What a mess. James calls out the people that he is writing to saying that they are adulterous. They have been unfaithful to their true husband, the bridegroom, Christ himself, and instead have become friends with the world.
To be adulterous means that we are unfaithful to the one to whom we are truly married. It means that we say that we are married to one and yet in our actions we have given ourselves to another. This is what James is saying that the Christians are doing. We have said that we are married to Christ, but in reality we are giving ourselves to the world. We have become adulterous, unfaithful to the one that we are married to.
So James says that this has happened to believers. We have become adulterous. We have become unfaithful. We have become friends with the world and its ways, and in so doing, we have become enemies of God.
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
Whew… We’re supposed to be believers in Christ. We are supposed to be the bride of Christ. We are supposed to be wedded to him, and we say that we are. We have committed ourselves to him. But the reality is that we have become God’s enemies because we are sleeping around with the world.
What are the ways of the world?
Money. Power. Fame. Personal fulfillment in sex and self. These, and much more, are the ways that we run to the ways of the world. These are the ways that we put off our friendship with God, our marriage to Christ, and instead become adulterous to the things of the world.
We depend upon the world instead of upon God. We look for our problems to be resolved in the ways of the world instead of upon God. We want what WE want instead of what God wants. We think of our kingdoms above all else instead of God’s Kingdom. And this is normal for us. This is our everyday life.
And of course this is far from what God desires. This is far from what God wants for us, and that is James point. We should repent and turn back to God, leaving behind our adulterous ways and friendship with the world, instead returning back to Christ, our first love, and finding all that we need with him.