James wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your own lusts” (Jam. 4:3). The specific context of this passage is dealing with the prayers of these individuals who were seeking only to fulfill their own fleshly lusts with no thought of right or wrong, good or evil. James condemns them for their selfishness and brazenness toward God. However, this passage of Scripture also has a very good application to another aspect of many people’s lives.
We live in an age like every other from the beginning of the world. Men seek to do what they desire, then look for someone to validate their lifestyle. Many people claim to be seeking knowledge of God. Unfortunately, most look in all the wrong places for their information.
When I went to the library recently I perused the religious section to see what our local branch had available. I found at a ratio of about 5 to 1 books portraying the God of the Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ as a “myth,” “dangerous,” “criminal,” “homosexual,” etcetera. Instead of books portraying the one true God as he is, one is instead inundated with lies, demeaning statements, and irresponsible “application” of the Biblical record. Yet many people go to such places as this for their authority on who God is and what we need to know about him.
But even if they don’t go to the religious section, they can go to fiction and find similar reflections of man’s mentality toward God. Such authors as Dan Brown and Steve Berry have profited greatly from their fictional adventures which have their “heroes” disproving Biblical teachings at every turn. Many people, having read such material, disregard the Biblical record without ever having studied and considered it for themselves.
On the other hand there are those who will seek out “spiritual enlightenment” from all sorts of sources. Some turn to “miraculous revelations of the Holy Spirit,” by which they are supposedly told what to do or how to get comfort from their present situation. Others turn to the tele-evangelists to arrive at their desired relief through their donations and trust in these supposed “men of God.” Others will turn to the writings of various men who purport to reveal religious truths which are obscured, if not erased, with their own inserted false doctrines. Because of such, many are driven to a belief in ideas and doctrines the Bible does not teach nor condone. They incur a false sense of security without ever cracking the one source to which they should turn: God’s Word.
Many of these same people previously mentioned come away with more questions than answers from their efforts and more frustration than resolution because they have asked amiss. There is only one place one can go to truly receive answers as to who God is and what he expects of man.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Mat. 7:7). Yet we must ask the right questions, seek the right source, and knock on the right door. John admonished that we must “try the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1), because there are far more people admonishing the false things of the world than the truth of God’s Word. Our actions must follow those of the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
It will be readily evident to the individual that honestly seeks out the truth of God’s Word, puts it to the test of integrity and accuracy, and considers its precepts that we can know who God is and what he desires of his creation. But will we perform due diligence in our endeavors, or are we seeking amiss?