James 4:4-6: “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. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”
Have you ever tried to mix oil and water? Interestingly, if you mix them and then leave them to sit for a bit, they separate again.
You might say, water is intolerant of oil… There has been a lot of talk about tolerance the past few years, but what does it mean?
Intolerant simply means not enduring; not enduring difference of opinion or worship; refusing to tolerate others in the enjoyment of their opinions, rights, and worship (Webster, 1828).
What are some things that you don’t tolerate?
There are certain things that God cannot tolerate either. Anything that runs counter to His nature is something God doesn’t endure. Any type of sin is something that can’t even be in the presence of God. As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, we should seek to understand what He can’t tolerate and then avoid aligning our lives with those things. By doing so, we align our life with God.
In this passage from James, we see how God is intolerant of two heart attitudes.
There are many more things, but let’s focus on these, one at a time.
God is intolerant of RIVALS (vv. 4-5)
In the Old Testament, Israel is often referred to as adulteresses.
Jeremiah 3:20: “‘But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,’ declares the LORD.”
Ezekiel 16:32: “You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!”
The church that James is writing to had committed spiritual adultery. They had been unfaithful. The church is the bride of Christ. In the covenant of marriage, there is NO FLIRTING, no inappropriate relationships—nothing on the side. We are to be laser-focused in our devotion to our spouse and no other. The same goes in our covenant with God
However, we live in a fallen world, surrounded by opportunities to sin. James paints a vivid picture of what a life dedicated to the world looks like and results in.
Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?
This friendship is the emotional type, an attachment to something, in this case, the world.
In the Bible, the “World” is a system; the people constituting the world whose values, beliefs, and morals are in distinction and rebellion to God. Those who have rejected Christ.
We know that this is a choice…. A deliberate choice, something we set our mind on.
Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to?”
There is no middle ground. If you are in the world, you will be stained by the world; the world will influence you.
I heard a story about a guy sitting on the fence between God’s land and Satan’s. After a few hours of indecision, Satan walked by and told the man to follow him. The man tried to explain that he hadn’t decided. Satan simply said, “Yes, you have, I own the fence.”
The goal of the world is self-glory, self-fulfillment, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction, self self self.
Adultery results in pain, heartache, distrust, bitterness, hurt, tears…
A man who commits adultery says this to his children: “Your mother is not worth much. Your father is a cheat and a liar. Honor is not as important as pleasure. My satisfaction is more important than you.”
In this case, though, it sets us up as enemies of God… Let that sink in for a minute.
When we deliberately choose the world, we become enemies of God. An enemy is someone who hates another and wishes them injury.
We declare war on God.
We stand in defiance of GOD.
Stop running around on God.
If you take the Word of God seriously, you have to stop being friends with the world and pursue God. Stop running after the world and start running after God. He is jealous for the Spirit that is in the heart of every believer.
In John 15:16, Jesus calls us friends! How can this be? Those who have decided to follow Christ are no longer friends with the world, but friends with God. And friends seek to please one another.
The divided allegiance in our hearts brings disaster to us and dishonor to God.
God wants us all to Himself.
This isn’t a try harder moment, either. We need to recognize that God will not tolerate rivals in our hearts and lives, and, as we will learn next, we are to submit to Him, draw near to Him.
Some questions to consider:
-Why is God intolerant of anything in our lives that takes His place?
-Are you committed spiritual adultery? Are you cheating on God?
-Is your heart’s allegiance divided?