Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? (James 4:1)
The problem with “heaping up teachers” in the church and not taking the time to properly vet them is that you run the risk of appointing teachers who are zealously self-seeking. Faithful teachers who understand human nature and how to apply the Bible into life’s choices do not come by accident. They are nurtured and matured over time. And if churches are wise, they seek to develop such people.
But appointing teachers who are zealously self-seeking creates inevitable confusion and division. James addresses such a situation in James 4. The church was being torn apart by men who seemed religious but who were not teaching God’s word in its fullness and in balance.
These self-seeking teachers were causing fights and wars in the church. And the basis of those wars was the desire for pleasure in their members. When we refuse to accept meekly the word and follow it, we follow our own desires for pleasure. We do what we think is best and will bring us the things we enjoy, confusing it with joy.
So when we face decisions in life, our desire for pleasure will cause us to make decisions based on earthly, sensual, or demonic wisdom. It will always be what we think will bring us the most happiness in life. Once again, we see that the road to true and lasting joy is to meekly accept the word of God and follow it in our decisions.
Consider what this means related to denominations. They tend to be presented as innocent, results of natural processes that God ordained. But this verse reveals the true reason for the divisions. Instead of seeking the joy that comes from God’s word, they seek those things that seem to be pleasurable. The decisions seem religious and sound godly, but pure and undefiled religion is keeping oneself unspotted from the world and helping widows and orphans in their distresses. That is, we choose to avoid sin and make decisions to act in ways God requires.
The key to that process is being sure that everything we teach and do is authorized by the Scriptures. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Therefore, one of the most dangerous phrases we can say is, “God didn’t say we couldn’t do it.”
Granted, there is no reason to look for a command for everything we practice and believe. There are other ways to find that authority. We can find examples of others doing it and finding approval for it in the New Testament. We can also find ideas that are implied by the teachings of the New Testament.
If we want to be true to the word, we will look at the word and ask, “What does it tell me to do?” and then do it. Without that, we follow our own will and attempt to make it look or sound like it is from God.
So where do you stand? Do you follow your own pleasures and desires, or the word of God?
See you tomorrow!