Friendship With the World is Enmity with God

by Mike Ratliff

4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. (James 4:4 NA27)

4 Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world, is made an enemy of God. (James 4:4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

The Seeker-Sensitive and Purpose-Driven paradigms are rooted in a form of Pelagianism. Of course, the theology I grew up with as a Southern Baptist in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, et cetera was somewhere between semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. In each of these forms of theology, man is at the center. God has done all he can do to create the possibility of salvation, but it is up to man to exercise his autonomous free will in order to be saved. Even in this, after salvation there is a time of working to please God, to become perfected, to become moral, et cetera. Again, the focus is on man, not God. The reason I brought this up is to reflect on how far I have come in my understanding of these things since God revealed to me the veracity of His Sovereignty over all things. From that, I rapidly rebuilt my theological understanding of justification and sanctification. It was probably not as dramatic as Luther’s awakening when he discovered the doctrine of Justification by grace through faith, but, for me, it was. I was utterly amazed and spent days and hours in prayer of gratitude and praise before the throne of grace expressing it the best way I could of how utterly unworthy I was that I was totally justified before God with the Righteousness of Christ and His perfect obedience imputed to my account. My righteousness, in God’s eyes, actually did exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees! 

All those years of struggling to please him and seeing how utterly helpless I was at being perfect and sinless no longer mattered at all. Yes, we are to seek to walk upright in the power of the Holy Spirit, but, in this, I am not climbing my way to heaven. My place is already set at the marriage supper of the lamb. Oh how I want to live holy and blameless before Him, but that is to bring him glory, not to somehow earn my salvation. It is as if a huge load has been taken away.

What has any of this to do with Ἰάκωβος 4:4? In our discernment group discussions over the last several days, it has been very interesting with what is going on with Perry Noble’s outlandish handling of his “church” and actually performing rock music and using a song by AC/DC named “Highway to Hell” on Easter Sunday on purpose in order to anger those whom he calls “religious Christians.” He did not use the term “anger.” Then James MacDonald of the Elephant Room and Mark Driscoll defended him in this. James MacDonald has also invited T.D. Jakes, a Oneness Pentecostal, to the Elephant Room, denying that Jakes is a heretic even though his theology denies the Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. We have also looked at the continuing saga over at Elevation Church that is “pastored” by Steven Furtick. All in all, I have stayed quiet and let the others have their say.

In the marriage of these various, seemingly different, theologies we see that they get along just fine. Why? Relativism is of this world, those who adopt it in how they relate to others of obviously different doctrinal beliefs are doing so via compromise, and that is simply the application of relativism. Who is left out of their happy little group hug? That’s right, those who refuse to compromise. Those welcome in are those willing to compromise with the world and its ways. Those not welcome in are those who refuse to do so.

What is friendship with the world? It is doing whatever it takes to imitate worldly ways of thinking and worldly activities. This very thing, according to James 4:4 makes these people enemies of God. What is their motive for imitating the world and its ways? Rick Warren comes right out and says it. They do it to satisfy the expectations of unbelievers. They want unbelievers to feel comfortable in their church. They want their church to be church for the unchurched. Both Perry Noble and Steven Furtick use that model as well. However, when this is the goal, they can never change gears. Why? It will always be impossible to satisfy the expectations of unbelievers whose hearts are set on this world and at the same time please God. You cannot do both. Now they have the added influence of James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, and T.D. Jakes. Sounds to me like the strange brew is just getting stranger and more deadly.

What are we to do? We must continue to stand firm in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must continue to stay in the Word of God, presenting our bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is our spiritual service. And we must not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. If we will do these things, praying for discernment and wisdom and obey God in all things then the enemy will have absolutely no ability to deceive us into compromise on any of these things. Those who are in that darkness are so because they did none of this.

Soli Deo Gloria!

