Authorship … While the Book itself offers no evidence of authorship, the early church fathers accepted James, the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3) and leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; Galatians 2:9), as the author of the book that bears his name.
James did not initially believe in Jesus as the Messiah (John 7:2-10). He became a believer after witnessing the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:7). He was present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14).
Date … Most believe the Book of James to be among, if not the earliest, of the Epistles (45-55 A.D.)
Recipients … probably Jewish believers who had fled their homeland because of religious and government persecution.
Josephus, a Jewish historian, mentioned the martyrdom of James around 62 A.D.
At the center of conflict is self-centered living; the demand for personal preference will lead to conflict within the church. Unity is the result of sacrificial living.
“What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires. (4:1-3)
James set forth a rhetorical question … follow with the answer: selfishness
CAN YOU THINK OF A TIME WHEN THE CHURCH WAS IN CONFLICT? WHAT WAS THE SOURCE OF THE CONFLICT? CAN YOU TRACE IT TO SOMEONE’S PERSONAL PREFERENCE?
The “flesh” is never satisfied always wanting more even at the expense of someone else.
Discuss: “Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness (greed/jealousy); and be content with such things as ye have” (Hebrews 13:5).
“murder” – not the taking of life, but the destruction of someone’s life by deceit, slander, gossip, etc., in an effort to gain what is theirs.
“For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil” (3:16).
Literally, you refuse to ask … why? Because you are not satisfied with you have and want more beyond what God wills for your life. Your prayers have self-fulfillment at the core rather than the good of others and the glory of God. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU!
“Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. 5 Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously? 6 But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (4:4-6).
Wanting the things of the world more than the things of God, God Himself result is spiritual adultery.
Strong language: Seeking the things of the world over the things of God placing one in opposition to God.
DISCUSS: How can one be a child of God and an “enemy” of God?
Even though believers are never free from fleshly desires, succumbing to those desires are without excuse because God offers grace to overcome our desires
We should always live with the understanding that apart from God’s intervention (grace) we would yield to our selfish desires.
CONFESS YOUR WEAKNESS SO THAT GOD CAN STRENGTHEN YOU.
“Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you” (4:7-10).
The excuse, “the devil made me do it,” denies for the believer, the truth of Scripture.
The believer’s responsibility is to actively resist the devil’s temptations by yielding your mind and body to the Lord. The result: Satan flees.
There is victory in the presence of the Lord; His presence brings His power.
Brokenness leads to repentance. Repentance leads to cleansing. Cleansing allows God to be at work in your life.
Discuss: “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me,” as it relates to verses 8 & 9.
Acknowledging your weakness allows God to bring victory in your life over the Devil’s tactics and temptations.
“Don’t criticize one another, brothers. He who criticizes a brother or judges his brother criticizes 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 one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (4:11, 12).
Slander or insulting language … directed toward other believers “brothers.”
James denounces critical, insulting speech intended to belittle someone else and to embarrass that person before others
The law referred to here is the law of love, “love your neighbor as yourself”
“judge the law” indicates one’s superior attitude rising above the law as to change the law
God is the only lawgiver and judge, and only God has the ability and authority to enforce the law … AND YOU AIN’T GOD