what is said, hence ‘wars of words.’ A further explanation is a state of hostility/antagonism, strife, conflict, quarrel (BDAG). The Greek word for ‘quarrels’ is (G3163) μάχη mache. It means short-term arguments and separate battles in a war (Robertson). These verbal battles frequently lead to violent physical battles. The sin nature is marked by the attitude “me.” Me first, my way, my opinion, my… It is pride, selfishness, and the total absence from God’s ways. This is the origin of all sin and the desires of the old nature of every human. Consider Matthew 12:34-35, Matthew 15:18-19, and Romans 1:21. See 2 Peter 2:12-14. What is needed is a recreated heart from grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (2 Corinthians 5:17)].
2 Youp desire something and do not get [it], so youp kill. Youp are envious but cannot obtain it, so youp fight and war. Youp do not get things because youp do not ask.
[This type of desire (lust) and envy (covet) is against God’s law. Reason? It destroys and is not helpful in any way. Lust in this sense is evil. It is an expression of the sin nature. God has provided a way for believers to overcome this lust. See Psalm 119:11, The Greek word for ‘desire’ is (G1937) ἐπιθυμέω epithumeō, which means to have a strong desire to do or secure someth., desire, long for (BDAG). See Romans 13:9, and compare Revelation 9:6 (desire). Vine (VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS) writes:
In Romans 6:12 the injunction against letting sin reign in our mortal body to obey the “lust” thereof, refers to those evil desires which are ready to express themselves in bodily activity. They are equally the “lusts” of the flesh, Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:24; Ephesians 2:3; 2Peter 2:18; 1 John 2:16, a phrase which describes the emotions of the soul, the natural tendency towards things evil. Such “lusts” are not necessarily base and immoral, they may be refined in character, but are evil if inconsistent with the will of God.
Dake (beware) writes (DAKE ANNOTATED REFERENCE BIBLE TOPICS):
Eighteen Secrets Of Victory Over Sin
1. Taking heed of God’s Word (Psalm 119:9).
2. Seeking God wholeheartedly (Psalm 119:10).
3. Hiding God’s Word in the heart (Psalm 119:11).
4. Being always open to truth (Psalm 119:18).
5. Removing from the way of lying (Psalm 119:29).
6. Receiving salvation (Psalm 119:41).
7. Hastening to keep commandments (Psalm 119:60).
8. Delighting in God’s Word (Psalm 119:77; 119:143).
9. Meditating in God’s Word (Psalm 119:97; 119:99).
10. Refraining from every evil way (Psalm 119:101).
11. Hating every false way (Psalm 119:104).
12. Consecrating to obey to the end (Psalm 119:112).
13. Hating vain thoughts (Psalm 119:113).
14. Hating and abhorring lying (Psalm 119:163).
15. Loving God’s Word (Psalm 119:163; 119:165).
16. Praising God (Psalm 119:164).
17. Permitting nothing to offend (Psalm 119:165; Hebrews 12:15).
18. Hoping for salvation (Psalm 119:166; Romans 8:24)].
3 Youp ask, and do not receive because youp ask with wicked motives, to squander it on yourp lusts.
[James states that people should pray asking God to supply, yet much of people’s prayers are for selfish desires with wicked motives. God will not grant most prayers like this. Sometimes He does grant these prayers, but sends leanness into their heart. Psalms 106:15 WEB He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul. Henry Morris (Defender’s STUDY BIBLE (HENRY M. MORRIS)) writes on this verse: leanness. Instead of the nourishing manna, the “bread from heaven,” which they despised (Numbers 21:5), God sent them a surfeit of bird-meat, which became “loathsome” (Numbers 11:20) when it caused a great plague that took many lives (Numbers 11:33, Numbers 11:34). The word “leanness” refers basically to physical emaciation, but may here refer to an even more sobering warning. If our prayers focus primarily on physical rather than spiritual desires, God’s answer may be one of physical satiation but spiritual poverty].