June 22, 2020 – Monday
James 4:7 NIV
7 Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
If you are (or ever were) a Star Trek fan, you will likely be familiar with the quote, “Resistance is futile” used by the Borg whenever they would encounter any race they intend to assimilate into their collective. I have also heard it used in chess games when someone believes they have an overwhelming attack. They look at the chessboard after making a move, then look at their opponent and say “Resistance is futile.”
If you follow James 4:7 as quoted above, you would also find resistance if futile. Why is that? Well, first of all the verse is incomplete, the full verse reads this way Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. The message should be clear. If you wish to successfully resist the devil you must first submit yourself unto God.
Some people think they can resist the devil on their own and live “good” lives. Maybe they can do so, for a while anyway. But long term they will not succeed. Jesus made this clear with this short vignette in Matthew 12:43-46 and Luke 11:24-26.
First Matthew: 43 When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.
Now Luke: 24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
As you can see, they are virtually identical. And the message is very similar to that of James 4:7. You cannot succeed in keeping your house (life) clean without first submitting to God.
I thought about this today while sitting (laying back) in a dentist’s chair. It became clear to me, I could hide nothing from the dentist about the condition of my teeth. With God I cannot hide anything from Him about the condition of my heart. If I will submit to the dentist he will remove cavities, provide fillings, and then instructions on how I can prevent (resist) future cavities. Much of that time in the dentist’s chair is like suffering through a trial or tribulation to remove something that is often my fault (I hate to floss). If we submit ourselves to God, painfully (gratefully) admit and repent of our sins when we accept Jesus, He makes us whole again. Then He provides all the instructions we need to avoid the pain of future repentance and the ability to resist the devil.
Now I do not know about you, but I imagine you are not unlike me. You do not like sitting in the dentist’s chair with his or her hands in your mouth along with a drill removing cavities. I know I don’t like it, in fact I almost hate it. I only put up with it because I know I need it. With God, because of His great compassion I do not hate it. However, while I appreciate His great mercy, I hate having to confess my sins. Still, how much much worse would it be if I did not submit myself unto God to where I can and do successfully (most of the time) resist the devil. Any time I fail, it is due to my own carelessness or forgetfulness. Just like my teeth.
The best part of seeing the dentist or of speaking with God in prayer about my shortcomings, is that so much is caught before it can get worse, much worse. Having a tooth removed or a root canal are truly painful trials. Having God’s correction in one’s life can also be terribly painful while He prunes the sin areas out of your life before they become overwhelming. I hope you spend time with God, submitting to Him so you are able to successfully resist the devil.
PS: I am now flossing!