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Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist[1] the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Therefore, submit yourselves to God. That is (ὑποτάσσω hupotassō), to be or to become inclined or willing to submit to orders or wishes of others or showing such an inclination. To obey, be obedient (Lk 2:51; Eph 5:22); to bring oneself under control, put oneself in subjection (1Co 15:27; Eph 1:22; Php 3:21; Heb 2:5, 8). This is God’s arrangement for acquiring his favor. Yield to what he has deemed essential for your benefit (health, prosperity, happiness, safety, welfare) in your life, and you will be on the path of salvation. The sense of duty here instructed is that of absolute acceptance in God’s arrangement. Submission and subjection to God’s will and purposes and moral values are for our good and are essential by the spirit of true humility. The purpose of the instruction here, and in those particular duties to come, is to show us in what way we could acquire the grace that God is so willing to impart and how we may conquer the evils that James had been laboring to guard them against. The true way of accomplishing this is by submitting ourselves in all things to God.

INTO THE VOID

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. It is quite simple here; we submit to God in all things and submit to the devil in nothing. We resist (ἀνθίστημι anthistēmi), that is, stand again, be in opposition. Even to the point of being hostile toward (Gal 2:11); resisting, opposing, rebelling, set ourselves against.[2] Regardless of how we are approached by Satan’s world, be it different forms of temptation, satisfying the desires of the flesh or mind, and even threats, we are to resist and flee from Satan the Devil. (1 Pet 5:9) When Satan’s cunning, deception, and threats are ineffective, he flees from us to another. How do we resist? We do so by facing him directly in our resistance, refusing to give any ground, instead of wasting our precious time believing we can convince his disciples that they are wrong or use his worldly ways to save others. An example of this would be the so-called Christian heavy metal bands (e.g., Stryper, Phinehas, The Devil Wears Prada, Skillet, Underoath). We do not become like Satan or his world to save souls. There is no protection for anyone who yields even a little to Satan or his world. There is safety from overindulgence, greed, gluttony hedonism if we resist temptations to indulge in the fleshly desires of Satan’s world, never yielding in the most minor way.

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How can Christians receive the grace of God mentioned in verse 6? They can do so by submitting themselves to God. To submit to God means that we place ourselves under his sovereignty, in which we fully commit ourselves to obey him in all things. This submission to God is voluntary in every aspect of the Christian life. This includes the does and don’ts of Scripture and the things that God provides for us or allows us to go through, knowing his way is always best. Peter tells us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” (1 Pet. 5:6) In this, we are placing our will under the control of the Father.

Part of our submission to God is that we take a stand against Satan, the Devil. (See Eph. 4:27; 6:11-12; 1 Tim. 3:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9) As Satan is actually the god of this world at this time (2 Cor. 4:3-4; John 14:30), to resist him is to be no part of the world. As we saw, to be a part of the world would make us an enemy of God. Satan’s world caters to the fallen flesh. It emphasizes individuality, absolute freedom, self-importance, self-interest, love of self, fame, reputation, covetousness, and the like. The word “devil” translates the Greek diabolos, which means “slanderer.” The Devil brought humanity into the current turmoil by originally slandering God. The main objective of the Devil is to separate us from God by his deception. Many times, this is also accomplished through false religious leaders as well.

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When we stand against the devil, we are told by James that he will flee from us. This is the case because we have help from the one who conquered the world, Jesus Christ (John 16:33), as well as the helper he sent us, the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7) The Devil tried to tempt Jesus as well. However, when Jesus used the Scriptures against him, he fled from Jesus. (Matt 4:1-11) In the book of Job, we learned that God put a hedge around Job and his house and all that he had, blessing him. (Job 1:10) Why did God protect Job in this way? Suppose there was no protective wall around the righteous. In that case, the Devil and his demons could just arbitrarily kill every faithful person: Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, John, Peter, and Paul, to mention just a few. In fact, Peter wrote, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” (1 Pet. 3:13) Therefore, Christians can conquer the Devil through the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

[1] That is, Stand against

[2] (Mt 5:39; Lk 21:15; Ac 6:10; 13:8; Ro 9:19; 13:2; Eph 6:13; 2Ti 3:8; 4:15; Jas 4:7; 1Pe 5:9)

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