You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
Regarding this text, here is an excerpt from a sermon I preached this past Sunday on James 4:1-12:
When God led the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt, he took them to Mount Sinai where he gave them his Law. At Mount Sinai, God also entered into a covenant relationship with the people of Israel. This covenant relationship is frequently portrayed as a marriage ceremony in the Old Testament. God joined himself to Israel like a husband joins himself to his bride with covenantal vows. Therefore, when Israel would go astray and worship other gods in the Old Testament, they were called adulteresses by the prophets because they were being unfaithful to their husband, God. This is why Hosea, the prophet, was instructed by God to marry a harlot, because that is how Israel was acting toward God, as an unfaithful wife. This is the same imagery that the New Testament uses when the Church is called the bride of Christ. James picks up on all of this imagery when he calls his readers adulteresses in verse 4.
Reflecting on these realities, I was reminded of a great song by Derek Webb that symbolically portrays the redemption that is offered in Christ, even though all have committed spiritual adultery. The song is called “Wedding Dress,” and in it Webb uses the imagery of a wedding dress to symbolize the purity and righteousness that every Christian, the bride, is clothed with even as their sins are washed away by the Jesus, the bridegroom. You can listen below:
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.