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. (James 4:1–4 KJV)
As we begin the quest to elect a new president in the United States, I wish to turn our attention to our passage to help identify politicians who are operating within the churches of God. Whether running for the president of the United States or some office in the churches, the strategies are nearly identical; and they are as old as Satan himself. Denominations create “offices” not knowing that this will almost guarantee that a dangerous and divisive political element has been introduced along with it.
James answers a question that is on many peoples’ minds these days who attend denominational churches, “where are all of these fightings coming from? Why all the strife and division? Why can we never seem to come into unity?” Notice that James practically assumes that there are “wars and fightings” among God’s people (James 4:1). He identifies the trouble-makers as “friends of the world” and “enemies of God” (James 4:4).
Let’s make it plain from the beginning that practicing politics in the churches of God is pure worldliness. Jesus warned the Disciples about worldly power structures commanding them, “It shall not be so among you.” We are not to seek to be the “greatest” or set up offices where a man can be the “greatest” and voted on every two or four years. Did Paul and Barnabas get voted on every few years? How about Peter? There is no example in the New Testament of such behavior — but this has not stopped many Evangelicals from doing it (Matthew 20:24-28). The only thing worse than creating the office to begin with is to afterward covet holding it — knowing it’s not supposed to exist. One of the most “unChristlike” things a person can do is covet an “office” within the churches.
Unlike the procedure in the book of Acts where the Holy Spirit separated ministers to the works that He called them to do, men have set up a democracy within denominations, and it’s dreadful parliamentary procedure akin to Western nation-states. The apostles would have trembled at the thought, but in modern times men have come to believe that democracy is God’s way. Some even believe that casting lots is casting votes. Others suggest that casting lots is a less spiritual way of ascertaining the mind of God than what we see later in the Acts. This may be; but have we somehow confused democracy with what was done in the book of acts? I believe we have.
Moreover, we ought to really ask ourselves, “Do we truly think we can improve on God’s way of setting up ministry?” I suggest that God is willing to sit back and wait for us to realize that our way is creating a total disaster and maybe — just maybe we will be willing to return to the word of God and do things biblically and not “worldly.” That’s right, “worldly”… the way the world does things.
While many preach against “worldly” living they ignore the fact that politics in ministry is as “worldly” of practice as the most liberal church on earth. In fact, James calls the promoters of this type of church politics not prophets and priests, but adulterers and adulteresses (friends of the world). When men set a Christian organization up like God’s enemy would, is there any wonder He would call their actions adultery and the parties involved adulterers? Heaven doesn’t operate like a Gentile power structure — nor should the churches of God.
Notice how James identifies the problem saying, 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. Clearly, the problem is lust warring inside the people who are causing the “wars and fightings” among the saints. It’s the same thing that caused a stir in Matthew 20:24. This could be lust for power; lust for money; lust for popularity; lust for control; etc. The war of fleshly lusts raging inside the person not only “wars against their own soul” (1 Peter 2:11), but it spills over into the churches to destroy them as well. In order to get what they want, the “luster” will fight, war, and kill. In centuries past this was quite literal. In modern times, the warfare is different.In fact, it’s the same drama playing out in the run up to the presedential elections right now in America.
Prayer or Politics?
When a person prays for something they are coveting and God does not answer that prayer, the coveting one is tempted to take matters into their own hands. If it is money or merchandise — they are apt to steal. If it is an “office” they tend to “fight, war, and kill.” Generally speaking, God will not answer the prayer of a person who wants what they are asking for in order to “consume it upon their lust.” If the lust is for power— they want the higher office to satisfy that lust. No matter how they may spin it, God knows their true motivation and is not answering the prayer. What happens? When prayer doesn’t work — they resort to politics.
When a person decides who they want to be in certain “offices” in ministry — they stop praying all together. If ministers really wanted God’s will done they would stop playing their democratic/political games and pray until the body heard from God and acted on it. Democracy seeks to snuff out God’s say in the matter. I need to ask, what are people afraid of? Are they afraid that God may have someone in mind to do a ministry other than them or one of their family members or friends? This is a very serious question that needs to be explored. Why do people say they want God’s will and then refuse to come together in a biblical way and try to ascertain it? In fact, the people with “voice and vote” in these so-called proceedings are people who pay tithe or meet some other man-made qualification. Is that how the churches were led in the book of Acts? Of course it wasn’t. Do these men still claim to be God-fearing, spiritual, and Bible believing? Of course they do. But we need to face the music here. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46 KJV)
Are you concerned about who is going to “take the position” when it’s vacated? Have you lost sleep looking over your shoulder? Do you feel threatened that someone is “gunning for your position” in the church? If you can say yes to one or more of those questions it is almost a guarantee that what is being built is man’s kingdom and not God’s. Think about it. If it were truly God’s kingdom we would not be talking about anyone replacing God. We would continually be commended to God and the word of His grace and not be looking to “men” to do what the kings in Israel were forever doing. God wants to be king. This is as plain as it gets. Paul wept for three years while at Ephesus because he knew there were politicians wanting to take over that church (Acts 20). If we could hear the grieving of the Holy Spirit right this moment for all the politics going on in the churches we would be rocked to our core.
A Culture of Obstruction (You fight, war, and kill)
A politician will never help his opponent in any meaningful way. He covets what another man has and will do what is necessary to get it. In fact, he moves in what may be called “passive aggressive” behaviors that deal blows without causing a scene or leaving a bruise. He sets up policies that promote his political objectives. He enforces them when they promote his intentions, and sets them aside when convenient (propose a “variance”). The better the politician, the more proficient he/she will be at this methodology. A good politician can wage war (stir the pot), but do so in such a way that it leaves the opponent looking bad, not the politician. Dr. Michael Brown posted a Meme in October 2015 that is well worth gazing at for a while. Here we have one person helping their brother; the other one silently happy that they failed.
A politician is not concerned with the furtherance of the kingdom of God; they are focused on building their own kingdom. This is why they can never help the person that is in the “office” they are coveting. To the contrary, they will obstruct their success, expose their weaknesses, laud their errors, and focus on their failures. All the while never lifting a single finger to help them. Why? They want them to fail so they can campaign for their office on the platform of “CHANGE.” It is the oldest trick in the book. “Change is coming! Change is coming!” Is the cry of the politician.
A politician in the kingdom of God is a “snake in the grass.” Most people know who they are but are powerless to deal with them. They behave like a spoiled child who was raised to believe they are above their peers. They act out and everyone just has to put up with it. This is the practical side of it all. From God’s perspective, they are fighting and warring against the people of God in an attempt to satisfy their own inward lusts. This is the spiritual reality of it. They have confused God’s will with their own and usually have a band of supporters and “enablers” who partake of their evil deeds.
All the while, the kingdom of God suffers; the sheep get wounded and scattered; and the politicians continue with their glib — adulterous behavior. 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 (James 4:4). “Adulteresses is the feminine term is the general designation of all whom James here rebukes. The apostate members of the church are figuratively regarded as unfaithful spouses; according to the common Old Testament figure, in which God is the bridegroom or husband to whom his people are wedded. See Jeremiah 3; Hosea 2, 3, 4; Isaiah 54:5; 62:4, 5. Also, Matthew 12:39; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7; 21:9.” (Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament)