James 4:7 - Submission And Resistance In Faith.
James 4:7 (KJV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the
devil, and he will flee from you.
4:7-10 These verses contain ten commands that call for immediate
action in rooting out the sinful attitude of pride. [NIV SB]
4:7-10 There are 10 verbs, all commands, in these verses, in a
tense that indicates the need for a decisive and urgent break with the
old life. [Ryrie SB]
4:7-10 These verses contain 10 of the 54 imperatives in James.
Combining straightforward and picturesque terms, James beautifully
describes the characteristics of genuine repentance. They are these: (1)
submission to God, (2) resistance of the devil, (3) drawing near to God,
(4) cleansing of hands, (5) purifying the heart, (6) lamentation,
(7) mourning, (8) weeping, (9) turning, (10) humbling oneself in the
sight of the Lord. The beautiful conclusion to this repentance is the
divine raising up that comes from God and not ourselves. [Believer's
Ten imperatives (4:7-10). These three verses contain 10 sharp
commands calling for immediate action. In essence they tell us how to
humble ourselves before God, so that we can experience His grace. The
10 commands are: submit, resist (v. 7), come near, wash, purify (v.
8), grieve, mourn, wail, change (v. 9), humble (v. 10). Together
they picture a complete reversal of the attitudes that shape the
spiritually immature and unfaithful. [Victor Bible Reader's Companion]
How can you come near to God? James gives five ways: (1) 'Submit
to God' (4:7). Yield to his authority and will, commit your life to
him and his control, and be willing to follow him. (2) 'Resist the
devil' (4:7). Don't allow Satan to entice and tempt you. (3) 'Wash your
hands. . . and purify your hearts' (that is, lead a pure life) (4:8).
Be cleansed from sin, replacing your desire to sin with your desire
to experience God's purity. (4) 'Grieve and mourn and wail' in
sincere sorrow for your sins (4:9). Don't be afraid to express deep
heartfelt sorrow for what you have done. (5) 'Humble yourself before the
Lord,' and he will lift you up (4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). [Life Application
Few passages of Scripture have as many active verbs strung
together in such a few brief verses as 7-10, the "how to" section that
caps James' discussion of conflict, unanswered prayers, and the need
of grace to overcome our innate tendency to envy.
The first two verbs suggest general principles. We are to submit
to God. And we are to resist the devil. Just HOW we do this is
explained by the other verbs in these verses.
(1) We "come near" to God. Consciously fix your thoughts on the
LORD, and approach Him in prayer. James promises us that when we do,
God will bend down close to listen to us. This is always the first
step in submission.
(2) We "wash... hands" and "purify... hearts." Approaching God as
sinners, we confess our faults. And though we have been "double-minded"
(cf. 1:8), we make a firm commitment to respond, whatever God may ask
us to do.
(3) We change our "laughter to mourning." We reject the world
system, with its false values. We realize that most of the things the
world laughs about actually call for mourning, and most of the things
the world finds joy in cast a pall of gloom over God's universe.
Changing our laughter to mourning is exchanging lost man's perspective on
life for God's, and evaluating all things by His standards.
(4) "And He will lift you up." When we humble ourselves in these
ways before God, we sense His loving hands grip us, and lift us up.
In humbling ourselves before God, more than our outlook on life is
changed. We ourselves are changed! We are raised to newness of life. [The
365-Day Devotional Commentary]
"Submit" is the first of 10 imperative commands in vv. 7-10.
Each command is forceful, calling for immediate response. There is no
room for delay in one who seeks to live by faith. Faith must express
itself, not in words, but in such actions as: submit, resist, come near,
wash, purify, grieve, mourn, wail, change, and humble. [Victor Bible
"Submit" is a military term "to be subordinated" or "to render
obedience." [Bible Knowledge Commentary]
Submission is not obedience, but rather the decision to place
oneself under the authority of another. This attitude leads to
obedience. [Victor Bible Background Commentary]
Submission is more than obedience; it involves humility."
