Submit to God. Resist the Devil.

I have used James 4.7-10 for many years during times of prayer. Today’s article will examine the text so that we can use it in our relationship with our loving Lord.

You will recall that verse 5 states God’s purpose. He is jealous for his Spirit to dwell in us.

This is an awesome gift from God.

God promised through his prophet, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37.14).

On the Day of Pentecost, God’s indwelling and life-giving Spirit became available to all humans.

Our gracious and loving God earnestly desires that we experience every gift the Spirit has for us.

Verse 7 states the proper response to the indescribable gift of the Holy Spirit.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4.7).

Notice the word “therefore.” Because God deeply desire to give us the Spirit, the most logical decision we can make is to submit to God.

The Greek word for submit incorporates the idea of taking what is rightfully ours and yielding it to another.

Paul taught that yielding to God is the most reasonable response to God’s love that we can make.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship” (Romans 12.1).

God has a great gift for humans, the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Our response to the gift is reasonable. We yield what is ours by submitting the direction of our lives to God’s leadership through the Spirit.

Resist the Devil

In chapter 4, James considers three enemies that attempt to steal our relationship with the Holy Spirit from us.

(1) The flesh is our inclination to self-sufficiency, rather than submission to God’s guidance.

Verses 1-3 describes the destructive activity of human behavior that is not submitted to the Lord.

(2) We learn about the world’s system in verses 4-6, where we find that we can not be friends with God and the world’s system at the same time.

(3) Verse 7 instructs us to “resist the devil.”

The devil and demons must be resisted. When we resist them, God promises that they will flee from us.

The truth is we need to resist all three: the world’s system, the flesh, and the devil.

Draw Near

If we remind ourselves that God earnestly desires for his Spirit to dwell in us, we will quickly respond to the next imperative.

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4.8a).

God’s consistent call to his people is, “Return to me, and I will return to you” (Malachi 3.7).

Humans have a tendency to live independently of God and to be influenced by the prevailing culture. We must continually draw near to God by returning to our relationship with him.

According to James, this involves the following: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded

“Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection” (James 4.8b-9).

Years before James wrote his letter, the prophet Joel pictured the kind of repentance that was involved in drawing near to God.

Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

Rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love,
and relenting from punishment.
(Joel 2.12-13)

Just as Joel promised God’s gracious response to repentance, so did James.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4.10).

YouTube Videos

Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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