James 4: 1-10


What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:1–10.

Biggest BAnd Break Ups All Time. Rolling Stone. May 11, 2023.

Any music fans out there? If so you are familiar with bands, and you are familiar with Bands breaking up. 

Bono, the U2 front man said, “BEING IN A band is tricky, The older you get, it gets even trickier, because when you grow up together, you’re used to taking bits out of each other. You’re as good as the arguments you get, but at a certain point, when people are doing well, the male loves to be the lord of his own domain. It’s rough. And you can just imagine why people say, ‘Ah, __ this, I’m outta here.’”

Some of the biggest band breakups…

When Oasis and the Black Crowes hit the road together in the summer of 2001, they jokingly called the tour Brotherly Love. That’s because the brothers at the core of both bands had spent the past decade fighting like maniacs. Chris and Rich Robinson dissolved the band just a few months later, reunited it three years after that, and then saw it collapse yet again in 2015. Rich Robinson said it came down to a business dispute. “I love my brother and respect his talent, but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band, and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner… relinquish 100 percent of his share…. is not something I could agree to.” In 2017, Chris Robinson told Rolling Stone he had no interest in a reunion. “I plan on, at some point, singing those songs, But not with any of those people….”

Everly Brothers were the original feuding-brothers rock act… during the Fifties and Sixties as they landed hits like “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie…” As Phil Everly said in 1970, “We only ever had one argument. It’s been lasting for 25 years.” 

The Supremes. Florence Ballard started the Primettes in 1958 when she was still in junior high school, inviting her friend Mary Wilson and eventually Diana Ross to join the group. With a little help from Smokey Robinson, the trio signed with Motown in 1960 and changed their name to the Supremes. Things were fine…, but Motown head Berry Gordy Jr. pegged Ross as the leader and began placing her in front of the others in their performances and on the albums. As time went on, the public saw Wilson and Ballard as little more than Ross’ background singers. 

The Beatles. Much debate on the real reason. John Lennon told Rolling Stone in December 1970, after manager Brian Epstein, who had guided the band through most of the Sixties, died in 1967 said, “After Brian died, we collapsed.. ,Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what is leading us, when we went round in circles? We broke up then. That was the disintegration.”

Some say it was John Lennons girl girlfriend Yoko Ono. But she said, “I don’t think you could have broken up four very strong people like them, even if you tried. So there must have been something that happened within them — not an outside force at all.”

Other notables on the list were Van Halen who made the list three different times for three different breakup. 

Why is it that these bands, who have made it big time and seem to have everything you could ever want, break up and never speak to each other again. Did they not have enough money? Well this passage we read tells us why there are fights and quarrels. It is the passions waring inside of us. 

There is no doubt that at times holding it together with family is like trying to hold together a feuding band. It is hard work. HOw can you be at the pentacle of success, and have so many things going wrong? 

  • The Enemy Within

How is it you can be on your honeymoon, in the caribbean, beautiful resort, with the person of your dreams, and yet you begin to argue over petty little things? What time to go to the beach, how to carry the towels and beach gear,? 

You get the new job, move to the new city, new dream house, nice car, and yet your and your spouse have never fought more. 

Peas and carrots. 

Follow your heart. Liz Taylor to Kim Kardashian. Don’t need to follow heart, need to follow God’s word. 

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? 

Christianity teaches that we have a sinful human nature. A nature that tends to evil. A nature that is never satisfied. A nature that must be fought against, disciplined, trained, in godliness. If we do not do this then the weeds of that sinful human nature will grow and suffocate everything else. 

We have passions that are at war within us. Hedonism. Pleasures, malicious pleasures.These passions are plural. We have competing passions. Certainly among others. Sometimes competing passions in our own hearts. 

These passions are at war within us. A conflict of desire that cannot be satisfied. 

Alexis de Tocqville's famous book on the United States not how American's believed that prosperity could bring deep happiness. But such a hope was an illusion. Tocqville argued, because, "the incomplete joys of this world will never satisfy the human heart." As a result, he spoke of "a strange melancholy often haunting inhabitants of democracies in the midst of abundance." This melancholy is, of course, the bitter fruit of idolatry that always leads to disappointment. False gods never give us what they promise. Center Church, p127.

Material things cannot satisfy spiritual longings. Material possession does not provide internal peace. 

A key point in this passage, is that we desire something, we dont get it, and our heart rages. The rage of an unmet desire will never bring peace. It only incites rage from others. 

Raging desires inflame conflict. Your theology shapes your relationship. Your view of God.Your view of people. Your view of yourself all affect the quality of the relationships around you. 

