Why is Friendship with the World Enmity with God? (James 4:4)
What does it mean that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
James 4:4 says: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
There are many Scriptures which generally state that the world hates God and the kingdom of God. The world is in rebellion against the word of God and the moral and spiritual values that are promoted by the Bible.
“The world” can be defined as a system of beliefs, values and practices which are created and managed by satan in order to blind and prevent people from having a genuine and obedient relationship with God.
The Bible states that satan is “the god of this world”.
2 Corinthians 4:4 says: In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
This means that satan as the “god of this world” has systems which he has created to blind unbelievers from knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and having a relationship with God.
So the world and its value systems are designed to blind and prevent people from a genuine relationship with God. The world and its value systems are designed to be in opposition with God and His kingdom.
And this is why James 4:4 states that “a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”.
Romans 12:2 says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Therefore Christian believers are instructed to avoid conforming to the belief systems and practices of this world, but rather Christians should discern the will of God through having a renewed mind in Christ.
So what are the belief systems and practices of the world? How do we discern between the things of the world and the things of God?
Ultimately the only way we can discern between the world’s value systems and God’s value systems is when we have knowledge and understanding of God’s word and when we are in true relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. The Bible is ultimately the standard by which every Christian must live by. So Christians are required to conform to the word of God rather than conform to the world.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
5 Characteristics About the World
1. The World’s Moral Views
We live in a world which has been promoting many value systems which oppose the word of God. For example, such moral value systems promoted by the world include homosexuality, abortion, same-sex marriage, transgenderism and all manner of sexual immorality.
Other examples of the world’s moral value systems are found in Galatians 5:19-21 where a list of the “works of the flesh” are mentioned.
So there are many other moral issues in which the world is in opposition with God because the world by nature, enjoys a lifestyle of sin and rebellion against God.
So we live in a world where there is moral decay. What was once good and godly is now declared to be bad and evil, whilst the things which were once evil are now promoted as being good.
Isaiah 5:20 says: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
So the world promotes evil moral systems as being good and rejects moral Biblical standards as being evil.
2. The World’s Spiritual Views
Because satan is the god of this world, this means that the world automatically rejects God’s spiritual values and teachings.
Instead satan has created many counterfeit doctrines and false religions in order to oppose and counter the Gospel and the word of God.
Colossians 2:8 says: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Examples of false spiritual belief systems and doctrines include universalism, New Age spirituality, atheism, pantheism, humanism, law of attraction, false gospels and all forms of idolatry.
So the world has many religions and belief systems which reject the spiritual teachings found in the word of God. The world sees itself as capable of making its own rules and standards without the input of the Lord. It is because this rejection of God by the world, that the world is at enmity with God.
3. The World is Materialistic & Temporary
Generally the value systems of the world are designed to satisfy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
1 John 2:16-17 says: For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Therefore the world and its desires and passions are temporary. Even the economic and financial systems of this world are not designed according to godly values. Economies and businesses can fail or collapse and the economic systems of this world are mostly designed to make the rich more richer whilst the poor suffer.
The world system is designed to praise and promote outward appearances and an attitude of narcissism rather than promoting godly inward character and virtues.
Furthermore the world is focused mostly on what it can see and touch. It focuses on self-gratification and on temporary materialistic issues that ultimately do not lead to everlasting life.
4. The World’s View of Jesus Christ
The world perceives Jesus Christ as the enemy. Therefore the world has total hatred for Christ and it hates all the values that He represents.
In John 15:18 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you”.
The world does not only hate Jesus – but it also hates the followers of Jesus Christ. Therefore the Bible warns that anyone who is a follower of Jesus will face persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12 says: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
In John 15:19 Jesus says: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
As long as sin exists, the systems of the world will never agree with the word of God. The world has embraced a lifestyle of sin.
However Jesus Christ died on the cross – not for the systems of this world – instead Christ was crucified for the people who live in this world.
John 3:16-17 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
Anyone who does not have Jesus Christ in his/her life is at enmity with God. However, the only way we can avoid being at enmity with God is when we believe and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. It is through Jesus Christ that mankind is reconciled with God because Jesus alone serves as the Mediator between God and man. It is Jesus Christ who saves us and transforms us from being enemies of God to becoming sons and daughters of God (John 1:12).