Fidelity and Friendship - Notes on James 4:4,5
In the prior verses, we are reminded against the works of the flesh, reflective of the famous saying—“The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart” (Oswald Smith). Consider Romans 6:14-25. This passage is not meant to be an excuse for committing sin against God, as evident in the beginning verses of Romans 6. The point of Paul is to recognize the apparent struggle within. This point brings light to the verses we focus on today: James 4:4-5.
James 4:4– “You adulterous people.”— In the Old Testament, this description is one that is used repeatedly of Israel for committing idolatry against or of breaking covenant with Yahweh. God alone is worthy of worship. Read Deut. 6:4-5, which can be considered to be Israel’s statement of faith. Time and time again, Israel broke faith with the One true God and they were disciplined. Prior to judgement, they were warned by God who sent to them prophets to call them unto repentance. Read Jeremiah 3 and the book of Hosea, where we read of God providing Israel with an actual, real-life demonstration to Israel of her unfaithfulness as a nation in committing adultery and of God’s steadfast love in calling her to “return.”
James point is as was communicated to Israel in Old Testament times—that is, unfaithfulness to God is spiritual adultery. Consider reading the Amplified Version of James 4:4.
James 4:5a— “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”— James is making a serious pronouncement here of the adulterous nature of “friendship with the world.” This phrase does not mean isolation from personal contact with unbelievers. What this phrase does mean is evident in 1John 2:15-17– “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him;” Matt. 6:24– “You cannot serve God and money; John 15:18-19– “I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
James 4:5b— “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”— How can we be friends with the system of the world if it means being God’s enemy? For a believer to desire friendship with the world is contradictory to what he professes! Matthew 6:24 is clear— “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
James’ call is to remain faithful to the true God, not looking unto other things for hope and comfort. Guard your heart against the things of this world! We cannot serve God and wealth at the same time. Read and meditate on Rom.12:1-2!