Spiritual Adultery

Scripture: James 4:4, ‘You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.’


Observations: After talking about praying with wrong motives James gets even blunter. He calls people who befriend the world ‘adulterous people.’ James borrows an idea that is found all through the Old Testament, that to love anyone or anything other than God, or alongside of God is to commit adultery (cf. Ezek 6:9; 16:32; Hos 1:2). Jesus also refers to his fellow Jews as ‘a wicked and adulterous generation. (Mt 12:39; 16:4)’ Just as a wife or husband shows contempt towards their spouse by having an affair, so we show contempt towards God by befriending the world. James isn’t referring to people, but to worldly values and worldly desires. Anyone who prefers the values of this world over God ‘becomes an enemy of God.’ In the Greek the word ‘becomes’ is passive, which means that it is God who designates us as his enemies because of the choices we make.


Application: Jesus said that we are to be in the world, but not of the world (Jn 17:15-19). How separate are you from the world? Do you put God before and above everything else? In what ways might you love the world more than God? Maybe instead of turning to God for our comfort, or security, or hope, we turn to other people, or money, or sex, or something else. How often do you commit spiritual adultery?


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, often the things of this world distract me from my relationship with You. Lord, protect me from Satan, who uses the things of this world to tempt me to turn away from You and instead put my hope in myself, or in things other than Your Son, Jesus Christ. Lord, help me to reach out to other people in this world, but because You are my friend may I remain an enemy of this world and it’s values. Lord, help me to be faithful to You in all things for as long as I live. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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