The Source of Sinful Conflict

Dusty Burris • James 4:1-3

  • 2012-10-07 PM
  • Sermons

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It's my joy tonight to open the Word of God to the book of James with you this evening. If you would, go ahead and open to James 4. James 4, we're going to be in verses 1 to 3 this evening. And you know, if you've lived in this fallen world for any length of time, you're fully aware that all around us we're confronted with conflict, specifically, sinful conflict. Nations go to war, not to protect their people, but often times for desire for wealth or power or world dominance. Households are broken by unbiblical divorce. Baseball benches clear over a pitch thrown too far inside. Neighbors live in hostility over things like race or loud music or even barking dogs.

You know, it's not a surprise to us that the world is involved in sinful conflict. After all, we are fallen human beings, but what about Christians? Does sinful conflict rear its head amongst the church, amongst believers? Sadly, the answer is yes. Churches argue, and occasionally even split, over not really legitimate biblical things, but issues of personal preference, things like musical styles or musical instruments, the order of service, the length of the pastor's sermons, the temperature in the building, the color of the carpet, or the wall color. We laugh at these things, but this is a reality. We know churches that are dealing with these kinds of things and if we're not careful and we allow sin in our own hearts, we're not exempt from that as well.

Now, I'm not condemning churches that split over legitimately biblical issues. I'm talking about when, really, our sinful preferences become elevated to a level they should never be. It's not isolated just to the church, but even in our own homes. Our marriages are confronted by sinful conflict. Oftentimes, or at least in some cases, husbands and wives live in open hostility towards one another, parents and children squaring off, sibling rivalries, and the list goes on and on. So there's really no question that sinful conflict exists. I don't have to explain that to you. I don't have to argue that point. We all have confronted it. We've all seen it in our own hearts and in our own lives.

What I want to focus on tonight is the source of sinful conflict. From where does it spring? Where does it find its source? Because a large part of solving conflict in our lives or avoiding it altogether is knowing where it comes from. And that's exactly what James addresses tonight in James 4:1-3.

Now, in order to understand this passage I need to give us a little bit of context to get us in the flow of where we are in James. James has already taught extensively about the dangers of the tongue. If you've read James, which I'm sure many of you have, he talks a lot about the way we use our tongues to sinfully hurt one another, the power of the tongue. At the same time, he talks about wisdom and the difference in godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. And interestingly, he doesn't focus on head knowledge as much as the fact, the way we know that we're living in godly wisdom is when we look at our lives. To live in godly wisdom is to walk in a righteous pattern after Christ.

In fact, let's back up and read verses 13 to 18 in chapter 3, just to get our minds in the context, in the flow of where we are in James. Read with me, chapter 3 verse 13; he says,

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

And so immediately we see that James is talking about wisdom and that godly wisdom can be seen in a life that follows Christ. And on the tail end of that he begins chapter 4.

Now, I want to make clear from the beginning that James is addressing believers in this book. There is some discussion about that, but I think it's pretty clear. Up to this point in James he's used the term "my brethren" to address his readers no less than nine times. And so, it's clear in his mind at least, that he's writing to believers. And so when we read verses 1 to 3 of James 4, we need to understand that he's not talking simply about quarrels and conflicts that exist among unbelievers, but us, and where the source of those conflicts is in our own lives.

Let's go ahead and read James 4, 1 to 3, now; this is our text for this evening. He says,

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

These first three verses appear in a larger context; really the whole unit is the first 10 verses in James 4, but I want us just to take this evening to focus on this issue of sinful conflict. But not just conflict in general, but really where it comes from, because when we can identify that source then we can deal with it in our lives.

James breaks this passage down into three major truths. I'll go ahead and give them to you right off the bat. Number one is the source revealed, the source of sinful conflict revealed. Secondly, the source illustrated, in verse 2. And thirdly, the source and its effect on prayer. If we could wrap up these three verses into one simple statement, it would be this: sinful conflict finds its source in the battle that lies within every individual believer. Let me say that one more time, sinful conflict finds its source in the battle that lies within every individual believer.

Now, let's look again at verse 1 and see the source revealed. Right off the bat James gives us the source of these sinful conflicts. And he gives, sort of, a question and answer; he begins with this question, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?" Literally, the text has no verb in the Greek; it reads like this, "whence quarrels and whence conflicts among you." Basically, the idea is, where do they come from, where does all this begin?

It's important to understand that James is not saying that all conflict is sinful. I'm not wrapping all conflict into one bubble here, that's why I specifically called it the source of sinful conflict. There are times that the Bible gives direct permission for governments and individuals to use force and to come into conflict with other people. Governments are called to exact justice on those who break the law, even have permission to go to war.

In the church, specifically, we are mandated to defend the truth against false teachers. That sometimes brings us into conflict, but it's necessary conflict; that's not sinful conflict. As well as, in matters of church discipline we are to come into conflict with a person claiming Christ who is erring in their sin, to call them to repentance for the purity of the church and for their own sake. That is conflict, but it's not sinful conflict. What James is talking about here is when two parties, two Christians, come together and they are engaged in conflict with sinful motives and desires.

Conflict is not always sinful. And really, we see this in the word "quarrels and conflicts." When we break them down, understand their definition, it becomes clear what James is saying. The word quarrels is a military term, it can actually be used of hand to hand combat. But in context, what James is saying is verbal conflict, he's talking about verbal combat. "What is the source of these verbal wars that go on amongst you [when two Christians engage in a verbal battle]?" The word conflicts is similar to that, it's defined, conflicts is, to engage in heated dispute without the use of weapons.

In both cases James is talking about conflict that is verbal, the only weapon we use is our tongue. And make no mistake, the tongue is a weapon, or at least it can be used that way. We can cut each other down with the intent of exalting self with just a quick pointed statement. James has already warned us extensively about the tongue in James 3:1-6. In fact, let's turn back there quickly just to read what James says about the dangers of the tongue. He warns that not many should become teachers and in verse 1 he says,

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, [and here's the reason,] knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If any one does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire.

What is James saying? He's saying that our tongue is an instrument in our bodies oftentimes used to hurt. It is an expression of our wickedness. It is how we express the wickedness in our hearts. That's why Jesus says in Matthew 15, He says,

"Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man."

What is Jesus talking about? What is James saying? He's not saying that the tongue, in and of itself, is more wicked than any other part of the body; the tongue is just another member of our body. What He is saying is, it's a channel that expresses the wickedness in our hearts.

You think about it. A person can be exceedingly prideful, but we don't know that until they open their mouth. And we say, whoa, that's what's in their heart. A person can be exceedingly lustful in their thoughts, but we don't know that until they open their mouth and spew something that we can tell, wow, there are some issues in their thinking, there are some issues in their heart. The tongue becomes a channel that evidences what is in our heart, that's what the point is here.

And in these verbal battles that James is addressing, these are not fought with fists, but with our well-crafted words meant to destroy our opponents and exalt ourselves. The point being made here is that in whatever form these battles may come, make no mistake, he's not talking about just intense discussions, but literal verbal warfare. And here's the shocking part, look at the last two words in this first half of verse 1, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you [Christians]?" He's talking to believers. This is perplexingly odd. We're not supposed to see sinful conflict in the church among believers, the people redeemed of God, the people given the Holy Spirit and the new nature. Among us? Engaged in sinful conflict? Yes. We as believers, if we're honest with our self, are tempted and often fall prey to sinful conflict.

And before we move on, let's just get something out in the open for all of us; this is something the Lord's been convicting me of. Let's just be honest, this is something we all struggle with. I don't want you to be turned away by the term "verbal battle" and say, you know, the picture that comes to mind is two people standing toe to toe screaming at one another, and certainly that would be included as sinful conflict, but sinful conflict arises in all kinds of ways. Maybe that's just not your personality to be that forthright, to really yell and raise your voice at someone. That doesn't mean that we don't struggle with this kind of conflict. Other examples of what James is talking about would be well-timed jokes or sarcasm meant to undermine the opinion of others and exalt ourselves. Maybe we use tactics of rolling our eyes or exhaling loudly to show our disgust. Maybe the words we use in and of themselves are not sinful or hurtful, but it's the tone and the way we express them that makes our point clear.

The truth is, not one of us is exempt. We here at Countryside Bible Church need the truths of this passage. We need it as individuals. We need it in our homes, in our marriages. We need it with our children. Siblings need it with their brothers and sisters. We need it in our hallways, in our Sunday School classes, at our fellowships. We need this. Sinful conflict lurks at the door for all of us and if we try to blow that all off we're missing it.

James answers the question, "Where is the source of these quarrels and conflicts among you?" in the very next phrase and he does it in the form of a question. He says, "Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members.?" Now, James asks a question, but really he is giving the answer, and this question expects an affirmative response. Yes, the source, we could put it positively, the source of your conflicts is the pleasures that wage war in your members. And the key word here is pleasures. This is almost always used negatively in the New Testament. It is similar to the word for sinful lusts.

The source of our conflict, the source any time that you come in conflict with another Christian, whether it's a family member or a stranger or whoever, the source, James says, are these pleasures that wage war within us. We could translate it, unrestricted sinful desires or self-indulgent pleasure, some desire in you or in me that causes us to lash out in some way, whether it's subtle or violent, in someone's face with loud verbal hurtful words. Either way, the source are these sinful pleasures within us.

And notice, it says that the source is these "pleasures that wage war in your members," that is, in your body. This inward battle, this spiritual battle inside of us, where our old man, our unredeemed flesh, fights against our new nature, who we are in Christ. This is that unredeemed part of our humanness that is yet to come, the part of us that Christ, when He takes us home or when He returns, will be made completely new. It's what we long for, to be completely rid of sin.

But on this earth, we continually fight a battle inside, waging war, where there are these desires that creep up and we have the choice now, by God's grace and the Holy Spirit, to say I'm not going to do that, or, in some cases, to give into that sinful desire. And that's what James is talking about here. Paul talks about this in Romans 7:15 where he says he's perplexed and he says, "For what I'm doing, I don't understand; for I am not practicing what I'd like to do, but I'm doing the very thing I hate." He's talking about this inward struggle, this struggle of sanctification, of longing to please Christ and yet finding ourselves still sinning. All of us have this battle.

I found a quote by Calvin that just really drove this home. Talking about these sinful pleasures, this is what Calvin says, he says, "He who suffers [or allows] his propensities [or sinful impulses] to rule uncontrolled, will know no end to his lust. Were even the world given to him, he would wish other worlds be created for him." Let me say that one more time, "He who allows his sinful impulses to rule uncontrolled, will know no end to his lust. Were even the whole world given to him, he would wish other worlds be created for him." If we allow our sinful impulses, these inward sinful desires, to have their head, there is no end to that, there is no satisfying that sin. And as Calvin says, even if God said, here's the whole world for you, do what you want, we would say, create 10,000 more.

Awhile back I bought a new light bulb for our back porch because the light sits right next to the entrance to my patio where I let my dog go out at night, and the bugs are terrible, swarming around this light, the June bugs just attacking me when I open the door. And so, I decided I would get a new light bulb that claimed that it was bug proof or bugs weren't attracted. What they didn't tell me is that it also gives off such little light that it's not worth much, but I fell for it, and every time I go out there and look at that light I'm reminded of the movie, A Bugs Life. I don't know if you've seen that or not, but there's this one scene in that movie where there's these two flies and they're flying along and they're talking and they see this light. And one of them just becomes mesmerized and drawn in and flies towards the light, and the other bug yells, don't do it, don't look at the light, and he says, I can't help it, it's so beautiful. Well, it's a bug zapper and he hits the light and he goes phhht and, you know, he falls down dead. I find that to be funny.

But you know, I think about that, is that not how we are in our sinful desires? It's so beautiful, I just can't help it. Knowing that when we get there, destruction is there, that death reigns there, and yet we allow ourselves to be drawn away and enticed by these sinful urges and desires. We're like a child that's running out into traffic and his parents are calling and saying, come back, come back. And the child just looks at them and with a smirk says, you can see it in their face, they're thinking, is this really worth a spanking? Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not, it depends on what it is.

We know the consequence of sin. We know that it's evil. We know that it will hurt us. We know that it will produce nothing but death, and yet sometimes we find ourselves sinning. That's what James is talking about here. He's already illustrated this in James 1. In James 1 he gives us the breakdown of how does sin take place? Look at James 1:13. How do we go from being tempted to falling into sin? Verse 13 says,

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I'm being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil; and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he's carried away and enticed by his own lust. [Or, that is, this own inward desire to sin.] Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

That's what's going on here in James 4; he's talking about this inward desire that grows up within us, these pleasures that wage war within our bodies, and how are we going to respond?

So, the source is clear. Point number one, what's the source? The source is these sinful pleasures within us and the desire to satisfy them, that's the source of conflict, of sinful conflict. And, in case we don't understand how that works out, James is going to give us two illustrations. And so, point two is, the source illustrated, and he gives us two examples beginning in verse 2. Look with me again at verse 2, he says, "You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel."

The first illustration is this first half of verse 2, "You lust and do not have; so you commit murder." Both the verbs "you lust" and "do not have" are both present tense verbs. The idea is of a continual desire, that you continually desire something and you continually don't get the thing you desire, and so the result of that is you commit murder. Now, right off the bat we're wondering what does he mean by murder? There's really only two options. Either he means literally murder, people are killing each other in the church. I don't think that that's what he means here; it doesn't seem to fit the context well. Not that a believer is immune from doing that, we know we have the example of David who ordered, really, the murder of Uriah.

But I don't think that that's what he's getting at here. I think he means this in a metaphorical sense, that you commit murder in the sense that you lash out with your tongue. He's following the teachings of Christ in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. The point is that when believers lash out at one another, they continually don't get the thing they want and so it builds up to a level that they lash out at another believer. They take out their anger over not getting that thing, on someone else. And in the eyes of God we might as well have committed murder. This seems to fit the context well, James often follows the teaching of Christ in the way that he explains things, and I think that's the idea here. This idea of continually wanting something and, in context, a sinful desire, continually not receiving that desire, and then that causing us to come into conflict with one another.

A second illustration is given here, he gets more specific and he says, not just lust in general, not just a general strong desire for something, but he says, "You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel." He specifically focuses in on the sin of envy which is closely akin to jealousy. Again, this is a present tense verb so you are continually envying and you are continually not obtaining the thing that you are envying. Let me just remind you of the definition of envious, it is to have intense negative feelings over another's achievements or success; it is to be filled with jealousy. So you are "continually envious" over another's success and you don't get the thing that you want and therefore you "fight and quarrel."

The way that jealousy expresses itself is in verbal argument. We've seen this from the time we were children. Children fight, pick on one another, because they're jealous oftentimes of what the other kid has. And that doesn't change when we become adults, it just becomes more sophisticated. We're still jealous of what the other person has, we just are more crafty in the way we go about it. Instead of knocking the ice cream out of their hand, we use well-crafted words to get our point across. But still, the sin is the same, "you fight and quarrel." Again, the idea is of these verbal fights, not necessarily fist fights, although that can even happen in some cases where this is allowed to reign.

Let me just give some examples of what are the things that we are envious of, of one another, that we really lust after, or are jealous for; I've made a short list. This may not be exactly where you are, but I think all of us have fallen prey to some of these. Some of the things that we desire or are envious of are money, popularity; knowledge, maybe someone else is just a gifted teacher, they're just gifted with God's Word and we long to be like that. Maybe another one is another person's giftedness, they have the same gift that you have, the same spiritual gift, whether it's teaching or serving in some way, but God's given it to them in a greater measure and so you're jealous or envious of that. Maybe it's position, recognition, personal preferences, even things like athletic ability, being envious and jealous, I wanted to be on that softball team but I'm not good enough, I'm going to be on this softball team. We laugh at that, but we allow those things to cause division. Maybe it's honor or power or control.

Any of those things can be the source of these sinful desires. And they express themselves and manifest themselves in a number of different ways. And we'll find ourselves arguing or making comments to one another about surface issues that really aren't the issue, the underlying issue is this envy, this jealous nature in our heart, because that person has the thing we want. This calls us to examine ourselves today, all of us. Is there anyone in the church or another believer that you're currently in conflict with, sinful conflict? A spouse? A child? Another member of the church? Why?

The call tonight is why? What is the inward desire that has caused you, that you want so bad, that you've allowed it to create conflict and a rift between you and that other believer? Whether you see yourself as the one who's been sinned against primarily or if you know for a fact that you're the one who's primarily done the sinning, if you're engaged in an ongoing sinful conflict, you're wrong, you're wrong. We've got to evaluate our own hearts this evening. And most of the time the cause or the thing that we think is the cause of our conflict really is not the true source.