25 thoughts on “Friendship With the World is Enmity with God

  1. “It will always be impossible to satisfy the expectations of unbelievers whose hearts are set on this world and at the same time please God.” This is the money line. We have a similar awakening, Mike. The Lord was pleased to use Rick Warren’s deceptions to open my eyes and my mind to the horror of this man-pleasing theology and the degree to which it has infiltrated so many church within the SBC and without. This growing understanding the Truth makes the child of God more and more grateful for His grace and more aware of how endless our pursuit of Truth is – for God is beyond our finding out. What is man, that God would be mindful of us? Oh the mercies of God! The only thing that keeps us from being consumed this very day! Let all the blood-bought saints of the living God PRAISE HIM!

  2. I’m just thinking here Mike, what might have happened or been avoided had not men for hundreds of years refused to place themselves in a position of authority over other believers. Was it just Constantine alone who desired to rule over the people of God. Can we honestly say that what he mandated in his “rule” over “Christiandom” is any different that what our so-called religious leaders do today? Yes, Perry, Steven and many others are attempting to redefine both what the ekklesia of God is as well as how it reaches out to those in this world and that in a manner which is unscriptural. But can I ask, “Where did the roots of those desires originate?” “Who’s example failed them and led them to where they now reside in error?”
    Like it or not, many men like Calvin, Luther and many since them are the seedbeds of these mens errors. How can I possibly say that? Because like all self-proclaimed religious leaders (whether in word or through one’s actions) (think John MacCarthur on Larry King live) they attempt to harness what only God has the right to control. They do this in a variety of methods (similar to the men above and their methodologies herein condemned) by starting “their” churches, ministries and ruling over them as kings. They use their self made weekly services, radio programs, books, audio clips, confernces and trips to Israel to prop themselves up and disseminate “their” thinking and resources- and your paying for it. On some occasions they even are bold enough the place “their own name” on a Bible. One might ask just how that might glorify God?
    Why do these men continue unabated with ever increasing exposure? For the very same reason people continue to follow the wordlings above and there man centered ministries:

    “In the marriage of these various seemingly different theologies, we see that they get along just fine. Why? Relatism is of this world, those who adopt it in how they relate to others of obviously different doctrinal beliefs (differing churches) are doing so via compromise. and this is simply the application of relativism”

    The difference between the relativism of a supposedly sound church and an apostate leaders church is of little relevance. They both are catering to what they believe their supporters will endorse, and will walk those courses until they fail them which they all ultimately will. The false teacher and the denominational “pastor” both claim a position, title and authority through a self made institution- none of which is outlined or sanctioned in the Scriptures. Who are those excluded from each grougs happy hug? That’s right, those who refuse to compromise.

    Perry, Steven and others have only followed the examples of thousands who have continually comprised and continue to do so. That doesn’t grant them some kind of idemnity, it does offer a little light as to where the origins of their falsehoods have arisen. But as we know that’s only part of the equation. The other half we know originates from within, worldliness is rooted in LUST. Lust for control, lust for authority, lust for power, money and the whole gammit.

    Jesus made it very plain where His place is among His people. That place does not compete nor coincide with anything man has done and will do (continually divide the body dynamic through self made institutions) but resides with the simple, the humble, those dependent upon Him alone.
    We are guilty Lord, of making the Perry Noble’s and Steven Furtick’s of this world. If any hope should ever be found in reversing our failures toward these men, it must start with those humble enough to care, willing enough to see and serious enough to die.

  3. Michael, we should follow no man, but Jesus Christ alone. However, He has given us leaders such as pastors and elders, et cetera to shepherd the flock and we should follow those who are also following our Lord. However, you are right in that we must not make these men into more than they are.

  4. Somebody is not reading their bible and isn’t clear on their church history. The truth about Luther and Calvin is that they did not believe that THE CHURCH (at that time Roman Catholic) was the true church. They were eager to confirm that the true church was the invisible church. They did not set themselves up to lord it over men as some seem to believe. That they are remembered today does not mean they endeavored to be anything more than men who loved God and His truth and were used by Him then, and even still today. You might try reading Calvin and Luther’s actual works to see if they were biblical in their beliefs.

