“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Explanation and Commentary on James 4:7
As Christians we are largely unaware of at least two things:
1) Satan is constantly on the attack. Even though we know the truth of this from God’s Word (1 Pt 5:8), we mostly don’t realize it is happening.
2) Christians have all the power and authority from God to resist him and make him run away from us.
Therefore these two facts need to become our constant companions. We live as sojourners in an enemy kingdom. We are not of this world, but we are in it for a time as God’s ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). That means that most of the world is playing by a set of rules dictated by the enemy. Pride, fear, envy, lust, and hatred make his world go around, and if Christians are unaware of the weaknesses of our own flesh, we will be just as susceptible to his ways and schemes.
But it need not be that way. To truly combat satan and live victoriously on planet earth in the present age while satan, though beaten, still has the power to harm God’s children who are unaware, we need to heed James’ instructions.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of James 4:7
#1 “Submit yourselves…to God.”
Don’t fall for the easy believism that says because you prayed a prayer once and “asked Jesus into your heart” (not in the Bible) that you never need to worry about hell, and that is all there is to being a Christian. Satan loves for people to believe that because it leaves them powerless against him. But those who truly believe God and his Word to us will have no choice but to lay down their lives to him and for him. Surrender to God is the path of life everlasting. The degree to which you do this will determine your experience of the “abundant life” (Jn 10:10) and the “easy yoke” (Mt 11:30) promised by Christ.
In the previous six verses of James 4, James powerfully explains the reason that people, both unbelievers, and believers, fight. He says we lust after things that we aren’t getting, and so we want to murder over it. This is both hard and profound, and it is also true. The only way to combat this pride and hatred within our flesh is to submit to God.
#3 “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
First, we must realize that Satan and other “devils” are behind much of our sin. He whispers a lie or accusation, we listen to the thought, our emotions get triggered, we react to these satanic emotions, and we sin. It’s a shame because we can actually resist the devil. After submitting to God, we can ignore his lies. “Take every thought captive” (2 Cor 10:5) and then keep your eyes on Christ, to whom you have given your whole life, joyfully laying down your rights to anger, lust, pride, etc. Satan will flee when you resist. Perhaps his greatest lie is that he cannot be resisted. Reject that, and live.