I came up with some things that I've seen cause conflict in the church, maybe none of these are true for you, but maybe it's someone else was asked to sing a solo on Sunday morning. I've seen that happen. Growing up in my old church a lady came to my dad, who is a pastor, and said, "God's told me that me and my daughter are to sing special music on Easter Sunday." And the problem is we had heard them sing before. And it was ironic that God had told them "on Easter Sunday." Really, our largest Sunday of the year? But we allow things like that to bother us.

Maybe someone is nominated for the position of elder or deacon and that's something you've always wanted, and so you're envious of that person. Maybe the church decides to add drums or an electric guitar and that's not your personal preference, or you didn't grow up that way, or maybe you're on the other side of that and the church still sings hymns and you think that those are old and old fashioned and just should go away. But whatever side of the argument you're on, if you allow that personal preference to become an issue that causes sinful conflict, that's wrong, that's wrong.

Maybe someone's asked to serve in a certain ministry that you really wanted to do. Maybe it's the idea of marriage, you desperately want to be married but God's not chosen that for you in this time of life, and so every time you hear that someone else got engaged, or every time you see a happy married couple, you just burn with jealousy and bitterness; I've seen that. Maybe it's material things like money, things aren't going well in your business, but another church member, for whatever reason, God's allowed to prosper in this time. Personal preferences like how we school our children. Maybe you weren't greeted as quickly when you came to the church as you thought you should be and so your feelings were hurt for that.

But you see, from everything from not getting invited to a Super Bowl party to not getting to sing the solo or not getting the position in ministry, whatever, we allow so many things to cause conflict among us. And what James is saying here is that all those are, are sinful desires and jealousy and envy towards one another, and it can't be a part of our life, it can't; it doesn't honor God when we do those things. In every case, the sin may or may not be the thing desired as much as your response when you don't receive it. There is nothing wrong with desiring to be married, the sin is the way you respond when you see the bitterness in your heart when you see others that are married. There's nothing wrong with desiring to be qualified to be a deacon or elder. The sin is when someone else receives that and the bitterness and jealousy, you see the point.

And who are we ultimately sinning against, I mean really? God. It's not primarily just between you and me, or you and someone else, what we're saying is, God I didn't get a fair deal, I have not been treated fairly; God you've not given me what's right. Let's just be honest, whenever we allow sin to reign in our hearts, however petty it is, we're saying, God you've not done right by me, You missed this one. When we put it that way, it really seems odious, doesn't it? And that's how we have to think of our sin. We can't allow sin to have its head, we have to stop it where it starts. Sin is sin and if it's in your heart, if there is some jealousy brewing in your heart or envy or some ongoing conflict, oh it's sin.

There is a third and final point that James makes here in the second half of verse 2 and verse 3 and that is, the source and its effect on prayer, the source of conflict and its effect on prayer. Or, we might say, the source and its effect on our relationship with God. Look at, again, at the last part of verse 2 and verse 3,

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James has explained that there is these things that we desire and we can't have them, the question is why, why can't we have those things? The first response is, "You don't have because you don't ask." Remember that Jesus said in John 14:12-14,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."

The first reason we don't have, and this again, this is not assuming that the desire itself is sinful, let's say it's just a desire that itself is not sinful, the first reason James gives for not having it is because we haven't asked. We haven't prayed. We haven't gone to God and expressed our desire and our concern for that thing. And when we don't pray it evidences a couple things, either we don't believe that God can do that thing or we just don't think that we need Him because we can do it on our own.

But maybe that's not your issue, maybe you're thinking, oh, no, no, I have prayed, I've been praying years for this thing, I've spent lots of time on my knees asking for this, so that's not the issue. Well, James addresses that as well. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives." So it's not just prayer, it's praying the right way, with the right attitude, with the right heart, with the right submissiveness to God and His will. God is not a genie in a bottle where we rub the lamp and He comes out and gives us whatever we want. We come to God with submissive hearts and say, God, these are the desires of my heart, but if this is not Your timing or this is not Your will, then God, Your will be done, because it's much better than mine.

