FAITH ON DISPLAY IN FACING THE ENEMY
As a person whose father retired from the U.S. military, I have great respect for our military service personnel. The Bible affirms that Christians live in a constant state of readiness for war against the enemy. James addressed the twofold problem of Christian warfare. First, James addressed the problem of warfare in the church. Second, he discussed warfare with worldliness.
James 4:1 asks, “What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you?” “You” is plural, meaning the church was experiencing wars and fights. He stated the warfare in the church came from warring passions (literally pleasures, or “hedone” in Greek). Do we not find pleasure in coming out on top as successful warriors even in church conflict?
The sinful nature is self-centered and keeps us in conflict. (1–3)
In James 3:16, James referred to envy and selfish ambition as causal factors in the disorder and evil practices in the churches he addressed. He ascribes the source of the wars and fighting to lusts.
Most likely the language describes factions involved in church politics rather than physical acts.
Surely the language of murder is not literal, but we may murder a person’s reputation. The sin of coveting may be linked to murder, because an intense craving for winning an argument could lead an individual to the sin of murdering a person’s reputation.
Warfare or ruptured relationships within the church will affect prayer. Have you ever been so mad you could not pray?
The world is hostile to God. (4–5)
James referred to his readers as adulterous. The Church is the bride of Christ, and God desires a pure people.
James defines spiritual adultery as friendship with the world. A believer cannot be a friend of the world and God. God desires His people to be wholly and unreservedly committed to Him. As one commentator wrote, “Friendship with God means enmity with the world. Friendship with the world means enmity with God.”
You can stand against Satan only as you submit to God and draw near to Him. (6–10)
Sometimes Christians forget being a follower of Christ means we are at war with an enemy. In this hostile war, God gives “greater grace.” Although God gives grace, the path of victory against Satan is through obedience. James provided a seven-point pathway to victory in our opposition to Satan.
God will give grace to a believer to obey these commands. First, submit to God, our Commander, and His orders. Second, resist the devil by being involved in a resistance movement against Satan’s designs. Third, draw near to God as your offensive plan. Fourth, as infantry personnel take care of equipment and cleanse your hands. Fifth, purify your heart (or motives). Sixth, be miserable, mourn and weep at the conditions of circumstances and people. Turn your laughter to mourning over conditions and your joy to gloom. Finally, humble yourself before the Lord.
By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida