As Christians, we face spiritual battles every day. This is because of our greatest enemy, Satan. The greatest desire of Satan, the sworn enemy of our Savior, is to turn people away from Jesus through his lies and deceit. As Christians, we must accept the fact that every day we are faced with the reality of battling Satan.
However, Satan cannot directly snatch us away from Christ. He still needs to do very hard work to do so, and he does this by causing divisions among believers and damaging the relationship of the brethren.
That is why it is imperative to resist the devil at all-cause and stand firm with God in doing so. But how can we do this? Is resisting the devil and causing him to flee easy tasks?
1. Resist the Devil and Cause Him to Flee
In James 4:7, we are reminded to “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” This verse sounds like a very confronting passage that we all need to understand fully in sections by taking the verse into context.
We can read in James 4:1-12 that there are some problems in the church that James seems to be addressing. There were divisions and quarrels among them, but the real cause was their sinful desires and passions as told in James 4:1.
In these lust-driven disagreements, people chose friendship with the world over friendship with God. This means that the people were choosing the world over God and that is why James commands them to “resist the devil.”
As much as their sin was to blame, Satan nonetheless profited from their sin by stirring up division within the church and between God and his people.
Satan works in this way. If we allow the devil to reside in our hearts by following our own worldly passions, then we should not be surprised at how he works a mess in our churches.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:6-10).
The Book of James offers a solution to this struggling church, and resisting the devil is one step on the journey to finding God again after sin.
2. Submit Yourselves to God
However, resisting the devil is only the first step. We need to examine the commands immediately preceding and following James 4:7 if we are to understand what resisting the devil looks like.
When James finishes his pointed rebuke, he lovingly reminds them that grace is available to everyone who humbles themselves. In other words, he says to submit himself to God before he tells them to resist the devil.
We are arrogant if we think we are able to resist Satan without humbly submitting our lives to Him.
We submit to the Word of God when we humble ourselves before it, yield to the scriptures as revealed by God, and call on His grace for help in all our affliction. Jesus, Himself is the best example of how this looks.
The devil imprisoned Jesus in the wilderness at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Jesus did not surrender to Satan because He was God in flesh, but because He submitted to the Father to resist Satan.
3. Draw Near to God
But submitting to God is only the second step, we also need to draw near to God in order for us to truly resist the devil. Immediately following the command to resist the devil, James encourages his readers to draw near to God so that He will draw near to them.
This command is also inseparably linked to the command to resist the devil. It shows that the ultimate goal is a restored relationship with God.
Rather than making our lives easier, we resist Satan in order to make our walk with Jesus more meaningful. Following Christ with a zealous pursuit is the same as resisting the devil.
The devil cannot dwell with God. In other words, the one who runs desperately to the throne of grace can rest assured that the devil cannot follow him there.
James ends his important command with this comforting thought: if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. It is impossible for him to overpower a child of God who humbly submits to and actively pursues Jesus.
During Jesus’ death on the cross, Jesus destroyed the one who has the power of death, namely the devil, so that He might bring freedom to those enslaved by fear of death. Jesus' finished work on the cross of Calvary gives us the ability to resist the devil.
To bow our heads in humble gratitude, in thanks to our gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, should be our source of strength, and not to rebuke the devil in arrogance.
Those of us who believe in Jesus should keep in mind that our ability to resist the devil must not be taken in isolation. Before, during, and after we resist, many things must take place in our hearts. The three steps: resist, submit and draw near to God are practical ways to do this.
What Does This Mean?
To conclude, in order to resist the devil and cause him to flee, we must look inside ourselves to see what our sinful desires are.
Are there deep-seated desires or cravings that when unfulfilled cause tension and conflict in your relationships? If so, we are exactly where the devil wants us to be and because of this, we have to embrace a new love of God greater than ourselves and repent of our sinful desires.
Analyze your own lifestyle in light of God's Word. It is Satan who lies. Sometimes we fall victim to these lies without realizing it.
We have this false notion that we can practically justify our selfish lies like telling ourselves that "God wants me to be happy," "I deserve better than this," "Money will solve all my problems," "I can handle things on my own."
These are lies that Satan wants us to believe. To discern truth from error, we need regular doses of God's Truth. Look in your Bible and see if you're following it or ignoring it.
Make sure you don't take your Christianity lightly. Satan, if he is a master deceiver, will not always employ overt tactics or overt attacks. Remember that you cannot cruise through life, picking and choosing when you want to follow God and escaping Satan's attacks.
Don't wait until you're in the thick of combat to put on the Armor of God; don't wait until you have been attacked by Satan.
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Farknot_Architect
Glory Dy has been a content creator for more than 10 years. She lives in a quiet suburb with her family and four cats.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.