Friendship With The World Is Enmity With God: What Does This Verse Mean?

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Published by Kimberly Wall


Co-Founder, Disciple Group Leader, Author

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The universe is an incredible place because God made it and considered it good. Through the sacrifice of Christ, it has been saved, though it is still not completely mended. We can make our path here as God’s friends only if we thrive in the world, but not of it, like travelers who were sent here to bless people and carry on Christ’s mission after he ascended from his throne above to save the world.

But, what does the Scripture teach about “friendship with the world”? What is the meaning of “friendship with the world is enmity with God”? And how can we determine if we are friends with the world?

Key Takeaways

  • Friendship with the world, characterized by embracing its sinful desires and values, is fundamentally opposed to God and leads to spiritual enmity with Him.
  • True discipleship requires rejecting worldly pleasures and focusing on God’s will, aiming for a life that prioritizes spiritual over material values.
  • Eternal life with God is promised to those who resist worldly temptations and faithfully follow His commandments.

What Is “The World”?

So, in order to truly comprehend this, let us return to the time when everything began. When God looked at everything He had created, it was absolutely very good…,” according to Genesis 1:31.

Something has changed since then, as revealed in Genesis 3 regarding mankind’s rebellion and downfall into wickedness, as well as the devastating consequences. Only three sections afterward, Genesis 6:5 reads, “Then the Holy father saw that the sin of man was rampant in the world and that each intent of every heart was only bad constantly.”

It All Starts With The Fall Of Adam And Eve

At first, Adam and Eve were involved solely with the Lord and were impacted by His Spirit, and everything was fine. They were affected by a prideful, wicked attitude by adhering to the serpent or Satan [1]. They decided to defy God, resulting in sin and disconnection from Him.

Eventually, love for oneself took the place of love for Him, His teachings, and everything that is good. This egotism—seeking whatever we desire, thought, or even see despite knowing what is wrong or right, and living according to our own desire—has infected all of humanity.

This is what we call “the world,” and it doesn’t exist someplace out there. It dwells within every individual. The Scripture refers to this human behavior after the fall, and it has influenced everyone on the planet.

God’s Number One Enemy Is Now The World’s Primary Influence

According to Ephesians 2:2–3, “… according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Satan’s presence is currently the dominant influence across the globe. He is the main enemy of God and humanity.

What Does The Bible Say About “Friendship With The World”?

The Teachings Of James

Upon witnessing extensive superficiality in the hearts of his listeners, James issues a strong warning written in James 4:1–17. Even more James 4:4, ESV reads, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not realize that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a friend of the world also becomes an adversary of God.” Enmity is the attitude of strongly opposing someone.

Adultery is a popular scriptural metaphor for Christian unfaithfulness in our connection with God (examples are found in Jeremiah 3:20; Ezekiel 16). This theme is most visible in the chapters of Hosea particularly in Hosea 2:1–23. While God offered Israel unending love, these adulterous people replied with rejection, wickedness, and greed.

James gives a message to “you adulterers and adulteresses” who have withdrawn their heads away from the Lord and have become obsessed with the world. He encourages followers not to develop a lifestyle that mirrors “friendship with the world,” saying that we ought to never embrace the world’s values, morals, ambitions, or activities, but rather “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

We Cannot Be Friends With The World While Worshiping Jesus

James uses repetition to highlight that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” and “anyone who aspires to be one makes himself an opponent of God.” Moreover, Apostle Paul condemns the worldly mentality using the same Greek term in James 4:4 translated as “enmity.”

Paul strongly says in Romans 8:7–8, “The thought governed mostly by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

We must be mindful not to fool ourselves into believing that we may live in a close relationship with God while still setting our eyes on the world’s goods. Also, we should “remember what happened to Lot’s wife!” declared in Luke 17:32.

Christians are instructed by the Disciple Paul to develop all of our attention and focus on God. He mentions, “Since you’ve been born to a fresh start with Jesus, concentrate your attention on the reality of paradise, where Lord Jesus Christ sits in the position of honor at Divine’s right hand. Consider the things of eternal bliss rather than the pleasures of earth. For you have died to this world, and your true life is sealed in the Lord with Jesus” (Colossians 3:1–3).

view of city with tall buildings during sunset and friendship with the world is enmity with god

What Does “Friendship With The World Is Enmity With God” Mean?

Those who desire to be friends with the world make the Lord their enemy because friendship with the world means enmity with God. This is a caution to people that they can’t follow God and seek the wicked things in this world at the same time. Furthermore, the Bible also confirms that evil is a friend of the world and they originated from our earthly desires.