You desire and do not have, 

so you murder. 

You covet and cannot obtain, 

so you fight and quarrel.

The best illustration or personification of these desires within us are in the character Smegol, from Lord of the rings. In the classic story ''The Lord of the Rings'', one of the main characters is a creature by the name of Gollum, a villain. But he wasn’t always Gollum. He was once Smeagol, a relatively innocent, fun-loving hobbit who happened upon a magical ring of power. Once he found it, he was consumed by it. The ring became “his precious” possession. It made him invisible. It gave him unnatural long life. But it came with a high price tag. The ring consumed him. It led him to murder. It drove him away from all that was good to seek comfort in the dark places of the earth. It promised life and power but only delivered darkness and misery. The ring turned him into a monster, illogical thinking, quick to anger, unkept, tattered appearance with no friends. Unbridled passions can do that to us. 

Life is fine, as long as you get what you want. But when you dont get what you want. You dont get what you feel you deserve. You dont get as good as another. You rage!

Our chief battle is not outside of us, but within. We have an enemy lurking inside of us.

One of the best things you can do for marriage is not finding the perfect venue, perfect house, or working on your abs. It is learning to deal with your internal passions that can war. As you know how to deal with your own, you will then know how to deal with others. You can be very successful, and completely fail in knowing yourself. 

Part of our focus on making disciples, encouraging people to get into groups to build community and help others, is that making disciples and strengthening people in their walk will help you in your walk with God. Being a part of discipling other people helps you be a better parent, a better husband, a better friend. Plug into that and you are sharpened. 

Envy and selfish ambition. There is nothing benign or mild about what these individuals are willing to resort to.

Coveting turns earthly objects into things of ultimate concern.

Pride is can be our greatest enemy. Pride is arrogance, thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. This goes beyond taking joy in something. It is a joy and confidence in self that is willing to destroy others for the sake of the self. When we are proud, we are willing to put others down, belittle them, take from them, disadvantage them in order to advantage ourselves. Pride destroys relationship. 

  • The Enemy Outside

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

You have an enemy of your soul. Feeding your pride is a key way he attacks. Demonic attack is not normally someone being possessed with glowing red eyes, a head does a 360 degree turn, convulsions, etc. For Eve it was the thought that eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil would make her like God. David was tempted to count all of his soldiers, his trust was in his army and not God. Ananias and Saphira were filled with evil and lied about their offering to the Lord. Their passions took them away from what God had for them. 

Resist the devil. He will flee from you. Resist your misdirected passions. Pursue the Lord. Pursue his word. 

He is an antagonist. Tempts us. Lures us. Opposes us. Makes things seem so important or alluring. LIes to us. Talks trash to get us excited about the wrong things and stressed about others. 

Things you want can suddenly grow teeth. Its not wrong to want the big promotion, but when it begins to consume you and your wife and kids feel they have suddenly become a distant priority then something is amiss. You have an idol that is supplanting God, but also those whom you love. 

Satan is also a wimp, a cheat, a coward. Resist him and he flees. Speak God’s truth and he retreats. Call on Jesus name and he shuts up. 

The demonic is not the cause of our conflict. The evil one tempts us, makes us question what God has said, makes disobedience acceptable, logical, . our desires become imbalance and we become like the evil one rather than like the holy one. When you dont desire God, what do you desire. That is worldliness right there. 

A key to us escaping wrong desires and the work of Satan is pursuing God with humility. 

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

How can we cultivate humility in our families, and experience more of the fruit of the spirit, that the fruit of the sinful nature. If we want relationships that last we need to cultivat humility. Let me give you a few ways to cultivate that. 

If want to receive God grace we need to act with humility. We lower ourselves above others. Rather than be a Pharaoh who barks out orders to be worshiped and enforce his enslavement ofothers, we act like Jesus who came in the form of a servant, washed his peoples feet and served them. Very different attitudes. 

  • Cultivate Contentment. 

Pride always wants more. It rages and wars for more.

Humility has a contentment. Knowing the Lord brings this because if we have him we have all we need. What he provides is enough. Pride is disgruntled with what he provides. Your ways are better, and God didn’t do it your way, so you are angry at him. Humility means we know who we really are and are comfortable with that. We don't have to be someone else to be happy.  

Not trusting in God, doesnt mean we dont have a God. Everyone has a God. We were created to worship. If we dont worship God it means we are assigning our ultimate worth and good to something else, and it just might be that those things, the things we are not getting, are causing our hearts to rage because they are of ultimate importance to us. 

Are you content with God??

