The Treasure of a Submitted Heart
James 4: 7 contains a phrase that is one of the most quoted passages of Scripture …”Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” This phrase is preached by most every preacher, in every church, regardless of the denomination.
But – the beginning place for verse 7 does not start in this phrase. The major concept in this verse is NOT our resisting the devil.
The rightful emphasis for this verse – and for this entire passage of verses 7 through 10 – is the FIRST phrase in the verse, not the second. It is in the primacy and importance in our SUBMITTING to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God…”
Anytime you see the word “therefore” in the Bible, it is wise to ask – “What is that there…for?” In this case – it is a direct reference back to verse 6. In that verse, we are warned that God ACTIVELY OPPOSES THE PROUD, but gives grace to the humble of heart.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God…”
The Greek word for submit is hypotasso. It is a military term – it refers to the process of alignment of troops in a war, all under the general order and command of the divisional leader.
It carries the implications that the person who submits is one who obeys, is arranged UNDER another, one who yields their will to another.
James puts this phrase ahead of the second phrase with great purpose…for one can ONLY resist the devil – – if one is submitted to God.
When it comes to the devil – our adversary, our enemy – two mistakes are often made.
- We give him too much credit.
- We give him too little credit.
Let’s take just a moment, and look at these two options.
1. The problem with the first is that we can end up living like the devil is on an equal playing field wit h God. This produces a great fear, in which we assign the devil attributes that are only found in God alone. We can fall into thinking that the devil is omniscient, omnipresent, and even omnipotent.
Truth is – he is none of the three.
He is NOT all-knowing…
He is NOT ever-present…
He is NOT all-powerful…
The devil presents himself as Jesus described in His conversation with Peter, in 1 Peter 5:8 – where He said the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
That is such a fitting picture – the devil wants us to believe that, like the lion, he is the king of the jungle, the top of the food chain.
But he isn’t. He too, though he doesn’t like it, is submitted under God.
2. The second mistake is that we give TOO LITTLE awareness to the enemy.
This error is equally serious, and may well lead us into a deception that is deadly to our souls.
Jesus warned the disciples that it only took a little leaven – to leaven the whole lump. Our hearts don’t have to fall far from God – before we open ourselves up to trouble. When we “lean into” temptation, even just a bit, we often wind up in that problematic situation.
How can we avoid both pitfalls? How can we effectively successfully resist the devil and see him flee?
By this – and ONLY by this – by SUBMITTING OURSELVES…our hearts, our lives, our will, our desires…to God. Only in doing this will we have the power to resist the enemy’s advances into our lives.
Till next time.