Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – Jms. 4:7 KJV
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James, the brother of Jesus wrote a letter to all Christians, basically on general teachings about the Christian life. His letter touched on several topics ranging from handling trials and temptations, to the believer not just being a hearer but also a doer of the of the word. In chapter 2, he condemned favouritism amongst believers encouraging them to demonstrate their fate by their deeds. In chapter 3, he cautioned believers on the wrong use of their tongue just as he advised them to apply more of heavenly wisdom than worldly wisdom. In chapter 4 which is the chapter containing the reference scripture for today, he emphasised on the need for believers to submit themselves to God completely.
He identified the cause of quarrel amongst believers as desperation in desiring carnal things which eventually will not be possessed, even after all forms of prayer sessions. Failure of prayer in this case, he attributes to wrong motive associated with such desires – Jms. 4:1-3. He identifies spiritual adultery as another reason why there is so much distance between man and his creator, stressing that friendship with the world will always lead to enmity with God, as His spirit that he has placed in man will always be envious – Jms. 4:4-6. With this, he concluded, in the next six verses (Jms. 4:7-12), with various advises on how the believer can deepen his/her relationship with God. The first of those verses is the foundation scripture for today’s devotion. In that scripture;
1. He advised the believer to submit to God. There is no way anyone can have a good relationship or deepen existing relationship with the Almighty God if such does not intend to submit to Him completely. The relationship with God is not that of equals. At best, it will be a father and child relationship and this is achieved when the Christian has taken the decision to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. To accept Jesus Christ as Lord and savior is to make commitments to submitting fully to him, without which no one can enjoy the grace that he brings. It will be the height of self deception if anyone thinks he/she can have the relationship of father and child with the Lord, without submitting to the Will of God through Jesus Christ.
To submit to God means to place oneself under the authority of God. Not only does such a person need to know at all times what God wants for specific situations, but must also willingly carry out all that God desires without second thoughts. Submission leaves the individual with no personal idea of his/hers concerning every situation that the individual finds him/her self in.
One who intends to submit must have a very clear and unrestricted communication link with the Lord and will not take an action until he has the view of the Lord about the situation. Such a person becomes the communication tool of the Lord and James says such a person will have succeeded in building a strong relationship with God to be able to attain such heights.
2. He advised the believer to resist the devil. James reveals that he who plans to submit to the Lord must develop the ability to resist the devil. There is no doubt that the devil remains the adversary of all those who decide to do the Will of God – 1Pet. 5:8. That is the only way he can justify his act of rebellion against God when God created man. For every good thought that is laid in the mind of the submissive believer, the devil has a version to forcefully push into the thoughts of the same person, which definitely, will be contrary to the Will of God. However, James equally reveals the tool with which the believer can overcome all the pranks of the devil. He says all the believer need do is to resist him and he will flee. Wow! So the devil is that much a coward and a powerless creation.
That means the devil is not as influential as people have presented him. James says it is all about the ability of the individual to reject all his suggestions and nothing more. It is that simple! But to resist someone is to powerfully stop the movement of the person either physically or spiritually in a particular direction. It implies that there is some level of force required to be able to resist and that force must be greater than the force of the invader.
It will be a journey in self deceit for man to believe that he is naturally endowed to withstand the spiritual ability of the devil – Zech. 4:6. The ability of flesh can never be sufficient to overcome spiritual forces. Again, the individual who intends to resist the devil must possess the Holy Spirit, being the promise of God to all believers, that will empower them to achieve spiritual targets – Acts 1:8. He who plans to successfully resist the devil must ask and receive the Holy Spirit, else the battle with the devil is a lost one ab initio.
Jesus Christ himself set an example for us when on three occasions, he successfully resisted the devil and it had to flee, even if for a season as the Bible noted – Lk. 4:1-13.
Resisting the devil is the only way that the believer can sustain his/her relationship with the Almighty God, just as it remains the only way to achieve success by the believer. He who plans to have sustained success in this world must develop a good relationship with the Almighty God (Josh. 1:8) so as to possess the Holy Spirit that will provide the supernatural ability to resist the devil and make way for only god-designed thoughts and actions. May God grant us the ability to resist the devil in Jesus name. Amen.