“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”
This verse is addressed to believers who are in a state of reversionism. What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you refers to both individual quarrels between two believers and conflicts among many believers within a local church setting.
Pleasures that wage war in your members, refers to sinful pleasures that wage war against your soul. Remember that all believers have a spiritual battle raging in their souls. Believers who fail to control their sin nature by learning and applying Bible doctrine (being doers not hearers only) eventually find themselves in reversionism, and in a frantic search for happiness which leads to quarrels and conflicts. Negative volition toward doctrine over a long period of time puts scar tissue on the soul. The frantic search for happiness and the subsequent blackout of the soul lead to an intensified warfare in the soul that spills over into relationships with others. In this case James is referring to believers who are out of fellowship with God and one another resulting in conflicts. The war in your members (soul) results in emotional revolt and the practice of reversionism. Under reversionism the conflicts and the quarrels among believers are intensified, and this becomes a major hindrance to the function of the Christian Way of Life.
“You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”
This refers to the lust pattern of the sin nature: approbation lust, power lust, materialism lust, etc. This is describing a reversionistic believer. A believer in reversionism is constantly in a state of lust which gives him wide emotional swings. Reversionists are always frustrated by not getting their desires met. Quarrels and conflicts can even eventuate in committing murder. Envy often takes things by violence, i.e. murder. Envious people are often violent in their jealousy. In other words, we are talking about trying to get something that you want by violence, and remember, we are talking about a believer.
A believer in reversionism wants self-gratification through some form of pleasure but the very thing that he seeks he destroys by his violence. This verse describes the level that frustration can reach in reversionism. A reversionistic believer wants certain things, and there are certain pleasures by which he thinks he can be happy. However, anything we acquire through the action of lust, murder, or jealousy is not worth having whether it is people, things or power, and will lead to self-induced misery. In their arrogance they believe they can obtain anything they desire by their own cunning, power, talent and ability. By contrast, the believer under the filling of the Holy Spirit depends on the power and grace of God to meet their needs.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
Not all reversionists use violence and strife to satisfy their lust. There are some who distort spiritual principles like prayer to gratify their desires under reversionism and emotional revolt. Therefore they do not receive because under reversionism they are distorting prayer and abusing prayer to gain some erroneous end. If you attempt to use prayer to satisfy your lust, you are not using prayer properly. And, your prayer will not be heard anyway because you’re out of fellowship with God. Here is the believer in reversionism attempting to use the nonviolent way of prayer to gratify his lust. However, the purpose is the same as the believer in reversionism in the previous verse who is trying to gratify his lust through violence. No matter what system they use all reversionists seek to gratify their own lust. Why does a reversionistic believer ask God for these things? It’s the seemingly easy way to get what you want and is a misinterpretation of this and other verses like it. The prerequiste for receiving anything from God is the capacity to receive it. A reversionist does not have the capacity to receive blessings from God. The believer in this verse is in a frantic search for happiness through pleasure.
“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whosoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
A believer in reversionism is an adulteress. All believers are members of the body of Christ in the Church Age. Jesus Christ in the analogy is the husband and we are His wives. So adulteresses refer to Church Age believers in reversionism (cheating on their husband). You cannot “ride the fence” as a Christian. If you are not advancing in your spiritual life, you are retreating. Reversionists are said to be enemies of God and of the Cross of Christ. In Philippians 3:18-19 we are given a description of these reversionists. They have made emotion their god, they glorify their human works and they set their minds on earthly things (friends of the world). For these reasons they are enemies of God and the Cross of Christ. They even may die “the sin unto death” (the premature death of a reversionistic believer). Some of these reversionists are kept alive as a test for advancing believers.
“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?”
Verse 5 refers to the Old Testament verse - Proverbs 3:34. It is impossible for a reversionistic believer to be objective in his thinking. The reversionistic believer is subjective in his thinking, in his opinions, in his conclusions. Therefore this portion of the verse should be translated “Or do you presume that.” The word “Spirit” is the Holy Spirit. The word dwell is the Greek word “katoikeo,” and it is an intensified verb. It means to indwell permanently. God the Holy Spirit Himself indwells every believer regardless of spiritual status. The word desires is the Greek word “epipotheo,” the strongest word for pure, good passionate love. It is a strong word for love and it includes all the passion that goes with true love. So it should be translated “deeply loved” — “the Spirit who dwells permanently in us deeply loves us.”
“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
At this point we begin a study of the life of a believer in spiritual maturity. However, the concept of this verse continues the thought of verse five. He gives is a reference to God the Holy Spirit. The subject is God the Holy Spirit who deeply loves us. Because He deeply loves us He gives, He keeps on giving. In contrast to God’s attitude toward reversionism we now have God’s attitude toward spiritual maturity. God is opposed means He is opposed to anything in Satan’s kingdom. When a believer gets into reversionism he becomes the lover of Satan’s world system. Notice that the reversionist is always described in terms of mental attitude sins which God hates, such as jealousy and pride.
