The greeting to God’s people.

Greetings in the name above every other name, the name of Christ Jesus. He is the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. (I Tim.6:15, Rev.17:14, Rev.19:16) We praise and adore Him for rescuing us from Satan and from sin. What a mighty and a merciful Savior He is. (Gal.1:4, Col.1:13)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have come together today to study the word of God. May I say, as professing Bible believing Christians, it is one thing to “say” that we live upon the Word, but it is a markedly different thing to actually (try to) “live” upon the word of God in practice. Let’s prove ourselves effectual hearers and doers of God’s word. Let’s be those that truly tremble in holy reverence and awe at God’s word. (James 1:22-27, Isa.66:5, Heb.12:28)

The word of God to God’s people.

We are continuing in our James study. Today is our sixteenth study. If you were with us for our last study, you remember that we read James 4:1-6 and then we examined James 4:1-3. Today we will consider James 4:4-6. Please open your Bibles and read along as I read. Hear the holy word of God, read.

James 4:1. What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

James 4:5. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 

The prayer of God’s people.

God tells us to humble ourselves before Him then in due time He Himself will exalt us. Well, let’s humble ourselves before Him in prayer, coming as loving children to our loving heavenly Father asking Him to bless our time in His word today, pray. (James 4:10, I Pt.5:6, Mt.23:12, 2 Chron.7:14, Lk.14:11, Phil.2:1-11)

The correction of worldliness.

James is dealing with a problem, a sin problem among the professing Christians that he is writing to. I will say, the problem they wrestle with is a problem that we also wrestle with even though we are two thousand years removed from these people. (I Cor.10:1-14) There is nothing new under the sun beloved. Their failure and God’s correction is written for our instruction. (Rom.15:4) May we have ears to hear.

The problem of worldliness.

The sin problem is clearly identified in verse four under the term “the world”. Worldliness is the sin problem being addressed here.

The definition of worldliness.

This was the general definition for worldliness that we gave in the last study, worldliness or of being worldly or being friends with the world is to think and to act in devotion to this world and to neglect spiritual or religious truths, to be more concerned with temporal things than with eternal things, to be more concerned with self-pleasure in this life than meeting God in the next life.

This world is a world of unbelief being duped by Satan and it tempts our flesh nature to unbelief. (2 Cor.4:4, Isa.44:18, Eph.2:1-3, I Pt.5:9)

The unbelief of worldliness.

Last week we looked at worldliness as wrong thoughts and wrong desires. I suppose we would say worldliness is thinking (and acting) like an unbeliever. Worldliness is reasoning without faith in the God of the Bible or thinking contrary to the Bible.

May I say that Christians become worldly and unbelieving by giving their thoughts and affections to the world for three main reasons.

If you do not hear another thing I say in this study, please-please get this. Number one, we grow worldly because we do not read the Bible daily. Number two, we become worldly because we do not pray daily. Number three, we become worldly we do not worship weekly. Remember what God tells us in Galatians chapter six, what we sow is what we reap. Sow to the world, reap worldliness.

Beloved, Satan and sin are crouching right at our door every day, trying to make us defect to the unbelieving world, to think like the unbeliever and to act like the unbeliever. (Gen.4:7, I Pt.5:8)

Oh beloved, draw near to God in those three means of grace, Bible, prayer, and worship. Please feed your faith in Christ. We are in a spiritual battle. Please live like it. (Eph.6:10-18)

The condemnation of worldliness.

Today we will look at the condemnation of worldliness. By thinking like an unbelieving worldling we are making ourselves like them, so God calls us by their names – adulteress and an enemy of God.

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Again, as we have seen James do elsewhere (and the apostle Paul does this regularly) he puts his correction in the form of a question, do you not know?  

The idea is that these professing Christians have grown unthinking. God wants them to think, to consider, to live for Him with purpose and understanding. You see as Believers we cannot “just go with the flow” as the saying goes. To just go along with the crowd is to be swelt away in worldliness. To live godly requires faith and faithfulness, purpose, activity. Beloved before we look at something, say something, hear something we should think, and ask ourselves is this pleasing to God or is this worldly or fleshly?

The charge of God against His Bride.

What a stunning thing the Holy Spirit inspires James to call these professing Christians.  You adulteresses!  God inspired James to call the Bride of Christ an adulteress!

Of course, this would not mean every member. This refers to the worldly Christian, Christians sowing to their flesh nature. But how shocking! And how very, very sad.

And sadly, this is not a new charge against the professing people of God. God in the Old Testament also charged His professing people that they were acting like a faithless wife, that they were acting like a spiritual prostitute! Listen to this.

Hosea 2:2. Contend with your mother (Israel), contend, For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; And let her put away her harlotry from her face And her adultery from between her breasts, 3 Or I will strip her naked And expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, Make her like desert land And slay her with thirst. 4 “Also, I will have no compassion on her children, Because they are children of harlotry. 5 “For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’

The true prophet of God and friend of sinners.

James clearly is no man-pleaser.

God inspires James to tell these sinning Christians the hard truth about themselves. They are acting like a spiritual adulteress! You see James fears God more than he fears man. And by these hard words James is also showing that he really loves God and he really loves these sinning Christians. He loves them so much he tells them the truth, a truth designed to make them repent and reform.

This is like Christ. Christ is the Truth. Christ speaks the truth. His true ministers are also to speak the truth – in love. (Eph.4:15) I want you to think about some of the hard words that Jesus tells the seven churches in Revelation two and three. Hard but true. Hard but helpful – if received in faith.

Revelation 2:4. But I have this against you (Church of Ephesus), that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.

The false prophet of God and enemy of sinners.

How different from a false prophet or a false minister. These men just give the people what they want to hear. So sinning people gather sinning ministers to tell them that God says “peace-peace” to you, enjoy your sin, all is well! (Ezek.16:10, Jer.8:11, Jer.6:14, Ezek.34:1-5, Mt.7:15, 2 Pt.2:1, 2 Cor.11:13-15)

False teachers are man-fearers and not God-fearers. (Prov.29:25) They give the people what they want to hear. (2 Tim.4:3-4) And the people give the false teacher what he wants, honor and money (and a platform to get women). (2 Pt.2:14-15, Jude 1:10-16) God hates this. It dishonors Him. And leaves sinners under the threat of damnation.

But as painful as these words are, they are gracious and good for those that will receive them in faith.

Listen to God’s word.

Proverbs 27:5. Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed.  6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Let’s see how James started his epistle.

James 1:1. James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.  2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So, on one hand James can speak to the visible church according to their profession, they are Christians.

But he can also speak to them according to their practice, they have stumbled in sin, and they are acting like unbelievers. As I say, he cannot mean each and every professing Christian. There are goats among the sheep, unbelievers among the Believers. And even true Christians still struggle with sin. (Gal.6:1-5)

Listen to the Risen Christ.

Revelation 2:14. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.  15 ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  16 ‘Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

The disloyalty of the worldly Christian – adulteress Bride.

Let’s look at little bit at the disloyalty that God is charging against His people. 

Adultery can only occur within a marriage.  God is the Husband to His people, His Bride. (Ezek.16:8) Christ also refers to Himself as the Bridegroom and the church, the Bride. (Mt.19: 9, 18)

Paul says the Christian is married to Christ. John in the book of Revelation says Believers are also married to Christ. Christ is the Bridegroom. The church of true Believers is His Bride.  (2 Cor.11:2, Eph.5:22-25, Rev.19:7, 21:9)

We already looked at a passage from Hosea chapter two. Let’s look at Hosea again.

Hosea 1:2   When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.” (Isa.1:21, 50:1, 57:3, Jer.2:2)

Sometimes in the Old Testament God would accuse His professing people of acting like unbelievers or like Gentile heathens by the phrase “a-whoring after other gods”. (Ps.73:27) 

(KJV) Exodus 34:14. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. (Lev.17:7, 20:5, Num.15:39, Dt.31:16, Jg.2:17, I Chron.5:25, Ps.73:27, 106:39, Ezek.23:20, Hos.4:12, 9:1)

Jesus called the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the scribes – the teachers of the Law, a wicked and adulterous generation. Remember spiritual adultery (which is spiritual apostasy) can only be committed by people within the visible household of faith, within the visible church. (Mt.16:4, Mk.8:38)

Matthew 12:39  But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; Christ is the Bridegroom, the Husband, and the Church is His Bride.

God is saying that thinking, feeling, speaking and behaving like an unbelieving worldling is spiritual adultery. And remember people that live in “habitual” sin prove that they are not converted to Christ. Spiritual adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor.6:9-11)

The jealously of God – holy Husband.

Let’s consider the holy jealousy of God our holy Husband. 

