“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.”
Explanation and Commentary of James 4:4
James has addressed “fights and quarrels” (Ja 4:1) and the fact that they are caused by desires that wage war within us, causing us to fight and even murder. This he calls “friendship with the world,” and this friendship he considers adultery. We make ourselves enemies with God when we choose what is antithetical to God and his ways. James takes his language from God himself through the prophets and Christ himself. Hosea was told by God, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD” (Hos 1:2). Mark tells us that Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will shamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mk 8:38).
James goes on to say that in spite of our adultery, God, “gives us more grace,” and while he “opposes the proud,” he “shows favor to the humble” (Ja 4:6). Thus we are able to repent and draw near to God for forgiveness. “Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (Ja 4:10).
The world is an amazing place by nature of the fact that God created it and called it good. It has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, but not yet fully restored. If we live in it, but not of it, as sojourners left here in order to be a blessing and continue Jesus’ ministry, who left his throne in heaven to come down to bless the world, then we can find our way here as friends of God.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of James 4:4
#1 “You adulterous people,”
Those who love the world, do so in a way that precludes love and fidelity to God. We cannot have two masters (Mt 6:24), and we cannot have two husbands.
#2 “don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?”
“Friendship with the world” means that one loves the ways of the fallen world, the dominion of darkness and of Satan (Col 1:13). It is not possible to love what is anti-God and also love God. It is not logical, and so it is impossible.
#3 “Therefore anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Care must be taken on this point. Jesus Christ came into the world as a friend, to seek and save what was lost. It is a great kindness to offer up himself because he “so loved the world” (Jn 3:16). The kindest and most loving thing is to oppose the world with urgency, calling men and women to repent and turn and be saved. But to choose “to be a friend of the world” is to approve of and participate in the sin of the world. Nowhere does God call his set-apart people to become like the world, rather, we are to be different from the world.
Bible Study on James 4:4
Expert Overview of James
Biblical Translations of James 4:4
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.
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
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.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.