Now we have God the Father rather than God the Holy Spirit Who is giving. And what does He give the spiritually mature believer? He gives him greater grace blessings as he matures and his capacity to receive these blessings increases. This means that a spiritually mature believer has maximum capacity for grace blessing and therefore receives maximum benefits from the plan of God. The word humble is used to describe the spiritually mature believer who has humility of soul and is teachable. The Greek word for humble is “tapeinos,” which means humble-minded or not arrogant. Humility therefore refers to a believer who has placed himself into the grace plan of God. So the humble believer is a rich person in Bible doctrine. He is the believer who possesses a fantastic Christian life.
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Submit means to be subordinate to the authority of God. There is authority in Heaven and there is also authority in the Christian life. The pastor is under authority too, he is responsible to God. But there is also another authority: the Word of God. However, the Word of God does not become your authority until it is in your soul. Doctrine in your soul is your authority and submission to God is based upon the doctrinal content of your soul. Ultimately you must respond to the authority of doctrine in your soul to reach spiritual maturity, which means that you are spiritually self-sustaining and you reached spiritual maturity under the filling of the Holy Spirit as you learned, believed and applied Bible doctrine over a period of time.
In quality God is absolutely supreme, but you may not know that, so you are simply to be subordinate to God in the sense of getting a little doctrine today, a little doctrine tomorrow, a little doctrine the next day, and so on. In the buildup of this doctrine you will see the character of God and respond to Him out of genuine humility, not enforced humility. Enforced humility is forcing yourself to submit to God’s authority because you know it’s the right thing to do. Genuine humility is submitting to God’s authority because you have learned to love Him. There is no greater authority in the universe than God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Response to that authority is fulfilled only by the spiritually mature believers to the extent in which they actually have taken Bible doctrine into their souls and made the proper application. This is where you learn the doctrine which becomes the authority in your soul. On the other hand, the neglect of Bible teaching and/or its application leads to reversionism which is rejection of the authority of God.
Once you have obeyed the command to submit, automatically you are resisting the devil. Resist means to stand against or to oppose. As you are subordinate to God by the accumulation of doctrine in the soul, at the same time you enter into opposition to Satan who is the ruler of this world system. You cannot resist the devil by throwing the Bible at him! You can only do it with doctrine in your own soul. The same principle is brought out in 1 Peter 5:5-9. The only person who really can oppose the devil and can fulfill this is a spiritually mature believer.
Notice what happens when you oppose the devil with the Bible doctrine you have in your soul. The way in which you are subordinate to God is the way in which you oppose the devil so that he runs away — “and he will flee from you” - on the basis of Bible doctrine in your soul. Bible doctrine in your soul is ultimately more powerful than the ruler of this world, Satan. Therefore doctrine is the means by which we become subordinate to God and at the same time oppose the devil, the ruler of this world. This is the exact method used by Jesus when He was here on earth.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded.”
Now we have the other side of the coin - recovery from reversionism. In verse 8 our command this time is to draw near to God. The Greek word for draw near is “eggizo,”which means to approach, to come near, or to get closer. We will see in this passage two factors in reversionism recovery. One is the use of Rebound and the other is the daily intake of the Word of God. Both are essential; both go together. The imperative mood is a command to believers who are in reversionism or moving toward reversionism in one of its stages, to turn around and recover.
God will come near to you in the sense that He will honor your Rebound and He will honor your study of His Word. Being filled with the Spirit is not going to help you until you begin to take in the Word of God. So Rebound in reversionism does not help until you begin to study and apply Bible doctrine on a consistent basis. It is Rebound plus getting the doctrine in your stream of consciousness that counts.
The next two commands involve the mechanics of the Christian life. First of all, we have “cleansing of the hands,” which has to do with Rebound. Second, we have “purifying of the hearts,” and that has to do with intake of Bible doctrine. The principle has just been given: “Draw nigh to God.” The mechanics involve two things: Rebound and the consistent intake of doctrine. The cleansing of your hands is analogous to Rebound and the purifying of your hearts is analogous to the intake of doctrine. The two must go together, you cannot separate them. You cannot learn Bible doctrine unless you are filled with the Spirit and you cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit apart from Rebound. You sinners refers to a believer in reversionism, not a believer who is simply out of fellowship. The Greek word for sinners is one who deviates from the path of virtue or divine norms and standards. Double-minded is a word for reversionistic believers who try to “ride the fence” in their Christian lives. No one can serve two masters at the same time!