Main point summary
In the midst of the Christian's adulterous double-mindedness, with its destructive consequences, God's grace abounds. He opposes those who sideline him but exalts those who submit. Therefore submit to him, with all sincerity.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?
What is the source of the quarrels within you?
Is it not this,
It is this
that your passions 1 are y at war within you? 2
that is , your passions are at war within you.
and do not have,
but do not have,
so you murder.
and as a result you murder.
and cannot obtain,
but cannot obtain
so you fight and quarrel.
and as a result you quarrel.
You do not have,
Explaining ... You don't have
because you do not ask.
because you don't ask
Explaining further ... you ask
and do not receive,
but do not receive
because you ask z wrongly,
because you ask with wrong motives
to spend it on your passions .
that is, because you are seeking worldly pleasures.
a You adulterous people! 1
Explaining the problem ... you are adulterous people (married to God, but in bed with the world)!
Do you not know
You really should understand
that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
that friendship with the things of the world is hostility with God
b Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world
Therefore , if you desire friendship with the world
makes himself an enemy of God.
then you make yourself an enemy of God.
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says,
Because Scripture has a reason for saying:
“He yearns jealously over the spirit c that he has made to dwell in us”?
He jealously desires the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.
But d he gives more grace.
But he holds out great kindness
Therefore it says,
Therefore it says
e “God opposes the proud,
God sets himself against the proud
but d gives grace to the humble.”
but gives his kindness to the low ones.
Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Therefore lower yourselves under God agenda.
f Resist the devil,
Set yourself against the devil
and he will flee from you.
and in response he will flee from you
g Draw near to God,
Draw near to God
and he will draw near to you.
and in response he will draw near to you.
h Cleanse your hands, you sinners,
Cease your rebellious acts,
and i purify your hearts,
and remove the impurity in your heart (your love for the world)
j you [who are] double-minded.
you who are double-minded (thinking you can somehow love God and gain the friendship of the world)
k Be wretched
How? With his grace supporting you, acknowledge your unfaithfulness and ... feel its abhorence
Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
That is , welcome sorrow and let go of mirth, welcome sadness and let go of levity.
l Humble yourselves before the Lord,
Place yourself before the Lord,
and he will exalt you.
and he will lift you up.
Adulterous - of or involving adultery. Adultery - voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse. ( Dictionary.com)
We have a choice, and we are told the outcome.
If I care about the friendship of the world I become an enemy of God. An elder must have a good reputation with outsiders (1 Tim 3:7), but not desire the friendship of the world.
We (in whom God has placed his Spirit) are adulterous when we seek pleasure in the world. I think this means pleasure from the world in a way that excludes/sidelines God. It would be wrong to say we can not or should not enjoy God's creation. 1 Timothy 4:3-5. We should receive what God has made, with thanksgiving to the one who made it.
God gives grace, and so the Scripture says ...
The implication of being called adulterous people is that the recipients are Christians (or addressed as part of the church), and as such James sees them as God's dearly beloved (Sng 2:16), but they are being wayward in this relationship. They are taking pleasure in the world rather than in God.
What are these passions at war within them? Verse 5b implies that James is addressing Christians, in whom God has placed his Spirit. The Spirit desires God's will, and the sinful nature desires the things of the world. God opposes the Christian who pursues satisfaction of the sinful nature's desires. Such a pursuit makes a person an enemy of God.
Desires ( ἐπιθυμεῖτε) are not necessarily bad . e.g. the desire to be an overseer ( 1 Tim 3:1 ); Jesus desired to eat the Passover with his disciples ( Luke 22:15 ); the writer of Hebrews' desired that the recipients be earnest in having assurance in their faith ( Heb 6:11 ). Likewise, the word translated 'covet' (2d, ζηλοῦτε) is also used elsewhere to encourage a desire for good things ( 1 Cor 14:1 ).
The humble are those who love God's ways. Perhaps they even recognise the lure of the world, but they despise it because they love God.
This seems somewhat straight forward, resist the devil and he will flee. But the devil is a liar, a murderer, a deceiver. Why would he simply flee when we resist him? Why would he not continue to harass and try to cause trouble?
Direct/train/discipline/purify your hearts to value God and to despise the friendship of the world. What does it mean to purify your hearts? Change your affections so that you are no longer double-minded.
Get rid of practices that are opposed to God. Clean your hands of such things.
Why does James say this? Does he want them to conjure up feelings of wretchedness as a result of their adulterous love of the world. Ie. you are an adulterer, you ought to feel wretched, therefore feel wretched? Or could it be, your adultery will make you feel wretched, so feel it, don't pretend you don't feel it. Feel the wretchedness of double-mindedness. Such adultery is a travesty; you ought to feel it, so feel it. Yes, weep and mourn in the misery that your adulterous state will necessarily bring upon you. Feel the misery and the affliction that your love for the world causes. There may be a momentary satisfaction, from the fleeting praise or pleasures of the world, but it will fade, and you will be left empty - feel the loss and misery, let it sink in deeply. Do not pretend all is well; do not hide the affliction that lies within, let your supposed laughter and joy (from the fleeting pleasures of the world) turn to affliction and grief and gloom. The world loves to pretend that it provides lasting satisfaction, it loves to pretend that the pleasures of this world provide lasting joy. Don't fool yourself with that. Come apart. You have been adulterous - you have loved the world and despised the LORD - and the Spirit is grieved within, so sit down and weep. Is he exhorting the double-minded - those who have divided loves - to reflect on the travesty of their double-mindedness, and mourn. They have been redeemed to God at the costly death of his son, and now they are seeking the approval, seeking pleasure in, the very world that crucified the Son. They are esteeming the praise of man over the praise of God. They are turning away from the love and security of their husband, in order to seek the favour of another man.
What is the significance of the LORD (10a) vs. God (v7a)? Is James reminding his audience that they are dealing with the living LORD, not an inanimate set of rules? Humble yourself before Him .
The structure: v1-3. Your quarrels are caused by your conflicting passions. v4-5. Your conflicting passions are evidence that you are adulterous people. v6. But God's grace abounds. He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. v7-10. Therefore, submit to him, and he will exalt you.
This is a sobering passage, that causes me to pause and be silent. In the various circles where I mix - work, children's school, and even church and family - people often appear bent towards seeking pleasure through various means without reference to the God who made them. And I look at my own heart and find that I am not innocent. James calls me to consider what is at the root of quarrels that I am familiar with, and take these observations seriously. The response may be "yes, yes, we know we are sinners, but God offers us grace. So enjoy the grace and get on with life." James demands a different response: be wretched, mourn, weep. You who love the world are making yourselves enemies of God. You sideline God and seek the pleasures of the world. Though married to God, you are in bed with the world. Do you expect a harmonious, peaceful relationship with God when you are in love with the world? Reflect on the quarrels within you. Do they not arise because you are pursuing affection for the world rather than affections with God? James calls people who are in such a state of conflict 'adulterous' - it is though they are pursuing (and having) sexual intercourse outside of marriage - James uses a shocking analogy because the way they are living is shocking. Other observations. 1. Adulterous people. Quarrels and fighting are an indicator of the passions waging war within us. What are these passions? On the one hand it appears we have God's passion for his Spirit, which he has placed within us. He is jealous for it. On the other hand I place my own sinful agenda, seeking the pleasures that the world offers. James calls people adulterous when, though they are married to God - God has placed his Spirit in them - they seek pleasure from the world. In doing so they make themselves enemies of God. They do not get what they want because God will not reward or satisfy such desires. 2. A plan for restoration. In the midst of the Christian's waywardness, God's offers grace and a plan for restoration. (Note: I think James is speaking to Christians because he is speaking to people in whom God has made His Spirit dwell. (verse 5).) I wasn't entirely sure how verses 7-10 worked (I have marked it as series), but we can say it involves: (1) submitting one's will to God. Humbling one's will and desiring to obey God. (2) resisting the devil. Standing on the truth that the Christian's righteousness is in Christ (Col 2:13-15). (3) drawing near to God. Connecting with the Lord in prayer. Accepting Jesus as our mediator, and humbly drawing near to God through Him. (Heb 4:14-16). (4) dealing with our sinful practices (wash your hands) and mixed affections (cleanse your hearts). Responding to God's offer of grace by renouncing our love for the world and renewing our deep love for our bridegroom. Seeing him and loving him. (5) feeling, deeply, completely, the travesty of our love affair with the world. Let the grievous weight of adultery sink in, feel it emotionally. When we love the world, when we esteem the world's affections, we love that which saw fit to crucify the Lord. (6) wondering with amazement that God will exalt those who humble themselves before him.