Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of this world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (Jms 4:4)
[Y’all] [apostates] and [women who sleep around], [don’t you know] that [the fondness] (for) the [cosmos and everything under the sun] is [reason for opposition] with God, therefore, [whomever] is a [favorer] of this [cosmos and everything under the sun] is the [adversary] of God.
Note that the Greek word for the world was kosmos, which implies everything on the earth and everything in the sky – the whole shebang. They were definitely believers in a spiritual, or supernatural universe in which the Triune God, with Jesus as the head presiding over the heavens, was in power.
An adulterer, or in the Greek, “moikhos,” meant a male paramour; more figuratively, “apostate,” an idolater, a whore. According to Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), adulterer in this precise verse connoted “one devoted to earthly things.” James the Preacher used this language like the prophets of the Old Testament who likened the disobedient Israelites to whores who gave their affections to other gods.
Being a friend to this world is analogous to worshipping false gods and idols. By definition, “apostate” means: “one who has forsaken the church, sect or profession to which he before adhered,” (Webster 1828).
Perhaps these adulterers were still appearing in the church. James here is making it clear that if one still clung to earthly desires and values, they were no better than apostates or idolaters who had spiritually abandoned the church. James was taking the seventh commandment (“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” Exodus 20:14) and expanding its application into the spiritual world. The Lord, when He laid out the 10 Commandments for Moses was not merely talking about physical adultery, but about the imminent apostasies of His people when confronted with alternative religions.
This point remains as valid today as it was in the first century, or in the time of the prophets of Israel, or during the Mosaic epoch. God does not wanted to be “cheated on” by His subjects; but He knows equally well that it is our very nature to do so, so we must keep watch.
The startling thing is that if we are playing around with earthly loves, then we are in enmity – I like to look at that word as meaning, “enemy-ship” with God. We are being enemies with God; we are His opponents. We are working against God and we are friends with the world. Now, I love the world as God’s creation, but as a thing unto itself divorced from God and made for our own pleasure and exploitation, then no, I don’t love this world. Thomas Wilson’s A Christian Dictionary defined the world in this way, as the actual “lusts which be in the World,” or “all unregenerate men, bee they Elect or Reprobate.” In other words, men who had not yet begun to walk in Christ.
No, we must separate ourselves from these men. We must walk differently. We can try to win them to the Lord, but we cannot intermingle them to the point that we are living the same lives they live. This is convenient, lukewarm, double-mindedness, and God despises that just as a pure marriage despises the entreaties of a prostitute on their doorstep. We must shut the door on this and call out to the Lord to keep ourselves clean from more ungodly filth.
We must remember our loyalties, and our number one loyalty is to God. How can we be loyal to God and to the unregenerate denizens of the devil at the same time? How can I waver between church holiness and, let’s say, football? Football is ungodliness, it is the family man’s adultery. It is fraught with sin; it is based on man’s pride and yet millions worship this game every week instead of God. I must not be one of those men. I must indeed choose to love God and only God.