July 16th

Submit to God & Resisting the Devil

1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? 6But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:1-10 NKJV 

It’s natural for us to want to see the devil flee when we resist him.  Even so, many people resist the devil’s temptations for awhile and then give up when he apparently does not flee from them.  Why didn’t the devil flee when they resisted him? 

James gave an possible answer to that question in the above passage.  The important prerequisite for resisting the devil is submitting ourselves to God’s will.  Unfortunately, our human tendency is to retain control of our lives after we accept Jesus instead of fully surrendering the control to God.   This can be referred to as “carnal Christianity.” 

Carnal Christianity grieves God, who wants us to enjoy the fruits of his goodness and salvation.  He wants us to be free of lust and the other vain desires of the “old self.”  God made a great sacrifice to redeem us – he gave his Son’s life in order to gain us.  Considering that sacrifice, it shouldn’t surprise us that God jealously yearns for our full devotion.   

When we rebel against God by continuing to sin, we are also sinning by pride.  In effect we’re telling God that his way is not good enough for us.  Such pride will block God’s favor and blessing from our lives.  James cited Proverbs 3:34 and Psalm 138:6 in verse 6, showing how God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.  

It can be a great challenge to deny our flesh and wait on God for the things that we need and want.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can break the carnal patterns of the past and bring our desires and cravings under the Lord’s rule.   This may involve some temporary pain as we deny our fleshly cravings that we used to gratify through sin, but as we exercise godliness, we will grow stronger in the spirit.  It will become easier to subdue our flesh and live for God.   

If you have placed faith in Jesus, yet have continued to live in sin, you can take steps to return to God today.  You can use the above passage as a roadmap for repentance:

·        Approach God in prayer

·        Confess and repent of your sin – mourn the damage it has caused

·        Receive God’s forgiveness and purification of your body and mind from sin

·        Submit your will to God’s will and offer your spirit, body and mind as instruments for righteousness and not sin 

By humbling ourselves through the above steps, we’ll be aligned with God’s will.  We can expect the devil to flee from us when we resist temptations.  We will receive grace and favor with God.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Holy and Merciful God, I praise you for who you are and thank you for providing the precious sacrifice of Jesus for my sin.  Your love is everlasting. Your glory and goodness is unfailing.  Thank you for calling my attention to the things in my life that are holding me back from full devotion to you.  I confess that I have not surrendered control to you in the following areas of my life:  _____________ (list).  I grieve the damage that my sin has caused my relationship with you, my family/loved one's and myself.  Please forgive me and cleanse me from this sin by the blood of Jesus.  I receive your forgiveness and cleansing of my body and soul by the blood of Jesus.  I submit myself to your will today, Lord. May your will be done in my life on earth as it is in heaven.  I offer the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness and not sin.  I take pleasure in serving you, my God and my King.  May the desires of my heart align themselves with your will in every way.  Thank you, Lord God!  In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.”