“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Adulterers and adulteresses!
James uses “adulterers and adulteresses” in the figurative sense, not the literal sense here. The word “adulterers” does not occur in some manuscripts but only he word “adulteresses” does. James intends shock value with this term.
Believers throughout the Roman Empire were no longer faithful to God so James shocks them by calling them “adulteresses.” We violate intimacy with God by loving the world because the world is the Devil’s kingdom and system of values. God will alarm us with that truth occasionally.
1 Jn 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Do you not know
The words “do you not know” are a challenge to carnal Christians to break out of their carnality. They need to discern a fundamental principle to do this, which he expresses in the next phrases.
that friendship with the world
The word “that” introduces the principle by which the believer breaks out of carnality. If he understands the havoc that worldliness does to his fellowship with God, then he might break out.
The readers of the book of James fell in love with the world. The word “friend” means affection. Carnal Christians gave their deepest emotional affection to the world. The world is a system of belief about what is best for one’s life. The Devil runs this system. They were, in effect, in love with the Devil’s ideas.
Jn 16:11 “…of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Jn 14:29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world [the Devil] is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”
2 Co 4:3-4 “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
1 Jn 5:19 “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”
is enmity with God?
Note the contrasting words “friend” and “enmity.” If a Christian loves the world, he is the enemy of God. Whenever he becomes a friend to the world, he will hate God. The carnal Christian revolts against who and what God is by cuddling up to the world system. The word “enmity” means alienation.
Rom. 8:7-8 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Worldliness is a condition of the heart and attitude that changes our orientation of life away from God’s values.
A carnal Christian is someone who divides his affections between the world-system and God’s viewpoint.
We cannot love the world and God at the same time. It is either/or, not both/and. God demands that our love for Him be mutually exclusive. He does not want the bride of Christ (the church) to get into bed with anyone else.
Jesus reconciled us to God when we accepted His unadulterated grace. We are no longer God’s enemies.
Ro 5:10 “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
Eph. 2:14-16 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”