James 4:7-8 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Serpents do not sicken from their own venom, but men do. – Shakespeare, King Lear
What does a line from a Shakespeare play have to do with the Book of James? Shakespeare is known for his ability to portray human nature, and in King Lear he eloquently demonstrates how people will resort to all kinds of evil behavior to achieve their selfish desires. This is the topic that James is addressing in Chapter 4 when he calls Christians sinners, adulterers, and double-minded people.
James’ counsel was addressed toward pastors and teachers who lusted after goals that either did not come from God or goals that come from the world; these leaders had a gifting from God, but soon their personal pride and self-bent nature blinded them, and instead of glorifying God it became a means to glorify themselves. The rationale and methods used by these persons began to create quarrels and conflicts in themselves and within the fellowship. These leaders utilized inappropriate means and attitudes that originate from the three “enemies” of mankind:
1) The fallen nature of man – James 4:1 and 2
2) The world system outside of God – James 4:4
3) The devil – James 4:7
James is basically informing us that there is an internal struggle in the heart of every Christian – and the spectrum is all inclusive – from church leadership to the newest disciple. WE ARE ALL a strange dichotomy of a “new creation” in Christ, being dead to sin while at the same time capable of committing violent, hateful acts to procure our own wicked desires. Much like Paul’s lament in Romans 7 over man’s conflicting natures, James clearly outlines the root causes of conflicts between fellow Christians.
It is evident this chapter demonstrates to all disciples of Christ that a war is happening and the individual believer is the battlefield. But, praise be given to God, we need not despair! James doesn’t leave us without hope, but provides us with wisdom and armaments for this spiritual battle. James writes in Chapter 4, verses 7-8 (NASB):
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”
Why should we as believers in Christ place these particular verses in our minds and let them sink into our hearts? It’s because James is telling God’s people how to overcome and claim victory in the ungodly battles being waged to some degree in every follower of Christ, in each Christian fellowship, in all Christian denominations, and between all denominational sects. The message from God is HUMILITY, HUMILITY, and HUMILITY! James asserts that believers’
motives and lifestyles make a real difference in the way one experiences the Christian life of peace, security, joy, and effectiveness for the Kingdom.
When you align yourself under the authority of God, the Spirit will enable you to do God’s will. When you combine God’s work with your active participation to take a stand against the enemies of God, they become less and less effective. As you draw near to God, you can stand firm on the covenantal promise that God always responds with grace to humble, repentant faith.
By Jason Renner