    The truth is that a biblically qualified pastor who is a part of a plurality of elders in his congregation is worthy of respect and emulation. don’t forget that the Apostle Paul was a pastor-evangelist, as were Timothy and others in the NT. Paul specifically instructed Timothy to lead the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). He left Titus in Crete as a pastor there (see the book of Titus) Which bible are you reading “among the forgotten”? Seems you have forgotten several passages in the NT which give instructions on how the church is to be set up and overseen. (See the book of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy chapter 4) The elders and teachers of the church are to teach, exhort, warn and watch over the flock of God. (see Acts chapter 20) This is a God-given and God-approved role: biblically qualified leaders of the church. Yet, they are to lead with love and according to biblical principles, always remembering that it is God’s church, Christ’s Bride, Christ’s Body. The Bible continually tells us to hold our pastors/elders and teachers in high respect and love (1 timothy 5:17; Hebrews chapter 13). They are biblically commanded to exercise authority over the sheep and protect them. So it is not the “role” of pastor per se that is wrong, it is making more of them than we ought. And the fact that some have abused this office of elder/teacher, or have ambitions beyond biblical bounds is no reason to try to deny what the scriptures clearly teach regarding church leadership.

    Christians who refuse any biblical authority and think they do not need any shepherding are at the least leaving themselves open to deception.

  5. Sorry Mike, I just jumped in with two feet to answer “among the forgotten” without acknowledging your great blog entry!! Thank you for continuing to shed light and truth on these trends and to keep pointing us to scripture. You are so right that this trend isn’t new, it started decades ago. The seeds were planted then and now we are seeing the noxious weeds. What is mistakenly called “unity” is really compromise. We Christians are to seek unity alright – unity in the TRUTH! Truth divides, yes. But so does error. Truth divides light from dark. Error divides those who compromise from those who desire to walk in the truth.

  6. How wonderful is God and our Lord to save sinners like us, it can only leave one in awe.
    I left my Church due to too much friendship with world and it babylonian systems, the pastor on one occasion even bought in the politcal worldy agenda of climate change into one of his sermons aswell as the Pagan Olympic games showing other methods of compromise as well as things like arminianism, new age etc.

  7. Mike, the 2 emails I sent you today go hand and glove with this article.

    Julie, Luther did not want to leave the Catholic church. He primarily started to just fight against indulgences being sold and Rome profitting by looking the other way. Luther’s history in many ways legitimizes points made by “atf.” It wasn’t until later that Luther realized his fight was in vain, but history shows he ran from the long reach of Rome, by using political influences sympathetic to him to protect him. His story is much more complicated then this space allows, yet he became the poster boy for others who lead the protestant charge. (Not to take anything away from him.)
    Also, Julie what gets lost in the elders controversy is a bit of scripture which clearly shows Jesus alone as Head of His church, and that the greatest of men in the kingdom of God were those who pour their lives out as the least in this world…servant undershepherds. You see, He must increase, and we must decrease. When we see the man more then we see the Lord, and the man calls himself pastor or elder or whatever, something is terribly wrong, and we are actually seeing the deeds of the Nicolaitans which things He/Jesus hates. True elders, undershepherds or whatever do not need titles degrees or positions, for we can see them for who they are in Christ Jesus, because for Paul, and for them, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. We see Jesus in them more then we see them. For 90+% of church leaders today, this is no where near the case. That, perhaps is what “atf” was speaking to.
    I appreciate you, sister, and we need each member of the church He alone builds, we are joined together by Him, and function in and through Him. The traditions that the elders hold to quite often obscure the Truth in His Word that we can only see when we, by the Holy Spirit have our eyes open to the truth. As a degreed teacher, and history major, I can tell you first hand that the vast majority of history was written by the victors, and to be seen through rose colored glasses. Church history is no exception, and in fact is much more the history of, as Mike has so aptly pointed out, the history of a morally theistic deism in the name of christianity. It is quite hard for a myrtred corpse to accuratly detail what really happened…and what is done in the dark will be revealed one day soon by the only rightious Judge, and our Lord and Savior Jesus The Christ!