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

He is appealing to the common sanctified sense of these professing believers.  What husband allows a wife to have a paramour?!  And what do you think of such a wife that does these things?  And what do you think the husband’s reaction would be?

The Bible says, for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exod.34;14, Josh.24:19)

God is jealous for Himself, for His honor, for His holy Name. (Ezek.39:25)  He will not allow Himself to be mocked.  God is jealous for the love of His Bride.  God cannot tolerate an interloper.  And God also says in connection with his jealousy that He is a consuming fire. (Dt.4:24)

This means that God would bring the adulteress and adulterer to judgment. He will treat them as His enemy!

Exodus 20:5. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Gen.5:9, Zech.1:14, 8:2)

2 Corinthians 11:2  For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

The enmity of the worldly Christian – apostate friend.

Now God tells the worldly Christian that in embracing the world (against God) he or she makes themselves an enemy of God! Stunning. Frightening.

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Romans 8:6. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 

As we have said, the world represents the entire human system or society apart from God, the world of unbelief, the world in rebellion, the world that is not governed by the Bible.  Bible-less institutions, Bible-less thinking, Bible-less families, societies, values, etc.

The apostle Paul wrote about a man named Demas that forsook Christ and departed from Christ’s church because he loved this present world. (2 Tim.4:10)

How this looks in a professing Christian is they agree with the world’s thinking as opposed to God’s thinking.  Pick a subject marriage, divorce, homosexuality, worship, lying, holiness, heaven, hell, etc.

Look at what kind of lifestyle worldliness produces. People speaks of our worldliness prior to conversion. Why would we return like a dog to the vomit to these kinds of things? (2 Pt.2:22)

Titus 3:3. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. (Eph.2:1-3)

There is a great war going on with two radically different and opposing sides. Each side means to destroy the other side. If you are a friend of the world you will study ways to please the world. If you are a friend of God, you will study ways to please God.

Listen to the apostle Paul.

Galatians 1:10. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Listen to what God tells us about living as a holy spiritually separated people.

2 Corinthians 6:14. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

We can use the world, but we cannot be friends with the world. (I Cor.7:29-31)

We are in the world, but we are not of the world. (Jn.17:16-18)

And then James is frighteningly clear to these world-loving Christians, that if you love the one, you will hate the other. (Mt.6:24) There is no gray area.  No middle position. Think of this, does the unbelieving world like it when you are friends of God, of Christ, of Scripture, and of holiness? You know the answer. A resounding – No! The world wants you to choose unbelief and sin.

God wants us to choose. Choose this day, right now. Serve God. Or serve the world. Be hot or be cold. God hates a luke-warm half-Christian. (Rev.3:16-18, Josh.24:15, I Cor.7:31-33, I Pt.4:2)

This means that the true Christian has to be radically different than the world, than the culture.  We are to be a holy and distinct person in how we think, speak, and act. (2 Cor.11:2, Jn.17:16-18, I Jn.2:15-17)

We are to reject the so-called secular outlook of the world. Because we know that it is not neutral to God, it is anti-God.

The scripture proof that God opposes the pride of worldliness.

V.5, 6.  Let’s conclude by James uses OT Scripture to show us that worldliness is an expression of sinful pride. 

Proverbs 3:33. The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. 34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted. 35 The wise will inherit honor, But fools display dishonor. (Gen.6:3, Gen.8:21)

1 Peter 5:5. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.  6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.

Worldliness is the pride of man against God. Worldliness is like the builders of Babel. Worldliness says to God, I am my own god, and lord, and savior, and govern. I am the source of my own happiness.

God hates people with haughty eyes. God hates the person with a proud heart. (Prov.6:17, 16:5) Pride causes quarrels. (Prov.13:10) Pride leads to destruction. (Prov.16:18) This is because pride elevates self over God.  Pride clings to self and rejects grace.

Since God hates pride, the Believer must hate pride and seek by God’s grace to humble himself under the mighty hand of God.

Isaiah 66:2   For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

Beloved I want you to think of these things.

