James 4:7 - Path of Grace.
Jam.4:7; Path of Grace.
James 4:7 (KJV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the
devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (NCV) So give yourselves completely to God. Stand
against the devil, and the devil will run from you.
James 4:7 (CEV) Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he
will run from you.
James 4:7 (CWB) You need to submit your will to God. Resist
the devil, and he'll flee from you.
James 4:7 (TLB) So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the
devil and he will flee from you.
James issues a series of ten commands in vv. 7-10 ("submit,"
"resist" [v. 7]; "come near," "wash," "purify" [v. 8]; "grieve," "mourn,"
"wail," "change" [v. 9]; "humble" [v. 10]). [Expositors Bible
Here we find a series of practical exhortations, using ten
imperatives in the next four verses. It begins with a call to submit to God,
serving as the theme of the exhortation, and ends with a command to
humble themselves before the Lord..... The structure is as follows:
Submit yourselves to God ... (verse 7)
Resist the devil... (verse 8)
Draw near to God...
Cleanse your hands...
Purify your hearts...
Be wretched and mourn... (verse 9)
Let your laughter be turned to mourning...
Humble yourselves before the Lord... (verse 10) (UBS Translator
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]
Ten imperatives (4:7-10). These four 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]
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
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]
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
Every sin is preceded by temptation. Therefore, if we can figure
out how to overcome temptation, we can wipe sin off the face of the
earth.... The answer to conquering sin is to conquer the temptation.... How
can we overcome and conquer temptation? This is the discussion of
this passage. We must do four things.
1. Step 1: submit to God--resist the devil (v.7).
2. Step 2: draw near to God and repent (v.8).
3. Step 3: be disciplined and deeply, mournfully concerned (v.9).
4. Step 4: humble yourself (v.10). [Preacher's Outline & Sermon
Biblical thought demands a fourfold cleansing. It demands a
cleansing of the lips (Isa 6:5-6). It demands a cleansing of the hands (Ps
24:4). It demands a cleansing of the heart (Ps 73:13). It demands a
cleansing of the mind (Jas 4:8). That is to say, the ethical demand of
the Bible is that a man's words and deeds and emotions and thoughts
should all be purified. Inwardly and outwardly a man must be clean, for
only the pure in heart shall see God (Matt 5:8). [Barclay
"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 not the same as obedience. Instead, it is the
surrender of one's will, which leads to obedience. [Expositors Bible
The word "submit" (hupotagete) means to put yourself under God,
under His care and power and strength; to yield to God, to His will,
command, instructions, laws, behavior, and Word; to surrender yourself to
God for Him to strengthen you so that you can do exactly what He
What this means is to focus your mind upon God and His Word
immediately when temptation strikes. Turn away from the temptation, push it
out of your mind and begin to think about God and go over and over
His Word in your mind. Just begin to resist the devil by focusing
your mind upon God and His Word. Persevere in following God's command
and in resisting the devil. When you do, the most wonderful thing
will happen. The devil will flee and the temptation will be gone.
We cannot even listen to the enemy's tempting offer--not even for
a moment. Picturing the temptation moves us a long way down the
road to defecting and sinning against God. The only way to conquer
temptation is to immediately submit ourselves to God and to immediately
resist the devil and his temptation. We may have to struggle. The
images of the temptation may attack and attack us, but if we will
attack back by rolling God's Word over and over in our minds, the
temptation will flee.
Even if one has been enslaved by some sin for years, submitting
to God and resisting the devil will cause the devil and temptation
to flee. But note this: if a person has been enslaved by the
sin--drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, smoking, pornography, overeating,
whatever--the temptation will continue to attack him for days and perhaps
weeks and months. But the believer must remember something: he is now
in the army of God. He is now a soldier under the command of God.
