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
Listen: James 4
Adultery is a strong and terrifying word.
To the first century Jew, this word had significant historical and scriptural meaning. God, through different prophets, accused the Israelites of adultery when they broke their covenant relationship with him by worshipping other gods. Their crime was actually idolatry—but to God, it was adultery (see Jeremiah 3:6-10). God was their god, yet they were seeing other gods on the side.
When James labels his fellow Christ-followers “adulterers,” he’s calling out their wayward hearts. They’ve given themselves to worshipping their desires instead of worshipping God. This is idolatry.
Pastor and author Tim Keller says, “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’ There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship” (Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters).
Ultimately, idolatry is about worship. We all have things knocking on the door of our hearts asking for our devotion and allegiance. Financial security, sex, recognition or physical fitness are all gifts from God that can easily commandeer our worship. However, we’re commanded to submit ourselves to God and worship him alone. It is in this posture of worship towards God where we begin to experience the fullness of our relationship with him.
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Take an honest look at your heart and your desires. Is there anything that can have the propensity to control you and drive your life? As you identify those places you might tend to worship, ask God to forgive you. Allow God to fill those places of desire.
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