James 4:1-3 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Having desires (e.g., a desire to have a car that runs well, a clean home, affection from spouse, etc.) is legitimate. Where desires go amiss is when we desire something and don’t get it.
In fact, James says, when you don’t get what you desire, you commit murder (James 4:2-3). What does mean it mean to commit murder in verse 2?
- It means having hatred in your heart toward someone (1 John 3:15)
- It means taking life from someone; we do this by treating them with contempt (Matthew 5:22)
Sin Begins with Sinful Desire
James 1:15: “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
James lays out how sin develops in a person’s life:
- lust (sinful desire) is conceived in the heart,
- it gives birth to sin (it manifests itself in sinful behavior),
- it causes damage in their life and leads to death.
The graphic below illustrates the process and the necessity of killing sin at its root:
When lust gives birth to sin, it presents itself through sinful behavior – words, actions, choices, neglect in relationships, etc.
Sin causes damage in your life and works death: death of joy, peace, a clear conscience, relationships, etc.
Sin must be killed at its root: lust, which is sinful desire. When we look for ultimate satisfaction outside of Christ and trust, fear or love something more than God (Exodus 20:3), sin finds fertile soil and begins to take root. If we crave and long for something and push God’s Word aside, we reap what we sow.
Μόνο ο Χριστός: In Christ Alone
Pay close attention – daily – to the things you desire. When you find yourself trusting, fearing, coveting or loving something more than God, remove the your sinful passions and desires (Galatians 5:24) and rest your satisfaction in Christ.