For the professing Christian that leaves his or her first love for the world (Judas, Demas) for a time they will be in the majority. And the world will love them and not persecute them for Christ’s sake. The world will love their own, the world will agree with their Bible-less thinking and unholy living, but only for a time. (Jn.15:18-20)

A time is coming when all their worldly friends will abandon them and they will stand alone before God, their enemy.  How dreadful to fall into the hands of the Living God. (Heb.10:31)

A time is coming when God will destroy the world and all its things with fiery heat. A time is coming when the Babylon of this fallen world will be thrown down. (2 Pt.3:10-12, Rev.14:8, 16:19, 18:2-21, Jer.51:11, 55) 

Beloved, guard yourselves from idols. (I Jn.5:21, Eph.5:1-5)

Keep yourself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)

Remember your sins. Remember Satan. Stay close to your Savior Christ.


Study Guide.

  1. James 4:1-6 is a correction passage. Why do professing Christians need correction? Correction from what? Correction for what? What do correction passages teach us about God? (Rom.7:12-25, I Cor.10:1-14, Rom.15:4, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Heb.12:1-11, Lev.11:44-47, Ps.139:4, 2 Cor.6:14-18, WCF 2.1-2)
  1. Define the sin of worldliness. How is worldliness sowing to the flesh? How is worldliness friendship with the world? How is worldliness unbelief? (James 4:1-6, Rom.12:1-2, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Thess.4:3-5, Titus 2:12, I Jn.2:15-17, 2 Tim.4:10, Isa.13:19, Jn.8:23, Lk.4:5-8, Jn.17:14, 18:36, 15:19, Rom.8:5-13)
  1. Is it wrong or unloving of James to call professing Christians adulteresses? Why? Why not? Is it part of the minister’s calling to say such things to the professing people of God? What do we learn about the work of a minister of the word by this? What is a man-pleaser versus a God-fearer? Does James fear God more than professing Christians? Is it possible for a minister to fear professing Christians more than God? Why? How would this look? What should we think of ministers that give sinning Christians what they want? (James 4:1-6, Hosea 2:2-5, Eph.4:15, Rev.2:4-5, Ezek.16:10, Jer.8:11, Jer.6:14, Ezek.34:1-5, Mt.7:15, 2 Pt.2:1, 2 Cor.11:13-15, Prov.29:25, 2 Tim.4:3-4, 2 Pt.2:14-15, Jude 1:10-16, Prov.27:5)
  1. How does adultery differ from fornication? Why is adultery so sinful? Hint: what is marriage? How is worldliness an expression of spiritual adultery? (Ezek.16:1-36, Mt.19: 9, 18, 2 Cor.11:2, Eph.5:22-25, Rev.19:7, 21:9, Hosea 1:2, Isa.1:21, 50:1, 57:3, Jer.2:2, Ps.73:27, Mt.16:4, Mk.8:38)
  1. What is jealousy? What does it mean that God is our holily “jealous” God and Husband? Is God jealous? Ought a husband to be jealous for his wife? What does God’s jealousy mean towards the worldly professing Christian? (James 4:1-6, Exod.34;14, Josh.24:19, Ezek.39:25, Dt.4:24, Exod.20:5-6, Gen.5:9, Zech.1:14, 8:2, 2 Cor.11:2)
  1. How is worldliness by the professing Christian an expression of hatred of God and love of the world (over God)? Gives some examples from the Bible of professing Believers that chose the world over God. Give some examples of how worldliness has affected professing Christians. How has worldliness affected you. 😊 (James 4:1-6, Rom.8:6-7, 2 Tim.4:10, 2 Pt.2:22, Titus 3:3, Eph.2:1-3)
  1. Gives some ways in which being friends of God and being friends of the world are incompatible? Or, in what ways are these two sides opposing enemies? What is our duty as regards to these things? (Gal.1:10, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Cor.7:29-31, Jn.17:16-18, Josh.24:15, I Cor.7:31-33, I Pt.4:2, I Jn.2:15-17, Jn.15:18-20)
  1. What is (sinful) pride? In what ways does worldliness manifest the sin of pride in the life of the professing Believer? What does God think about the sin of pride? Why does He estimate pride as He does? (James 4:5, I Jn.2:15-17, Gen.6:3, Gen.8:21, Prov.6:17, 16:5, 18, Rom.12:16)
  1. What is humility of spirit? What does it mean to humble oneself before God? How is this kind of humility an expression of divine grace or gift? Why does humility please God? How is humility unlike the worldly? (James 4:5-6, I Pt.5:5-6, Isa.66:2, Mt.5:5, Mt.11:28-30, Isa.53)
  1. How can you keep yourself unstained from the world? (James 1:27, Jn.3:16, I Jn.1:7)





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