James 4:7 - "Submit to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you."
Very popular this passage. All the TV guys preach it emphatically. They line the altars with it's response.
Hey, who doesn't want to set the devil to flight and out of our life?
What happens when it doesn't work? Has the Word of God failed? Did James, even God Himself, just put that in the Bible for encouragement and effect? Does it only work some of the time?
No, to all the questions above.
The problem with this passage is it's too easily read and employed out of context.
The problem is not with the resisting. It's with the submitting.
"Resist the devil" is a powerful ammunition. It's of a powerful caliber, and it won't work properly in the wrong gun.
In other words, while it is popular to get folks all riled up about resisting the devil by stomping on his head, etc., the fact remains that he knows who has the actual power and authority to do that.
Hence the reason for some to get the snot whooped out of them on an often daily basis.
They tangled with the wrong dude and didn't have the right weapon.
They forgot the submission part.
Oh, you're in good company. It happened to Peter time and again, the last being near tragic.
The failure to read and study contextually reveals a severe chink in the armor. If we simply back up one verse to #6 we see why James said #7.
"God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it)."
There it is. Pride is the culprit. Pride is non-submission personified.
There are a lot of pride filled people running around resisting the devil without first having submitted themselves FULLY to God.
Catch yourself. If your reading this and thinking "That's not me", perhaps you should think again. The unwillingness to at least entertain the possibility that you have room for growth in the Holy Spirit is a sign of pride in itself.
Pride has to die. Peter refused and Jesus told him that Satan would sift him like wheat.
The "wheat" in us has to die just as Jesus metaphorically said about a kernel of wheat having to fall in the ground to die before it becomes what it should be.
Remember John the Baptist saying about Jesus, "His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His granary, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."?
We are that wheat. He is gathering us into His church. There is only room for the wheat, not the chaff.
Life is a threshing floor my friends.
Yes, we have a gracious (it's all grace) power to resist AND defeat the satanic adversary in our lives, but not until we have shed the husk of pride, not until we have first truly submitted all to Jesus.
I shudder to think of the percentage of the Church of Jesus Christ who have only paid lip service, or not even that much to the King. Remember this from Matt. 7: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven."
Or this right before it: ""For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
Why the scary verses from Matthew? Because therein lies the secret to eternal life which has been hidden and confounded by pride.
Submit. Break your pride, the one great stranglehold that Satan has against you. Break your pride and break your knees. Kneel before the Gracious One and He will not brag for having "broken" you, but will rejoice at your ability to receive all the grace He pours out upon you.
We are God's children, not his lowly subjects. He knows how to lavish great things upon His children.
And He doesn't like seeing us coming home from school everyday beaten up by Satan.
Is that you? Beat up and pushed around by what you have come to recognize as the circumstances of the world? That's life you say? No, that's not living. That's barely existing.
Then do something about it.
Submit to God. Then and ONLY then may you resist the devil and gain the hand of God over your life and the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Keepin' it Real,
Pastor Kevin <><