James 4:1-4 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
When we think of lust, generally, automatically we think of impurity of thoughts, fornication, uncleanness, and sins of the like. However, in this context, there is much more that we can lust after. Verse three goes on to say that there are even things that we ask (pray) for, that aren’t given to us because they stem from the lust of the flesh.
I think lust can be described as a desire and pursuit (mental or physical) of something that God doesn’t intend for us to have. It can be in the context of immorality. But it can also be money, possessions, relationships, imaginations, status, worldliness, and more that we desire, and pursue physically or mentally (remember the Israelites lusting after food?).
Lust is a big deal to the Lord. In context of lust, he says that “friendship with the world in enmity with God.” He also calls those befriending and lusting after these things “adulterers and adulteresses” – a heavy accusation in God’s economy!! if it’s such a big deal to God, we might want to steer clear of these things. The question is, after what are we lusting today? Maybe we’ve allowed impure thoughts linger. Maybe it’s a desire for the things of this world, and we’ve allowed our heart and thoughts to follow these things. Maybe it’s a relationship, status we seek, or a person, position, or possessions. Whatever it is, today, might we “cut it off”. Let’s be content with such things as we have.
If we have, James goes on to give us the remedy for getting right:
James 4:4-10 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.