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.
— James 4:4
Up to this point, we have covered Jesus’ teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in John 14, 15, and 16, and we’ve learned how to develop a more intimate and personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Now we’re going to shift our focus to another vital aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry found in the New Testament.
As you will see in the days to come, the Holy Spirit lives within us like a Divine Lover. When believers allow the things of the world to usurp the place that should belong only to Him, the Holy Spirit — like a violated spouse — feels hurt and grief. It’s therefore vital that we gain a deeper understanding of how sin affects the indwelling Holy Spirit so we can purpose to change any permissive attitude toward sin that may linger in our lives and to live holier and more consecrated before Him in love.
In James 4:4 and 5, James referred to the nature of the believer’s relationship with Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart. He wrote, “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.”
Throughout the New Testament, believers are most often referred to as “brothers and sisters.” Yet here James referred to his readers as “adulterers” and “adulteresses.” Imagine if a great spiritual leader wrote to you and called you an adulterer or adulteress! This is especially strong language when you consider that James was writing to Jewish believers, who could have been stoned for committing adultery. In fact, James couldn’t have said anything more shocking or outrageous to his audience! However, this adultery he was referring to was not a physical act, but rather a spiritual adultery that they had committed by giving their hearts to things other than Jesus Christ.
The Greek word for “adultery” is moichalis, and it carries all kind of connotations. Unfaithfulness, impurity, and violating a commitment to marriage are just a few. This word paints the picture of a wounded spouse who feels rejected, betrayed, misled, and deceived because the sanctity of his or her marriage relationship was recklessly thrown away by the act of adultery. All of these ideas are embedded in the Greek word moichalis.
So what had these believers done to be addressed in such a way? James explained, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye know not that friendship with the world is enmity with God…?”
To illustrate James’ point, let me share an example from my own life. In the early years of our marriage, Denise and I led a single-adult ministry in a large denominational church. During this time, we developed a program to help single adults who had recently gone through a divorce. As we listened to the concerns of these precious believers, we discovered that most of these people felt like they were outcasts from the Church. So we made it a point to open our hearts and emphasize “life after divorce” as a primary message of our ministry. Soon newly divorced people came to us from all over to receive ministry, love, acceptance, and healing. It was one of the most gratifying, yet troublesome, periods of ministry we had ever experienced.
It was gratifying to see people who had been so rejected and wounded being healed by the love of Jesus Christ. However, it was very troublesome to hear the pain many of these believers felt as a result of being betrayed by someone they loved and trusted. Day after day, we would sit and listen as each one shared his or her story. Out of approximately 100 cases, nearly all sounded similar — so similar, in fact, that eventually I could almost finish most of their stories for them.
Again and again, these emotionally bruised people lamented, “I just don’t understand how he could do that to me. After all these years of being faithful to him, raising our children together, and working to help him through school, I don’t understand how could hurt me like this.” Or, “How could she do this to me after I’ve given her so much? I gave her my love, my attention, all that I knew to do. How could she do this to me?”
These intense, painful emotions are exactly what Jesus felt toward the believers James addressed in James 4:4. After all that He had done for them, they had been unfaithful to their sacred relationship with Him as the Bride of Christ by embracing a sinful relationship with the world.
In tomorrow’s Sparkling Gem, I will explain in depth what the believers did to prompt James to refer to them as “adulteresses” so that you never have to cross that line yourself. But today, why don’t you take a moment to look inwardly and carefully examine your life. Do you see anything that would cause the Holy Spirit to feel violated by your actions? After all He has done for you — regenerating you, filling you, and sanctifying you — I know that you would never want to intentionally cause the Spirit of God pain and sorrow. So make sure that you are living in such a way that will always give Him pleasure, not grief!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Holy Spirit, I repent and ask You to forgive me for all the times I’ve walked too close to the world and violated Your holy indwelling presence by allowing sinful actions and attitudes to persist in my life. I am truly sorry, and today I repent before You. I ask You to strengthen me with Your mighty power to walk with a higher discernment and with the spiritual awareness to know when I am doing something that is grievous to You. I want to honor Your presence and honor You by the way I treat You with my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I live a life that is pleasing to the Holy Spirit. When I do something that hints of displeasure to Him, I quickly recognize it and repent of it. I do not permit wrong attitudes and actions to rule me. Instead, I surrender to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and it produces the life and character of Christ in my own life. Day by day, I am becoming more sensitive and spiritually aware of the things that displease the Lord, and I am learning to walk a higher walk in Him.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Are there any areas of your life that are out of sync with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence? What are those areas? If you are aware of them, is there a reason you have tolerated them instead of repenting and getting your heart right with the Holy Spirit?
- When the Holy Spirit is grieved because of our attitudes and actions, our own spirits are grieved as well. Have you felt grief and sorrow in your own heart when you did things that were displeasing to the Lord?
- What are some of the areas in which you’ve made progress and no longer habitually repeat sins as you once did? If you’ve had victories, you need to remember them and thank God for them!