Salvation is sometimes compared to marriage. Upon getting saved, you are unified with Christ and are for Him only. We are to give up the attachments we have had to sin and the sinful things of the world, committing ourselves instead to God. He will never leave us, will always be faithful, and will always love us, and we are expected to be the same.
Unfortunately we so often leave and are faithless. We get comfortable with our relationship with God and take it for granted. We start going through the motions. We spend more time doing our own thing and spend less time with God. We look back at the relationship with sin we once had, and begin flirting with it again. We play with the idea of hiding some on the side. Then before you know it we’re off on the deep end.
Just like in a marriage, it doesn’t take much to start cheating. Cheating also isn’t just one drastic act. Just because one hasn’t physically committed adultery doesn’t mean they haven’t cheated on their spouse. Just because one isn’t flat out worshiping idols doesn’t mean they are still faithfully worshiping God. Cheating starts in your mind and heart, and if you don’t kill those little thoughts there, cheating only gets bigger. Soon there are little compromises, little actions you feel you can justify, then before you know it those little things become bigger things, and you have a whole mess.
In James 4, James is writing to Christians who are being unfaithful to God. He tells them about their problems and why they have them, calling them adulterers. James reminds these believers that they can’t have a friendship with the sinful things of the world and with God at the same time. The two are so opposed that to love sin is to be God’s enemy. In marriage you can’t truly love your spouse as you should if you keep a lover on the side. You can’t be faithful to your spouse and faithful to your lover at the same time. In salvation, you can’t truly love God as you should if you keep sin on the side. You can’t be faithful to God and faithful to sin at the same time.
But God is jealous, and refuses to just let us walk off like that. God loves us too much to let us go do what we shouldn’t. God’s jealousy is perfectly justified being upset with us for our unfaithfulness, but within God’s jealousy is the desire for our return and reconciliation. Marriage doesn’t stop just because someone makes the wrong decisions. On an even greater, more permanent level, salvation doesn’t stop just because I make the wrong decisions. The unfaithful Christian can repent and return to unity with God, as an unfaithful spouse can repent and return to unity with their spouse.
Have you been cheating on God? If so, know that He still loves and wants you anyway, and you can come back. For a Biblical example of this kind of love, read the book of Hosea.