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. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:4–6, ESV)
Have you ever noticed that the Bible sometimes uses strong language? I realize that’s quite an understatement, but consider these passages:
- John the Baptist called the pretentious religious leaders of his day a “brood of vipers.”
- Jesus called them: “hypocrites,” “whitewashed tombs,” and “blind guides.”
- We are told that our good works amount to “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) when it comes to earning God’s favor. This Hebrew word is likely a reference to women’s menstrual rags!
- People who distort the gospel message are called dogs (Philippians 3:2) and their message is as destructive as spreading gangrene is to one’s body (2 Timothy 2:17)
Clearly God has no problem calling things like he sees them. A spade is a spade. That’s why in today’s passage, when he calls people who are too cozy with the world “adulterous,” it should cause us to raise our eyebrows. When we become to close and comfortable with the way our non-Christian, unbelieving world views life, we have a major problem. God says that we are spiritually sleeping around. We have walked away from our true love (God) and hopped in bed with another (the world). Adultery is always a bad thing and spiritual adultery is no different.
How do I know if I’m guilty of this? One simple and easy way is to ask two questions:
- Do I spend my time the same way non-Christians do?
- Do I spend my money the same way non-Christians do?
Those two questions will help you assess where you are. And if you find you’re in the wrong bed, guess what? There’s good news. God gives more and more grace to help us in our frailty (v. 6). If we choose to humble ourselves and admit our wrong, God’s loving favor abounds to us to get us back on track and into the right relationship . . . with Him.