Sunday, 18 August 2019
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
James, having just quoted the proverb which says that God resists the proud but that He gives grace to the humble, now shows how to practically work that precept out. Starting out with, “Therefore,” is given to show this, and also to sum up the other precepts he stated, such as that the person who wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
These things lead naturally to the need for instruction concerning what to do in order to be pleasing to God. And so he says, “Therefore, submit to God.” The word conveys the idea of subjection. Vincent’s Word Studies says –
“The verb means to place or arrange under; as resist (James 4:6) is to array against. God sets himself in array against the proud; therefore, array yourselves under God, that ye may withstand the devil.”
One can see a connection to what Paul says in Ephesians 6:10, 11 here –
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
And this is what James continues to convey. There is a war against the devil going on. Paul gives his insights into this, and James does so as well. He says, “Resist the devil.” This is standing against him and what he puts before us in this fallen world. Because he is working out his devices in this world, it explains why James said (as noted above) that friendship with the world is enmity with God. When we align ourselves with the world, we align ourselves with what the devil offers.
In this, the believer is to make a public and conspicuous stand against what the devil offers, holding fast to the ground on which he should stand, which is the word of God and faith in Christ Jesus. In such a state of mind and with such firm conviction, James says of the devil that “he will flee from you.”
This is what Jesus did in His times of being tempted by the devil. He stood on the word of God and in the glorification of His Father. He prevailed over the devil by resisting him and standing fast. The contrast between Adam and Christ is recorded in Scripture to give us examples that we are to learn from. We can allow our old Adamic nature to rule in us, or we can allow Christ’s nature to rule in us.
Life application: By having a relationship with the world, we place ourselves in a position of enmity with God. But James gives us the remedy, which is to submit ourselves to God. One might think this applies to the general sense of looking up and praying to the unknown Creator as people of any faith would do – but the initial problem of sin isn’t dealt with by “religion.” Instead, the problem is dealt with by Jesus Christ. This verse must be taken in the Christian context. Buddhists, Muslims, etc. cannot bridge the divide by submission to a god that has failed to deal with the over-arching problem of sin.
Interestingly, “Islam” means submission, but it isn’t submission that brings restoration. Instead, the devil is still in complete control of them because the divide hasn’t been crossed.
Jesus – fully God and fully Man – can lay His hand on the Father and on each of us and restore felicity between the two. Once this is done, we need to continue to submit to God and resist the devil all our days. As we do so, the devil will be on the run. When covered by the precious blood of Christ and living in the power of the Holy Spirit, the devil has no way to lay hold on us. The great power of God in Christ causes him to “Run devil,,, ruuuuun” in the opposite direction. Forrest Gump couldn’t run any faster.
If you have come to Christ, then you have the power and force needed to resist the devil. Rely on the Holy Spirit to lead you, protect you, and give you wisdom in dealing with the devil. On your own, you will only live in the flesh and at enmity with God.
Heavenly Father, thank You so very much for the gift of Your Holy Spirit! Give us the wisdom to rely on Him and His power as we walk in this darkened world. May He protect us from the afflictions of the devil and carry us safely through our earthly walk until we come to that heavenly abode that we long to see – the place where Your glory dwells. Amen.