Resist the Devil
James 4: 7-12
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4: 7.
While chapter four is divided into three different postings, it still remains that the chapter is dealing with worldly Christians, though the things contained therein explain what is wrong with the world system in general.
The opening verse in the chapter is the key to the whole thing, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” New King James Version. That this concerns the worldly Christian becomes clearer when read in the New American Standard Version, The Lockman Foundation; “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” James 4: 1.
Having laid out the problem of worldliness, James now gives the cure for such an attitude; beginning with, “Therefore submit to God.” How this is done is found in I Peter 5, where he begins by quoting a verse already found in James 4: 6, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5: 5b. This verse, in turn is found in two locations in the Old Testament, I am going to quote them here, not to confuse you, but to give you a rounded perspective of this principle.
“Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs 3: 34.
“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’” Isaiah 57: 15.
God has taken the main thrust of these two passages and put it into the epistles of both James and Peter. The underlying meaning of this is that God is a humble God; yes, hard as it is to believe this is true, Jesus is God incarnate, and He was humble, that means that God the Father is also humble.
I believe that Satan made two mistakes when he rebelled against God. The first mistake was in underestimating God’s power. He did so by believing that he could be like Him. God made running creation look so easy that the devil believed that he could do just as good a job as the Lord; but the devil is not infinite in knowledge or power, so running the entire universe like clockwork, and managing nature here on earth, or anywhere, is just as much beyond his capacity as it is ours. Look around you; can you imagine running nature, setting up the weather, knowing the number of tuna off the west coast, managing the ice floes in the north Atlantic to set up the proper conditions for the breeding areas for those tuna, or just having concern for the lives of some 6.8 billion people? What was this guy thinking?
His second mistake was in underestimating God’s personality. The devil must have thought that with a humble God on the throne, He would just move over and allow him to co-rule. You know, go up to God, slap Him on the side and say, “Hey big guy, there is plenty of room on this throne for the two of us!” and God would just meekly move over. The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy, and Satan clearly did not know God. His own arrogance doomed him, and for all his bravado and machinations, he is still slowly sinking in the raw sewage of his own self-delusion and maleficence; once he goes under, we will not hear from him again.
So then, God is drawn to the humble and contrite because they are like Him. Can you imagine a more peaceful heaven than one where everyone accepts and cares for one another and rather than blaspheming God, are content to just let Him do His job? Is this not how you pick your companions? Do you hang out with like minded folks, or do you prefer to associate with people who criticize you, make fun of you, or just argue with you all the time? I thought not; that is just not heaven.
“Therefore submit to God.” Now let us let Peter explain, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5: 6-7.
This idea is not to humble yourselves under the crushing hand of God, rather it is to submit to whatever circumstance He puts you in. The double-minded Christian is always trying to promote his own plans without considering what God may have in store for him. The result of this is that God is unable to bless him because he has taken himself out of the place of blessing.
Granted, this humbling may take us into things which are uncomfortable even frightening; this is why God tells us to cast all our cares upon Him, “for He cares for you”; you must be continually in prayer and in faith, knowing that God will not desert you, ever. Lose sight of this, and you may lose sight of the goal of staying under the mighty hand of God. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5: 16-18. Whatever you do, never give up; if you fall turn to your Father and He will lift you up. Again, do not give up!
And this brings us to the accuser. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The name devil means accuser, or slanderer; he accuses us before God, as seen in Revelation 12: 10 and the thing that is not often realized is that he accuses God before us.
How often have you heard questions like, “Why does God not do something about all the misery in this world?” “Look at all the horrible torture and death done in the name of God?” “Why would God punish us for doing things that feel good like, drugs and sex?” “My God would not send someone to hell!” “Why would God create a homosexual then send him to hell?” “What about the heathen, does God send them all to hell just because they have not heard of Him?”
And he will accuse God to you personally by questioning God’s motives or His methods. Then when you fall because of his lies, he will accuse you before God and to yourself. And the accusations will seem to come from your very own heart. “Are all these awful trials coming to me because God is angry with me, or because He hates me?” “I am such a failure; God is surely finished with me, what is the use in going on if I only fail?” This evil, malicious person will even attack children with his lies. “My daddy died because I am a bad child and God is angry with me.” “I am too bad for God to save me.” “I must clean up my act before God will save me.”
This is why you must have even a basic knowledge of the Bible and read it every day, knowing the Scriptures will help you to recognize the lies. Another advantage to knowing the Scriptures is they help you to resist the devil. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, as seen in Matthew 4: 1-11, Mark 1: 12-13, and Luke 4: 1-13, you will notice that the Lord only answered him with Scripture, this is all the argument you will need. You will also notice that the answers refuted the lies that Satan was telling Him. In the same manner you can recognize lies of the devil by comparing them to the truth of the Bible.
