“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Beginning with verse seven, James reels off 10 commands in a machinegun like fashion.
This verse gives us the two polar opposite attitudes we are to have toward two opposing persons. There is a double relation in these attitudes – first, “I submit,”; then, “I resist.”
Every time we see a “therefore,” we look to see what it is “there for.” The “therefore” here draws an inference from the previous verse where James challenges us to humble ourselves before God. James now gives a series of ten commands based on how we humble ourselves (4:6).
submit to God.
Since God is a God of “more grace” (4:6), we submit to Him. The heart of pride is self-sufficiency. A phenomenal pride thinks that we can get along without God. Humility, on the other hand, recognizes the need to depend on God. Humility empties self of self-sufficient independence from God. Humility places self under God so that He can dispose of us as He pleases.
“Submit to God” is the first of ten commands. “Submit” comes from two words: under and to arrange. A humble person always arranges himself under God’s authority. The word “submit” was a military term. James puts his language in terms of warfare. We are at war with the devil. A humble person submits to his Commander-in-Chief. By giving allegiance to the Lord, the devil will flee from us.
We must submit to God before we can resist the devil.
We cannot prevail over a supernatural person in our own strength and by our own sufficiency. We must submit to God because we need His resources. Great arrogance believes that we can obtain spiritual victory without God. Submission to God is emptying of self-sufficiency. Humility offends the devil because it betrays his original sin – pride.
The foundation of victory in the Christian life lies in submitting to the ultimate authority of God over our lives. There is no Christian liberty without that premise. The capacity to live the Christian life means that we have capacity for God. It rests on volition that submits to God’s system of values as ultimate.
If we reject the ultimate values of God, we will enter into misery. There is no victory in the Christian life without the discipline of submitting to God. This submission to God’s authority is no vague, unreal submission. Only when we fully submit to God in our values do we submit to God in actuality. It is one thing to know the principle; it is another thing to apply the principle to our experience. To the degree that we live with the principles of God’s Word and apply them to our lives, to that degree, we “submit to God.”
May God help us to take a position in the rank and file of those who accept His authority over our lives. This means accepting God’s will as His sovereign plan for us. We accept His superiority as God and our inferiority as a creature in doing this. We obey God Almighty because His providence is best for us, for God knows everything from beginning to end.
1 Pe 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Our walk with the Lord always begins with submission to the authority of God over our lives. When we realize how the greatness of God towers over our finiteness, we draw on God’s power rather than our own (4:8). Without God’s grace, there is no hope for living the Christian life. We need that grace when we come under attack from Satan.