Maybe you've been asking but you've been asking all wrong, with wrong motives. And the specific wrong motive that he mentions here is that you ask "that you may spend it on your pleasures," there's that word again, on those sinful desires, to indulge those sinful desires. God is not going to give us things that will cause us or allow us to continue down the path of sin that we're in. He's a good God, He knows what we need and He knows when we need it. If you've been praying for something for years and you've not received it, a couple things could be happening there. Check your motives, are you praying right, is what you're praying for really in line with God's will? And if you determine that it is and you still don't have that thing, determine that it's not God's timing for that for you and submit to that, knowing that He has a reason for that. God's not just playing games with us. He's good and kind and gracious.

The point here is that when we allow these sinful desires within us to rule, it brings us not only in conflict with one another but with God. Sin in our hearts affects every relationship, our most primary relationship in prayer with God, our communion with our Father, and then naturally that flows down into our friendships and relationships with one another. This verse, by the way, is a rebuke, as a side note, to the prosperity preachers who would say, just ask God and He'll give you whatever you want, He wants you to be healthy and wealthy all the time. No, we're actually commanded here expressly not to pray with wrong motives so that we may spend it on our sinful desires. Here again we're confronted with the fact that the real problem with both our conflicts with fellow believers and with God are caused by our inward sinful desires.

So what do we take away from this tonight? What do we do now? Now we know the source. We've seen it illustrated. We've seen how it affects our relationship with God in prayer. What do we take away from this? Well, I think, first of all, you need to examine yourself and if you find that there is a pattern, a continual pattern of sinful conflict in your life where you are just, it seems to follow you everywhere you go, if sinful conflict characterizes you as a person, then the first call is to evaluate whether you are even in Christ.

As believers this is not to be a characterization of who we are. We're not to be the type of person that is always looking for conflict, that's always looking to confront, that always has to have their way and be controlling in every situation. That's not to be the heart of a believer. And so, if that's your heart, maybe your whole life you've just been followed by one conflict after another and somehow in your mind you've rationalized that it's always that person's fault, you know, well, that conflict was because they said this thing that way and that conflict was because they did this. The one constant in that is you and if that characterizes your life then test yourself to see whether you're in the faith.

Now, if you're confident that you're in Christ and conflict, these kinds of conflicts don't necessarily characterize your life, but we all have them from time to time, whether it's in your home with your spouse or with your kids or in the church, so what do we do then? Well, just a couple things as we close. Ask yourself, what is the sinful pleasure within me that's causing me to allow this conflict to remain? What is it in my heart? And don't just say, well, it's because I didn't get invited to the party. No, it's more than that. It's this desire to be recognized, it's the desire for popularity, whatever it is, but you get down to the heart level, if it's pride or it's, because only there can the Lord do work in our hearts, when we call sin, sin.

And if you're having a hard time identifying what that sin is in your heart, then sit down with a godly friend or godly elder or counsellor and say, here's my situation, tell me where I'm in sin, because I know I am. I've have to do that with some of my closest friends and say, here's the situation, there's this conflict, I know I'm sinning and I can't see it, help me. Let me caution you, do that not to bash the other person that you're having a conflict with, but genuinely, to say, my heart is wrong and I know it, but I can't see it because I'm deceitful and wicked, help me. Maybe the conflict hasn't happened yet and you're not currently in conflict, but you feel a resentment rising in your heart toward someone else in the church over something that's gone on between you. Kill that now, repent of that now, arm yourself with the truth of God's Word, preach the gospel to yourself.

But the bottom line is, conflict, sinful conflict among believers, is absolutely unacceptable; it cannot be allowed to remain. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us "not to let the sun go down on our anger" and so if you are in an ongoing conflict with someone tonight, God's call to you is to end that now. Before you leave this place seek them out if they are here. If not, call them on the phone, do whatever you have to do, but do not allow that sin to remain.

Well, this has been convicting for me in studying it. I pray that it's been helpful and beneficial to you. And may God use it in our lives to help all of us follow Him more faithfully. Let's pray together.

Lord God, we confess that we are sinful to the core. And so often we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt when, in reality, sin remains that we need to repent of. And I pray God, that if that's the case in any of our hearts tonight, specifically in the area of jealousy and envy and sinful conflict with other believers, God help us to see that sin, call us to repentance, and restore our relationship with You and our relationship with others. But above all, might You be glorified in all these things. It's in Christ's holy name we pray, amen.