Therefore, every time the enemy attacks, the believer is to submit himself
to God and His Word, and he is to resist the devil. He is to
persevere and keep on persevering--to submit to God and resist the devil
and to keep on submitting to God and resisting the devil--and he will
discover a most wonderful thing. As time passes--days, weeks, or
months--the devil and temptation will flee farther and farther away and
attack fewer and fewer times. The believer will walk in more and more
victory over the devil and his evil. The believer will never be
completely without temptation, but he will walk through life more and more
victoriously, triumphing more and more over all evil. [Preacher's Outline &
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)
The picture of Israel as the bride of God and of God as the
husband of Israel has something very precious in it. It means that to
disobey God is like breaking the marriage vow. It means that all sin is
sin against love. It means that our relationship to God is not like
the distant relationship of king and subject or master and slave,
but like the intimate relationship of husband and wife. It means
that when we sin we break God's heart, as the heart of one partner in
a marriage may be broken by the desertion of the other. [Barclay
A very deep and remarkable verse! The apostle is contending
against the worldiness which was so rife among the believers he was
addressing. They were set on pleasure; they sought the friendship of the
world, and became unfaithful to their divine Lover; they were proud and
high-minded. He went so far as to speak of them as adulterers and
adulteresses; and then adopting a gentler, pleading tone, he says, "You are
grieving the gentle Holy Spirit who has come to dwell within you, who
yearns with a jealous envy to possess your entire nature for Himself."
The Spirit of God dwells within thee, O believer in Jesus
Christ.... Thou hast most certainly the Holy Spirit. But the mistake of thy
life consists in this, that He hath not thee. Some part of thy heart
is given, but not all; and this causes Him the most intense pain,
resembling that which we suffer from jealousy.
No keener pain is possible to the heart of man than to have good
reason for the belief that a loved one is not wholly true, that there
has been an alienation of affection which was once whole and
entire.... This is what the Spirit of God suffers when we share between Him
and the world that love which should be all his own. F. B. Meyer
[Spirit Filled Life Devotional SB re 4:5]
The best commentary on this saying is that of Jesus: "No one can
serve two masters" (Matt 6:24).... We may be so dominated by them that
the world becomes our master. Or we may so use them as to serve our
fellow-men and prepare ourselves for eternity, in which case the world is
not our master but our servant. A man may either use the world or be
used by it. To use the world as the servant of God and men is to be
the friend of God, for that is what God meant the world to be. To
use the world as the controller and dictator of life is to be at
enmity with God, for that is what God never meant the world to be.
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]
Jenny was a bright-eyed, pretty five-year-old girl. One day
when she and her mother were checking out at the grocery store, Jenny
saw a plastic pearl necklace priced at $2.50. How she wanted that
necklace, and when she asked her mother if she would buy it for her, her
"Well, it is a pretty necklace, but it costs an awful lot of
money. I'll tell you what. I'll buy you the necklace, and when we get
home we can make up a list of chores that you can do to pay for the
necklace. And don't forget that for your birthday Grandma just might give
you a whole dollar bill, too. Okay?"
Jenny agreed, and her mother bought the pearl necklace for her.
Jenny worked on her chores very hard every day, and sure enough, her
grandma gave her a brand new dollar bill for her birthday. Soon Jenny
had paid off the pearls. How Jenny loved those pearls. She wore
them everywhere - to kindergarten, bed and when she went out with her
mother to run errands. The only time she didn't wear them was in the
shower - her mother had told her that they would turn her neck green!
Now Jenny had a very loving daddy. When Jenny went to bed, he
would get up from his favorite chair every night and read Jenny her
favorite story. One night when he finished the story, he said,
"Jenny, do you love me?"
"Oh yes, Daddy, you know I love you," the little girl said.
"Well, then, give me your pearls."
"Oh! Daddy, not my pearls!" Jenny said. "But you can have
Rosie, my favorite doll. Remember her? You gave her to me last year
for my birthday. And you can have her tea party outfit, too.
"Oh no, darling, that's okay." Her father brushed her cheek
with a kiss. "Good night, little one."
A week later, her father once again asked Jenny after her story,
"Do you love me?"
"Oh yes, Daddy, you know I love you."
"Well, then, give me your pearls."
"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls! But you can have Ribbons, my toy
horse. Do you remember her? She's my favorite. Her hair is so soft,
and you can play with it and braid it and everything. You can have
Ribbons if you want her, "Daddy," the little girl said to her father.
"No, that's okay," her father said and brushed her cheek again
with a kiss. "God bless you, little one. Sweet dreams."
Several days later, when Jenny's father came in to read her a
story, Jenny was sitting on her bed and her lip was trembling.
"Here, Daddy," she said, and held out her hand. She opened it
and her beloved pearl necklace was inside. She let it slip into her
father's hand. With one hand her father held the plastic pearls and with
the other he pulled out of his pocket a blue velvet box. Inside of
the box were real, genuine, beautiful pearls. He had had them all
along. He was waiting for Jenny to give up the cheap stuff so he could
give her the real thing. So it is with our Heavenly Father. He is
waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so he can give
us beautiful treasure.