Step Towards Transformation

PART 11-James 4:4-6; How Worldly Wisdom Affects Our Relationship With God.


James 4:4-6 New King James Version (NKJV)

4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

So far, we have examined

  1. How To Respond To Trials,
  2. How To Seek Wisdom In Trials,
  3. How To Have Proper Prospective In Life,
  4. How To Understand & Defeat Temptation
  5. How To Look In The Mirror Of The Word And Be Doers Of The Word.
  6. How To Deal With The Sin Of Partiality
  7. How To Prove Your Faith With Works
  8. How To Discipline The Tongue
  9. How To Have Good Conduct With Godly Wisdom.
  10. How Worldly Wisdom Affects Our Prayers.

We observed in the last lesson the problem of worldly wisdom affects our prayers. This week we will examine another issue that is a problem area in the lives of most Christian people: How Worldly Wisdom Affects Our Relationship With God.

  • Worldly Wisdom [Friendship With The World] Is Enmity With God

James 4:4… Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Physical adultery is one thing, it does irreparable damage to most marriages, I tried to teach the youth as I ministered to them, to keep themselves Holy and Pure because their bodies belonged to their future husbands or wives, even though they probably have not met them yet.

But James is talking here about even a worse adultery and that is Spiritual adultery.

Illustration; Let’s use an illustration to cause us to think about the type of jealously that God feels when men and women don’t show their loyalty and faithfulness to God.

  • Men, how would you feel if your wife got Rs 200.00 from the man next door when she needed money to buy food for the children, instead of coming to you?
  • Or if, when she needed counsel or handy man help around the house, she asked for help from men in the neighbourhood instead of coming to you?

It would break your heart. And that is what flirting with the morals and teachings of the world does to God. It breaks His heart when we go the way of the world.  It is as if we are saying, “Lord, you are not adequate. Your way is not the right way; it’s not the best way for me.”  “I am going to have to get what I want from others.”

James says the result of this attitude is that we become adulterous and, for a good reason, God gets jealous! Friendship with the world and friendship with God is like oil and water—the two do not mix. You can’t be both at the same time. You will either be one or the other.

There are no shades of grey, here.

  • You can’t have it both ways.
  • You can’t live according to your will and desires and claim to be a follower of Christ.
  • You can’t be a part-time Christian.

If you profess to be a Christian, yet the fruit of your life shows that your commitment is to the world and to your own pleasures and desires, then you should honestly consider whether or not your faith is genuine. Because Friendship with the world is to be an enemy of God.

What Does It Mean To Have Friendship With The World?

James does not mean that you cannot have friends that are not Christians. This concept is not about individuals.

  • Friendship with the world is to adopt the world’s values and standards.
  • It is to adopt what the world wants instead of choosing according to divine standards.
  • It is to put our passions and desires ahead of the passions and desires of God.

Friendship with the world can be seen in so many areas of our lives. I will list a few things to get your mind moving down the right direction, but this is not an exhaustive list.

  • When we think like the world in terms of morality we are friends with the world and enemies of God.
  • When we have no problem with sex before marriage, adultery, and other sexual sins then we are friends with the world.
  • When our definition of modesty matches the nakedness of the world rather than the shame that God commands is friendship with the world.
  • When we have no desire to serve God, to worship God, or to gather with one another to study or fellowship, we are observing that we friends with the world.
  • Our fighting and quarrels reveal that we are enemies of God and are not friends with

When people in the world do not see us a different from them because our actions match their actions, we are friends with the world.

Now we might think it is okay to be friends with the world. We excuse these behaviours because everyone in the world is doing it. See the following questions asked to God would get an ‘Yes’ for an answer

  • God, do you want me to look different on the beach or at the pool than everyone else is wearing nearly nothing? Yes.
  • God, do you want me to be different and not live with my boyfriend or girlfriend? Yes.
  • God, do you want me to not have sexual relations before marriage? Yes.
  • God, do you want me to define right and wrong and speak against sinful activities? Yes.
  • God, do you want me to be different and remain in my marriage all my life and never divorce? Yes.
  • God, do you really want me to be faithful and pure in my marriage? Yes.

These may seem like some outlandish and difficult things, but it shows how much our thinking has been corrupted by the world. We must live by God’s social and moral standards, not the world’s. It is not okay to be like the world. This is James’ point in verse 5a


James 4:5a... Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain.

One of the reasons believers sometimes see the line between Godliness and worldliness as dim or adjustable, and one of the reasons unbelievers don’t see the line at all, a line that when crossed leads to conflict with God, is a result of man’s ignorance of the Scriptures. When we find ourselves at odds with God, it can often be attributed to our lack of knowledge of His Word.

James apparently had to deal with the problem of Scripture illiteracy, which is probably an even greater problem in the Christian church today than it was then. James had to deal with not only a certain level of ignorance to what God’s Word says, but an attitude among some in the church of just flat-out ignoring with a disobedient heart to the truths of God’s Word.

James writes in verse five, Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: By beginning the verse with the word “OR,” James lets us know that he’s going to emphasize the point he just made about asking God, about our motives in asking and then adultery, but from a different direction. James words the question in the first half of the verse in such a way as to cause his readers to look in the mirror to see how much authority the Scriptures have in their lives.

When James writes, “DO YOU THINK,” he is asking his readers if they continue to consider. It’s as if James is saying, “Do you still think the Scripture speaks to no purpose.” Theologian Ralph Martin translates the first part of verse five this way. “Or do you really imagine there is no ground in what Scripture says” (Martin, p. 149)?

In other words, James is saying, “It shouldn’t come as a shock to you that you do not receive the things you desire because you either fail to ask altogether and, if you do ask, your motives are all screwed up. Or, maybe the reason you are not satisfied is because you don’t understand or you are simply ignoring what the Scriptures teach.”

No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There is simply no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.

Illustration: A physical metaphor for firmly grasping God’s Word: The Hand. The “Hand” shows us the five methods of learning from the Bible. Each of these methods is important.


  • HEARING: Hearing the Word from Godly pastors and teachers provides us insight into others’ study of the Scriptures and stimulates our own appetites for the Word.
  • READING: Reading the Bible gives us an overall picture of God’s Word. Many find a daily reading program helpful to take them systematically through the Bible.
  • STUDYING: Studying the Scriptures leads us into personal discoveries of God’s truths. Writing down these discoveries helps us organize and remember them better.
  • MEMORIZING: Memorizing God’s Word enables us to use the Sword of the Spirit to overcome Satan and temptations, to have it readily available for witnessing or helping others with a “Word in season.”
  • MEDITATION: Meditation is the thumb of the Hand, for it is used in combination with each of the other four methods. Only as we meditate on God’s Word — thinking of its meaning and application to our lives — will we discover its transforming power at work in us. To explain how Scripture meditation goes beyond hearing, reading, studying, and even memorizing as a means of taking in God’s Word, author Donald Whitney provides the analogy of a cup of tea:

In this analogy your mind is the cup of hot water and the tea bag represents your intake of Scripture.

  • Hearing God’s Word is like one dip of the tea bag into the cup. Some of the tea’s flavor is absorbed by the water, but not as much as would occur with a more thorough soaking of the bag.
  • Reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word are like additional plunges of the tea bag into the cup. The more frequently the tea enters the water, the more permeating its effect.
  • Meditation, however, is like immersing the bag completely and letting it steep until all the rich tea flavor has been extracted and the hot water is thoroughly tinctured reddish brown. Meditation on Scripture is letting the Bible brew in the brain. Thus we might say that as the tea colors the water, meditation likewise “colors” our thinking. When we meditate on Scripture it colors our thinking about God, about God’s ways and his world, and about ourselves.

Donald Whitney, like other Christian writers with integrity, will tell you to hear, read, study, memorize, meditate on, and apply the Bible before you read their books.

Are You In Conflict With God? Maybe it’s because you do not understand God’s Word OR you are ignoring its truth. Or, maybe you still think, or you imagine, that the Scriptures are irrelevant and speak to no purpose.” If this is the way you think, then it’s, again, reasonable to ask yourself, “How genuine is my faith?”


James 4:5b  NKJV… “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

There are a number of different translations of this verse because the Greek is difficult. But I believe the ESV has the translation that makes the most sense and fits with the context the best.

James 4:5 ESV … “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”  

In other words, God is jealous FOR you. Yes. [2 Corinthians 11:2]

It is a sin when we desire, or we are envious, or we are jealous of someone because he has something that we do not have. It is a different use of the word “jealous” when God says He is jealous. What He is jealous of belongs to Him; worship and service belong to Him alone, and are to be given to Him alone.

Perhaps a practical example will help us understand the difference. If a husband sees another man flirting with his wife, he is right to be jealous, for only he has the right to flirt with his wife. This type of jealousy is not sinful. Rather, it is entirely appropriate. Being jealous for something that God declares to belong to you is good and appropriate. Jealousy is a sin when it is a desire for something that does not belong to you. Worship, praise, honor, and adoration belong to God alone, for only He is truly worthy of it. Therefore, God is rightly jealous when worship, praise, honor, or adoration is given to idols. This is precisely the jealousy the apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy…”

Perhaps this would be a good point to make the distinction between jealousy and envy.

  • Jealousy can be good or bad dependent on the object of the jealousy and the reason for the jealousy. Envy which is a completely different word in the Greek language is nearly always bad. Envy is a feeling of displeasure over the blessings someone else is enjoying.
  • Jealousy make us want what others are enjoying but envy makes us want to deprive them of that enjoyment.
  • First, The Meaning God’s Jealousy.

So what does it mean when it says that God is jealous? Is this simply a way of God using human characteristics to describe Himself? Did the translators just get this word wrong when it should have been translated merciful or something? No!  The Hebrew word translated “jealous” literally means to become intensely red. It seems to refer to the changing colour of the face or the rising heat of emotions which are associated with passion over something dear to us.

There’s a big difference between being jealous OF someone and being jealous FOR someone. True love is never jealous OF someone you love, but it is always jealous FOR the person you love. That’s what the Bible says. God says, “I’m jealous FOR you.”

  • Second, The Basis of God’s Jealousy – Love.

So if God is not jealous in the sense we have just described how is He jealous? Let me try to give an illustration to help us get the idea of what I mean.

Illustration: Men, let’s say you come home one day to find a stranger in your living room talking to your teenage daughter. He informs you that he and your daughter met in an online chat room and this man who looks to be about Thirties, says that he and your fourteen year-old daughter have determined that they are madly in love. He says that he and your daughter have decided to elope to somewhere that permits girls of her age to marry without the consent of parents and that he is there to pick her up.

Now assuming that you would be able to restrain yourself long enough to figure out what you are feeling, what you would find is that you have become jealous FOR your daughter – jealous for the affection does that not rightfully belong to this man, jealous for her safety and jealous for her future happiness. You would act swiftly, and by God’s restraining hand legally, to remove this stranger from your daughter’s life and to re-Organise her sense of proper relationships and affections.

So what can we conclude about the jealousy of God?

  • First, The jealousy of God is a good thing. For His jealousy—unlike ours—is not mixed up with weakness or sin. What we call ‘jealousy’ is mostly something else: insecurity, selfishness, and suspicion. The Lord’s jealousy, however, has none of these impurities. Yes, He’s possessive; yes He wants us for Himself; He wants us all and always. To say The Lord is a jealous God, therefore, is another way of saying God is love.
  • Secondly, The jealousy of God is to be valued. Because it means He loves us, He will protect us—it means, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”

God does not want to share you with the world. He will not share you with the world. It is unclear to me why we have a difficult time understanding that God is jealous for our lives?

Illustration: We understand it in marriage. When we marry, we are leaving family and friends at second place and the marriage is where attention rests. Something is wrong with the marriage if you are spending time with every person but your spouse. In the same way, there is something wrong if we spend our time with every person but God. We are showing our friendship with the world. We are cheating on him, rather than being united to him completely. He is jealous for us and will not accept second place. God will not accept our leftovers.


James 4:6A NKJV But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

After crushing our hearts in an effort to see that our friendship with the world has separated us from God, James says something that gives us hope. “But he gives more grace.” 

Illustration: There was a rich man and a poor man in a certain congregation. The rich man desired to do an act of goodwill, so he sent a sum of money to a friend to be given to this poor man as he thought best. This friend sent money to a poor man -only $25 and said in the note: “This is yours. Use it wisely. There is more to follow.” Again and again he sent money to the poor man, always with the cheering words, “more to follow.” So it is with the wonderful grace of God. There is always more  to follow. We shall never be able to exhaust it.

We have been listening to the wisdom of the world and become friends with the world. But God gives more grace. God can overcome our sinfulness. The point being made by James is very much like Paul’s statement in Romans 5:20&21: ” 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


James 4:6B NKJV Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

This grace comes to those who humble themselves, not to the proud.

  • There is no grace to the self-centred and those who act selfishly.
  • There is no grace to those who continue to practice Bitterness.
  • There is no grace for those who ignore his call and continue to be friends with the world.

Illustration On Selfishness: Experiment with Rats : Rats were Put in a maze. If they found way through, they would be rewarded by getting cheese. First time, the scientists made it possible and easy for the rats to get through the maze. They Got the cheese, they were happy. On subsequent trials, the scientists made it impossible to get through the maze! The rats were saying, “got to be some way to get that cheese I want!” When they couldn’t, it drove them crazy. Got over in the corner and threw a tantrum!

Same with the selfish Christian! When circumstances or people keep them from getting what they want, it makes them frustrated, angry, and unhappy! But those who humble themselves will find grace. Those who will admit that they have not been living in a way God demands and come to the Father seeking grace will find grace.


Illustration: A huge lion, was indulging for a fight when he met a monkey in the jungle.

The lion pounced on the poor monkey and said, “Who is king of the jungle?” The frightened monkey replied, “You are, O mighty lion.” The lion just wanted to hear the monkey admit it so he let him go. The next animal the lion met was a zebra. He pounced on it and roared, “Who is king of the jungle?” The Zebra screamed out, “You are, O mighty lion.” Again the lion was pleased at his recognition so he let the Zebra go. Then the lion tried to pounce on an elephant and asked him, “Who is king of the jungle?” The elephant didn’t even shy away when the lion’s claws scratched his thick skin, or say a word in reply. He just grabbed the lion around the neck with his powerful trunk, twisted him around in the air like a cowboy swinging a rope and then threw him 50 feet, flattening the King of beasts against a big tree. The lion picked himself up, dusted himself off and firmly turned to the elephant and said in a huff, “Just because you don’t know the answer is no reason to get so rough.”

Pride Is The Culprits Behind Self Seeking. It’s All About The “Big I”.

Illustration Of Pride: I’d like to relate a story that Craig Brian Larson tells of Jose Cubero, one of Spain’s most brilliant matadors, who died when he was only 21 years old after having made a tragic mistake in a bullfight. He thrust his sword a final time into a bleeding, delirious bull, which then collapsed. Considering the struggle finished, Jose turned to the crowd to acknowledge the applause. The bull, however, was not dead. It rose and lunged at the unsuspecting matador, its horn piercing his back and puncturing his heart. Pride is like that bull. Let us believe it dead only when we are.

Just as pride is the root of all sin, so humility is the root of all righteousness. James’ first requirement for those who will receive God’s grace is for them to get rid of all pride and instead of pride, be humble. In other words, if a person is consumed with worldly lusts, desires, ambitions, pride, false doctrine and immoral love, he has no claim on God’s greater grace.

Illustration of Grace: The Cracked Pot (Indian parable):  A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path. Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father’s table. In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste. So as we seek ways to minister together, and as God calls you to the tasks He has appointed for you, don’t be afraid of your flaws.

Spiritual Adultery Means Giving In To The Devil or following him

Illustration:- One bright, beautiful Sunday morning, everyone in tiny Jonestown wakes up early and goes to their local church. Before the service starts, the townspeople sit in their pews and talk about their lives and their families. Suddenly, at the altar, Satan appears!! Everyone starts screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in their determined efforts to get away from Evil Incarnate. Soon, everyone is evacuated from the church except for one man, who sat calmly in his pew, seemingly unaware to the fact that God’s ultimate enemy is in his presence. This confuses Satan a bit. Satan walks up to the man and says, “Hey, don’t you know who I am?” The man says, “Yep, sure do.” Satan says, “Well, aren’t you afraid of me?” The man says, “Nope, sure ain’t.” Satan, disturbed, says, “And why aren’t you afraid of me?” The man says, “Well, I’ve been married to your sister for 25 years.”

I don’t believe anyone has married the devil’s sister because I don’t think he has a sister. He does have a lot of followers, however, and many of them don’t even know they are following him.


Adultery is a bad thing, but spiritual adultery is or can be far worse.

The only cure I know for adultery, spiritual adultery or any sin for that matter, is to humble ourselves before the Lord and He Will Lift Us Up! He’ll lift us up out of our sin and into His loving arms of mercy and grace!

If you are proud, you will not be able to receive the grace of God, but if you are humble, then you stand every opportunity of doing so. If you come with your cup full of self, you cannot be filled with divine grace, but if you come with it empty, then the grace of God will have something into which to flow.


  • Why does friendship with the world cause enmity or strife with God?
  • How does friendship with the world make a person adulterous?
  • Have you been humble or been proud in your daily living?
  • Is there a sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
  • What can I model and teach? What does God want me to share with someone?

Next James Bible Study Part 12: James 4:7-10; How To Follow A Battle Plan For Victory.

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