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Submitting and Resisting

We live in a time in which personal self-defense has become a major issue.  Across our community children are taking martial arts classes, adults are encouraged to take some type of self-defense training and others are simply purchasing hand guns.  The message that is being conveyed is crystal clear – if you don’t defend yourself, no one else will.


If we are not careful that same self-protective mindset can creep into our spiritual life.  Instead of relying on God’s strength and power to give us the victory, we can resort to spiritual self –defense tactics that will not produce the necessary results.   Consequently, we experience continual defeat and discouragement wondering why we cannot be victorious.


The prescription for spiritual victory is found in James 4:7-10.  In this brief passage James gives us ten quick-hitting commands, that if applied, will result in victory over our hated enemy.   The ten commands are summarized in verse seven, “So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Quite frankly, this is one of the most neglected prescriptions for spiritual victory that is offered to Christians.   Here are a few thoughts that I trust will be helpful.


1.      Make sure that you get the command in the right sequence.  


Whatever you do, never resist God and submit to the devil.  How tragic it is when believers get those two commands reversed.  In reality, salvation is a change of ownership.  Whether cognizant of it or not, before giving his life to Christ the unbeliever was loyal to the devil.  At the moment of salvation, though, that loyalty changes; the Christian exchanges Christ for the devil.  Jesus becomes the new Lord of His life. Consequently, daily spiritual victory comes when we recognize to whom we should submit and who we should resist.


Romans 6:16 – Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?  You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

2.     Make sure that you do both


Submitting to God and resisting the devil is not an either or proposition.  Fulfilling 50% of the formula is not enough.  The commands go hand-in-hand.  They function together.  You must do both in order to be victorious!


Quite frankly, I believe there are many Christians that try to resist the devil with the best of intentions.  They frequently make commitments and personal promises to not give in to temptation.  Yet, their attempts prove to be unsuccessful because they fail to realize that they cannot do it alone, they desperately need Gods help!  Remember that Ephesians 6:10 says that we must be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  It is only when we practice both disciplines that we are promised that our enemy will flee.   


3.     How do you “submit” and “resist”?


The habit of submitting to God and resisting the devil is a practical one.  It is a daily exercise which involves three factors.


·        You must trust in God’s character


When I fully realize how magnanimous, altruistic, benevolent, compassionate and innately good our great God is, it is so easy to humbly submit myself to His leadership.  As I come to intimately know Him I learn to trust Him with all of my heart and not depend on my own understanding and abilities (Proverbs 3:5).


·        You must claim God’s promises


The Word of God is filled with precious promises the believer can claim and appropriate during the moments of spiritual attack.


II Peter 1:4 – And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises.   These are promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

·        You must apply biblical truth


Applying biblical truth means that I do what the Bible says and don’t do what God’s Word prohibits.  I heed its warnings and listen to its commands.  David realized the power of applying biblical truth when he said, “I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

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