For instance in answer to the statement, “I am too bad for God to save me.” “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6: 37. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6: 40.
Or, “I must clean up my act for God to save me.” “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” Luke 23: 39-43. He had time only to confess that he was a sinner and was receiving his due reward and to accept Christ as his savior; no time to clean up his act.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6.
Before leaving this, it should be noted that while we are told to resist the devil, we are to flee youthful lusts, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” II Timothy 2: 22. While the devil seems like the more powerful of the two, he is at a disadvantage because we have the authority to tell him to leave, but youthful lusts work from within and are hard for the flesh to resist. Just as the alcoholic is to stay out of bars, so we should stay away from compromising situations.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4: 8-9.
In drawing near to God it is necessary to, “cleanse your hands, you sinners”, just as the thief on the cross confessed his sinfulness, so the Christian needs to confess and forsake their own sinfulness. Worldly Christians today do not realize that even though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross cleansed them from all sin, they still sin, and this needs to be confessed.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” I John 1: 8-10.
The reason this needs to be confessed is that it is to keep short accounts with God and not allow sin to come between ourselves and our Father. Here is the problem, if we allow unconfessed sin into our lives it then becomes necessary for God to correct us to bring us back into line with what a Christian is supposed to be before God and men, holy. You can save yourself a lot of grief by confessing known sin and forsaking it. In this manner we cleanse our hands; the hands being symbolic of what we do.
“…purify your hearts, you double-minded.” This is the act of repenting of our worldly viewpoint and seeking God’s will for our lives. But you must admit, the thrust of this phrase is very strong, “purify your hearts”, indicates a complete change of heart, not, “Don’t do that again”; you see that here and in the following verses.
“Lament and mourn and weep!” Do you see the power in these statements? This is true repentance. “Why rattle on about weeping, wailing and gnashing our teeth; it is my life, let me live it the way I want and I will accept the consequences later on?” That makes sense, does it not? Here is where the phrase, no man is an island, comes in.
Everything you do affects another; this is true of the loner, the doper, class clown, concerned father, drunk, or genius, they all affect someone, whether their parents, children, business associates, or friends. And know this too, you are being watched, particularly if you make some claim to being a Christian. People watch you to see if you are true to your own statements as to who you are; they notice your language, and your gestures.
If a person lives for himself it is possible for those he loves to die unsaved; the wife who never saw a Christian example or heard the gospel from her husband, the children who grew up in such a home, learning only materialism and seeing the world’s way of dealing with things through drugs and alcohol which foments rebellion and causes estrangement from their family, distancing them even farther from the hope of hearing God’s word, until even their father could not speak to them of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Many a Christian will stand next to Christ on Judgment Day and watch as friends, neighbors, and loved ones are cast into the lake of fire, in part because they were too busy living for themselves to tell others of the love of God.
“For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14: 7-8.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4: 10.
Only this true and heartfelt repentance, cleansing your hands, which are your deeds, and purifying your heart, turning it back and centering it on Christ the true lover of your soul, will bring you to this place of humility in the sight of the Lord.
“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4: 11-12.
This passage is quite confusing and apart from the obvious fact that we are not to judge our brethren it becomes a bit obscure, hopefully it will not be after this.
The Lord Jesus has already spoken to us about judging in Matthew 7: 1-5. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
What does it mean, with what judgment you judge with, you will be judged by? Let us suppose you become fed up with the speeders on the road and say to yourself, “I will never drive over 65 miles per hour on the freeway”; you then grumble to yourself “There goes another one” each time you are passed on the road, judging them, hoping they will get a ticket. Then one day you are late for a dentist’s appointment, and you say to yourself, “It is only this once, this is important!” you see, you have broken your own law. Will you grumble if you get a ticket?
Getting back to our passage, the J. B. Phillips Version of the New Testament may help a little in its interpretation.
“Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers. If you do you are judging your brother and setting yourself up in the place of God’s Law; you have become in fact a critic of the Law. Yet if you start to criticize the Law instead of obeying it you are setting yourself up as judge, and there is only one judge, the one who gave the Law, to whom belongs absolute power of life and death. How can you then be so silly as to imagine that you are your neighbor’s judge?” James 4: 11-12.
F. W. Grant’s take on this passage though really seems to nail it down. He says if you speak evil of your brother and judge him, you judge the Law and take away from God, to whom it is given to judge, and put yourself in His place as judge. God is the only one who qualifies as a just and righteous judge, since He knows the thoughts and intents of the hearts of those who come before Him. The judgment that is given into our hands, is to judge our own motivations, not another’s. While it is true that we are to judge blatant evil among our brethren and turn away from it, judgment still belongs to God. When the full impact of the picture being described here hits you, you will see just how sinful judging another can be for it robs God of His rightful place.
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14: 10-12.
Resist the Devil taken from blog.godisrevealed.com
Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.