The book of James has been called the Proverbs of the New Testament. The reason for such is the great amount of wisdom and knowledge that can be gained from a study of it. Through simple and easy to understand statements, James instructs the child of God on various issues. Take for instance the following verses: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7-8). These verses are so simplistic, but at the same time, they are filled with powerful information. Let us examine some of the commands a little deeper.
First of all, “Submit yourselves therefore to God”. If one is not careful, he might think that such a statement is so easy to understand that he quickly passes on to the remaining part of this verse. Submitting ourselves to God is a very serious and essential part of being a Christian. We have to learn that every aspect of our lives must be bent to God and His will. Our priorities must be in line. Jesus stated, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). The Lord also mentioned, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Solomon, after his search for what is important in life, summarized, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). We should learn early in life that my life is only correct when my life is in submission to God.
Next, James wrote, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. We should all understand that the devil is not able to make us do anything that we do not choose to do. Take for instance Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent/devil did not make Eve, nor Adam, sin against God. They both made that choice themselves. The process of sin is clearly taught by James in the first chapter, verses twelve through fifteen. Man is “drawn away of his own lust”. If the man does not succumb to his lusts, then the man will not bring forth sin. We can, and must, learn to “resist the devil”. The way to do this is found in Matthew chapter four. Jesus left us the perfect example of how to make sure that you send the devil running like a scalded dog. On three separate attempts, the devil tempted Jesus to sin. Each of those attempts was thwarted by knowing the Word of God and using It appropriately. Jesus repeatedly said, “it is written” and then proceeded to quote the verse. The end result was “Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matt. 4:11). Keep in mind though, that does not mean that the devil will not try again later. After all, Peter described him “as a roaring lion…seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). We must diligently learn how to “handle” the Word of God so that we will be prepared at any given time (2 Tim. 2:15).
Then, James declared that Christians should “Draw nigh to God”. The idea of drawing nigh to God is that we should strive to get as close to God as possible. This is accomplished by “walking in the light” and remaining faithful “in the doctrine of Christ” (1 John 1:7; 2 John 9). These two things are not mutually exclusive to one another. On the contrary, to “walk in the light” and to abide “in the doctrine of Christ” are the same thing. Once a person obeys the Gospel, he has committed himself to being a servant of the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2). In so doing, we are to obey what our Master commands. Paul wrote, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). By “walking in the light”, the Bible indicates that we are near God. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). God is “in the light”. Likewise, John also recorded, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). To Be Continued…
~ Corey Barnette