Submit to God, Resist the Devil

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

The two words James used to admonish Christians in their walk – submit and resist – both involve action. This should not be surprising. Earlier in the letter he commended an active faith while condemning a passive faith.

Regarding the active faith, James wrote, “Show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Further on he said, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).

As for a passive faith, James said, “Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:17), and, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). He derided the idea of “faith only” when he wrote, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder” (James 2:19).

Rather than being passive, we must be active – submit to God and resist the devil. We submit to God through obedience, just as Jesus humbly submitted to the will of the Father “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). We resist the devil by both fleeing from sin (1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22) and overcoming temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

We must understand who the devil is. He “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). What happens if a lion’s potential prey just sits there and is not actively trying to avoid or fight the lion? The lion will catch and kill his prey every time.

We have been warned. The devil wants to destroy us; God wants to save us. So what should we do? Submit to God and resist the devil.


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