Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7, ESV
At the age of 19, I found chapter four of the book of James. Or maybe I should say it found me! I would read it over and over again at every chance I could get, pondering what it meant to submit to God and resist the devil. I imagined myself with my small little frame and loud voice, paralyzing the enemy. I even prepared a message on James 4:7, explaining my seemingly huge revelation, which I would speak when I traveled to little churches up the California coast. As a young follower of Jesus, I loved the thought of knowing I was in a battle. I was zealous, passionate, and ready for a good fight. I cried as I read stories about Joan of Arc and her courageous mission to free France. If you’ve never studied her life, it’s worth your time.
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized it was going to take all I had to engage, or more often, stay engaged, in this battle. I came to understand I was in a battle whether I liked it or not. God had been fighting long before I ever understood or even knew Him. This battle was going to take all I had but, like every good fight, there is something to be won. God hadn’t put me on this Earth to helplessly stay out of harm’s way; rather, I am His co-heir, His partner in the struggle. He is my comrade. He is your comrade too. He wants to help us simply by giving us every tool needed not only to strike our adversary, but also to defeat him and keep him under our feet.
Let’s re-read our focus verse for today. The word resist comes from the two Greek words anti and istimi. Anti means against, as to oppose something. The word istimi means to stand. Together, it becomes anthistemi, which means “to stand against” or “to stand in opposition”. The word that demonstrates the attitude of how one is fiercely opposed to something and therefore, determines that he will do everything within his power to resist it, to stand against it, and to defy its operation.*
I love how James uses this word to help us understand our attitude when it comes to resisting the devil. Passivity, apathy, and denial will never set us free from the schemes of our enemy. It will only leave us vulnerable, which will lead to exhaustion, and finally defeat — barely getting by and never experiencing true victory.
* Renner, Rick. Sparkling Gems (Page 942) Published 2003. Print.