Come near to God
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:7-10 NLT
James continues to provide us with instruction for directions that will aid us as we travel along life’s highway. The instructions begin with submission to God. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James speaks directly to those readers who are blinded by harmful pride. He is direct in his admonition and tells us that we need to divest ourselves of pride: “submit yourselves … to God.” He urges his readers to always subject themselves to God. When James says “submit,” the word literally means “obey.” In the Greek, Luke uses the same verb when he describes the twelve-year-old Jesus who “was obedient” to Mary and Joseph. “Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). To submit is to place oneself under the authority of someone else to show him respect and obedience. When we pray saying to God “Your will be done,” we are getting rid of ourselves of pride and in humility we submit to God. In this way, we have the power to resist the devil and “he will flee from” us (James 4:7). When we obediently do God’s will, Satan cannot lead us astray but must depart. We have to constantly “come close to God.” In our struggle against sin and Satan we do not stand alone when we come in prayer to God. God surrounds us with his care and grace, so that we have no reason to be overcome by the power of Satan. God wants us to come to him in true repentance, faith, obedience, and prayer. “Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world” (James 4:8b). When we realize our shortcomings, we have to be broken within so we can humble ourselves to God and come close to Him. “Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief” (James 4:9). Even before we come close to God, He already shows us his love and grace. It is God who always acts first in the work of salvation. “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10).