Scripture: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:6b-8a ESV
Observation: James begins chapter 4 warning against worldliness, particularly unbridled passions that spark coveting and infighting (2:2). He then compares such ungodly behavior to our godless world and warns that those seeking the culture’s approval will be at odds with God (4:4). Moreover, our Lord is jealous of our spirits that he birthed in us (4:5). Thus, our Creator wants nothing to get in our way of pursuing an intimate relationship with him (4:8a above).
Takeaway: What in particular impedes us from drawing near to God? The world, the flesh, and the devil. The world (sin around us) invites us to pursue self-indulgent passions (4:1-3). Our flesh (sin inside us) seeks autonomy rooted in pride (4:6b). And the devil seeks to steal away our souls from God (4:7).
What’s the solution? Submit to God. Cooperate with the sanctifying work of his Holy Spirit, who chisels away our stony, prideful hearts to reveal our newborn, humble hearts of flesh. As such, when we submit to our loving Father and cooperate with his Spirit, we draw on his grace that strengthens us to resist the devil’s temptations. And the devil, who despises the increasingly glowing light of Christ in us, will flee—just as he did when Jesus resisted him in the wilderness (Matthew 4:11). And it is essential to remember that the mandate is to resist Satan, not rebuke him (Jude 9) or fight against him, for the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that your grace is always sufficient to help us resist the devil as well as the world and our selfish passions. So would you please help us cooperate with your Holy Spirit as he chisels away our pride, deepens our understanding of your grace, and instills a sense of your Son’s humility in us? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling