What is it that causes us to want to fight with each other—that which will not allow us to “just get along?” It’s easy to say that fighting is caused by certain unusually aggressive individuals, but what can we say when it is we who are the source of the problem?
“Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2:15)
This verse speaks about the Mosaic Law which had been Divinely given to the people of Israel. It is referred to as the “enmity” because it was what separated them from the other nations, that which was an inherent part of their identity, and apparently a cause of friction between Jews and non-Jews. Yet Christ broke down the wall of separation through His sacrifice of Himself for sins, creating “in Himself one new man from the two [Jew and non-Jew], thus making peace.” In Christ“there is [now] neither Jew nor Greek [non-Jew], there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Because of Christ, we are all united in God’s economy within the church. Yet what is it that caused, and still causes, people to want to fight with each other?
The simple answer is that it is the presence of sin within us. James 4:1-8 explains:
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust [wrongly want] and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God…Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
The reason we fight is because of sin.
Those who do not know the Lord are completely in its sway. 2 Timothy 2:23-26 tells us, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
Yet the James passage is apparently speaking to those who know the Lord! In it James rebukes us for lusting and asking amiss—wrongly—that we may spend it on our pleasures. The solution to strife is submitting to God, resisting the devil, and drawing near to God. The reason we fight is because our hearts are wrong—they are under the influence of sinful desires—and we are being tempted by Satan to try to get our way.
The Trojan War was caused by Paris’ desire for another man’s wife, Helen of Troy, but other sinful desires may not be as clearly recognizable. They may be more presentable, as innocuous as, for example, a desire to simply be left alone. Yet anything which causes us to quarrel, or fail to be gentle to others, runs the risk of missing an opportunity to help someone escape the “snare of the devil “—the wrong thinking which keeps him from submitting to Christ and being saved—and is thus, of the utmost importance.
Help me not fight. Help me submit to You, resist the temptation of the devil, and draw nearer to You. Help me not desire anything wrongly, no matter how seemingly innocent, that I may not be lured into quarrelling, and thereby fail to represent You faithfully to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.