The enemy within

The idea of a body of Christian believers quarreling and fighting amongst themselves is quite strange and out of character. The embodiment of the Christian faith is love, peace, and unity. Paul describes the body of Christ this way in 1Cor12:26:

The body is a unit though it is made of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.

Christians are that body of Christ. Yet, that was exactly what was happening among a certain body of believers, and hence the need for the Apostle James to address it.

He begins by asking a rhetorical question

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?

Jam 4:1-3; NIV

He makes the shocking revelation as he provides insight into the source of this worrying situation. That’s kind of startling! Quarrels and fights among born again, spirit filled believers actually did originate from the evil desires that are at “war” right within the individual member (s)?!

James’ choice of the word ” war” is deliberate, the Greek being stratenomenon. It is a verb that does not imply mere fighting, but all that goes into military warfare. It involves strategic planning of moves, offensive attacks and positioning. It employs entrapments in the form of setting the opponent up, hitting out at the unsuspecting targets, in this case though surprisingly, it’s against their own body parts! In short, so much preparation to go to war on themselves; the several parts of which they belong to. War on their very self, and the only thing they can hope to achieve in the end will only be to self – destruct. Imagine an army putting in so much effort not to destroy an external enemy, but just so they can destroy their own selves. Kill, maim and destroy themselves. The power at play here is the evil desires or lusts lurking within the hearts of each individual believer. The Greek word rendered desire or lust, hedonon translates as”sensual pleasures”. The idea of war and fighting is figurative, used to describe the sensuality that arrays its forces and launches a campaign against the members.

It’s their warring activities that cause quarrels and fightings to break out among the body. Desires can be so powerful, they can control the individual and influence it to destroy itself! Warring against one another will inevitably destroy one also. It’s a war, and each one is fighting the other.

The selfish evil desires within the believer causes them to see a fellow member as an “opponent”.

They in turn become the motivation to be provocative, to hit out at a target, and its nature being warring, elicits an opposite response as attack gives rise to counterattack and or self-defense which often manifests as retaliation.

Quarrels and fighting amongst believers then is only a process of attack and counterattack, war and retaliation.

When we are disrespectful of others, naturally, they would feel offended and may want to react. It is a clear case of cause and effect. People tend to react in a certain way because of what others do to provoke them. It’s not necessarily the workings of the devil; it is us! Our own selfish and evil desires at work in us can motivate us to do certain unchristian acts. We can break the cycle by submitting our unholy desires under the control of God’s Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul shows us a better way to deal with the evil passions that threaten our unity as a body:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and the desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. So let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives

Gal 5:24-25

The body of believers must live in unity. A body divided against itself is just a “mutilated” one.

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