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. — James 4:4
How does God view a believer who once walked with Him and knew the power of the Holy Spirit but has now become so entangled in the world that he hardly ever picks up his Bible to read it, rarely prays, and comes to church only if it “fits” into his schedule of things to do? How does God look on it when a believer departs from the red-hot spiritual passion he once possessed and turns his devotion to other things?
James 4:4 says, “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.” This verse tells us exactly how God feels about a believer who wanders away from Him.
I want you to notice the word “is” in this verse. It is from the Greek word kathistemi, which means to constitute or to render. This is very important, for it alerts us to the fact that when a believer chooses to take a worldly path, he sets himself in direct opposition to the godly path God desires for him. As a result of the choices he has made, he has rendered, constituted, or caused himself to become the “enemy” of God.
I know that the word “enemy” is strong, so let’s see what it means. The word “enemy” is the Greek word echthros. This word is usually used to describe enemies in a war or enemies in a military conflict. It is the picture of two nations who are in opposition to one another and have therefore engaged in a military conflict. They are warring nations. They feel hostility, antagonism, and even animosity toward each other.
In Luke 23:12, the word echthros is used to communicate the enmity and animosity that existed between Pilate and Herod Antipas before they became allies at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. Prior to forming their new alliance, Pilate and Herod Antipas were fiercely hostile toward one another. Jealousy and competition raged between these two men. They were enemies.
So the meaning of the word echthros in James 4:4 is unquestionable. It is the picture of a hostile force. But now James uses this word to express the feelings and emotions that God possesses toward a believer who transfers his devotion and passion from Him to the world. By using this word, James tells us that if a believer chooses to make his relationship with the world a greater priority than his relationship with God, he is making a choice that will put him in direct opposition to God. In fact, the word echthros lets us know that God takes this decision so personally that He views it as an act of war! To God, this is the ultimate violation!
I realize that Romans 8:31 says, “…If God be for us, who can be against us?” But by the same token, if God takes a stand against us and our activities because our actions are wrong, our plans and pursuits will be frustrated and paralyzed, and we will not succeed in our endeavors. God is not against us being blessed or having a lot of possessions. But He is against whatever takes His place in our hearts. When the things of the world move from our hands into our hearts, that is the violation that concerns God the most!
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” According to these words of Jesus, it is impossible for us to give our hearts simultaneously to two masters. We must choose whom we are going to serve: God or mammon.
“Mammon” was an expression used by the Jewish community of New Testament times to express the idea of worldliness. So when Jesus said it was impossible to serve God and mammon, He was actually saying that it is impossible to serve both God and worldliness.
The word “serve” is the Greek word doulos, which describes a servant or a slave. This word was used to denote a servant who had become a slave for the rest of his life. This servant’s lifetime responsibility was to “service” his master with all his attention, time, and energy. In other words, he catered to his master’s every wish, desire, or demand. He was there to help, assist, and fulfill his master’s wants and dreams to the exclusion of all else. This servant’s entire existence was to “service” his master in whatever way the master asked or demanded.
Let me give you this example. When you purchase a car or a washing machine, these machines will operate for a while without your attention. However, a time comes when you must give your attention to them in order to keep them in good working order. And if you own a house or apartment, you know that a home requires all kinds of time, attention, energy, and money in order to keep it in good shape. In other words, all these natural possessions must be “serviced.”
When Jesus told us, “…Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” He was telling us that both God and mammon require time, attention, energy, and money. Jesus knew that there is not enough of you and me to properly “service” both God and worldliness in our lives. Hence, we must choose which master we are going to serve. Once that decision is made, we must then “…hate the one and love the other….”
To truly serve God, you must spend time with Him so you can know His voice and develop a pattern of obedience in your daily walk. It will demand your fullest attention. The work of God must be “serviced’ with prayer, obedience, repentance, and worship.
If a person chooses to serve “mammon” (worldliness) instead of the Lord, he will have to turn his attention and devotion to the world. As a worldly person, he will be required to learn the ways of the world and to adapt to the thinking of the world. Serving the world and worldliness requires 100 percent of a person’s attention.
Just as serving God requires your time, attention, energy, and money, the world will demand the same from you. This is why Jesus said it isn’t possible to serve both God and mammon. You see, there just isn’t enough of you to serve both of these masters simultaneously, so you must choose whom you are going to serve.
So let me ask you this: Whom are you serving in your life right now? What most requires your time and attention? Can you truthfully say you are giving God your fullest attention and that the chief priority in your life is to serve and obey Him? Or must you confess that worldly pursuits, possessions, and corporate success consume your thoughts and energies?
If you are consumed with God, these other things will take a lower place on your list of priorities. But if you are consumed with the world, material things will dominate the landscape of your mind. So just stop and ask yourself, What do I think about more than anything else in life? Your answer will probably tell you whom you are serving the most with your heart.
James 4:6 tells us that God takes a stand against a believer who turns his devotion to the world and becomes worldly. In fact, it says God “resists” such believers. The word “resist” is the Greek word antitasso — a military term that means to militarily order one’s self against someone else. This is no accidental, fly-by-night plan of resistance but a well-planned, prepared resistance.
This emphatically declares that God takes it so personally when a believer turns his devotion from Him to the world that He sets Himself in opposition to that believer. Like a military commander, God reviews the situation; then He decides how to resist and frustrate the things this believer is trying to achieve and thus bring him to a place of surrender.
If this believer does not quickly surrender, repent, and come back to where he ought to be, God will continue to take a stand against his activities. The Christian can rebuke the devil all day long, but it will be to no avail, for his problem isn’t the devil — his problem is God!
It doesn’t matter how smart that person is, how many talents and gifts he possesses, or how hard he works to achieve his goals, things just won’t work out right because God is standing in opposition to him, frustrating every step he takes in order to get his attention and help him get his priorities back in divine order.
As terrible as this resistance sounds, it is a manifestation of God’s grace! By blocking our way and resisting our choices, the precious Holy Spirit endeavors to get our attention and to bring us to a sweet place of brokenness where sin is confessed and fellowship with God is restored.
You see, God is so passionate about your relationship with Him that He is unwilling to share you with the world. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a job or be successful. In most cases, you must have a job, and God wants you to be successful. But if you switch your allegiance from God to the world around you, God views that as the ultimate violation in His sight. It is the very act that causes Him to decide to rise up and to do something to bring you back to where you ought to be!
So I advise you to take a good look at your life and make sure your priorities are where they need to be! Make sure you are more aligned with the Lord than with the world around you! Otherwise, God may step forward to deliberately frustrate your plans in order to bring you back to where you ought to be!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I am running to You! I want to be as close to You as I can possibly be! I don’t want even the smallest hint of worldliness in my life. I want to be like You, to think like You, and to please You in every part of my life — my family, my job, my relationships, and my finances. Holy Spirit, if there is any part of me that has been influenced wrongly by the world, I ask You to please show it to me and help me get it corrected.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am on fire for Jesus Christ! I am alive to God and dead to the world around me. Nothing means more to me than pleasing Jesus. Every day of my life, I live to serve Him and to do His will. Although I live in the world, I am not of the world. I am a citizen of Heaven, living with eternity at the forefront of my mind!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Has there ever been a time when you unintentionally allowed your devotion to slip away from the Lord as your attention was drawn to the world around you?
2. What did you do to get back to where you needed to be with the Lord?
3. During that time when you wandered away from the Lord, did you sense that God was supernaturally working behind the scenes to get your attention and to bring you back home spiritually?