  8. I can only hope my thoughts are more clear tthen my spelling! :)
    Manfred and Mike, I will have to go back and see your instructions on how to find a spell checker to submit to prior to hitting send!

  9. Thanks for the articles Mickey. I am immensely tired of the circus that the visible church has devolved into. However, if you look at what was going on in the late 1800′s with the great downgrade controversy and the liberal takeover of the protestant mainstream churches and seminaries since then, what we are dealing with now is pretty much the same thing with new labels. J. Gresham Machen, for instance, was kicked out of his denomination for not conforming to their apostasy so he formed an new one, the OPC. Charles Spurgeon was in ill health the last several years of his life, yet he fought a losing battle against the Great Downgrade that alienated him from most of the Baptists in the U.K.

    Compromise with the world is always creeping into the visible church. That is why we must always be ready with all discernment and wisdom to stand firm and defend the truth in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am certain that the we are entering a new spiritual dark age, but again, the genuine Church is doing just fine even though we are hard put on every side with all this rubbish. We can’t do much about it except continue to pray, stand firm, and tell the truth all in the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let’s do that.

  10. Hello Julie. Thank you for responding to me. I will attempt to clarify what I believe I failed to communicate very well. That happens often does it not through this medium?
    John Calvin was a murderer was he not. I believed he burned Servetus on the stake. Correct me if I’m wrong. Why would anyone, unless they believed they had the authority in the invisible Ekklesia to do so, act in such a fashion? Answer: They would not. I cannot even fathom how any professing Christian could commit such a horendous and evil act, even justifying such in the name of God. Not exactly what I would call meeting the requirements of elders that you mention in Timothy etc.
    I agree with the majority of what you wrote although I’m a little sad that you found it necessary to label me as one who refuses authority or the necessity of local shepherds when you know little or nothing about me. That isn’t necessarily wise nor is that true about me. Although I do respect and value the functions of elders within a local ekklesia, I do not agree with the manner in which they often exercize thier responsibilities. That is where we likely differ in our view of these texts.
    The issues I have with authority/elders have to do with the two words you use which are very often misinterpreted. Those words are OVER and OFFICE. These words have contributed to the many abuses that are found in various assemblies and hindered a healthy working out of the gifts among God’s priesthood. I’m sure you know that includes every believer. If you would like a clearer defining of why I am opposed to the words above feel free to visit my site and read “To Whom am I accountable?” There you will find not only what I believe in relation to these matters, but also an open invitation to disagree all you want.
    In the future, you might want to try harder to offend me. Although there is much more I have to learn and live for certain, my only response to attacks and criticism is Yes and Amen. I heartily embrace and welcome your own and others’ responses and have only posted this as a means to clarify His truth and glorify the God we serve. I don’t give a whit about defending myself or having to be “right.” I’ll gladly die in and upon your final thoughts. Among the forgotten, Michael

  11. Enjoy the first email, and mourn the second, or is it vise versa (?) Mike. In the 1800′s the downgrade began, and quickly built steam, by the turn of the century and entering the 1900′s it really took flight and looked much like the assembly lines in Detroit as “Evangelists” took off from where the preacher/orators had been, and salvation went from a process watched closly for fruit in due season…fruit born from genuine repentance, to a handshake and a decision card. By the late 1900′s mainline preachers ala Billy Graham could be found broadening the road to new and wider widths, yet we know from scripture that a broader road leads to destruction. As we enter this millennium, we see the fruit of apostasy ripe and rotten in nearly every organization we call a church, such that we can now practice eastern mystery religion on nearly every street corner in America…Not even the bars on the other corners have degraded as fast.
    Really though we see that the downgrade was always there, as Paul pointed out in hi writings. Yet, what we are seeing in our day, if it is not the great falling away, surly is the final dress rehersal I imagine.
    I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you, brother, for I have nothing to lose, and have already obtained through His grace EVERYTHING the Lord our God could give to us, that being His Son our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. For me Jesus is enough, and all else is simply a confirmation of this Truth. Besides, you can’t kill a dead man resurrected with Him our precious Lord Jesus! I appreciate you and the fellow “reply contributors” here at PTT!

