James 4:4 NIV
“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.”
What makes the church adulterous? Let me back up a minute. What is adultery? It is cheating on one’s spouse, but it isn’t just the act of sexual relations with another person other than one’s spouse that constitutes adultery. Jesus said that if one looks lustfully at another that he has already committed adultery in his heart.
So, adultery can be in the mind only, taken in by the eyes, and it doesn’t have to involve physical contact with another person at all. It can be emotional adultery, too, fantasizing what it would be like to be with someone else romantically, not necessarily sexually at all. Or it could be self-gratification, engaging in sexual intercourse with oneself.
So, how does that translate to being God’s adulterous people? For, this isn’t speaking here of cheating on one’s marital partner, per se, although that is certainly involved, but this has to do with cheating on our relationships with the Lord Jesus, who is our husband, for we are his bride.
It is the same principle as cheating on one’s spouse, for it involves lusting after “other lovers” of self, pride, sinful practices, entertainment, self-pleasure, the desire to be one’s own boss, and fame and fortune, etc. It is not being satisfied with faithfulness to our Lord but wanting the world, too.
And friendship with the world is not speaking here against making friends with the people in the world, although we are not to partner (be unequally yoked together) with the ungodly. But this is speaking of not being on friendly and intimate terms with the world of sin – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 Jn 2:15-17).
Our desires, our passions, our time, our money, and our hearts are not to be given over to the sinful pleasures of this world. If we are truly in Christ, by genuine faith in him, we died with Christ to sin, we were reborn of the Spirit of God, and now we are to walk in newness of life in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24).
We are to live holy lives unto God, separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. We are to give our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our acceptable worship of him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind (Rom 12:1-2; Eph 1:3-4; 1 Thes 4:7; 1 Pet 1:14-16).
James 4:5-6 NIV
“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.’”
All jealousy is not bad. God is jealous in a good sense in that he desires that we belong to him and to him alone and that we not chase after other lovers. It is the same way in a marriage. It is not wrong for a spouse to be jealous for his/her marriage relationship with his/her spouse and to want to have them be in intimacy with each other alone. That is God’s will for them.
Just like a husband or a wife longs for his/her spouse to be faithful and to not go after other lovers, our Lord longs for us to be faithful to him, too. He doesn’t want to share us with other gods and with the pleasures that this world offers. He wants our all on the altar of sacrifice laid, our hearts under the Spirit’s control. He wants to be our only master.
Contrary to popular opinion, God’s grace to us is not free license to continue living in sin without guilt. He does still see when we sin, and he hates sin, and he rebukes sin, and he will discipline us, in love. And if we decide to live for ourselves and not for him, he will judge us, and we won’t go to heaven when we die, but we will face his wrath (Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
But if we humble ourselves before him, and we repent of our sins, and we turn away from living for sin and for the pleasures of this world to now follow him in surrender to his will and to follow him in obedience to his commands, he will show us favor, and we will be forgiven, and he will restore us.
James 4:7-10 NIV
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
When Jesus died on that cross he put our sin to death so that through faith in him we would die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. This is his plan for our salvation, not just to free us from the punishment of sin, but to free us from slavery to sin and to empower us to become slaves of his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Pet 2:24).
So, if we wander off from that plan, like a straying spouse, and we go after other lovers of pleasure in this world, he will speak truth to our hearts, and he will counsel us and urge us to return to him as our only Lord (husband). He will call us to repentance, and he will warn of divine judgment and chastisement if we do not repent (See Rev 2-3).
And if we refuse him, and we decide to go our own way, instead, he will warn us of the consequences, too. He will let us know that we will all be judged by what we do. But he will also promise forgiveness and restoration to the truly repentant because he is still a God of love and grace who longs for all to come to repentance and to escape eternity in hell.
So, if this is where you are today, wandering, living in adultery against the Lord, and perhaps against spouse, too, this is a call to you to submit yourself to the Lord Jesus/to God, to resist the devil, and to come near to God in full assurance of faith.
If you are double-minded in that you are still trying to hold on to the world and its pleasures while you claim faith in Jesus Christ, too, the counsel here is for you to wash your hands (to cleanse your deeds of sin) and to purify your hearts by God’s Spirit, and to grieve, mourn and wail over your sin.
Then, humble yourselves before God by surrendering your all to him on his altar, giving him your life fully, with him in charge, forsaking your former lives of rebellion against the Lord, now committed to faithful surrender to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and he will lift you up.
Seek the Lord
An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”