Scripture

James 4:7 (NIV)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Observation

The epistle of James is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. Yesterday I wrote about studying the Bible in context. However, unlike the epistles of Paul, which often do require a bit more understanding of context, I find that James speaks directly to my heart as a Believer today without having to delve into as much context. Paul was often addressing issues specific to the people of the different churches and was aware of the desires of Jewish leaders to try and teach new, Gentile believers, ideology contrary to the Gospel message. Furthermore, he knew the other temptations that faced new Believers. Although we don’t have statues of idols and other false gods so much in evidence today, as pathways of religion, our false gods and idols are even more dangerous because they are not so obvious to us.

Although the epistle of James is addressed to the “twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1 NIV), it might as well be addressed to “every Christian believer scattered around the world today.” James doesn’t pull any punches. Right away, we’re told to “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2 NIV). This sentence, telling us to receive trials in our lives, not as the world does, but with joy in the face of adversity, is akin to the beginning of a James Bond movie, where we get to see Bond pull out all of the stops and do something impossible. When that happens, we know it’s going to be a good movie. We’re being told, basically, here at the beginning of James, to do something equally “impossible” in our lives. Something we could never do without God. Bond has movie magic. We have the reality of God.

I don’t know if it’s just me or if this is common but I often hear people say to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Rarely, however, do I ever hear anyone quote the entire verse from James, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). It’s good to know that the devil will flee from you when you resist him. However, you need to know how to resist him. We resist the devil by being humble and submitting to God. Furthermore, when we look to the previous verse, we can see that “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6 NIV).

In our walk with God, our submission to Him needs to be constant. Jesus is the only person to ever have been tempted by the devil who was without sin. Therefore, the devil had nothing to work with except the temptations that are common to all people. This is important to know for two reasons; first, it can help us understand that when we sin, and when we are not humble and submitted to God, we are giving the devil a foothold in our lives. We are effectively allowing sin to work in our lives. The other reason is that we need to know that when we are tempted, it may not be because we aren’t walking humbly with God but experiencing a trial that we must go through. Being tempted isn’t a sin. The temptation of Jesus shows us this truth.

Remember that James tells us to, “consider it put joy” when we face trials? Our temptations are also trials that we go through. Therefore, it’s important to know why we should consider it “pure joy” to go through trials and temptations. Fortunately, James tells us, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:3 NIV). Perseverance is good. James goes on to tell us that once we have perseverance that we are to, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4 NIV). When we walk through trials and come out the other side our faith is stronger. We know that what we’ve gone through we couldn’t have gone through without God. Furthermore, we know that our trial and temptation has now become a testimony that will allow us to help someone else going through the same thing. When we know these things, when we realize the benefits of persevering in faith, then we are stronger and more mature in Christ.

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.