  12. No Michael, Calvin did not burn Servetus on or at the stake. That was done by the city government of Geneva. Servetus was a heretic and if he had left Geneva and went back to an area controlled by Rome, they would have burned him. Calvin did everything he could to get Servetus to recant of his heresies and become a Christian, but he would not. The power to burn people was not in Calvin’s control. He was not the government.

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  14. I purposely stayed clear of the Calvin controversy when I touched upon the history. Calvin can neither be proven guilty, nor can he be proven innocent, and as I said before history is written by the victor and those burned at the stake cannot give their version. This I do know. There is plenty of evidence available that proves Calvin was not only a religious authority, but a governing authority in Geneva at the time. Further there is plenty of evidence that he helped in the prosecution and evidence gathering in the prosecution. He also was a complete influence on the entire process. He was known in Geneva as the pope of the reformation and “ruled with an iron hand,” hated criticism, and had a terrible anger by his own admission. He was offered and accepted the title “Master of Geneva” by city officials, and he accepted it, many described him as a tyrant.
    Both men were intelligent, learned, multi-talented, and competitive, and were contemporaries in their studies in France. Both were attorneys as well.
    The preponderance of evidence suggests that Calvin at the very least was complicit in the action which was taken against his adversary whom he had many arguments with, and knew that justice was not properly carried out in the trial.
    I know of no other example in “christian history” where a christian allowed such a miscarriage of justice, particularly that christian being an attorney sworn to uphold what we today would call the rule of law, though I am certain worse offenses have occurred…And this is in no way a defense of Servatus or his beliefs. Anyone who claims Christ and is in no way troubled by these events in Calvin’s life, has drank the denominational Kool-Aid and never bothered to check fully the facts.
    Calvin ruled Geneva at the time, and was most certainly a main part of the government that passed judgement on Servatus.
    Mike you are right in saying it probably would have happened in Rome as well, as his views were hated by most Protestants, as well as most Catholics, but had the Catholics got him first, it would have been no more justifiable. Yet it was a practice of the day, and proves my point that the history of much of the church was the history of a religion about Jesus, and was a morally theistic deism.

  15. Mickey, Isn’t it interesting that the account I studied about Calvin and this incident was quite different for by the time it took place, Calvin no longer had those powers? He was in constant conflict with the powers of the city. He had them at first and was ousted and left Geneva. When he came back, he no longer had them and that was when this took place. I am not taking up for Calvin, but I get so tired of people using this as a reason for Reformation Theology being wrong when it is not linked to it at all. Calvin was just a man just as Luther and you and I are. He had enemies and when he died, a lot of lies where published about him that were used to liberalize things there. He was puritanical that is for sure, but he was also quite godly in that he worked at controlling his temper, et cetera, just as I do.

    Calvin accused Servatus of his destructive heresies. This caused him to be arrested and tried. Is that complicity? That was the law of the day. What should we do with guys like T.D. Jakes and Benny Hinn? We can’t burn them so we just warn the brethren, but they go on and on and on as if the church is being judged. Oh yeah, it is.

    I honestly believe that Servatus was mad. Should he have been tried and burned? Probably not, but that was the way things were handled at that time. I’m not making excuses and Calvin has to answer to God for all that just as Luther does for the killing of all those peasants.

  16. We are in complete agreement, Reformed theology should not bear Calvin’s name nor his reputation, but the name and history that matters is Christ Jesus’. To the extent that any of them, or us for that matter are right, it is to His glory and from His giving us the eyes to see.
    It seems that every discussion brings quotes of dead men more often then the Living Word. We are all at times guilty of this, yet we remind and spur one another on to seek His Truth from His Word through the Holy Spirit. It will be worth it all when we see Him face to face and share in the Communion of the saints while the Ecumenical compromisers are the special guests of another feast where the foul are served. :)
    And no Calvinists are NOT ALLOWED TO BURN HERETICS TODAY EITHER!!! LOL

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