Lesson Ten – Satisfaction for Innate Needs

Satisfaction for Innate Needs

Lesson Text:  James 4:1-6.

A.  Review of James chapters 1-3.


B.  Word Study.

  1. Verse 1. Lusts (KJV), desires (NIV) and pleasures (RV).  The Greek word is “hedone.”  It means the gratification of sinful desires.  This Greek word is translated “pleasures” in both KJV and NIV in Luke 8:14.
  2. Verse 2.  Lust (KJV), or “want something” (NIV), is from “epithamia,” a noun.  It is most often translated lust.  It denotes a strong desire of any kind, but generally denotes a bad desire.  See Rom. 13:14 and Gal. 5:16, 24.  It is used in a good sense in Luke 22:15; Phil. 1:23 and I Thess. 2:17.  Both of the foregoing Greek words are found in the list in Titus 3:3.
  3. Verse 3. Again the Greek word “hedone” is translated “pleasures” (NIV) and “lusts” (KJV).
  4. Verse 3.  “Wrong motives” (NIV), or “amiss” (KJV) is from Gr. “kakos.”  It means evil.  See James 3:8 and Word study, Lesson Six..
  5. Verse 5.  “Envies intensely” (NIV), or “lusteth to envy” (KJV), have been translated from two Greek words.
    a.    “Phthonos” means a feeling of displeasure when others prosper. It has been translated “envy” in both translations.
    b.    “Epipotheo” is the other word and it means “to long for greatly.”  “Epithumeo” is the verb.  It is found in Gal. 5:17.

C.  Biblical Interpretation Principles.

As we approach our study of the last two chapters of James’ letter, we continue asking the text these questions.  What are the recipients’ problems, if any?  (Historical analysis).  What is the author saying to help the church members understand their problem?  (Literary analysis).  How did he structure the content?  This will involve his style, or “train of thought.”

James opened the fourth chapter with rhetorical questions in “rapid fire.”  This suggests they knew the principles of life for both their individual inner peace and peace in interdependent fellowships – the church.  At the time James wrote this letter, they may have been functioning from their emotional base and not the principles they knew.   Perhaps, they had abandoned principles in their emotional struggle to satisfy their inherent needs.  They may have been seeking ways to satisfy the natural needs God created in the design of mankind without His help.  Therefore, James was trying to get them in a right frame of mind to think logically – to confess their sins and accept his divine answers.  As students we need to get in this thing with him!

We want to hear the author’s divine answers to their problems.  Logically, we need to understand their problem for which he is prescribing a cure.  We recognize this is the real value of our study of James.  We may need to apply his healing principles in some areas of our own lives.  As we listen to James diagnose and offer his prescriptions for those Christians, we may want to imagine ourselves as being with them.  If indeed, we discover James is “hitting on us,” our Bible study will have been a great reward.  But if in the end we still think the problem is “out there,” we may need to enroll ourselves in James’ therapy session in this text.  Letters are emotional and we will want to get “caught up” in the feelings and intent of the author; especially, in his use of rhetorical questions.

D.  Lesson Introduction:

Jesus preached the kingdom of God to mankind.  In what is often referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus taught many of the laws of life God has offered to Christians in His new covenant.  These laws describe how the needs God created in us can be satisfied.  Please see my book entitled “Sermon the Mount,” Part III, Lesson Five.  See chart.  This book can be read on my website:  https://kingdomofchrist.info   

The aim of this lesson is to show that when the church functions as the body of Christ it serves to satisfy the needs God created within each member.  A secondary aim is the identification of inherent needs versus lusts.  The recipients of James’ letter understood that all peoples’ spirits came from God; therefore, we are designed in the likeness of God.  They also understood about the God-designed needs within them.  These are the needs for which we have been seeking satisfaction since we can remember (Matt. 6:25-34).  Our learning exercises actually started the day we were born.  No one taught us we should eat food or to seek a “security blanket.”  If our parents did not know about our needs, we let them know we had a specific need before we could speak their language.  We learned very soon, if we made a lot of stressful noises someone would quickly appear to satisfy these innate needs.  Since the churches in the first century knew about God’s program to satisfy our needs God created in us, we must know what they knew to properly read the text for this lesson.

