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. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
James 4:4–6 (NIV)
Using marriage language, James draws the attention of his readers (and that includes us!) to the Old Testament comparisons of Israel’s relationship to the Lord. Isaiah 54:4-8 reminds us that Israel was the Lord’s wife and He was accusing them of adultery by their idolatry. Remember, when the New Testament was written, all they had was (what we call) the Old Testament. The framework and ideas in the Old Testament were the foundation of the New Testament.
In Greek, James opens verse four by saying, “Adulterers!” (The NIV changes it to “you adulterous people” due to the ever-changing usage in the English language.) That’s strong language from a straight shooter. In using this shock to the ears, James defines what this adultery is: “friendship with the world”. He continues and writes, “anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:6; 34:14) and He absolutely will not tolerate being second place to anything else. We must choose either friendship with God or friendship with the world.
If we choose friendship with the world, we choose to rest in our own pride.
God resists the proud (James 4:6 and Proverbs 3:34).
If we choose friendship with the world, we choose to fight our way to the place of importance.
Pride precedes destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
If we choose friendship with the world, we choose to be an enemy of God.
God’s enemies will be Jesus’ footstool (Hebrews 1:13).
If we choose friendship with the world, we choose rejection.
Whoever rejects God in Christ, chooses condemnation (John 3:18).
Considering the consequences, we must choose our friends wisely.