[Wycliffe Bible Commentary]
God cannot help the Christian who is proud, who refuses to
repent of sin and humble himself. Grace is for the lowly, not the
lofty. We must first submit to God; then we can effectively resist the
devil. [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]
The proud resist God: in their understanding they resist the
truths of God; in their will they resist the laws of God; in their
passions they resist the providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God
resists the proud... God will give more grace to the humble, because they
see their need of it, pray for it, are thankful for it, and such
shall have it. Submit to God, vs. 7. Submit your understanding to the
truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the will
of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is ready to do
you good. [Matthew Henry Commentary]
In Christ, divinity and humanity were combined. Divinity was not
degraded to humanity; divinity held its place, but humanity, by being
united to divinity, withstood the fiercest test of temptation in the
wilderness. The prince of this world came to Christ after His long fast,
when He was an hungered, and suggested to Him to command the stones
to become bread. But the plan of God, devised for the salvation of
man, provided that Christ should know hunger, and poverty, and every
phase of man's experience. He withstood the temptation, through the
power that man may command. He laid hold on the throne of God, and
there is not a man or woman who may not have access to the same help
through faith in God. Man may become a partaker of the divine nature;
not a soul lives who may not summon the aid of Heaven in temptation
and trial. Christ came to reveal the source of His power, that man
might never rely on his unaided human capabilities. 5BC1082
David's prayer should be the petition of every soul: "Create in
me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm
51:10. And having become partakers of the heavenly gift, we are to go
on unto perfection, being "kept by the power of God through faith."
1 Peter 1:5.
Yet we have a work to do to resist temptation. Those who would
not fall a prey to Satan's devices must guard well the avenues of
the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which
will suggest impure thoughts. The mind should not be left to wander
at random upon every subject that the adversary of souls may
suggest.... This will require earnest prayer and unceasing watchfulness. We
must be aided by the abiding influence of the Holy Spirit, which will
attract the mind upward, and habituate it to dwell on pure and holy
If we sink down, and give way to the temptations of Satan, we
get no reward for the trial, and shall not be so well prepared for
the next. In this way we shall grow weaker, and weaker, until we are
led captive by Satan at his will. When temptations and trials rush
in upon us, let us go to God, and agonize with him in prayer. He
will give us grace and strength to overcome, and break the power of
God gives his people a bitter cup to drink to purify and cleanse
them. They can make it still more bitter by murmuring, complaining,
and repining. But those who receive it thus, must have another
draught, for the first does not have its designed effect upon the heart.
And if the second does not effect the work, then they must have
another, and another, until it does have its designed effect, or they
will be left impure in heart - this bitter cup can be sweetened by
patience, endurance and prayer, 2SG290
Could the curtain be rolled back, you would see the heavenly
universe looking with intense interest upon the one who is tempted. If
you do not yield to the enemy, there is joy in heaven. When the
first suggestion of wrong is heard, dart a prayer to heaven, and then
firmly resist the temptation to tamper with the principles condemned in
God's Word. 3BC1155
Worldly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will not allow
content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections stop prayer, and
the working of our desires toward God. (Matthew Henry's Commentary)
They Live Who Resist The Wolf
We usually picture a pack of wolves attacking a defenseless
beast that has no hope of survival. What you may not know is that
there are important behaviors that come before the attack--behaviors on
the part of the wolves and behaviors on the part of the prey.
To begin with, wolves tend to go after the weak, the sick, and
the old animals in a herd. This practice is to the wolves' credit,
of course, because it serves to keep the herd strong and healthy by
weeding out the culls. But there are subtle behaviors on the part of the
prey that aid the wolves in the kill--behaviors that if changed, often
cause the wolves to ignore the prey and look elsewhere.
Once, a pack of wolves was observed stalking three buffaloes in
Alberta, Canada. Two of the buffaloes were healthy; the third was sick.
All three were lying peacefully on the grass, chewing their cuds.
When the wolves' presence was sensed by the buffaloes, the two
healthy ones stayed where they were and ignored the pack, but the sickly
one became nervous, stood up, and met his doom. The healthy two were
Another signal that the prey animal gives is to run. For
example, if a wolf pack approaches a moose, the moose's best chance for
survival is to hold its ground, refuse to run, and perhaps even walk
toward the wolves. This is apparently a sign that the intended prey is
too healthy to kill. Also, it seems that the wolves prefer to attack
when their prey is on the run. If the moose runs, it will almost
certainly be chased and killed.
Satan likes nothing better than to scare us into thinking that
we haven't got a chance. And if our relationship with Jesus isn't
as healthy as it could be, then we become perfect targets for him.
But when we depend on Jesus and keep our relationship with Him
secure, we can look the devil in the eye and watch him flee in fear.
[Glimpses Of God's Love by J & P Tucker]
"A meek man is not a human mouse with a sense of his own
inferiority. Rather he may be in his mortal life as bold as a lion and as
strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has
accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and
helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the
same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than
angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto."
A.W. Tozer [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary]
While you yield to God in all things, you are to yield to the
devil in none. (Barnes' Notes)
Resistance to the devil (4:7) is done by coming near to God
(4:8). Submission to God and his will results in a heart purged from
worldliness. [New Bible Companion]
The weakest man who finds refuge in the power of Christ will
cause Satan to tremble and to flee. DA 131
When you can have the best, why would you want anything less?
[Pastor Trevor Thompson]