“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?”
James launches chapter four with three forms of desire that cause conflict: 1) an orientation to pleasure (4:1), 2) the emptiness of coveting (4:2), and 3) self-centered craving (4:2b-3).
The first 12 verses show the cause of conflict.
Where do wars
The word “where” indicates the source of wars among Christians.
The word “wars” literally means armed conflict, but figuratively it means strife, conflict, quarrel. We get the English word “polemic” from this Greek word. Some Christians levy war against other Christians in a prolonged and strategic way. Sometimes this involves a series of attacks. This is a course of conflict as a way of life. They love to make open war and engage in a protracted conflict with each other; they love this life.
and fights come from
The word “fights” means strife, combat, battle. This is someone who takes up arms in a specific battle. Figuratively, the word “fights” alludes to persons at variance, disputants, contention. This is the tactical aspect of war. Christians sometimes enter into open quarreling and violent wrangling. Their weapon is the tongue. They use it intensively in a bitter way; they clash in a fierce way.
“Wars” and “fights” on occasion take place between Christians. They engage in flat out verbal brawls in church. People take sides with one group or another. Some churches enter into real donnybrooks.
1 Co 1:12-13, “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
Both strategic and tactical conflict among believers is against divine viewpoint.
The source of conflict among Christians is the human viewpoint of self-seeking. Some Christians strategically enter into conflict with fellow believers. They do it with forethought. Their purpose in life is to levy war against Christians! Conflict is a way of life for them. They love a good fight. Other Christians like to fight tactical wars. They use the hit and run method of the tongue. They dispute anything anyone in authority has to say.
2 Ti 2:23, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”