Call to Repentance for Self-Centered Living
7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-8)
From verses 1 to 6, we have seen James give warnings about the dangers of self-centered living. The readers of his letter were pursuing false wisdom, the wisdom of the world, causing relationships to be damaged. It was now time for them to turn back to God and break off their friendship with the world, with verses 7 to 10 being a call to repentance and change.
Starting strong in verse 7, “Therefore, submit to God.” James calls the believers to submit, to place everything of themselves under God. Anders points out, “We can submit ourselves to the Lord only when we recognize that He is greater and worthy of more honor than we.” An attitude of humility must be taken, replacing that pride and self-serving one.
James then commands the believers to “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Part of submitting your life to God is to fight back against the sin nature. The Greek word here used for resist evokes a military idea of standing your ground and not retreating. Believers are called to fight against the temptation to do evil, standing against Satan’s attacks. James shows that if the believers submit to God and resist the devil, the devil will flee. We can see an example of this in full effect when Christ was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11. Christ gave the devil no inch of ground to stand on, and the devil was forced to retreat.
Then, in verse 8, James calls believers to “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James is telling them to approach the Lord, be committed and worship Him. Lea writes,” Those who approach God in the obedience of worship find that He comes near to them. As our knowledge of the Lord deepens, we learn more fully His strength, power, and guidance for godly living.” As part of that drawing and submitting to God, James continues and tells the believers to “Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your heats, you double-minded.” James wants the believers to remove the sinful habits on the outside and purify their hearts, the inward self. The double-minded attitude, meaning to say they serve God but follow the ways of the world, needed to change, through repentance and working of the Holy Spirit, walking with God every day.
Isaac De Guzman