All Ungodly Cravings Are The Source Of Evil

This is the way the world tries to enable itself to attain what it wants. They lie, deceive, and steal in order to satisfy their desires. To meet their demands, they mistreat and suppress others.

The Amalekites in the Bible exemplify such behavior, aggressively attacking the Israelites unprovoked, driven by their own greed and hostility. Most people do not wait on the Lord at all; if they ask for something and it is delayed, they decide to obtain it in their own way.

The majority of people’s prayers are entirely selfish. They are primarily concerned with themselves and their families. God doesn’t always provide us with the things we want, but rather what we need. God only grants our deepest wishes as long as they are in accordance with His will. Therefore, we must connect our aspirations with His will.

Give Up All The World’s Pleasures

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world makes us crave physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (1 John 2:15–17).

John simply noted that we can determine the individuals who follow God from the people who do not by recognizing their openness to see their own accomplishments and riches as meaningless in comparison to the fulfillment they find in Jesus Christ. These people will have everlasting life with Him.

Many so-called believers who answered God’s call have returned to the world since they cannot let go of the pleasures of this life. They cannot give up their bond with their wicked friends, nor can they give up their wicked sources of wealth, their status, or the honor that comes from friendship.

Don’t Fall In Love With The World’s Ways

The love we have for the Father will be squeezed out by the love we have for the world. The fleshly lust, the craving for the eyes, and the arrogant lifestyle are not related to the father. Those three things would put our faith in God to trial. God loves us wholeheartedly, yet worldly pleasures such as going to bars and clubs, overspending and having fun with our friends, and indulging in our earthly wishes do not demonstrate that we truly love God.

Life’s pride—the status, success, or things we are unable to let go for Jesus Christ doesn’t reflect our genuine love for Him. Some people had heard from God about moving to a new city or leaving their work, but the joy and fulfillment they find there prevent them from making that move, thus disobeying God. With Christ, obedience is the evidence of love. “If you truly love me, you would keep my commandments,” he adds.

How Do We Know If We Are Being Friends With The World?

Ultimately, friendship with the world entails believing in, being in, and embracing the desire of the flesh as well as the underlying spirit underlying them—our ego! We can’t do this and be God’s friend!

Turning away from sin, turning to Jesus, giving Him our full heart, and following Him are the only ways to gain God’s friendship. It is to detest fleshly lusts—all egoism, selfishness, and wickedness—and to embrace what our true God loves—everything that is decent, honest, good, and righteous.

This is explicitly indicated in 1 John 2:15–19: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever… therefore the world hates you.”

Truly, friendship with the world is enmity with God. Our God created the world for His children but being friends with the world means enmity against God. Despite this truth, God gives us more grace and more chance to turn back to Him.

view of snow covered mountains over a lake during sunset and friendship with the world is enmity with god


All people who do whatever God desires will have eternal life with Him. Simply having faith in His will is what it is to love God and Jesus—putting God’s words our priority in life and following Jesus Christ. While pursuing things our own way is the total opposite of that.

Seeking friendship with the world makes us in conflict with the Lord and places our souls in jeopardy (Mark 8:36). Inversely, if we seek closeness with Christ by renouncing our own will, grabbing our crosses, and obeying Him, we will have all we need in the world and the next one (Mark 8:35).

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does “Friendship With The World Is Enmity With God” Mean?

“Friendship with the world is enmity with God” means that forming a close relationship with worldly desires and values is in direct conflict with God’s will and makes one an enemy of God.

Why Is Friendship With The World Considered Enmity With God?

Friendship with the world is considered enmity with God because it involves embracing sinful behaviors and materialistic values that are opposed to God’s teachings and the spiritual life He desires for us.

How Can One Avoid Being A Friend Of The World?

One can avoid being a friend of the world by living a life that prioritizes God’s will over worldly desires, focusing on spiritual growth, and adhering to the teachings of the Bible.

What Are The Consequences Of Being Friends With The World?

The consequences of being friends with the world include spiritual separation from God, hindered relationship with Him, and ultimately jeopardizing one’s eternal life with God.

Can You Be A Friend Of God And Still Enjoy Life In The World?

You can be a friend of God and still enjoy life in the world by enjoying God’s creations and blessings in a way that honors Him, without succumbing to sinful desires and materialistic pursuits that lead away from Him.

How Does One Reconcile Living In The World But Not Being Of The World?

One reconciles living in the world but not being of the world by engaging with the world in ways that reflect Christ’s love and mission, without adopting the sinful values and practices that are prevalent in the world.

What Role Does Obedience Play In Not Being Friends With The World?

Obedience plays a crucial role in not being friends with the world as it involves following God’s commandments and teachings, thereby rejecting worldly temptations and demonstrating love for God through our actions.

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