E.  Lesson.

James explained God’s liberation principles, or laws of life, and His exercises for Christians’ spiritual growth in the first three chapters of his epistle.  It appears, some of the church members had not found satisfaction for some of their inherent needs.  They had become trapped in a battle within themselves.  Their inner frustration was producing anger.  This anger was “firing off” when the members of the church were not cooperating with the methods they were using to attain satisfaction.  Their angry tirades were disturbing the peace in the church fellowship.  See Jas. 4:1-3.

They, like all of us, were trying to engage in their “life experiences” to satisfy the needs God created within them.  Some were not applying truth to their experiences.  The recipients could have asked God for help, but it appears some had not adopted the habit of asking for His wisdom.  Basically, there may not have been anything wrong with what they desired.  There are healthy desires and sinful desires.  Sometimes they would ask God for things they desired, but their motives were wrong.  Perhaps they, like many people, had become confused about the difference between their inherent needs and their lusts.  Lust often develops itself around our pursuit of a natural drive.  Eating is ok, too much is gluttony.

The needs God created within mankind can be satisfied, but we must have faith in God’s “law that gives freedom” to be successful (Jas. 2:12).  Since satisfaction for some needs require the help of other people, Christians can turn to our brothers and sisters in the church.

Lust cannot be satisfied.  The more we try to satisfy it, the more it demands.  It finally becomes a great battleground within our “selves.”  It had happened to some of the church members James addressed in his epistle.  Their inner battles had become public battles.  They needed the help of the church to satisfy their achievement and social needs.  It appears they had become “lust driven” instead of being “led by the Holy Spirit.”  Rom. 8:5-9.  The Holy Spirit cannot lead Christians in our sanctification unless we learn the divine principles to attain satisfaction for our natural healthy needs.

The following is an overview of the principles in James’ letter to help us know what the recipients knew about God’s plan for satisfying their, and our, innate needs.  Please note how a church that functions as the body of Christ has a great part in each member’s innate needs satisfaction program.

