In our last message, a reader was sending me passages that he thought called into question the idea of eternal security, or that once you are saved, you are always saved. This time, he continues with yet more passages.

Reader: Besides the other e-mail I just sent you, I have other questions.

All right, we’ll keep working on them in order.

You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?

The word “kosmos” means an orderly system or arrangement. Right now, this world is set up and arranged in a certain way. However, this system is largely based on the fact that sin and death is in the world, and on the fact that the world has gone its own way and turned its back on God. Satan was given great power over this world when Adam and Eve chose to follow his way rather than God’s way, so much of the way this world system is set up is according to Satan’s ways of doing things. Therefore, we should not love this system and the way it is now, because this system and order in many ways is contrary to God.

I don’t think this is saying that we shouldn’t do things like go to college. I do think that we should find that we do not fit in all that well with many of the ungodly things that go on and are taught at a college. We should be thinking of things in a different way than the typical college student, or professor, would look at things.

I think what this is saying is that we should not love the system or the order the way it is now. There is much that is unjust and ungodly about the system the way it is arranged right now. Yet we might find that, in some ways, this world system seems to offer us benefits. If we are not one of the ones being oppressed by this world, but rather even seem to be benefitting from it, then we might start to think of it more highly than we should, and even to love it. For example, if we should find ourselves making a lot of money, we might start to love the benefits that a lot of money gives us, and might start to love the system that allowed us to make this money, and might forget that you cannot serve God and Mammon (the god of money) at the same time. You cannot be double-minded. If we have a big house, if we have a lot of fame or prestige, and so forth…all these things could lead us to start loving the system that seems to be giving these things to us. We could become proud in the things of the world that we seem to excel in. We could become proud, and forget that these things are temporary, and only what God gives is eternal and worthwhile.

So I believe that what we are to do is to not love the things of this world. It is not that we cannot have the things of this world, or that we must live in poverty to be godly. Some of the most commendable men in the Bible were rich and powerful! Yet if we love these things, and the system that gives them to us, we have become adulterers, because we love the world in a way that we should only love God and His world to come.

Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

To be a friend of this world the way it is ordered right now would mean to be an enemy of God. This world system simply does not operate in a way that pleases God. To live in strict accordance with its principles would make you an enemy of God, for His ways are often at direct odds with the ways of this world. To be a friend of the world here means to live according to its precepts.

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Pride leads one away from God and His ways. Pride in ourselves means focusing on ourselves and what we can do. A Godly attitude is focusing on God and what He can do. When we humbly admit our inadequacy to God, He gives us grace. Yet it is no longer true that He opposes the proud. James was writing in the Acts period, when the dispensation of grace had not yet begun. At that time, God could and did actively oppose those who were proud. Today, He does no such thing, because He is only working in grace.

Submit yourselves therefore to God.

Submission to God is important, and is something we all should do.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

The only sure way to resist the devil is the same way the Lord did: by using the truth of the Scriptures. If we try to use other weapons, we are playing into his hands, rather than resisting.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Oftentimes we may find that the problem is not that God is not with us, but rather that we are facing directly away from Him!

Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

This is a figure of speech whereby your hands are put for the things you do with them. To cleanse your hands here is to cleanse your actions. James is calling upon those who are reading his letter (he was writing to Jews) to cleanse their activities, and not to do un-Godly things. This has nothing to do with literal hand-washing.

Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.  -James 4:4-10

Israel was often called upon by God to humble themselves before God in sorrow and submission. James is calling upon them to do the same thing here. Israel had a yearly fast wherein they were supposed to do these very things. I do not think that believers in our day are ever called upon to mourn before God. This doesn’t mean we cannot do this, but we are not called upon to do it, as Israel was.

What does it mean to be a friend of the world?  Does it mean that we shouldn’t love people in this world that are “of this world” because they don’t have Jesus?  For I know that we are to love our enemies though.

No, I don’t think this is talking about people in the world. We are supposed to love those who are in the world, and show forth God’s love to them. I don’t think this is talking about people.

Or the world in Greek would be *kosmos*.  So that means that we should not be a friend of the structure of the world that we are in now?  In this case, does it mean that we shouldn’t do stuff like go to college because the world enforces itself upon is with its own ideas of structure in the world and its own philosophies?

See my explanation above.

What does it mean when the verse says that God yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?

That is a good question.

It makes me glad to see that he gives more grace though.  When it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” it is a reference from Proverbs 3:34.  Which is really interesting.  I like it immensely though. Because to me, this means that all we have to do is humble ourselves before God, and he will give us grace.  So, is submitting ourselves to God, resisting the devil, drawing near to God, cleansing our hands, and purifying our hearts what would be “humbling” ourselves to God.

I think you are correct here, yes. These are all very good things for us to do. But remember that this was spoken to Israel in the Acts period.

It is good to do these things, but we receive grace because we are “in Christ,” not because of anything we might do. Grace by its very nature is not given in exchange for some act we do.

Or, what does it look like to be humble to God.

I think what you suggested is very good. Submission is certainly a major part of it.

This verse might shed light, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to *walk humbly* with your God?” -Micah 6:8

Again, this was written in a past dispensation, but it does give us a guideline of the kind of lifestyle that pleases God. These things still would please God today.

Also, to cleanse our hands, like mentioned in the verse earlier, I don’t understand.  I know it does not mean literally to wash my hands with soap and water.

No, as I said above, this is a figure for the actions you do with your hands.

Do you think, maybe an example of “cleansing your hands” would be fixing the problem of a sin, for example if I said a lie to someone that I should go and tell them that I had lied to them?

No, cleansing your hands has to do with future activity, not making good sins of the past. Only God can cleanse past sins. This is talking about changing your lifestyle.

Or what does “purify your hearts” mean.

Your heart is your inmost being…the inner you. This would be purifying your thoughts and your desires.

Pretty, much I have a question for every part of these verses.  So, is it alright if we break this up and find out together?

I pray that I have been able to help!