what causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? you desire and do not have, so you murder. you covet 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 wrongly, to spend it on your passions. [james 4:1-3]
we all have passions. not sure what you are passionate about? ask someone close to you what you talk about the most. what do you spend your free time doing or thinking about? what do you spend your money on? what are you willing to drop everything for? what do you go to when you are bored or anxious? this is the thing you love.
God created us to share in his joy. as he is passionate for his own glory, we were created to share in this passion for his glory. why? because his glory is the most satisfying thing we could ever know! his glory is to be revered as the greatest thing because it is objectively the greatest thing. in his joy overflowing, he created all the world, including us, to reflect and share in this joy.
but then came the fall. the deception in the garden. the enemy told man that he could have greater joy. eve took the forbidden fruit because she believed she could be like God if she took matters into her own hands. but this misplaced belief only brought sin, pain, and death. now man’s passion was to fight for his own glory. his own place of deity. satisfaction in himself.
man could never return to having true satisfaction and passion for God’s glory, his name, his presence. at least not on his own. because of the fall, you and i were born with a heart of stone. a dead heart which is only capable of a passion for ourselves. we needed a Savior, and in his great mercy, God sent one. his own Son, Jesus Christ, died to take our punishment, so we could once again have the soft heart of flesh we were designed for. through his blood, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in us, we can have a new heart. new life. new passion for God, and the joy that comes with knowing him and living in his presence.
so then, if we are in Christ, we have been given a new passion. our new mission in life is the same as God’s mission. to lift high his name through our thoughts, actions, words, and decisions. however, we are still in the flesh. this side of heaven, our fleshly or earthly passions will be at war with the passions of the Holy Spirit in us. we desire to please the Lord, but are constantly tempted to please ourselves.
this glory war, this war of passions will not end until we are home with the Lord for all of eternity. on that day, we will say goodbye to pain and suffering, to sin and sorrow, to quarrels with our spouse, to lust, to selfish manipulation, to coveting, to being exasperated with our children, to addiction, to isolation, and to all of the idols of our flesh. we will be at total peace, filled with total joy, drawn to perfect worship, surrounded by the love of Christ and his bride.
but for now, we are not left to despair in the battle. we have the power of the Spirit, who is stronger than the power of the enemy and his lies. we have the body of Christ, who has been equipped to build us up and stir us up to love and good deeds. we have the full armor of God to protect us against temptation, including the all sufficient, authoritative word of God to fill us richly each day with his character, his love, and his grace.
so to those who feel like this battle is overwhelming, who feel like the flesh is winning, or who feel like the tempter is too powerful, take heart. Jesus has already won this battle for you at the cross. if you are in him, you are a child of God, forever sealed by his Spirit. walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [galatians 5:16] invite the church into your struggle, you were not meant to bear your burdens alone! [galatians 6:1-2] put on the whole armor of God and you will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [ephesians 10-18] immerse yourself in his word daily, it will be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. [psalm 119:105] walk in victory, Jesus has overcome the world!
“come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest. take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for i am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [matthew 11:28-30]
~ arwen eastman