James 4:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 4:4, NIV: 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, ESV: 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.

James 4:4, KJV: 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, NASB: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:4, NLT: You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.

James 4:4, CSB: You adulterous people! Don't you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.

What does James 4:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verses, James has been blunt: His readers have been living according to worldly wisdom. The wisdom of the world says that to be successful, we must do whatever it takes to get what we want out of life. We must provide for ourselves; nobody else is going to. We must be willing to fight for what we want.

The wisdom of heaven calls us to a far different approach: Christians should trust God to provide all the good we need. That's what He does (James 1:17). And because we trust His love and goodness and power to provide, we don't have to abuse each other to get what we want. Instead, we are free to obey Him. This means serving each other. It means meeting each other's needs.

Because James's readers were unwilling to trust God in this way, He now calls them adulteresses. He equates their choice to continue following the wisdom of world with the sin of a wife who sleeps with another man. Spiritually speaking, these Christians are cheating on God with the world.

James says something which should be obvious to us, but it's not: We can't be friends both with the world and with God. Worse, anyone who continues to be friends with the world is living as God's enemy. It's important to understand what James is not saying here: He is not saying Christians should never be friends with non-Christians. Nor is he saying that Christians should never engage their culture, or with the people they meet. That's not what this passage is about.

James is clear: Christians who choose to continue to live according to the wisdom of the world, driven by envy and ambition, seeking what they want above all else, are not living as friends of God. They are living in adultery as God's enemies.