*These notes comes from a four week bible study at First Presbyterian Church San Angelo, Texas. Link to the wrest of the study here
4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.
Want v. Need – Human nature does not change. We still have the cravings, but by the grace of God we have the opportunity to be healed from them. Cravings are not necessarily bad – a chocolate chip cookie is not bad – but they cause conflict (yummy v. weight gain). We need to turn our focus to God in order to lessen the temptation of cravings.
You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
When your attention is not on God, you cannot enjoy the things or people God has given you.
4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]?
Jealousy is sometimes positive. God is rightfully justified, all-inclusive, and the one owed our allegiance. Why would we not give it to him? He yearns for us, but instead we desire our pleasures.
Grace = forgiveness
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”[c] 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God.
God tells us to transfer our cravings to him and to stop trying to justify them.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.
It is a contrast with the devil, but complimentary with God.
The devil is not capable of making you do something, but rather you are capable of making the devil do something (leave). The devil can only tempt and influence.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Be honest with how you feel and then turn it over to God. Do not mask your feelings, admit the truth.
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
We judge inappropriately. Yes, people do bad things and to reconcile with them is is appropriate to to point it out but not to judge them, as there is only one judge. Let God judge those who fall outside the bounds. I am wrong frequently. It is good for my ideas to be challenged. I shouldn’t take it personally. The challenge is so that we might reconcile, not separate.
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
In the movie the Christmas Carol, Scrooge is all alone. He is shown the things that might be if he were to change his ways. How much time do we spend doing things that will not be lasting? Where are we placing out cravings in these moments? Not on God. Leo Tolstoy said, “An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life—becoming a better person.” Our Christian goal is to know and enjoy God, which is hard to do if we are arrogant.
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
True religion is that which serves others. We may fall at times to cravings of immorality or self-importance, but the blessing of grace is that there is nothing we can do to be separated from God’s love.