“You ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.” James tells us — we want and yet do not get what we want. We don’t get what we want because we fail to ask for what we want. Or, as aforementioned, we ask for what we want but what we want is only for ourselves — to meet our cravings which are “evil.”
We fight with others because we fight with ourselves. We murder others because they have what we want but can not get. They have it; why can’t we have it? If they deserve it, surely we do, too!
James encourages us, saying: Instead of submitting to our sin, we are to “submit to God.” (James 4: 7) We are to “draw near to God” so that He draws near to us. We are to “resist the Devil” so that “he flees from [us].” (James 4: 8, 7)
James reminds that: “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously. But He gives greater grace.” (James 4: 5 – 6)
The grace of God, the Holy Spirit helps us to “cleanse [our] hands, and purify [our] hearts” despite the fact that we are both “sinners” and “double-minded people!” (James 4: 8) We are indeed double-minded, keeping one foot in the world while keeping the other in the heavenly places. We give, yet we covet. With our mouths, we both curse others and praise God. (James 3: 9)
So we must do our best to follow the “royal law” — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2: 8) With the power of God Himself, we submit to this “law” — this grace which God provides to us, so that we are able to love one another as we love ourselves.
“Who is wise and understanding among you?” asks James. “He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness.” (James 3: 13)
The opportunity for the flesh of which Paul writes is primarily our tendency to “bite and devour one another” and the inevitable consequence of being “consumed by one another.” (Galatains 5: 15) Indulging the sinful nature is the opposite of love, says Paul. “For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Galatians 5: 14)
Bitter argument and rivalry are not of the Holy Spirit, but of the sinful nature — the flesh. “Since we [who are in Christ] live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5: 25 – 26)
Instead, love one another. “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8)
Therefore, Paul reminds us not to use our freedom in Christ as an excuse to consume one another in jealousy, envy, rivalry, and conceit. Let us rejoice in our freedom, loving one another as Christ first loves us.