“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?”
Do they not come from
The word “from” means out of. James deals with the source of conflict among Christians. By asking this in question form, James appeals to the conscience of the Christians to whom he writes dispersed across the Roman Empire.
your desires for pleasure
“Pleasure” in this verse has the idea of “sinful desire” or the gratification of natural desire. It is the delight of desire, a pleasant lust. The Greek uses this word for physical pleasure and at times for sexual pleasure. We get our English word “hedonism” from this Greek word. Hedonism is the uninhibited desire to fill every pleasure available. The New Testament always uses this word in the sinful sense. It means satisfied pleasure.
Jas 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
Personal gratification is the reason for conflict in the Christian community.
Many people superficially think that strife among Christians begins with external situations. This is not true; conflict comes from an entirely different source – a pleasure orientation to life.
Lu 8:14 “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.”
Differences among Christians make us unhappy people. They rob our peace and usefulness as servants of Christ. All this begins within. If we allow pleasure to run rampant, we will enter into a danger to the structure of our spirituality. If pleasure gains the predominance in our souls, spiritual defeat is at hand.
Some Christians live for personal gratification of sensual and natural desire. They let their pleasure tyrannize them by allowing pleasure to become their primary orientation to life (1 Th 4:3-5). When these Christians give themselves over to these sins, they lose their spiritual freedom. They think that they gain freedom but they lose freedom because they become slaves to sin. Their pleasure is their master. They enter a frantic search for happiness through pleasure.
Jude 16-19 “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”
Hedonism is the philosophy of Playboy magazine, the philosophy that pleasure is the chief end of man. Aristippus the Cyrene (435-355 B.C.) formalized the philosophy of hedonism and taught that we are to avert pain and seek pleasure as a way of life. Christianity is not pleasure oriented but God oriented. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.