December 10 I Friday
“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.” —James 4:4
The opening verse of this devotion may seem harsh, but Scripture must always be understood within its context. James is speaking of the battles we face, and is not referring to “the world” as a geographic location, but to the principles by which this world operates and functions.
As the flesh is all that we are apart from God, the world is all that we are corporately apart from God. James says the principle by which this world functions is “earthly wisdom,” which leads to envy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice (James 3:15-16). It operates on the tangible—what we see, feel, hear, touch and smell—and it is the tangible that prompts us to think and act the way we do. If we live by the principles of this world, we will find ourselves living in conflict with the principles and values of God. This amounts to what James calls “spiritual adultery.”
A recurring theme in Scripture is that the people of God are married to Him. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah tells us, “For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 54:5). Jeremiah 3:14 says, “‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I am your husband.’” In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom. Paul writes, “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him” (2 Corinthians 11:2). As Christians, we are being groomed as the bride of Christ, and to flirt with the world, living by its standards is, as James says, to commit adultery against God.
The pull of this world is overwhelming and can be intense. Our nature is such that we want the luxury and recognition that attaining worldly things will give us, so how do we free ourselves from this worldly pull? What is the corrective measure to flirting with the world? If we are to become the bride of Christ, there is no alternative but the ongoing development of a love relationship with Him. We did not initiate this; we are responders to it, as 1 John 4:19 goes, “We love because He first loved us.”
When we allow Christ to work in our lives, His nature will increasingly take over ours. Not only do we become content with what we have, but the pull of this world begins to pale in comparison to consciously living every new day with Jesus Christ. Instead of a mad fight to attain what we want, we live with wonderful anticipation of how Jesus will work through us today. The antidote to spiritual adultery is actually being in love with God, and as we respond, He gives and keeps on giving in a way the world never can.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, grant me a mindset that steers me away from what the world offers, and a heart that completely belongs to You. Thank You, Father.