Warning strip. I like to get stuff done. I’m very focused and goal oriented. I dont mind pressing through challenges to complete something. I can certainly push myself too far. When I did that at times, and started noticing the moral and spiritual life of the family not in a good place, it would lead me to say, I'm putting too much into work. We need to deal with these issues, and as leader of the family let me begin by dealing with my issues. 

  • Listen to Others

What’s bothering the other person? Do you see them? Do you care for them? When an argument comes up, can you state the other person’s concern, or are you so busy formulating your argument that you dont know what they need. Do you see and hear others??

We are called to love others. How are you loving others through conflict? It may mean you give them what they are asking, it may mean you dont and you share truth, but you do it in a loving and respectful way. “I know you are asking for this, but it appears to me that you are….

Don’t assume you know everything. It's a dangerous road when you see someone do something and you begin to assign them motives. Did that because you wanted this… yes, this passage says deeper passions shape what you do. Dont assume you know what the other person is thinking. Ask questions. Draw them out. Help them learn about themselves and God. 

Pride says you know everything. 

Listening can mean getting advice from others. Do you have some counselors or advisors who know you? If not you are doing something wrong. Dont just inform them of the decisions you have made. Bring them into the process. 

Much of what we are talking about today is little T trauma. The daily bickering and biting that happens in relationships. But there are Big T traumas that you might need to deal with. Abuse, violence, where one's life or bodily integrity is threatened. If that happens then seek help. If you are threatened, go to the police. If you are not sure, talk to a pastor. Talk to a counselor or advisor. God has given them for a reason. If someone has allowed their passions to fester to a point that you fear for your safety, God has appointed them as a means to do good. 

Dont push others away. Pride pushes you inward. Pride pushes you to isolation. Pride says dont tell anyone; they cant know. Satan will replay that in your head over and over and over. Humility trusts people. Humility hears people in your life. It invites them into it.

  • Confess Your Sins

If you contributed 1% to the problem. Then own 100% of that 1%.  In your eyes it might be 1% but in the eyes of another it might be more than that, and you owning your part might help them better see their part, or allow them to humble themselves. 

Humility is a low view of self. It is an accurate view of self. When I am in a stalemate, and don't want to look bad, I have to remember I am so much worse than what they might see of me here. 

Pride runs over and through people. Pride makes demands. 

Pride says I did nothing wrong. I am not the cause of all this mess. I am not the primary cause of all this. Make no provision for the flesh. Do the right thing. Don't respond to evil with evil. Evaluate your motives, intentions and desires. Sometimes people do good things for the wrong reason. In ministry I could build this church and burn everyone out. The way you do things is as important as what you do. You can build your house in a way that destroys everything. 

Give them the benefit of the doubt. Your own passions can color how you view others. Pride is like lens that covers your eyes and colors the way you see everything. 

If you are in downtown Atlanta and a guy comes to you off the street and opens his jacket that full of watches and says he is running a weekend special on some great, quality, watches dont believe him. If you get email from a Nigerian prince who is tell you your family is an heir to a fortune and you just need to send few thousand dollars so they can ship it to you, do not believe them. But if your family or close friends, has done something perplexing, concerning, then give them the benefit of the doubt. Show them grace. Show them respect. Ask question like a doctor trying to understand and not like a prosecuting attorning looking to destroy. 

  • Serve the Lord 

Submit to him. So much of our problems stem because we want something other than what he has for us. It is not just what I want versus what my wife wants. It’s what does the Lord want? When two people are pursuing that it brings them together. When one or both begin to diverge from that it get much harder to find a common ground, greater than both. You in inevitably begin serving other gods, that are not God, and cannot sustain you or the weight you put on them. 

People can want so much from God and be angry he doesnt give it to them, and then look at their lives as they go against what he calls them to do, go against the priorities he call them to. It often reveals they are not interested in him, they just want stuff from him, they want the worlds’s goods.

God has provided everything we need in Jesus Christ. He has provided a Savior. He has met your greatest need. Are you content with that? Have you trusted in him and submitted yourself to him? Dont keep trying to do everything yourself. Rest in what he has done for you. 

Go to church. Read your Bible. Seek the Lord. Relational problems are not problems isolated from the rest of life. 

Serve the Lord. At the root of all this is the issue of who is your Lord. 

Fighting superficially masked by language of faith. 

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

God what are you trying to show me? Sponge. 

The Church James is writing to is professing faith in Jesus but living like the world. Fighting and quarreling. He calls them to submit to God. He offers them cleansing, and purifying. Purifying in their hearts and minds. That is what brings peace. If you lack joy, purpose, hope clarity, you may not have Jesus.