by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 62 December 2, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Since the mechanism that is most destructive of life is conflict, we need to be sure that we understand how to deal with it.
Introduction:Last week we began our study of the third major area of temptation: the problems of hedonism, or the problems that are generated in the lives of those whose physical appetites dominate them.
This evening, it is our intention to pursue that study. James puts a lot of weight upon the influence of our physical desires. In fact, he claims that, if not all, certainly a great majority, of the strife in our lives is caused by physical appetites. That is a pretty significant claim, and if it were not in the Word of God, I would be inclined to disbelieve it. I tend to look on the more superficial causes of conflict, but the Word of God is pretty bold and plain in its statement that conflict arises because of internal hedonism. In fact, when we analyze the conflicts we get into very carefully, and compare our analysis to what modern medical research has discovered, we might find ourselves agreeing more and more with James' statement.
I. The Significance of the Presence of Strife.
A. The major mechanism of life directly addresses the presence and absence of joy.
B. Because joy is an issue of the soul of man, it is naturally going to be relational issues that most directly reveal this major mechanism.
C. Because "peace" is the first revealed result of the reestablishment of a right standing before God there is a strong reason to believe that strife is the most destructive of all of the mechanisms of death.
1. This is illustrated by the reality that it is conflict that produces death in every one of the three areas of man's life.
a. Conflict between the body and the physical world yields death for the body.
b. Conflict between the spirits of fallen creatures generates wars and fightings that ultimately yield death.
c. Conflict between the souls of fallen men also generate the death of separation.
2. That James declares that strife is directly related to internal hedonisms also indicates that strife is a very destructive mechanism.
II. James' Description of the Condition of His Readers.
A. He uses powerful words...
1. Lust (epithumia)
2. Murder (phoneuete)
3. Zeal (zahoute)
4. Cannot (ou dunasthe)
5. Fight and War
B. He describes a rather final frustration.
III. James' Solution for His Readers.
A. His claim that they do not possess because they do not pray indicates several things...
1. First, that there is a reason that believers do not take their powerful desires to God.
2. Second, that God is typically inclined to say yes to the prayers of his children.
B. His explanation for the refusal of God.
1. Is not an explanation of the breakdown of the "power of prayer".
2. Is an explanation of the breakdown of the commitment of the believer.