Vol. 5, No. 1
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It would be difficult to find a more important and timely subject for our consideration than the one that is about to claim our attention. What is to be our relationship with the world? Is the restriction suggested in the title of this article one that is to be applied to all people everywhere, or is there a certain segment of our population that is to maintain such a distinction? This lesson will affirm that Christians are those who must not make peace with the world. What is meant by the word "world" that would demand that a Christian sustain a relationship to it that would be different from that of anybody else? Why should we not live peaceably therein? What is the reason for the prohibition against making peace with the world? Does not the Bible say, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men"? (Romans 12:18). It seems as though this would require striking some peace agreement with the world. If not, why not?
My purpose in these questions is not to play "Devil's advocate." It is merely to suggest the wide range of application which is contained in the topic now before us. Several important questions will challenge our thinking as we delve into these matters. In order that we might obtain a full grasp of the subject, I have framed this article around a number of significant questions for our consideration. First, what is the world in the context in which we are considering it? Second, what is meant by making peace with the world? Third, who is not to make peace with the world? Fourth, why do some make peace with the world? Fifth, what consequences (if any) will follow if we do make peace with the world?
Before we can intelligently discuss our relationship with the world, we must have an accurate knowledge of just what it is that we are talking about. Since the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language (Koine Greek), and Greek is such a full and expressive language, it is interesting to note that there are at least four definitions of the Greek word kosmos, with its English rendering being "world." The context in which the word is used must determine its meaning. Let us note four primary definitions:
The New Testament employs the Greek word kosmos to refer to the physical earth as we know it. Jesus commissioned his apostles, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Jesus petitioned the Father on behalf of his disciples, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil ... As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:15, 18). In his Mars Hill sermon Paul said, "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 17:24). It is used in the sense of the universe or creation in Hebrews 1:1-2, where the writer says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." Peter acknowledged the universal flood when he said, "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (2 Peter 3:6).
The world in human perception was much more limited in Bible times. To Eastern peoples of ancient times the world was very small, including little except Mesopotamia, Canaan, Arabia and parts of Egypt. This remained relatively unchanged throughout Old Testament times, except as nations to the East began to expand their powers and extend their dominion into parts of Asia and Africa. Few people knew more than rumors of Italy or Greece. All that was outside the observable was vague.
The world into which Christianity was born was the result of a convergence of multiple world powers and influences. In Daniel 2, the prophet depicts four world empires, each overpowering the other, until in the days of the fourth and final kingdom the God of heaven would establish a kingdom which would never be destroyed. These world empires (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome) were used by God to further his purposes in human redemption. Babylon contributed the synagogue as the religious gathering place for scattered Jews. Medo-Persia contributed a lofty respect for law and order. Greece contributed a well-nigh universal language. Rome contributed political control, roads, improved travel and citizenship which often protected Paul. With the formation of the individual influences of these world powers came the "fullness of time," at which time "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law" (Galatians 4:4). H.E. Dana wrote, "This Graeco-Roman world extended around the shores of the Mediterranean from the province of Africa to Gaul, and embraced the highest civilization of that age, and one of the highest of human history."1
Jesus asked, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). Paul spoke of those "that use this world," but "not abusing it" (1 Corinthians 7:31). Of course we are to make a proper use of temporal possessions, but should not make them a matter of indulgence or the main purpose of our living. Again, John wrote, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17).
God, through Isaiah, told the Jews that they would be "for a light to the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6), but, Jesus expanded the metaphor to include the world (Matthew 5:14). John employed this meaning of "world" when he said Jesus "was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). We learn of the wonderful love of God for the human race in the "Golden Text," which says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
In John 12:31 Satan is called "the prince of this world" (Cf. John 14:30). The devil is also called "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), and "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). As Albert Barnes explains, "All these names are given him from the influence or power which he has over the men of this world, because the great mass of men have been under his control and subject to his will."2
For further elaboration on this use of the word "world," we note that Jesus said to His disciples, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:18-19). James wrote, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Again, the Lord's brother said, "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).
Therefore, by "world" we mean the things of this world that appeal to the flesh as opposed to the spirit. This understanding of how the word "world" is sometimes used will enable us to discern the difference between worldliness and spirituality in any situation we might be in. Worldliness is world likeness in anything. Worldliness is anything that is opposed to Christ likeness. Worldliness is any rival interest that one has that is inconsistent with the will of God (Matthew 6:24). It is impossible to serve two masters whose interests are so diametrically opposed. Worldliness is any selfish interest which usurps the place that God deserves in a Christian's life and that is first place only (Mark 10:21-22).
The word "peace" denotes a happy, harmonious relationship existing between individuals, men and nations, or men and God. Jesus came into the world as "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). However, the fact of his coming would not ensure total harmony among men. The Lord said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). Peace may indicate friendly associations between persons. Such harmonious associations should particularly involve those of like precious faith in Christ. Paul said, "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Romans 14:19). Peace may involve freedom from molestation. Luke wrote, "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied" (Acts 9:31, ASV). We often hear it prayed that we are thankful for the privilege of worshipping God "without the fear of molestation from any outside force." Such is the peace we currently enjoy in this country. Peace may describe a harmonious relationship between God and man, by virtue of Christ and the Gospel. Paul said,
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh (Ephesians 2:13-17).
Peace may also depict that feeling of rest and contentment consequent to a restoration of harmony of relationship between man and God. Paul wrote, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" (Romans 5:1).
There is no doubt that the Christian is to be at peace in this world. Jesus exhorted his disciples to have peaceful associations when he said, "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another" (Mark 9:50). Paul said, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, leave peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18). Not only are we to be peace-loving people in this hate-filled and war-stricken world, but we are especially to maintain peaceful associations in the Lord's church. As Paul concluded his second letter to the strife torn church at Corinth, he said, "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).
Peace is not something that is obtained merely by accident. Peace is a condition which follows the conciliatory overtures of one opposing party and the acceptance of those advances by the other opposing party. Thus, a peace agreement, or treaty, is made by negotiation. If one opposing party fails to initiate a peace agreement or the other opposing party elects not to accept the terms of the arrangement, then there can be no peace between them. Thus, in our efforts to live at peace with God, others and ourselves there must be a conscious effort on our part. Just as war comes from within us, so must peace. James inquired, "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (James 4:1). With a mindful initiative we must, as James said, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:7-8a).
As far as our peace with God is concerned, we need only to accept his terms of reconciliation through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10; 6:1-7). It is not for us to decide upon what conditions we will negotiate peace with the Almighty. It is demanded that we comply with God's conditions of peace (Hebrews 5:9). As concerns our peace among men in general, and our brethren in Christ in particular, we must engage in the active pursuit of such. My assertions at this point would certainly sound legalistic to the "grace only" advocates in our brotherhood today. Rubel Shelly said recently, "Dead men can't climb ladders, folks. Salvation is by grace. By grace through faith, not of anything we do."3 If, in our pre-conversion state we are dead (completely inactive as some suggest) and can do nothing to contribute to our salvation (peace with God), then we must also believe that dead men cannot sin, cannot hear the Gospel, cannot believe the Gospel, cannot repent of their sins and certainly cannot be immersed for the remission of their sins. Thus, one is totally powerless to do anything at all to be saved and cannot possibly accept God's terms of peace through Jesus Christ. This is Calvinism and is therefore false!
It is of interest to note the Scriptures which suggest our active involvement in obtaining and maintaining peaceful relationships among brethren: "seek peace, and ensue it" (1 Peter 3:11); "have peace one with another" (Mark 9:50); "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace" (Romans 14:19); "be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:13); "but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22), and, "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (James 3:18).
In light of the above, where peace exists it means that one has exerted himself in a conscious effort to obtain and maintain that peace. Therefore, it follows that if one is at peace with the world it necessarily means that he has taken steps to make it so. It means that one has purposely aligned himself with that element which is alienated from and stands in opposition to God.
The peace with the world of which we speak is perhaps best described by James who wrote, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4). If we allow the Bible to be its own best commentary, which of course it is, then we will understand "peace with the world" to mean: (1) Friendship with the world (James 4:4); (2) Having a "care of this world" (Matthew 13:22); (3) Being "conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2); (4) Loving "this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10), and, (5) Loving "the world and the things that are in the world" (1 John 2:15).
Guy N. Woods notes the significance of the phrase, "would be," (ASV) in James 4:4. He says,
It is translated from the word boulethei, first aorist passive subjunctive of boulomai, to purpose, to will. This evidences for us the fact that one need not actually participate in the things of the world in order to be worldly; the purpose, the will, the desire to do so (whether realized or not), constitutes worldliness in the eyes of God. It hence follows that worldliness is a state of mind as well as a manner of life, and is so regarded by the Lord. It is quite possible that people may, from various considerations, refrain from a life of worldly activity; but, if the desire, the will, the inclination is there, such are worldly.4
How may we recognize the disposition to be at peace with the world? Since it is not possible for us to read the hearts of men it is left for us to judge the fruits of their lives. Jesus said, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Matthew 7:18). Even greater is the challenge to recognize that same disposition in ourselves and to correct it. Paul said, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Paul gave a very simple test for determining peace with God as opposed to peace with the world. He said, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Those who live godly lives "in Christ Jesus" must expect to be despised, hated and opposed by at least some in this world. If one seeks to avoid confrontation with the world by the use of compromise and diplomacy, he then sacrifices peace with God who demands his allegiance (Acts 5:29). The apostles held on to peace with God at the sacrifice of peace with the world when "they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:41-42).
The friendship of the world indicates a love for and obedience to the world. The friendship of God indicates a love for and obedience to God. Jesus said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14), and, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). This will help us to understand exactly what it means to be a friend of God as opposed to being a friend of the world. A friend of God is one who is faithful to God. A friend of the world is one who is faithful to the world. In James 2:23 Abraham is called "the Friend of God." What was it about Abraham that caused him to be known by such a designation? The answer is simple. His faith!
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:21-24).
Such an obedience will make others, and not just Abraham, friends of God. In Romans 4:11 Abraham is called "the father of all them that believe"; therefore, we are to "walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham" (Romans 4:12). Abraham is a pattern of faith that will make all who follow his lead a friend of God and not of the world. Abraham is a pattern, first, in the source of his faith. From the example furnished by James, that being the offering of Isaac his son upon the altar (James 2:21), we know that Abraham acted upon hearing God's command (Genesis 22:1-2). Thus, it is for us that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Second, Abraham is a pattern in the submission of his faith. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). This does not mean that the patriarch was justified by his faith alone, for Hebrews 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Again, brother Woods notes, "God regarded Abraham as his friend because he was ever faithful to God, and always submitted to his will."5 Finally, Abraham is a pattern in the separation of his faith. He "obeyed; and he went out" because God had spoken. Because God has spoken through his Word, a faithful Christian will maintain a separation from the world that will not allow him to become a friend of the world (2 Corinthians 6:17; James 1:27).
In the overall context of the Book of James, it appears that the epistle was written to Christians. In his introduction to James, the scholarly Guy N. Woods notes, "On the whole, the most reasonable and satisfactory view of the matter is that the Epistle was addressed to Christians, many of whom were of Jewish descent and perhaps widely scattered."6 In James 4:4, however, appears the word "whosoever." It would seem, therefore, that the prohibition against making friends (peace) with the world is general in nature, including all people and not just Christians. Guy N. Woods says, "'Whosoever' is comprehensive of the whole. Anybody, everybody, all of us are embraced."7 Albert Barnes suggests, "'Whoever' he may be, whether in the church or out of it. The fact of being a member of the church makes no difference in this respect, for it is as easy to be a friend of the world in the church as out of it."8 The point is that anybody who would wish to be a friend of the world constitutes, or makes himself an enemy of God. Any Christian who would desire satisfactions which contradict the basic principles of Christianity establishes himself as an enemy of God.
This is an obvious warning against worldliness in the Lord's church. This is one of the greatest if not the greatest problem confronting the church today. The greater part of our problems, individually and collectively, is to be found in worldliness. Christians are admonished to "seek those things which are above," and to set their "affection upon things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). Yet, all too often our lives reveal a distorted set of priorities. Many of the problems which seem to be characteristic of so many can be traced to our making peace with the world. Problems such as the lack of Bible study, neglecting to "pray without ceasing," failing to assemble with the saints whenever the opportunity avails itself, small contributions, and everything from weak teaching to bleak leadership may be traced in some fashion to some brethren making peace with the world.
It is sometimes said that whatever is in the world will eventually find its way into the church. Of course, the church is not the world and the world is not the church. The church is made up of those who are "called out" of the world (Matthew 16:18). The word "church" is translated from the Greek word ecclesia, which means "the called out" in Matthew 16:18, et. al. Whereas the world is helped by those who are of the church, the church is hurt by those who are of the world (Matthew 5:13-16; Romans 12:1-2). The church of Christ has nothing to gain by the influx of worldliness which continues to grow steadily. It is an influence that must be checked and checkmated.
Anyone who has observed conditions as they are in many places understands that many professed Christians are worldly-minded. It is a problem in many congregations that concerns many elders and causes preachers to despair as to how they can turn things around. The solution to the problem is what it has always been, and that is to continue to point people to God and his will through the Bible. That means that we must preach what the Bible says on issues related to matters of the world. Hearts are not changed by entertaining displays of human wisdom, motivational messages and tear-jerking illustrations. It is true that many members of the church are happy to have the Bible preached and taught on such as the plan of salvation, the church and worship (if they are even that tolerant) but, they do not want to hear what the Bible says about their favorite worldly activity lest they be condemned. A "moving" sermon for most preachers is one which condemns dancing, mixed swimming, immodest dress, alcoholic beverages or some other sensitive moral issue. And by "moving" I do not mean in the emotional sense, I mean in the "better have your bags packed" sense. As a case in point the church where I preach supports a mission work in the state of Maryland. In a recent mission report from the faithful preacher who labors there he spoke of a faction of brethren who did not like his "style" of preaching and in particular did not want to hear sermons which dealt with specifics, i.e., "modesty, drinking, dancing, one faith, baptism, etc." This faction appeared to be an organized effort to take over the congregation, and our loyal brother said, "I thought I was on my way out." It turned out that the factious element departed and our dedicated brother remained. Thank God!
In some places, we are so far from teaching the truth on the things of the world that some of our brethren actually promote them and make no apology for doing so. In a church bulletin from a congregation close to where I live was this announcement:
K-6th GRADE COOKOUT & SWIM PARTY: Jim & Sue ______ will host a cookout & swimming party for the Kindergarten - 6th grade students, teachers, & their families. It will be...right after church. Please sign the sheet on the bulletin board with your name, # attending and what you will bring. Don't forget your swim suits and towels.
Since I did not attend this cookout and swim party I will not try to sit in judgment on what actually took place. I will merely respond to the announcement the way it is written and what it conveys to me the reader. There is nothing said that would indicate to me that there will be any segregation of boys from girls, or for that matter of men from women from among the teachers and their families. If that were their intention (which it should be) it would seem that the announcement would have made that clear. This reads to me as an announcement of a mixed swimming party. If such is not the case, I cannot understand plain English. On a broader spectrum, I have to wonder where are the elders who allow a mixed swimming party to take place (if indeed that is what this is). Where are the shepherds who watch for the souls of these people who will not teach and encourage modesty (1 Timothy 2:9)? Again, I wonder if the preacher for this congregation would ever preach the Gospel on the subject of modesty, even if he were of a mind to do so.
We only hurt ourselves when we turn from the Gospel, the only message that will change the hearts of men, to a "social gospel," which is intended to accommodate the Gospel to society and the world. Is it any wonder that the world has had such an effect upon the church? When brethren are sensitive to the temptation "to get along is to go along," and their ambition is to be like those around them, and they make their peace with the world, they have their reward. It is to this class of brethren that the warning of James is primarily directed.
The disposition to make peace with the world is a sentiment that is strictly forbidden to all those who would strive to live so as to please God. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Paul said, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10). May I suggest some of the reasons why some brethren make peace with the world?
It has scarcely dawned upon many people in general, and some brethren in particular, that the summum bonum of life's realities and possibilities is centered in areas other than the transient and the temporal. The fact that happiness is determined by what a person is and not what he has is something that has eluded the thinking of many people despite the fact that Jesus said, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). Consequently, materialism has become a driving force among people who ought not to be materialistic in their manner of life, i.e., Christians.
In some respects we have allowed ourselves to become guilty of the same problem which characterized Martha, when Jesus said to her, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things" (Luke 10:41). In verse 40 of Luke 10, we are informed that she "was cumbered about much serving." The word "cumbered," in this passage suggests that Martha was overly occupied with the household business of the moment. It means literally, "to draw from around."9 The word picture is that of "women whose faces are literally drawn round with anxiety, with a permanent twist, distracted in mind and in looks."10 That is to say that she was distracted from that which is most important and worried about the concerns of the moment.
Martha is a fine portrayal of many members of the Lord's church today. We are "anxious and troubled about many things," and that which is so demanding of our time and attention is no more important than that which distracted Martha from Christ. Some of us are so wrapped up in the cares of business, entertaining guests, housekeeping, recreation, sports, leisure activities, etc., that we are turned away from that which is most needful. Consequently we find that we have no time to be faithful in our service to Christ, regular in our attendance at the worship hour, Bible classes, visitation, or any other aspect of the Lord's work simply because we also are "cumbered about much serving." We need to think about what it is that is so demanding of our time and energies and re-direct our efforts into finding again the proper focus in life.
An old, but true saying is, "Life cannot be lived in a vacuum." In those areas wherein our lives are empty, something will move in to fill the void. James said, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:20). When faith is empty, lives will be empty. A dead faith cannot make for a full life. We cannot expect full satisfaction from living with a faith that is dead. One or two hours of merely warming a pew on Sunday morning is the result of a faith that is empty, and this in turn leaves the life empty while people go about the rest of the week void of anything really meaningful in their lives. It then becomes an easy thing to fill that void with the world's frivolities.
If all Christians would make a serious effort to fill their lives with good works, there would be no room in their hearts for the worldly. It seems that too many brethren are satisfied to claim affiliation with the Lord's church, but are not driven by much if any zeal to be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). The only way to keep worldliness out of our lives is to put something better in its place. As long as there are members of the Lord's church who are content to live a mediocre spiritual existence, and neglect to fill their lives with service to the Lord, there will be those who will make peace with the world.
One of those problems which never seem to go away is indifference. It plagues nearly every congregation to some degree, and those of us who preach find ourselves directing our preaching efforts, in large measure, to trying to put a little more fire into the bones of brethren. In the spirit of the Laodiceans, some brethren are "neither cold nor hot," but are, "lukewarm" (Revelation 3:15-16). The Lord's attitude toward such indifference ought to inspire us to forsake it: "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16). Yet, it seems that this is one of the main reasons for Christians making peace with the world. It is easier for them to take the path of least resistance. Whereas some are profoundly disturbed at any teaching which would expose their favorite worldly enticement, there are others who are unshakable in their disinterest and hardly give a second thought to anything that the preacher might say on matters related to morality and spirituality.
James answers: "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). "Enmity" is perhaps better understood by some of its many synonyms, i.e., hostility, antipathy, antagonism, rancor and animosity. Therefore, one who makes peace with the world arrays himself against God because the world neither obeys His laws, submits to His will, nor seeks to honor Him.
It was because of the attitude of these brethren toward the world that James referred to them as "adulterers and adulteresses" (James 4:4). As Leslie G. Thomas has suggested,
The worldly-minded Christians, to whom Jesus directed this section of the lesson text, are addressed as "adulteresses," because of the well-known Bible figure, which regards the Lord's people as being married to him. (Cf. Isa. 54:5; II Corinthians 11:2). The marginal reading is "who break your marriage vow to God." Therefore whosoever is "minded," or who desires to be a friend of the world, constitutes himself an enemy of God; just as any upright and faithful husband would be displeased, if his wife longed to be the paramour of another man.11
John said, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). Jesus said, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). It is no credit to some brethren that they try to walk hand-in-hand with God and the world at the same time. However, as we know, two cannot walk together "except they be agreed" (Amos 3:3). And in this case, we know that they are not!
Indeed, we should not make peace with the world. The logic behind that prohibition is plainly stated by Paul, who said, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Timothy 2:3-4). I cannot say it any better.
1H. E. Dana, The New Testament World (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1937),17.
2Albert Barnes, Notes On The New Testament, Luke And John (London: Blackie & Son, 1884-85; Repr., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), 311.
3Curtis Cates and Garland Elkins, Co-Editors, "Co-editor's Note" Yokefellow: A Publication Of The Memphis School Of Preaching 21 (27 June 1994):2-3.
4Guy N. Woods, A Commentary On The Epistle Of James (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1964), 212.
8Albert Barnes, Notes on The New Testament, James To Jude (London: Blackie & Son, 1884-85; Repr., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), 69.
9Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, Volume I (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973), 357.
10Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Volume II, The Gospel According To Luke (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1985), 169.
11Leslie G. Thomas, "The Christian's Prayer Life" Teacher's Annual Lesson Commentary On Bible School Lessons 51 (Lesson IV - October 22, 1972; Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1972), 282.