“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
---End of Scripture verses---
James uses military terminology in chapter 4 to impress upon us that we are in a war for the very survival of our souls. All of these exhortations are imperatives to stress a sense of enormity and urgency on our parts. To truly “submit…to God” is to subordinate ourselves to His command, forgo worldly lusts, forfeit our stubborn pride and give Him complete dominion over our lives.
The devil has a big bag of tricks (2 Corinthians 2:11). He is as cunning as a serpent and powerful as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he is no match for the omnipotence of God. If we put up a strong resistance against his attacks, he will retreat from the mighty hand of the Lord. Ephesians chapter 6 tells us what we need to do. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11) Gird your loins with truth, cover your breast with righteousness, prepare your feet with the Gospel, shield yourself with faith, wield the sword of the Spirit, pray at all times (Ephesians 6:14-18).
If we draw near to God by studying His word, praying without ceasing, and worshiping and serving Him, He will embrace and protect us (verse 8). If we will stand firmly against Satan’s assaults and resist his advances our adversary will flee. But we must be extra cautious because the devil is a master of “disguises” and often passes himself off as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). There are many false teachers parading as apostles of Christ in the world today (2 Corinthians 11:13).
We must purify our heart which is the source of all evil thoughts, words and actions (Matthew 15:19), and cleanse our hands which often perform our acts of sinfulness. We must learn to “mourn and weep” and feel “miserable” about our transgressions (verse 9). Sin it is not a “laughing matter”. It is not a thing to be excused our proud of but repented of. We should never be happy about disobeying the Lord and incurring His wrath. If we break our own hearts over our sins, turn from them and turn to the Lord in all humility, He will “exalt” us (verse 10).
Please read James 4:11-12 for tomorrow.
- Louie Taylor