James 4:7-8 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Submit yourselves therefore to God
1 a: to yield to governance or authority
b: to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation <the metal was submitted to analysis>
2: to present or propose to another for review, consideration, or decision; also : to deliver formally <submitted my resignation>
3: to put forward as an opinion or contention <we submit that the charge is not proved>
1 a : to yield oneself to the authority or will of another :surrender
b : to permit oneself to be subjected to something <had to submit to surgery>
2: to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another
What do you think of when you hear the word submit? Is it a positive or negative thing for you? Take a moment to read the definition of submit above. Does it mean what you thought it did?
To yield oneself to the authority or will of another
Do you have a problem with authority? As Americans, we can kind of have a “you’re not going to tell me what to do” kind of attitude. We like to think of ourselves as independent beings. We don’t need anyone’s permission to do anything. As long as we’re not hurting anyone we should be able to do what we want. Do you like it when someone exerts their authority over you? It’s not always enjoyable. Maybe the reason we have such a hard time with those in authority over us is because we think we’re just as good as them, and we want to be the one’s with the authority.
We want to do what we want and not have to worry about what other people want or expect from us. We often put ourselves first, but that’s not what we’re called to do in the verse above from James. We are called to submit ourselves to God.
To some people surrendering means you’ve lost. To others surrendering means to give up. Some might say it means to stop fighting. I want to submit myself to God. I want to surrender to God. I don’t think of it as losing or giving up, but mostly I think of it as stop fighting. I need to stop fighting God. Often I feel myself pulled in one direction or another, like I’m being encouraged by God or other trustworthy Christians to do something. But I often try to ignore such promptings. These moments almost always bring discomfort. They make me afraid that I will not be good at what they’re encouraging me to do. I let fear keep me from doing what God would have me do. I fight Him at every turn. I ignore Him. I need to stop fighting and surrender. I need God to be the one to whom I submit.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How am I to submit to God? The verse goes on to give some examples of what a life submitted to God, surrendered to God might look like. First it says, “Resist the devil.” I don’t always want to resist the devil. Sometimes it looks like a lot more fun to give in to the devil (though I can’t think of a time I felt good after giving in). We fight God and His promptings to do what is right and give in to the devil all the time. We take the opportunity to say something snotty or crude. We drink a little too much. We gossip. We do so many things, and often we never even try to resist the urge. There is a promise at the end of the statement. If we resist the devil (the opposite of surrendering) the devil will flee from us. I don’t know about you, but I may not want to resist the devil, but I also don’t really want the devil hanging around. The more we resist the devil, the easier it becomes to resist the devil (because he is fleeing from us).
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Here is another part of the advice given in James about how to submit to God. We need to draw near to God. We need to seek Him out at every opportunity. Go to God in prayer, read His word and seek out those who know Him as their savior when you have decisions or questions to discuss. Draw near to Him. Put Him at the front of your mind, and you will not be disappointed. He will draw near to you as well. What a blessed promise that is!
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Keep your hands out of trouble. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Don’t dirty your hands with unkind deeds. though we are sinners we need to always be working with the Holy Spirit’s help to purify our minds. To become increasingly more like the one we submit to. We need to stop saying we believe one thing on Sunday and do something completely contrary the rest of the week. We need to stop being double minded. We need to be focused on God. We need to submit to Him and His authority. We need to stop fighting what we know is right.
Have you stopped fighting?