“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)
It is pointed out in the Bible Knowledge Commentary, that James begins this new section with a question. Indeed, this is common by James… each thematic section begins with a question.
From where comes the wars and fighting among you? Christians should not war one with another. Now I put (again!) a caveat… Paul never quarrelled with Christians who had right doctrine. John never quarrelled with Christians who had right doctrine. Peter never did either.
But if your doctrine was wrong, all three of you were willing to point it out, and if you “Withstood” (persisted in that wrong belief)… trust you me, they warred!
toleration of error leads to capitulation of error which leads to emulation of error. A quick look to see how fast and how far this has gone is that we’ve seen in this last days churches falling into questioning the Bible, the deity of Christ, the omnipotence of God, salvation, etc. Once you open the floodgates, and tolerate error, it’s only a matter of time before it changes and affects you.
The issue here is not about heretics or apostates (the proper words for people who teach error), but rather, within a church – assuming the local church is united in doctrine.
James turns the subject to “Ye ask, and ask amiss.” motivation is a strong component for a Christian’s answered prayers. Have your prayers been hindered? THe first thing to check is your motives. If that’s good, then are you living for the lord right now? How’s your walk? We all backslide slightly, often many times during the day. Getting angry while driving (my biggie), coveting, etc. And sometimes people find themselves sliding into sin without realizing it. Next to check is – have you been loving to your spouse? If not, then bingo. Most Christians somehow gloss over that part. You have to love your spouse (for men) and honor your spouse (for women). If your prayers are hindered, use this paragraph as a checklist!
The correct way for Christians to have their legitimate needs met is by asking God. One reason a believer does not receive what he asks for is that he asks with wrong motives (lit., “evilly” or “amiss,” kakōs). The verb ask is in the middle voice, meaning, “ask for yourself.” The purpose clause that follows further clarifies, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. “Spend” could be translated “squander.” “Pleasures” is again the Greek word hēdonais (cf. v. 1). God will never provide for “hedonistic squandering”!
J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 829.