The War of Desires Within Us

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1-2)

“Notice also that James does not place the word “evil” before the word “desire.” Although evil desires for wrong things can be a source of conflict, James is addressing something more fundamental. He says, “Don’t your conflicts come from your desires that battle within you?” Beneath the wars between people is another, more fundamental war that rages every day but never makes a headline. It is a “within you” war, a direct attack on God’s “within you” kingdom. We don’t typically think about our desires raging war. We think of surprising, powerful, or wrong desires. But we must understand the war metaphor James is using. If a war is being fought between nations, it is being fought for geographical and political control. Control is the purpose of war. So it is with our desires, which fight for control of our hearts. What controls our hears will exercise inescapable influence over our lives and behavior. In that little phrase, “desires that battle within you,” James gives us a window into how the heart operates. The heart of every person is a fount of competing desires. We rarely do anything with one simple motive. Most of the time there is a battle within.”Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change, P. 79

Discussion:How does this apply to our desire to run to God in order to forgive the one who hurt us? Are there competing “wants?”

How does this apply to our desire to love our neighbor, much less love our enemy, or our spouses in those seasons of great turmoil and strain? Are there competing “wants?”