“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (Jas.4:4).
Apostle James is addressing the Christians as “adulterous people”. Who is adulterous? We know what adultery means; we are living in a world, where people commit adultery. An adulterous woman is one who is unfaithful to her husband and places her love on another man. Adultery is serious and can lead to divorce between a husband and his wife.
Here, James is talking about a different kind of adultery, called spiritual adultery, that takes place among the Christians. Spiritual adultery means being unfaithful to God. When Christians cheat on Christ by going after the world, it is spiritual adultery. God commands to “love your God with all your hearts and with all your souls.” Instead of loving God with all our hearts, if we set our affections upon the world or the things of the world, we become adulterous. God is jealous and passionate about our relationship with Him that He is not willing to share us with the world. Spiritual adultery is very serious, and it affects our relationship with God.
How can we know whether we are unfaithful to God and are committing spiritual adultery? It depends on how we make friendship with the world. If we spend more time with the world, than we do with Christ, it shows that we are more at home with the world than with Christ. It is the proof that we are adulterous. Spiritual adultery is friendship with the world and enmity with God. It can happen to all of us. We can get so absorbed in the things of this world that we find no time or less time for God, and eventually become enemies of God. That is what James is cautioning us.
You may ask what is wrong with having friendship with the people of this world. Even Jesus was called a friend to tax collectors and sinners. It is true that Jesus associated with sinners in order to save them; but they could never influence Him. Jesus came to call the sinners to repentance. God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. We are called to live a life of separation, and not of seclusion. Our association with the people of the world must be to influence them and never to get influenced by them. The church is called to go into the world and be the salt and the light; but sadly, we find the world entering the church and corrupting it. We are in this world, but we are not of this world and we are pilgrims and strangers here. Our citizenship is in heaven and therefore, our standard should not be worldly, but godly. It is sad to see some Christians exert negative influence on weak believers to leave the church. Do not, for the sake of selfish ends, destroy the work of God. They deserve God’s judgement. Jesus said about such people, “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Lk.17:2).
Apostle John says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn.2:15-16). Loving the world means enjoying what the world offers. Everything what the world offers comes from the prince of this world. The world’s standard is directly opposed to God’s standard.
Apostle Paul says, “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Tim.4:10). If Demas fell in love with this world and deserted Paul, then our situation could be much worse. It is a whole lot easier for us to fall in love with the things of this world since we have so much more things to fall in love with today.
Billy Graham once said: “Our interests are in ourselves. We are preoccupied with material things. Our supreme god is technology. Our goddess is sex. Most of us are more interested in getting to the moon than getting to heaven. We are more dedicated to material security than to inward purity. We give much more thought to what we wear, what we eat, what we drink, and what we can do than what we are….”
He was absolutely right. We are more interested in our earthly physical needs, than our spiritual needs. Worldly desires more often capture our attention than God. “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 Jn.2:17).
Satan is the prince of this world and he is the commander-in-chief of the evil forces who are opposed to God. Their task is to defeat the saints of God by deception. The Bible describes Satan as a deceiver, a liar, a murderer, an accuser and the evil one. He is crafty and often comes in subtle ways as an angel of light. He uses the allurements of the world that appeal to our flesh. He deceives people by denying the truth and creating confusion by his lies. The Bible cautions us to beware of his schemes; or else, we will be deceived.
“For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -comes not from the Father, but from the world” (1 Jn.2:16). The world is under the control of Satan and this is what he offers. The three ways by which Satan can trap any person are – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Jesus warns, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn.10:10). Satan is a not only a liar, but also a thief. He will steal everything that God has given you free; your time, energy, wealth and even your salvation. God says: “life and death are set before you” (Deut.30:19). Now the choice is yours. God wants us to choose life.
The world, the flesh, and Satan are the three enemies of the Christian life. We can overcome the world by separating from it, the flesh by denying it and the devil by resisting him. We must renounce these enemies, if we want to live a life that is pleasing to God.
May God give us His grace to live a separated life!
Yours in Christ
Pastor M.A. Jacob
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