11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of 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 one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? (James 4:11–12, NKJV).
God’s prophet gives us a plain warning not to speak evil of one another. “Speak evil” translates the Greek word katalaleo, “to be a traducer, i.e. to slander:–speak against (evil of)” (Strong’s Greek #2635). Words that belittle, defame, and libel other Christians (or anyone, for that matter) are sins against brethren, against God, and His law. James does not negate the accurate, appropriate judging of sin. For example, the apostle Paul said we judge unrepentant Christians (“those who are inside”) by applying corrective discipline and putting away the evil person from ourselves (1 Cor. 5:12-13). James is condemning unrighteous judgments that are void of divine truth. He addresses and exposes the sinful “wars and fights” that arise among Christians in this context (James 4:1). Divisive, factious words and actions are worldly and prideful (James 4:1-6). We “become judges with evil thoughts” when we quickly think the worst, grumble and complain against one another, and show partiality in our treatment of one another (James 2:4, 12-13; 5:9). We become the law or standard by which we judge others. James cautions us to remember God is the Lawgiver to whom we are all answerable. He saves and destroys; therefore, we give place to His judgments. Let us not become judges of one another to our destruction.
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:33–34, NKJV)
Sin deceives, corrupts and destroys. The temptation to fulfill the lusts of the flesh immediately and repeatedly lures the naive to their own destruction, and captures those who are very familiar with the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24). It is foolish to convince ourselves that evil companions have no impact on us. If light and salt influence the world for righteousness, then darkness and bitterness have their corrupting influence, too (Matt. 5:13-16). Being a Christian means having drastically different values and practices from those who do not follow Jesus. We do not live by the motto, “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” even though many around us do (1 Cor. 15:32). We must not define and measure righteousness by those who do not know God. The Lord does that for us in His word. Jesus commands us not to sin precisely because we know the truth (Jno. 8:31-32). We need to wake up and not sin. If we slumber and let the world influence us to sin, then we will die with the world (1 Thess. 5:5-10).
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? (James 4:1, NKJV)
Is your life defined by constant skirmishes with others? If so, there is a war taking place in you. Your desire for personal pleasure and satisfaction fuels these contentions and fights with others (which you deem necessary in order to obtain your self-defined happiness). Hedonism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the belief that pleasure or happiness is the most important goal in life.” A good life, according to this philosophy, is fulfilling your personal pleasures, desires and sensual delights. Invariably, this leads to selfishness and ill treatment of others, instead of kindness and love. In contrast to the hedonistic pursuit of worldly fulfillment (by which one becomes an enemy of God, James 4:4), Christians “pursue peace with all people, and holiness” (Hebrews 12:14). James previously advised that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17). If you want to achieve peace with others and with God, then do not think and act like fulfilling your ambitions is the true course to happiness. A good dose of humility helps us win the battles in our war against the devil and be at peace with others (James 4:6-7). (Reprint, #920, edited)
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, NKJV)
Whose friend are you – God’s, or the world’s? The world is the system of evil that opposes God and His will (1 John 2:15-17). A Christian cannot join hands with the world, doing and endorsing what the world does, without becoming God’s enemy. Simple as that. James uses adultery to make the point. The world celebrates adultery. When husbands and wives commit adultery, the world calls it a “love affair,” but there is nothing loving about it. The entertainment industry (movies, television, the internet, etc.) celebrates adultery. The porn industry persuades it. But, God is very clear: The sin of adultery is not a love affair, it is a lust affair (James 4:1-3; Hebrews 13:4). Jesus said, “You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). The worldly-minded do not love Jesus, because they do not obey Jesus. They are driven by selfish desires. They are God’s enemies. Do not be counted among them. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:6-7).
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV)
Sorrow and repentance are two, very different things. This passage discusses two types of sorrow; godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Only one of them produces repentance. Judas expressed “the sorrow of the world” when he was remorseful over betraying Jesus (Matt. 27:3-5). Such sorrow is directed inward, and leads to spiritual death. Worldly grief over your sins is hopeless and impotent to cleanse its stain and guilt. In Judas’ case, it led him to suicide. Sorrow that is directed toward God leads to repentance. Hearts are changed toward sin and toward God when we sorrow over having wronged God. We ought to recall that every sin we commit against others, is against God (Psalm 51:4). Even though all have sinned, not everyone has godly sorrow for their sins. The challenge of repenting of our sins begins with a heart that is crushed with grief for sinning against God. That is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is hopeful, and is directed toward God. It produces repentance, and leads to salvation. Which kind of sorrow you have, when you sin? Or, have you so hardened your heart toward God that you are sorry when you sin against His will? Become sensitive to sin, sorrowful toward God, and repent (Acts 17:30-31). When you do, salvation will arise out of sorrow.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2, NKJV)
In what direction have you set your mind? The word of God simplifies our choices. In truth, our mind is either set on heavenly things, or we set our mind on things of this earth. The first is spiritual, fulfilling and eternal. The second is worldly, unsatisfying and temporal. This is not a “one off” setting of the mind. We are to keep on setting our mind on things above. Are you seeking heaven (Col. 3:1)? If so, you cannot attain it by fixing your mind on earthly things. We are so much more than flesh and bones. We have been made in God’s image, with a mind that reasons and operates on free will (not instinct), possessing moral consciousness intellect and emotions. And so, we should fixate our whole being on heaven. For the Christian live for the earth instead of for heaven defies the very reason we have been raised with Christ from spiritual death (Col. 2:12; 3:1).