  1. There are two sources for wisdom available to us as we pursue a course to attain satisfaction for our needs. One source will give us peace and make us peacemakers (3:18).  The other will bring turmoil and make us fighters, perhaps, even killers.
    a.  Wisdom from above.  1:5;  3:17.
    —  We will never have peace within ourselves until we have found satisfaction, or a hope of satisfaction, for our inherent needs.  3:18.
    —  We must identify our lust.  We cease making provisions to arouse our tendency to seek pleasure outside the law of life. 1:21;1:13,15.
    —  We need to hear the truth and develop faith, both in the graces of the cross (5:20) and in the royal law of life.  2:8.  See I Cor. 1:20 – 2:9.
    b.  Wisdom of the world.
    —  They adopt a useless religion; that is, they listen to the word, but do not act. 1:22, 26.
    —  They use the world’s social stratification system in order to feed selfish ambitions.  2:1-4;  3:14.
    —  They take the “I can do it for myself” attitude.  4:13-16.
    —  Finally, they seek security through material wealth.  5:1-6.
  2. The church, functioning as the body of Christ, works with Jesus, the head, to help each member find satisfaction for our inherent needs.  The Apostle Paul said, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Gal. 6:2.
    a.  Food, clothing and shelter.
    —  Temporary help.  2:15-17.
    —  —  “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”  II Thess. 3:10.
    —  —  If possible, don’t be dependent on anybody.  I Thess. 4:11, 12.
    —  —  Early church had a benevolent program.  Acts 4:35; I Cor. 16:2.
    —  Permanent help.  1:27; I Tim. 5:3-10.
    b.  Social needs.  “Confess yours sins to each other and pray for each other.” 5:16.
    —  Socialization on an equal playing field – no caste.  1:9-11;  2:1-11.
    —   “Brothers do not slander one another.”  4:11, 12.
    c. Security.    “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”  4:10.
    —   Presently.  In our time of sicknesses and in case of drought.  5:13-18.
    —  Eternal.   “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming.”  5:7.
    Inherit the kingdom of God.  2:5.
    d.  Achievement.
    —  “That we might be a kind of first fruits of all God created.”  1:18.
    —  Spiritual development because of “faith testing.”  1:2-4.
    —  Laying up treasures in heaven for our crown of life.  2:5.
    —  Doing the righteousness of God.  1:20;  3:18.
    —  Leaders in the church.
    —  —  Elders.  5:14.
    —  —  Teachers.  3:1.
    —  Preachers sent to recover the lost sheep.  5:19, 20.
  3. The human inherent need for glory.
    a.  God created all people through Jesus Christ in His own likeness. James 3:9; Col. 1:15, 16.
    b.  The focal point of the faith of Christians is in “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”  James 2:1
    c.  Before God created mankind He predestined Christians’ glorious roles as His sons (sons/daughters, II Cor. 6:18).  I Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4, 5; Rom. 8:28-30.
    d.  Our reward of the “crown of life” and our inheritance of the “kingdom of God” will satisfy our need for glory.  1:12 and 2:5.
    e.  The present role of a glorious son of God is a free gift because Jesus paid the price for our new birth and our continued justification by faith.  James 1:18; 2:23; Rom. 6:22.
    f.  James spoke of “the word implanted in you, which can save your soul.”  1:21.
    Paul said, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  Phil. 2:12.
    g.  Glory involves two human needs.  They are achievement and acceptance by others in relation to the goal we have achieved.
    —  The goal of Christians who accepts God’s “faith testing” development is the “perfect man.” 3:2.  We are seeking “glory, honor and immortality.”  Rom. 2:7.  Christians are achievers.
    —  Faithful Christians’ inheritance of eternal life, or crown of life, will be awarded on Judgment Day. God will be our Judge.  4:12; 5:9.  He will accept us as His eternal children and give us what we are trying to achieve: “glory, honor and peace.”  Rom. 2:10.  This is what we receive when we inherit eternal life.  Read again Romans 2:7, 10.

 F.  Question and thoughts for discussion:

  1. Please attempt to separate the material in the assigned text to the two heading in the review chart under “A.”  Did the view of the church James presented suggest they were using the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man?
  2. Characterize the change in the “life scene” between what is described in 3:17, 18 and 4:1-3.
  3. What is the connection between the basic and higher needs God created in each human being and the situation in 4:1-3?
  4. How was God willing to offer “input” for calming the situation in 4:1-3?
  5. James said they ask “amiss” (KJV), or with “wrong motives” (NIV).  What do you think would have been the right way for them to make their requests?
  6. What was the problem in 4:1-3?
  7. Kill, fight and war describes physical struggles.  How did James relate this to the turmoil revealed in 4:1-3.
  8. How does the branding of these Christians as adulterers and adulteresses relate to the situation in 4:1-3?  Or does it?  How does your answer connect us to the scriptures that follow in this epistle?
  9. After taking a broad view of our text, including its relationship to chapter three and including the balance of chapter four, what one change could these Christians have made that might have best put them on a better course?
  10. If a person never asks God to “get into” her or his life situations in a personal way, do you think God would consider him or her His friend?
  11. There has been much said by Bible students about verse five.  The question asked is, “When James spoke of the spirit was he referring to the Holy Spirit, or the spirit of a person?”  Please read as many different translations as you have available along with your regular translation and make a declaration of how James meant for the recipients to understand his use of “spirit.”
  12. What is the “more grace” James mentions in verse six?  It may be necessary to come to some kind of conclusion about the preceding verse.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply