James 4:1–12 (ESV)
Warning Against Worldliness
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet
and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 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. 5 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”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit
yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be
wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not
a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Using the language of the Prophets, James teaches that rejecting God’s ways is spiritual adultery. It is seeking something other than the faithful God who loves us. God’s people of every generation have been unfaithful to Him. James does
not call us to turn to ourselves and do more works to be forgiven but instead calls us to return to the Lord in repentance. Even when we are unfaithful, God remains faithful. He has already purchased us by the blood of Christ. His love does not depend on our
faithfulness or works but on His faithfulness and His work in Christ.
I pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not
away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps 51:10–12). Amen.
A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing
House, 2009), 2142.