Some thoughts on James 4:7-8
BY: Cheryl Richman
Spiritual warfare is such an important and relevant topic in these times. We know that Satan is using every scheme he knows to destroy lives of Christians. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He wants to destroy our lives; bring havoc to our families and marriages, divide the members of churches with lies and offenses, sour relationships so we lose out on vital Christian fellowship, and cause turmoil at our places of employment. We all have a sin nature and Satan has studied us; he knows how to attack us where he can do the most damage. He wants to steal the peace and joy that we have with our Father God.
I would like to share some thoughts on James 4:7-8 which reads “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you doubleminded.”
These two verses give us several important steps in spiritual warfare. First, Submit to God. Submit means “accept or yield to a superior force or authority” (Google dictionary). As an example: if you were to enlist in the military you would go through boot camp in order to learn the rules of military life and discover what is expected of you as a soldier under the authority of the leadership. As Christians we must get into “boot camp” to learn about our life in Jesus—study the Bible, read books written by good Christian authors, attend church and actively listen to the messages from the pastor, participate in worship, and join in fellowship with other believers, gleaning from them the wisdom for Christian living. These are ways to learn submission to God and draw close to Him.
Secondly, Resist the devil. Through the first step of submission to God we grow in the knowledge of what God’s Word says, so we then will be able to stand firm against the lies of Satan and his evil forces. Satan wants to take our focus off of God and cause us to forget the strength and power which we have in the Holy Spirit. Therefore we must be strongly grounded in God’s word, planted and rooted in God’s power and strength. First Corinthians 16:13 says “Be on you guard: stand firm in the faith; be of courage; be strong.” Knowledge of God’s word is so essential for our faith. God gave us His word so that we can know Him and learn about His great love and compassion He has for us. Having knowledge of His word in our hearts helps us refute the lies which Satan throws us. Scripture says, “We are then able to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Thirdly, Come near to God and He will come near to you. Knowledge alone is wonderful but growing close to the Lord requires getting with Him intimately in study of His word, in worship, and through times of prayer. There is no sweeter place than to be with Our Father Who loves us. In His presence we will find the Joy of the Lord; Nehemiah 8:10b states, “The Joy of the LORD is your strength.” He is a wonderful Father who delights in having you as part of His family and wants only the best for you. As we draw close to God and meditate on His word we grow in His power to stand firm against Satan’s attacks. Also, prayer is essential to your Christian life and prayer is a powerful spiritual weapon in the battle against Satan .Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” God hears our prayers and activates the angels to wage war with the evil forces on our behalf.
Fourthly, Wash your hands! Washing our hands is a sign of repentance. All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). Repentance is knowing what you have done is wrong, facing your guilt and expressing remorse before God. He will forgive you. Once you are forgiven it requires strength and discipline to stay free of those sins. There are strategies to help you continue living a holy life in God’s Word. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another; this should be with a trusted Christian friend or pastor, someone that you are able to confide in and also can be accountable to. You need someone who will pray with you, and for you, as you strive to live a holy life. First Corinthians 10:13 encourages us that God won’t allow us to be tempted by more than we can handle and will give us a way of escape! A way of escape may be joining an organization like NA or AA. Also it’s important to avoid going to the places or with the people who may trigger the desires to sin. It takes Godly discipline to turn off computers and the media that would pull you back into sin. Keep in mind that sin always has consequences. These can destroy not only your own life but the lives of your family and possibly friends. In Matthew 5:23 Jesus tells us to go and reconcile with your brother; we must make things right, and in humility apologize to those whom we have hurt.
Fifthly, Purify your hearts you double-minded. A double-minded person is one who is undecided and vacillating like waves blowing here and there (James 1:8). He is a doubter, someone who tries to serve two masters (Matt 6:24); a person who is unsteady in both his character and feelings. He will never be able to place all his confidence in God. So this person must purify his mind—set it straight on his belief and trust in God. He must place all of his reliance in God’s strength and faithfulness. He must set his hope on God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
These are only a few thoughts on the study of spiritual warfare. There is so much more to learn in order to stand firm and trust God, and allow God to guide and direct your life each day.