Good morning brothers and sisters!
James continues exhorting his reader to grow in their faith. He has also continued encouraging the importance of facing the various seasons of life with a wisdom that comes from God. The only other option is choosing to navigate life’s seasons with an earthly wisdom. It stands to reason that favoring an earthly wisdom is the result of an intentional choice, one that indicates a rejection of God’s wisdom.
James submits that proposition in verses 4 through 5: “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?” (v. 4-5)
When we choose an earthly wisdom over a heavenly wisdom, it is also an indication that our relationship with God has been compromised. James defines that compromised relationship by declaring that those who follow an earthly wisdom have become an adulterous group.
In the purest sense of the word, an adulterer is someone who has been unfaithful n marriage vows. We also frequently apply the word “adultery” when the intimacy that once existed between two people has been betrayed.
When we became followers of Christ, an intimate relationship began, one God is highly jealous of. We belong to “Christ” alone.
When we choose to give into our selfish pleasures as confirmed through our wars (fights and quarrels), we are no longer giving ourselves singularly to Christ. We have replaced out intimate relationship with God for an intimate one with our former self. We have quenched the Spirit of God for a spirit of selfishness.
James is submitting that when we return to our old alliances and affiliations (friends with the world), we have become adulterous in our relationship with God. While our salvation is secure, we will no longer enjoy the option of living in peace with God. A similar condition exists when people are guilty of adulterous relationships that invade their marriages. If becomes difficult for marriage partners to live in “peace,” even if they remain in the same household once adultery has invaded the relationship.
Those within the body that return to their old pre-conversion affiliations and alliances create conditions that James describes as being in enmity with God. The most basic definition of enmity: a positive, active and typically mutual hatred or ill will towards something or someone! The Greek word James used was “echtrha,” which is translated literally as “hate,” “being hostile towards,” or “in opposition of.”
It is similar to the term used in Genesis (Hebrew word) that referred to the offspring of Eve and the offspring of the snake. They would always be hostile towards each other.
Becoming a “friend” to this world will always but us at odds with God. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father in not in him.” 1 John 2:15
That leads us to verse 5: “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that He jealously longs for the Spirit He has caused to dwell in us.” While there is not a direct reference to any other New Testament passage when James is talking about Scripture, there is an Old Testament passage He would have been very familiar with – the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them: for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” Exodus 20:20-5
In this passage, God’s jealousy is positive. Don’t we want our spouses to have a jealous love for us – something they desire to be kept for them and them alone?
God jealously longs for the Spirit He has caused to dwell in us to be evident in us because that means we are being faithful to him. It suggests we are NOT a friend of the world, but a friend of God as in Abraham’s case. The readers of James’ letter would have very familiar with God’s jealous love for them. They would have also been familiar with the gift of the Holy Spirit and God’s desire for them to be filled with His Spirit.
God was longing for an intimate relationship with them and He longs for an intimate relationship with us. It is clear James is declaring that the way we live our lives – weather we demonstrate an earthly wisdom or a heavenly wisdom will be OUR declaration that we are going to be faithful to God or we are going to be friends with the world. Choosing to be a friend of God and avoiding being a friend of the world will be evidenced when we do not allow our selfish ambitions and worldly jealousy to lead us into sin.
Have a great day!