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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

FRIEND OR ENEMY

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Seemingly, James is addressing those committing the sin of adultery. The Revised Standard Version of the bible indicates James is referring to unfaithful creatures. The New International Version says adulterous people. Most bible scholars agree that James does not use the word, adulterers, but, in this verse, addresses mankind collectively, as adulteresses - brides that had committed an adulterous-like sin. Spiritual adultery is meant with the bride leaving the spouse and committing fornication with the world. From John 3:29 and Revelations 21:9 we know that the bride is the body of Christ, which is His church, and the groom is Jesus Christ, Himself. .

God extended His love to the world by sending His Son, Jesus Christ into the world, that, through obedience, the world is offered the hope of eternal salvation. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17). It is evident that a friendship develops between God and each person of the world that accepts Jesus as His Son and their personal Savior. This friendship is alienated when that person, recognized here as the bride, leaves the Bridegroom and becomes friends with sinners of the world.

The world, referred to in the lesson text, is not the physical world created at the beginning of time. What James is referring to are the sinful people of the world, and comparing them to the righteous people of God. All people inhabiting the world are found in one of two categories - they are either "of God" or they are "of the world". These two groups are diametrically opposed to one another. This verse bears this opposition out. A "friend of the world" is an "enemy of God", and a "friend of God" is an "enemy of the world.

The phrase enmity with God, suggests a strong feeling of opposition, bitterness, or hostility toward God. It can be concealed or openly displayed with verbal or physical acts of aggression. This opposition is demonstrated when one refuses to accept, and honor God as their Creator, rejects His Son as the Savior of the world, and is disobedient to His will as revealed in the New Testament. One at enmity with God is one that, in effect, declares war against God by being friendly with, and allied to, the Satan-led enemies of God.

This lesson teaches us that we are not to be friends with God's enemies. There are many enemies, but for this lesson, three will be mentioned here. The first enemy of God is the world, which has been partially discussed above. To be worldly, is to be ungodly. Worldly people have opposing characteristics to those of Christians. The world, then, is a society that is steeped in beliefs, conducts, and thoughts that are opposed to godliness. Accepting the tenets of this worldly society, makes one an enemy of God.

The second enemy of God is the flesh. Verses 1, 2, 3, and 5, teach us that fleshly lusts, inordinate desires, and envy lead us to contention, fighting and wars with fellow human beings, and among members of the body of Christ. Remember this - there always has been, there is at this present time, and there always will be in the future, worldly people that have accumulated great possessions. Outwardly they seem to have greater happiness and prosperity. The "world" says that we are to be envious of other's possessions. This is contrary to the Spirit of God, which says we are to be joyous for the success of others and compliment their achievements.

The third enemy of God is the devil. Satan is the source of many temptations, but the greatest could very will be pride. Pride causes contention and strife (Proverbs 13:10), and leads to ruin and destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Giving in to self-pride, one becomes a friend of Satan and an enemy of God.

Are you a friend or enemy of God? Do you love God or the world? The answer given by the apostle John pleads with each of us, to recognize, and avoid, Satan's worldly temptations. Instead we are to love God, learn His will, and obey His commandments. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).