What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 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. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Forgetting God and placing people or things in higher esteem than him is spiritual adultery. When we fight with each other or spread shameful rumors, we are committing infidelity. It’s the same as telling the Lord we aren’t happy with our marriage to him and have found someone else.
But God will not tolerate it. He yearns for our spirit with pure jealousy, because he raised us by his grace, from a spiritual death to be his people, to worship him alone as humble servants.
- How do you respond to the picture of God as a jealous husband who will not let you leave him for another relationship?
- Why does he call our sin spiritual adultery?
- What’s the relationship between submitting to God and resisting the devil?
- What would you say James means by asking, “Who are you to judge your neighbor?”?
Father, maker of heaven and earth, we don’t come to you because we are smart or lucky. We come to you in humility, because you have given us life in Christ. Purify us through the blood of your covenant and equip us with everything we need to do your will. We are yours, dear Lord. Thank you for the grace to live for you. Please sustain us so that, while we mourn over our adultery, we may hope for your joy.
This devotion is adapted from the James Study Guide. Pick up a copy today for only $9.99. The Study Guide includes a 15-week curriculum, a small group study, a group inductive study, as well as 75 daily devotions for your personal or family worship.