therefore to God. Resist
the devil and he will flee from you: hupotagete (2PAPM) oun to Theo
antistete (2PAAM) de to diabolo, kai pheuxetai (3SFMI) aph humon:
(Submit - 1Sa 3:18; 2Sa 15:26; 2Ki 1:13, 14, 15; 2Chr 30:8; 33:12,13;
Job 1:21; Job 40:3, 4, 5; 42:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; Ps 32:3, 4, 5; 66:3;
68:30; Jer 13:18; Da 4:25,32,34, 35, 36, 37; Mt 11:29; Acts 9:6;
16:29, 30, 31; 26:19; Ro 10:3; 14:11; Eph 5:21; Heb 12:9; 1Pe 2:13)
Wherewith, O Lord, shall I draw
And bow myself before Thy face?
How in Thy purer eyes appear?
What shall I bring to gain Thy grace?
O Lord, Shall I Draw Near)
This verse initiates what Hughes
refers to as a tidy unit of ten terse commands beginning with this
dominant command to submit and ending with a summary command to humble
one's self. Hughes goes on to add that...
James wants to so fire the souls of
his people that they will swim triumphantly in the river of grace. May
it be so for us as well! James’ opening command grates like
fingernails across the chalkboard of contemporary culture: “Submit
yourselves, then, to God”
R. K. James: Faith that works. Preaching the Word. Crossway Books
verbs in James 4:7-10 clearly signify that James is issuing an urgent
call to his readers to
repent from their ungodly behaviors described in the preceding
passages. And so like a commanding general, James issues a series of
curt military like commands which call for incisive action. The
is a basic requirement which must precede obedience to the subsequent
commands. Proud hearers won't submit and surely won't obey any of the
other commands. Humble people on the other hand will submit and obey.
Submission is looking at the
humble, self-emptying example of Jesus and daily choosing to follow in
his steps (1Pe 2:21-note)...
NOT MY WILL
-- Jesus (Lk 22:42)
Submission is a matter of
the will. James commands the reader to make a conscious, volitional choice to
submit their imperfect will to God's perfect will. This is be our
daily experience, for daily our natural (flesh)
tendency is to rebel against the people and circumstances God uses in
our life to facilitate our submission. We need to come to the point
that when God's "submission tests" come, we say "I don't understand
why You are allowing this, but I choose to bow and submit my will to
Yours dear Father."
We need to pray like the Puritan
Lord, what thou wilt, where thou
wilt, and when thou wilt.
Wuest's renders Jas 4:7
with implicit obedience to God at
once and once for all
Barton remarks that James'
series of commands...
both require and strengthen
humility as we obey them. Humility is among the qualities that we
simply cannot pursue directly. It, along with such traits as
self-control, patience, endurance, peace, and joy, is a by-product of
living God’s way.
B. B., et al. Life Application Bible Commentary. Romans: Tyndale House
Paul Apple entitles Jas 4:7,
8, 9, 10 as "Six Steps Towards Renewed Intimacy with God" - no
"self help" program here; this is a "God-help me" program! (James)
Note that some commentators feel
that James is addressing non-believers in this section, but I agree
with C H Spurgeon (see below) that this section speaks powerfully and
practically to both the saved and the unsaved.
I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might.
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So shall I walk aright.
therefore - Why "therefore"?
Because only the humble receive the grace of God (Jas 4:6-note).
Drop your pride, your arrogance and your haughtiness. To be a partaker of God's grace we must daily choose to submit, to
surrender our will, our desires, to God's will, which is good and
acceptable and perfect. Only the lowly person, the humble man or woman
will willingly surrender his or her rights to God. Pride ever
fights against this sweet surrender! And beloved, this rebellious
usurper (still resident even in those who are born from above = the
will fight against God's will until the day we die! That is why Paul
instructed Timothy to
= command to
make this you continual practice! Why? Because the world, the flesh
and the devil will continually oppose our walk of grace in Christ and
try to provoke us to pride, crying out "You have rights"!) the good
fight of faith (1Ti 6:12, 1:18, 19, Imitate Paul's example - 2Ti
1Co 4:16, 11:1, 1Th 1:6-note,
Ralph Martin says that the
alerts the reader that what follows
is an “expansion” of Pr 3:34 (Martin, R. P. Vol. 48: Word Biblical
Commentary: James. Dallas: Word, Incorporated)
Hiebert adds that...
Having diagnosed their selfish
strife as a manifestation of worldliness and shown the seriousness of
their condition, James at once calls for rectification. "Then"
(oun, "therefore, consequently") indicates that his injunctions are
prompted by the condition just exposed. Having yielded to the world's
allurements, they had to be restored to the pathway of separation.
They had to resume a right relation to God (Jas 4:7-10) and cease
their censoriousness of their brethren (Jas 4:11,12). (D
Edmond Hiebert - James -
Highly Recommended Commentary
- Any commentary written by Hiebert
- Notice that this verb is placed at the beginning of this clause for
emphasis. Get under and listen up! Come under God's authority. Our
willingness to yield our "rights" is a reflection of the genuine
humility James had just advocated in Jas 4:6. The proud heart refuses
to bow that it might truly hear God. A willingness to submit reflects
an attitude of humility. Proud people by definition are elevated above
others and do not submit. Don't start quoting Jas 4:7 beginning with
"Resist the devil"! James' point is that unless we are submitted to
God, we will not have the power to resist the devil. If you want to
know practically what submission looks like, then review Jas 4:1, 2,
3, 4, 5, to see what submission does NOT look like. If you are engaged
in any of these activities, then you can be assured you are not
submitting to God's authority. To submit to God is to reject
compromise with the world (1Jn 2:15, 16, 17, Jas 4:4-note,
which lies in the control of the Evil One (1Jn 5:19).
Richison explains that...
The heart of pride is
self-sufficiency. A phenomenal pride thinks that we can get along
without God. Humility, on the other hand, recognizes the need to
depend on God. Humility empties self of self-sufficient independence
from God. Humility places self under God so that He can dispose
of us as He pleases. (James 4:7
Alec Motyer explains that
after the therefore of James 4:7b the apostle issues a series
10 staccato-like preemptory (urgent; insisting on immediate attention) commands (all
aorist imperatives) which help define what a humble walk looks like, a walk that is
summarized in his last command in Jas 4:10.
In other words, the Bible, as so
often, not only tells us what is true but also how to respond to what
is true. The truth is a superabundant supply of grace (Jas 4:6); the
response is an obedient walk with God, itemized in Jas 4:7, 8, 9.
James begins his description of the humble walk with God by commanding
active allegiance (Jas 4:7a) Christians must have no doubt in their
minds whose side they are on; and by their lives they must leave no
doubt in the minds of others that they are God’s enlisted subordinates
and the devil’s unyielding opponents. (Motyer,
J. A. The Message of James: The Tests of Faith. The Bible Speaks
Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.A.: Inter-Varsity
Press) or in the series
The Bible Speaks Today New Testament on Logos 2-
2 Vols - excellent value)
Submission to God is the
fabric (the attitude) that should be woven into every area of
our life, every day of our life.
J. H. Jowett spoke of the
inestimable worth of submitting to God when he wrote that...
We get no deeper into Christ than
we allow Him to get into us.
D L Moody in his no nonsense
way alluded to submission to God when he said...
Let God have your life; he can do
more with it than you can.
Dr Charles Ryrie spoke of
the motive for submitting to God when he said...
The awesome purchase price of the
very life of the Son of God should be more than ample motivation to
make every child of God eagerly want to yield back to the Lord the
very freedom which his death bought.
Major Ian Thomas spoke of
the promised power inherent in submission and surrender to God when he
When all that you are is available
to all that God is, then all that God is is available to all that you
Do we dare sing the words of
Francis Havergal? Do we dare not!
TAKE MY LIFE
Take my life, and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.
- Chris Tomlin - Take My Life)
Isaac Watts' hymn conveys a
sense of the sweet surrender which should be part of the life of every
child of the Living God...
Father, I wait Thy daily will;
Thou shalt divide my portion still;
Grant me on earth what seems Thee best,
Till death and heaven reveal the rest.
The great Puritan writer Richard
Baxter said it well...
Lord, what thou wilt, where thou
wilt, and when thou wilt.
Submission to God clearly
implies submission to every word God's Truth in Scripture. As
Stephen Olford once quipped
I'm tired of hearing people say,
'I'm standing on the Word of God.' We should be standing
As Martin Ansley eloquently
The primary qualification demanded
in the reader of the Bible is not scholarship but surrender, not
expert knowledge but willingness to be led by the Spirit of God.
Thomas Manton explains that
means placing ourselves under God,
and so it denotes the whole duty of an inferior state.
There must be subjection to God’s
will—the whole man to the whole law of God. To submit to God is to
give ourselves up to be governed by his will and pleasure; our
thoughts, our counsels, our affections, our actions must be guided
according to the strict rules of the Word. Usually the work of
conversion stops here; we are loath to resign ourselves to God’s will.
Some of God’s commands, such as those which are inward, are contrary
to our affections; others, such as those which enforce external
duties, are contrary to our interests. But we must “take [Christ’s]
yoke” (Matthew 11:29). A main thing to be looked at in our first
supplication to God is this: are we willing to give ourselves up to
his will without reservation? Can I subject everything, without any
hesitation or reluctance, to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians
It implies a humble approach to
God. Submit yourselves, then, to God; that is, lay aside your pride
and stubbornness, humbly acknowledging your sins. Come as lost, undone
creatures lying at the feet of mercy. How long it takes before our
faces are buried in the dust (Lam 3:29), before we can come and say in
truth of heart, “If we are damned, it is just; if we are saved, it is
through much mercy.”
It is handing ourselves over to the
disposal of God’s providence. “The Lord’s will be done” (Acts 21:14)
is a truly Christian way of speaking. Discontent is clearly rebellion;
we want our will done, and not God’s. When we complain, God and we
contend; his will must be done to us as well as by us.
Thus you see there is a threefold
submission: our worldly hearts to his holiness, our proud hearts to
his mercy, our stormy minds to his sovereignty, that we may be
obedient, humble, patient...
Submission must be
Sincerely. We must do his
will because it is his will. God’s will is both the rule and the
reason of duty. So 1Th 4:3 urges us, “It is God’s will that you should
be holy”; see also 1Th 5:18 and 1Pe 2:13. This is warrant enough and
motive enough; God wants it to be so. Hypocrites do what they have to,
but they have other motives. To do it sincerely is indeed to do a duty
as duty, to do what is commanded because it is commanded.
Freely. Subjection is best
when it is willing. If the beast came to the altar struggling and
unwilling, men never offered it to their gods but counted it unlucky.
Certainly the true God looks most of all for a ready mind: “I will
hasten and not delay to obey your commands” (Ps 119:60)—without
doubting, disputing, or consulting with flesh and blood. To offer
Isaac was a hard duty, and yet that morning Abraham was up early (see
Faithfully. To the Lord’s
glory, not our own ends. The Christian life must be for God (Gal
2:19), according to God’s will, for God’s glory. The creatures’
hardest task is to subject our ends to God’s ends, as well as our ways
to God’s will.
(A Practical Exposition of
John MacArthur feels that
James is addressing unbelievers in James 4:7-10 commenting that these
one of the clearest calls to
salvation in all of Scripture. Unfortunately, many commentators have
assumed that this passage refers to Christians and is a call for them
to turn away from worldliness back to faithfulness to God.
Consequently, this great invitation is often missed... The “greater
grace” James has just mentioned (4:6) is God’s justifying,
sanctifying, glorifying grace of salvation, that divine, sovereign,
loving favor that He freely bestows on undeserving sinners who trust
in His Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord. His redeeming grace is
greater than the power of sin, greater than the power of the flesh and
the world, greater than the power of Satan.
J. James. Moody or
Spurgeon on the other hand feels that James'
command in to submit
to God applies both to believers and non-believers alike. In
the following sermon excerpt, Spurgeon is applying James'
command primarily to non-believers (In his sermon on Unconditional
Surrender he addresses submission of believers - see next note below)
the lighting spirit within many men
shows that they have not submitted themselves to God—lusting, envy,
strife, contention, jealousy, anger (cp Jas 4:1, 2, 3, 4)—all these
things declare that the heart is not submissive but remains violently
self willed and rebellious. (Ed:
How do you know if you are not
submitting to God?)
Those who are still wrathful, proud, contentious and selfish are
evidently unsubdued. There are some men to whom the very idea of
submission is distasteful—they will be subjective to no one, but wish
to be their own gods and a law unto themselves. “Submit” is a galling
word to them. They say in their hearts, “Who is the Lord that I should
obey His voice?”
They are willing, enough, to accept
His favors, willing enough, after their fashion, to say, “Thank God,”
but as to submission, they will have none of it—it suits not their
high mightiness! They strive for the mastery. They push for the front
place, aiming to advance their own interests and make the great I to
be lord above all. The Apostle quietly indicates in the words of our
text that many Christian professors need to submit, for at present
their unhumbled nature leads them to lusting and striving—and
effectually prevents their asking so as to receive at the Lord’s
A lack of submission is no new
or rare fault in mankind. Ever since the Fall it has been the root of
all sin. When the heart submits to God in sincerity, the work of Grace
is begun. And when it submits perfectly, the work is complete. But for
this, Divine Grace must display its power, for the heart is obstinate
From the moment when our mother Eve
stretched out her hand to pluck the forbidden fruit and her husband
joined her in setting up the human will against the Divine, the sons
of men have universally been guilty of a lack of conformity to the
will of God. They choose their own way and will not submit their
wills. They think their own thoughts and will not submit their
understanding. They love earthly things and will not submit their
affections. Man wants to be his own law and his own master. This
is abominable, since we are not our own makers, for, “it is He that
has made us and not we ourselves.” The Lord should have supremacy over
us, for our existence depends on His will...
To submit to God is to find
rest! The rule of God is so beneficial that He ought readily to be
obeyed. He never commands us to do that which, in the long run, can be
injurious to us, nor does He forbid us anything which can be to our
real advantage. Our God is so kind, so wise, so full of loving
forethought, that it is always be to our best interest to follow His
lead. Even if we could be left to choose our own way and were under no
bonds of duty, it would be wise and prudent to choose the way of the
Lord, for it is the path of pleasantness and safety.
Beloved, the Lord is far too great
to have any need to deal unjustly, or unkindly with His creatures.
Indeed, He is so great that He cannot desire any personal advantage
from His government, but He condescends to govern us because without
His rule and guidance we would be utterly undone. It is for our good
that like a father in a family He commands us this or forbids us the
other. It is wanton cruelty to ourselves when we break away from the
liberty with which Jesus makes us free, to place ourselves under the
tyranny of selfishness and the baser passions of the mind. It is
madness to forsake the honorable service of the great King to become
the slave of Satan. O that men would submit themselves unto God and be
willing to be blessed!
All resistance against God is, from
the necessity of the case, be futile. Common sense teaches that
rebellion against Omnipotence is both insanity and blasphemy. The
Lord’s purpose must stand and His pleasure must be done! His power
will assuredly crush all opposition and it is idle to raise it. Why,
then, should a man contend against his Master? Wisdom as well as
righteousness call upon him to submit to God.
And then let it always be known
that submission to God is absolutely necessary to salvation. A man is
not saved until he bows before the supreme majesty of God. He may
say, “I believe in Jesus,” but if he goes on to follow out his own
desires and to gratify his own passions, he is a mere pretender, a
wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Dead faith will save no man! It is
not even as good as the faith of devils, for they “believe and
tremble,” and these men believe in a fashion which makes them brazen
in their iniquity. No, salvation means being saved from the domination
of self and sin! Salvation means being made to long after likeness to
God, being helped by Divine Grace to reach to that likeness and living
after the mind and will of the Most High.
Submission to God is the
salvation which we preach, not a mere deliverance from eternal
burning, but deliverance from present rebellion, deliverance from the
sin which is the fuel of those unquenchable flames. There must be
conformity to the eternal Laws of the universe and according to these
God must be first and man must bow to Him—nothing can be right till
this is done. Submit is a command which in every case must be
obeyed—or no peace or salvation will be found...
I think I am not suspicious without
reason when I express a fear that the preaching which has lately been
very common and, in some respects very useful, of, “only believe
and you shall be saved,” has sometimes been altogether mistaken by
those who have heard it. Cases occur in which young persons go on
living light, frivolous, giddy, and even wicked lives—and yet they
claim that they believe in Jesus Christ. When you come to examine them
a little, you find that their belief in Christ means that they believe
that He has saved them, although everybody who knows their character
can clearly see that they are not saved at all! (Spurgeon's
sermon on James 4:7-10 The Reason Why Many Cannot Find Peace
- Herbert Carson agreed with Spurgeon when he said "The path of
submission is the way to peace.)
Spurgeon's sermon -
"Submit yourselves unto God"
is a precept which to thoughtful men is a plain dictate of reason, and
it needs few arguments to support it. Yet because of our foolishness
the text enforces it by a "Therefore," which "Therefore"
is to be found in the previous verse,—"He resisteth the proud, but
giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God."
His wrath and His mercy both argue
for submission. We are both driven and drawn to it. The Romans were
wont to say of their empire that its motto was to spare the
vanquished, but to war continually against the proud. This saying
aptly sets forth the procedure of the Most High. He aims all His
arrows at the lofty, and turns the edge of His sword against the
stubborn; but the moment He sees signs of submission His pity comes to
the front, and through the merits of His Son His abounding mercy
forgives the fault. Is not this an excellent reason for submission?
Who can refuse to be vanquished by love? Who will not say as our
hymn puts it—
"Lord, thou hast won, at length I
My heart, by mighty grace compell'd,
Surrenders all to thee;
Against thy terrors long I strove,
But who can stand against thy love?
Love conquers even me."
If resistance will only call forth
the omnipotent wrath of God, but true submission will lead to the
obtaining of His plenteous grace, who will continue in arms? I shall
not tarry to carry the argument further, but aim at once to press home
this precept upon you as God the Holy Ghost may enable me. I believe
it to be addressed both to saint and sinner, and
therefore I shall urge it home first upon the child of God, and say to
all of you who love the Lord, "Submit yourselves to God;" and
then we shall take a little longer time to say in deep solemnity to
those who are not reconciled to God by the death of his Son, "Submit
yourselves to God" if ye would be saved.
To THE PEOPLE OF GOD
"Submit yourselves unto God."
He is your God, your Father, your
Friend, yield yourselves to Him. What does this counsel mean? It
means, first exercise humility. We do well to interpret a text by
its connection: now the connection here is "God resisteth the
proud, but giveth grace unto the humble," (Jas 4:6-note)
and therefore the submission here meant must include
humility, even if it be not the chief thing intended. Brothers and
sisters, let us take our right place before God. And what is that? Is
it the highest seat in the synagogue (cp Mt 23:6)? Is it the place of
those who thank God that they are not as other men are (Lk 18:11, 12)?
I scarcely need reply, you who are the children of God will not dream
of occupying such a position. If by reason of temporary foolishness
you ever boast, I am sure, my dear friends, when you think over it in
the watches of the night you are very much ashamed of yourselves, and
would be glad to eat your own words. A pardoned sinner boasting! A
debtor to sovereign grace extolling himself! It is horrible.
Nothing can be more out of place
than boasting upon the lips of a child of God. If I heard Balaam's
donkey speak I should impute it to a miracle that it should use the
language of man, but that a man of God should use the braying of
vanity is a miracle another way, not of God but of Satan. Is it not
one of the fundamental truths of our faith that we are saved by grace?
And what says the apostle? "Where is boasting then? It is excluded."
The word "excluded" means shut out. Boasting comes to the door, it
knocks, it pleads for admission, but it is excluded. Possibly through
our unwatchfulness it gains a momentary entrance, but as soon as ever
the grace of God within us ascertains that the intruder is within our
gates it ejects him, shuts the door in his face, and bars him out, and
in answer to the question "Where is boasting then?" free grace
replies, "It is excluded, by the law of grace."
If all the good we have has been
given to us freely by divine favor, in what can we glory? If we
possess the highest degree of spirituality, if our life be perfectly
clear from any open fault, and if our hearts be wholly consecrated
unto the Lord, yet we are unprofitable servants; we have done no more
than it was our duty to have done. But, alas, we fall far short of
this, for we have not done what it was our duty to have done, and in
many things we fail and come short of the glory of God.
The right position of a Christian
is to walk with lowly humility before God, and with meekness towards
his fellow Christians. The lowest room becomes us most, and the lowest
seat in that room. Look at Paul, who knew far more of Christ than we
do, and who served him far better. It is edifying to notice his
expressions. He is an apostle, and he will by no means allow any one
to question his calling, for he has received it of the Lord; but what
does he say? "Not meet to be called an apostle." (1Co 15:9, 10, circa
55AD) What can be lowlier than this? But we shall see him descending
far below it. He takes his place among the ordinary saints, and he
will not give up his claim to be numbered with them, for he has made
his calling and election sure; but where does he sit among the people
of God? He styles himself "less than the least of all saints." (Ep
circa 61AD) There is no small a descent from "not meet to be called an
apostle" to "less than the least of all saints;" but he went lower
yet, for at another time he confessed himself to be still a sinner,
and coming into the assembly of sinners where does he take his
position? He writes himself down as "the chief of sinners." (1Ti 1:15,
The Stool of Repentance
The Foot of the Cross
This is submission to God, the
true surrender of every proud pretension or conceited claim. If,
my brethren, the Lord has called us to be ministers, let us ever feel
that we are not worthy of so great a grace: since He has made us
saints, let us confess that the very least of our brethren is more
esteemed by us than we dare to esteem ourselves, and since we know
that we are sinners let us look at our sins under that aspect which
most reveals their heinousness, for in some respects and under certain
lights there are evils in our character which make us guiltier than
the rest of our fellow sinners. The stool of repentance and the foot
of the Cross are the favorite positions of instructed Christians.
Such humility is not at all inconsistent with believing that we are
saved, nor with the fullest assurance of faith, nay, not at all
inconsistent with the nearest familiarity with God. Listen to Abraham:
"I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, I that am but dust and
ashes." He has drawn very near to the Lord, and speaks with him as a
man speaketh with his friend, and yet he says "I am but dust and
ashes." (Ge 18:27) His boldness did not destroy his humbleness, nor
his sense of nothingness hinder his near approach to the Lord.
My dear brethren, we know that in
Christ we are accepted (Ep 1:6KJV-note),
we know that we are dear to God and loved with an everlasting love, we
know that he hears our prayers and answers us continually, we know
that we walk in the light of His countenance (Ps 89:15-note);
but still our posture should always be that of deep humiliation before
the Lord, and in the attitude of complete submission we should sit at
the Master's feet and say, "By the grace of God I am what I am." (1Co
15:10) May the Holy Spirit work this gracious submission in every
Let us next observe that our text
bears a second meaning, namely, that of submission to the divine will:
that of course would strike you in the wording of the verse—"Submit
yourselves therefore to God." Beloved Christian friends, be willing to
accept whatever God appoints. Let us each pray to be
Simple, teachable and mild,
Awed into a little child;
Pleased with all the Lord provides,
Wean'd from all the world besides.
Richison reasons that...
Submission to God is an emptying of
self-sufficiency. Humility offends the devil because it betrays his
original sin – pride. The foundation of victory in the Christian life
lies at submitting to the ultimate authority of God over our lives.
There is no Christian liberty without that premise. Capacity to live
the Christian life means that we have capacity for God. It rests on a
volition that submits to God’s system of values as ultimate.
If we reject the ultimate values of
God, we will enter into misery.
There is no victory in the
Christian life without the discipline of submitting to God.
This submission to God’s authority is no vague, unreal submission.
Only when we fully submit to God in our values do we submit to God in
actuality. It is one thing to know the principle; it is another thing
to apply the principle to our experience. To the degree that we live
with the principles of God’s Word and apply them to our lives, to that
degree we “submit to God.”
May God help us to take a
position in the rank and file of those who accept His authority over
our lives. This means accepting God’s will as His sovereign plan for
us. We accept His superiority as God and our inferiority as creatures
in doing this. We obey God Almighty because His providence is best for
us, for God knows everything from beginning to end.
(Bolding and color added)
Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains
Every time a believer sins, he is
rebelling against God and is not subject to Him. Therefore, he must
subject himself to God, and the means of doing so is by confession of
sins (1Jn. 1:9). (Fruchtenbaum,
A. G. The Messianic Jewish Epistles : Hebrews, James, First Peter,
Second Peter, Jude. Page 292. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries)
On Logos Software)
Lehman Strauss comments
This is one of the most
positive neglected formulas offered to Christians. It tells us why so
many fail to resist the devil. The first step that every backslider
must take is submission to his heavenly Father. Never try to withstand
the enemy in human submission. No matter what it might be that has
defeated you, if you "humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, He
shall lift you up" (Jas 4:10). No hope nor help is available for one
caught in the grip of worldliness, refusing to renounce self-will and
to take God's will as his own. There must needs be submission both to
divine love and divine law. (James, Your Brother: Studies in the
Epistle of James)
Gingrich has an insightful
comment writing that...
Submit yourselves therefore to
God is needed and is the same thing as “humble yourselves in the
sight of the Lord,” Jas 4:10. Humility manifests itself in submission.
So Jas 4:7a and Jas 4:10 are summary statements of what is needed by
the readers. All of the other eight imperatives (There are a total of
in Jas 4:7-10!) between the two summary statements are explanations of
how the readers are to humble and submit themselves.
Gingrich’s Commentaries in Outline Form 100 Volumes)
Shall I, I pray Thee, change thy
will my Father
Until it be according unto mine?
But no Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray thee blend my human will with Thine.
from hupó = under + tasso
= arrange in orderly manner) means literally to place under in an
orderly fashion. In the active voice
means to subject, bring
under firm control, subordinate as used in (Ro 8:20-note).
Hupotasso also implies that the one who is subordinate is ready and
willing to obey his or her superior's commands.
Is is interesting to observe that
the idea of submission is usually directed to human authority (Lk
2:51; Ro 13:1; Ep 5:22; Titus 2:9; 1Pe 2:13) and not to God (as here
and He 12:9).
The 1828 Webster's
Dictionary offers an excellent definition of "submission"
the act of yielding to power or
authority; surrender of the person and power to the control or
government of another...a yielding of one’s will to the will or
appointment of a superior without murmuring. Entire and cheerful
submission to the will of God is a Christian duty of prime excellence.
Motyer makes the point
The English translation
does not do full justice to the Greek it translates, chiefly because
some ways in which we use the idea of submission point to the end of
struggling and the onset of passivity. In this way, we ‘submit’
to superior forces: further resistance is useless. For the duration of
the war we will stand idly by as prisoners of the enemy. But the word
James uses is much more an ‘enlistment’ word, the taking up of
allegiance to a great Superior in order to engage in the fight under
his banner. (Motyer,
J. A. The Message of James: The Tests of Faith. The Bible Speaks
Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.A.: Inter-Varsity
Press or part of the 22 volume set =
The Bible Speaks Today New Testament on Logos
Software - excellent value)
Hiebert notes that while
hupotasso is in the
The passive is to be understood in
the sense of the
calling for an action that centers on ourselves. "It is an action that
we must bring about ourselves as the Holy Spirit operates in us.' It
is a call for their voluntary subordination to God and His will. God
does not want forced obedience. Thus they must express their
recognition of God as supreme in their lives. This subordination, so
hard for the proud and self-reliant, is essential to cure their
worldliness. "Submission to God is the beginning, middle, and end of
the prodigal's return from disastrous familiarity with the world to
the security of the Father's home." (Ibid)
While antitasso in Jas 4:6
means to array against, hupotasso in this verse means to
arrange under, something the humble person willingly does. The
idea is to accept one's proper station under God.
Submission or placing one's self under proper authority is a
Biblical principle - Jesus submitted to His parents (Lk 2:51);
believers are to submit to government (Ro 13:1-note);
husbands and wives are to submit to one another (Ep 5:21-note);
the wife is to submit to her husband (Ep 5:22-note,
Ep 5:23, 24-note);
slaves were to submit to their owners (Titus 2:9-note).
As Lenski says both the
preceding verb antitasso and hupotasso obviously are derived from
tasso so that...
God “ranges Himself against” the
proud—“you range yourselves under” God.
James is commanding his
...Be aligned under the
authority of God, assuming your proper position.
...Line themselves up under
...Subordinate yourself to
God that you might obey Him
...Put yourself under God's
orders and chain of command.
...Give over your "rights"
and your will to God.
Like soldiers in the military James
is saying we must submit to our "Commander in Chief" giving Him our
sole allegiance and loyalty. Like slaves we
should submit to our loving Master.
Take your position in the
rank and file, which in the
of James 4 means under
God, your "Commander in Chief", to do His will and obey His Word, the
calling for decisive, effective, definite obedience! And remember that
delayed obedience is ALWAYS disobedience! God is not mocked, so if we
do not humbly submit to God, we should not be surprised that the devil
and his minions can and will launch successful attacks on our mind
(this is the battlefield and the attacks are always fiery missiles in
the form of lies meant to counter God's truth, cp the devil's basic
nature Jn 8:44). It is utter presumption (as well as self-deception)
to think we can sin freely and not open ourselves up to enemy assault.
The safest spot for
is submitting to the Savior!
is in the
which generally speaks of action exerted on the subject [man] from
In the NT a number of the
uses of hupotasso
are in the passive voice with a middle sense
signifying the voluntary subjection to the will of another.
This idea is found in
non-military secular uses where
described a voluntary
attitude of giving in or cooperating. This "motif" of voluntary
subjection is especially critical in marriages, lest husbands and
wives misapply the Scriptures. It should come as little surprise that
the call for submission in marital relationships follows the command
for the believer to be continually filled with (controlled by) the
Holy Spirit. How else can one truly, from the heart, submit to
another? How else can a husband unconditionally love his wife so that
she willingly submits her will to his loving leadership? (see
discussion Eph 5:18-note,
Ep 5:21, 22-note,
SUBMITTING TO GOD
The reader is strongly encouraged
to take a moment and peruse Spurgeon's excellent sermon on
James 4:7 (Unconditional
which he gives several practical guidelines regarding what it means
to submit to God. Here
are a few excerpts (in addition to the sections quoted earlier in this
note) to wet your appetite...
Are you quite sure that you are
submissive to the divine will as to your rank in society? Have you
accepted your position in the scale of worldly wealth? Are you
satisfied to be sickly, obscure, or of small ability? Are God's
appointments your contentments? Too many professors are
quarrelling with God that they are not other than they are. This is
evil, and shows that pride is still in their hearts, for were they
conscious of their own deserts they would know that anything short of
hell is more than we deserve, and as long as we are not in the pit of
torment gratitude becomes us. It is a happy thing when the mind is
brought to submit to all the chastisements of God, and to acquiesce in
all the trials of His providence...
It is a great thing to have the
soul entirely submitted to God about everything, so that we never
wish to have anything in providence other than God would have it to
be, nor desire to have anything in his Word altered: not one ordinance
of the church of God, not one doctrine of revelation, not one precept
or warning other than it is. We shall never be at rest till we come to
this. It is essential to our happiness to say at all times,
"Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt." (Mt 26:39)...
Submit, then, my brethren.
Beseech the Holy Spirit to bow your wills to complete subjection.
You will never be happy till self is dethroned. I know some of God's
children who are in great trouble only because they will not yield to
the divine will....
(Submission) means also
obedience. Do not merely passively lie back and yield to the
necessities of the position, but gird up the loins of your mind, and
manifest a voluntary and active submission to your great Lord. The
position of a Christian should be that of a soldier to whom the
centurion says "Go," and he goes, and "Do this," and he does it. It is
not ours to question, that were to become masters; but ours it is to
obey without questioning, even as soldiers do. Submission to our
Lord and Savior will be manifested by ready obedience: delays are
essentially insubordinations, and neglects are a form of rebellion.
(1Sa 15:22, 23) I fear that there are some Christians whose
disobedience to Christ is a proof of their pride...I am afraid there
are some who do not obey the Master because they are proud enough to
think that they know better than he does; they judge the Lord's will
instead of obeying it.
"Submit yourselves to God" by
yielding your hearts to the motions of the divine Spirit: by being
impressible, sensitive, and easily affected. The Spirit of God has
hard work with many Christians to lead them in the right way, they are
as the horse and the mule which have no understanding, whose mouth
must be held in with bit and bridle. There is the stout oak in the
forest, and a hurricane howls through it, and it is not moved, but the
rush by the river yields to the faintest breath of the gale. Now,
though in many things ye should be as the oak and not as the rush, yet
in this thing be ye as the bulrush and be moved by the slightest
breathing of the Spirit of God. The photographer's plates are
rendered sensitive by a peculiar process: you shall take another sheet
of glass and your friend shall stand before it as long as ever he
likes, and there will be no impression produced, at least none which
will be visible to the eye; but the sensitive plate will reveal every
little wrinkle of the face and perpetuate every hair of the head.
Oh, to be rendered sensitive by the Spirit of God, and we can be made
so by submitting ourselves entirely to His will. Is there not a
promise to that effect?—"I will take away the stony heart out of your
flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." (Ezek 36:26KJV)...
Sometimes the Spirit of God
whispers to you, "Retire to pray." At such times enter your closet
at once. Remember how David said, "When thou said unto me, Seek ye my
face, my heart said unto thee, Thy face Lord will I seek." (Ps 27:8-note)
The Spirit of God will sometimes
impel you to a duty which involves self-denial, which will take up
much of your leisure, and will bring you no very great honor as a
reward. Be not disobedient to his call, but go about your work
speedily. Say with the Psalmist, "I made haste and delayed not to keep
thy commandments." (Ps 119:60-note)
The Spirit will at times urge us
to deep repentance on account of faults in which we have been
living, he will rebuke us for some ugly temper which we have indulged,
or for some hard word which we have spoken against a brother, or
because of the worldliness of mind into which we have fallen. Oh,
brother, bestir thyself at such times, and examine and purge thy soul.
Let a hint from the Holy Spirit be enough for thee.
As the eyes of the handmaiden are
towards her mistress, so let your eyes be to your Lord. The handmaid
does not require the mistress to speak: it will often happen when she
is waiting at table, and there are friends, the mistress nods or puts
her finger up, and that is enough. She does not call out "Mary, do
this or that," or speak to her loudly a dozen times, as the Lord has
to do to us, but a wink suffices. So it ought to be with us; half a
word from the divine Spirit, the very gentlest motion from him, should
be enough guidance, and straightway we should be ready to do his
bidding. In this matter it is not so much your activity as your
submission to the Holy Spirit which is needed; it is not so much your
running as your willing to be drawn by him. There is to be an activity
in religion: we are to wrestle and to fight, but side by side with
that we are to yield ourselves to the Spirit's impulse, for it is He
that works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure; He
strives in us mightily, and if we will but resign ourselves, and no
longer be obstacles in His divine way, He will carry us to greater
heights of grace, and create in us more fully the likeness of Christ.
"Submit yourselves unto God."
Learn the sweetness of lying passive in His hand, and knowing no will
but His: learn the blessedness of giving yourselves up entirely to His
divine sway, for in so doing you will enter into heaven below.
(Read the full sermon -
Spicq has some excellent,
insightful comments noting that hupotasso is...
a major virtue in the Christian
pastoral writings, expressing the relations of subordination in the
cosmic and religious order.
God has placed everything in submission to Christ, to whom the angels
are subordinate (Heb 2:5; 1Pet 3:22); the church is in submission to
the Lord (Eph 5:24); Christians submit to God, to his law and his
training, but also to one another to cooperate (1Cor 16:16) in the
fear of God (Eph 5:21; cf. Ro 13:8). Woman is subordinate to man, the
wife to the husband, the children to the parents (1Ti 3:4; cf. Marcus
Aurelius 1.17.3), the young to the old, slaves and servants to their
master (Ep 6:5, Titus 2:9; 1Pe 2:18), subjects (cf. Ep. Arist. 205,
207, 265; Josephus, War 2.140; Polybius 21.43, hoi hypotattomenoi) to
their sovereign; and finally the Christian must submit to every human
creature. We may conclude that the baptized (Ed: I would qualify that
only one who is born by the Spirit, Jn 3:3, 5, independent of water
baptism if that is what Spicq is alluding to here. cp baptizo
conveying the sense of identification with Christ's death - Ro 6:3. )
person is a “son of obedience” (1Pet 1:2, 22) in all the larger or
smaller human communities in which he is placed (1Pe 2:13-3:12),
contributing to the maintenance of the order fixed by the plan of
providence whereby all creatures are ordered in a hierarchy (Wis
It is clear that hupotasso
does not have the same range in these differing communal
relationships; but it is always reverent submission, seen as a
self-offering (cf. Titus 3:1, 2). It means first of all accepting
the exact place God has assigned, keeping to one’s rank in this or
that society, accepting a dependent status, especially toward God (Jas
4:7), like children who are submissive to a father’s discipline (Heb
12:9), after the fashion of the child Jesus. This religious
subjection is made up of an obedient spirit, humaneness of heart (Ep.
Arist. 257), respect, and willingness to serve. To submit is to
accept directives that are given, to honor conditions that are
imposed, to please one’s superior (Titus 2:9) or honor him by the
homage that is obedience (cf. Ep 6:1), to repudiate egotism and
aloofness. It is to spontaneously position oneself as a servant toward
one’s neighbor in the hierarchy of love. (Spicq, C., & Ernest, J. D.
Theological Lexicon of the New Testament. 3:424-26. Peabody,
Hession alludes to an attitude that is willing to submit
as a vital part of personal revival, explaining that...
Revival is just the life of the Lord Jesus poured into human hearts.
Jesus is always victorious. In heaven they are praising Him all the
time for His victory. Whatever may be our experience of failure and
barren-ness, He is never defeated. His power is boundless. And we, on
our part, have only to get into a right relationship with Him, and we
shall see His power being demonstrated in our hearts and lives and
service, and victorious life will fill us and overflow through us to
others. And that is Revival in its essence. If, however, we are to
come into this right relationship with Him, the first thing we must
learn is that our wills must be broken to His will is the beginning of
Revival. It is painful, humiliating, but it is the only way. It is
being " Not I ,but Christ, (Gal 2:20-note)
and a "C" is a bent "I." The Lord Jesus cannot live in
us fully and reveal Himself through until the proud self within
us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which
justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and
seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God's will, admits its
wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and
discards its own glory - that the Lord Jesus might have all and be
all. In other words it is dying to self and self-attitudes.
And as we look honestly at our
Christian lives, we can see how much of this self there is in each of
us. It is so often self who tries to live the Christian life (the mere
fact that we use the word " try " indicates that it is self who has
the responsibility). It is self, too, who is often doing Christian
work. It is always self who gets irritable and envious and resentful
and critical and worried. It is self who is hard and unyielding in its
attitudes to others. It is self who is shy and self-conscious and
reserved. No wonder we need breaking. As long as self is in control,
God can do little with us, for all the fruit of the Spirit (enumerated
in Gal 5:22-note,
with which God longs to fill us, are the complete antithesis of the
hard, unbroken spirit within us and presupposes that it has been
Being broken is both God's work and ours. He brings His pressure to
bear, but we have to make the choice. If we are really open to
conviction as we seek fellowship with God (and willingness for the
light is the prime condition of fellowship with God), God will show us
the expressions of this proud, hard self that cause Him pain. Then we
can stiffen our necks and refuse to repent or we can bow the head and
say, "Yes, Lord." (cp Jas 4:7)
Brokenness in daily experience
the response of humility to the conviction of God.
And inasmuch as this conviction is
continuous, we shall need to be broken continually. And this can be
very costly, when we see all the yielding of rights and selfish
interests that this will involve, and the confessions and restitutions
that may be sometimes necessary.
For this reason, we are not likely to be broken except at the Cross of
Jesus. The willingness of Jesus to be broken for us is the
all-compelling motive in our being broken too (cp 2Co 5:14NIV). We see
Him, Who is in the form of God, counting not equality with God a prize
to be grasped at and hung on to, but letting it go for us and taking
upon Him the form of a Servant - God's Servant, man's Servant (Php
2:5, 6, 7-note,
Php 2:8, 9-note).
We see Him willing to have no rights of His own, no home of His own,
no possessions of His own, willing to let men revile Him and not
revile again, willing to let men tread on Him and not retaliate or
defend Himself (cp 1Pe 2:21, 22, 23-note).
Above all, we see Him broken as He meekly goes to Calvary to become
men's scapegoat by bearing their sins in His own body on the Tree (1Pe
In a pathetic passage in a prophetic Psalm, He says, " I am a worm and
no man." (Ps. 22:6KJV-note)
Those who have been in tropical lands tell us that there is a big
difference between a snake and a worm, when you attempt to strike at
them. The snake rears itself up and hisses and tries to strike back -
a true picture of self. But a worm offers 'no resistance, it allows
you to do what you like with it, kick it or squash it under your heel
- a picture of true brokenness. And Jesus was willing to become just
that for us - a worm and no man. And He did so, because that is what
He saw us to be, worms having forfeited all rights by our sin, except
to deserve hell. And He now calls us to take our rightful place as
worms for Him and with Him. The whole Sermon on the Mount with its
teaching of non-retaliation, love for enemies and selfless giving,
assumes that that is our position. But only the vision of the Love
that was willing to be broken for us can constrain us to be willing
Lord, bend that proud and
stiff necked I,
Help me to bow the head and die;
Beholding Him on Calvary,
Who bowed His head for me.
But dying to self is not a thing we
do once for all (Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23 adds "daily"). There may be an
initial dying when God first shows these things, but ever after it
will be a constant dying, for only so can the Lord Jesus be revealed
constantly through us.' All day long the choice will be before us in a
thousand ways. It will mean no plans, no time, no money, no pleasure
of our own. It will mean a constant yielding to those around us, for
our yieldedness to God is measured by our yieldedness to man. Every
humiliation, everyone who tries and vexes us, is God's way of breaking
us, so that there is a yet deeper channel in us for the Life of
You see, the only life that pleases God and that can be victorious is
His life - never our life, no matter how hard we try (Col 1:27b-note;
But in as much as our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His,
we can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared for God to
bring our life constantly to death. And in that we must co-operate by
our moral choice...
People imagine that dying to self
makes one miserable. But it just the opposite. It is the refusal to
die to self that makes one miserable. The more we know of death with
Him, the more we shall know of His life in us, and so the more of real
peace and joy. His life, too, will overflow through us to lost souls
in a real concern for their salvation, and to our fellow Christians in
a deep desire for their blessing. (Hession, R. The Calvary Road)
the devil and he will flee from you: antistete (2PAAM) de to diabolo,
kai pheuxetai (3SFMI) aph humon:
(Mt 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; Lk 4:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13; Eph 4:27; 6:11,12; 1Pe 5:8,9; Rev 12:9, 10, 11)
Expositor's Greek Testament
It is not a question
subjection either to God or the devil, but rather one of the choice
between self-will and God's will; it is the proud spirit that has to
Lehman Strauss warns...
Whatever you do, never resist
God and submit to the devil.
Those who have erred in this
respect know full well what a tragic and costly mistake was theirs.
Our Lord was the greatest example of submission to the Father's will
(Mt. 26:39), and in the hour when Satan attacked Him He was able to
resist the foe so
that the devil fled
from Him (Mt. 4:11). The devil is powerful, but if we resist him,
according to the Scripture, he will be put to flight. Lehman Strauss
Commentary - Lehman Strauss Commentaries – James, Your Brother:
Studies in the Epistle of James) (Bolding added)
Warren Wiersbe makes a great
point writing that...
Before we can stand
before Satan, we must bow before God. Peter resisted the Lord
and ended up submitting to Satan! (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
John Flavel once
Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility.
C H Spurgeon
Where the root Grace of faith is found, other Graces will grow from
it. Now notice how the Spirit of God, after having bidden us submit,
goes on to show what else is to be done. He calls for a brave
resistance of the devil. “Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you.” The business of
salvation is not all passive—the soul must be awakened to active
warfare! I am to fall into the arms of Christ, that He may save me—I
must trust Him completely. And when I depend upon Him I receive
life—and the very first effort of that life is to strike with all its
might the adversary of Christ and of my own soul. I am not only to
contend with sin, but with the spirit which foments and suggests sin!
I am to resist the secret spirit of evil as well as its outward acts.
If you are to have peace with God there must be war with Satan! You
cannot rest in your spirit and know the peace which faith gives unless
you wage war to the knife against every evil and against the patron
and Prince of Evil, even Satan. Are you ready for this? You cannot
have peace unless you are! (Sermon)
Motyer remarks that
the command to resist...
is not a word for one who is
carrying the attack over into the enemy camp, but for one who is
manning the defenses, knowing that enemy pressure is ceaseless and
that he is constantly under fire. We do well to notice that it is
those who have subordinated themselves to God who are commanded to
stand firm against the devil. James knows of no act of consecration to
God which takes us out of the conflict. On the contrary, it is the
very act of decisive enlistment as his underlings which brings us into
the firing-line and calls the devil’s attention to us as objects of
Ralph Martin says
we are to...
desist from aligning with the devil
(shown by the pursuit of “demonic” wisdom, Jas 3:15; selfish ambition,
Jas 3:16; murder, Jas 4:2; and friendship with the world, Jas 4:4-note)
(Martin, R. P.. Vol. 48: Word Biblical Commentary : James. Dallas:
- This is the other side of the basic demand to submit. Submit first.
Then resist. Don't run. Resist! There is no middle ground, no
neutrality. Wholehearted submission to God is only possible as they
resist God's archenemy. Stand against him decisively and definitively
imperative). Take your stand against the devil. Fear the Lord and you won't fear the devil!
Stand against the adversary in the strength provided by your
submission to Christ.
Deep guile and
Are his dread arms in fight:
On earth is not his equal...
Scowl fierce as he will;
He can harm us none,
For he is judged—undone;
One little word o’erthrows him.
Barnhouse reminds us regarding resist the devil that...
the one who tries to do this in
his own strength will
soon feel the force of flaming darts of the evil one. (Barnhouse, D.
G. God's Glory: Romans 14:13-16:27. Grand Rapids, MI.: William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company)
Thomas Manton has an
interesting thought on the relationship between submission and
resistance, noting that...
If you will humbly submit to God,
you must expect to resist Satan. In this case, note that true
obedience finds much opposition from the devil. Since the fall, a
godly life is not known by perfection of grace so much as by conflicts
with sin. Satan is still busiest wherever he has least to do. Pirates
do not set upon empty vessels, and beggars do not need to fear the
thief. Those who have most grace feel most trouble from Satan. He
envies them for enjoying the situation and interest in God that he
himself has lost...
(Satan) regarding the godly, he
asks to sift them as wheat (Lk 22:31). Sometimes he buffets them with
dreadful suggestions, at other times with worldly temptations. We
cannot set upon a duty without Satan suggesting lazy thoughts and
worldly advice. So then, you cannot judge yourselves forsaken by God
because you are tempted by Satan; no brother in the flesh has not had
his share (1Pe 5:9). Such conflicts are not inconsistent with faith
and piety. The devil tried this even with Christ himself after he had
a testimony from heaven (Matthew 4). Paul was troubled with one of
Satan’s messengers (2Co 12:7). The best are exercised with the sorest
conflicts. When the thief breaks into the house, it is not to take
away coal but jewels...
You must submit to God, but not to
Satan. The Scriptures, in order to speak distinctly and clearly, make
contrasts of necessary duties like this. So in 1Cor 14:20 we read, “
In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”
Similarly in Ro 16:19, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and
innocent about what is evil.” These sayings match this one of the
apostle: you must submit and yet resist.
Note that instead of worldly
desires James mentions Satan. The apostle does not say, “resist sin,”
but “resist Satan.” Note that Satan has a great hand in all sins.
Survey the pedigree of sin, and you will see it may all call the devil
father. Worldly desires are called his desires (Jn 8:44), and it is
said that “anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Mt
5:37)—that is, from the devil. Giving way to anger is, in the
apostle’s language, giving the devil a foothold (Eph 4:26,27). Survey
the iniquities of every age, and is not Satan’s hand in it all? It is
said of Judas’ treason against Christ that the devil prompted him (Jn
13:2). So too with Ananias: “How is it that Satan has so filled your
heart that you have lied?” (Acts 5:3). And in 1Chr 21:1 we read,
“Satan … incited David to take a census of Israel.” And in Mt 16:23KJV
“Get thee behind me, Satan!” (kjv). The heathen, who did not
understand the operations of the devil, thought all our conflicts were
against internal passions. Now the apostle is clear that we fight not
only against worldly desires, but “against the spiritual forces of
evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12), which makes the fight all the
(A Practical Exposition of
In the great
section on spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-18, it is notable that
three times Paul emphasizes that we are to stand firm (Ep 6:11-note,
- Do this now. Don't hesitate or procrastinate! This is war and the
foe is invisible!) the full armor of God, that you may be able (dunamai
- = be continually empowered) to stand firm against the schemes
of the devil.
12 For our struggle (pale)
is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the
spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up
- Do this now. Don't hesitate or procrastinate!) the full armor of
God, that you may be able to resist (anthistemi)
in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14 Stand firm
- Do this now. Don't hesitate or procrastinate!) therefore, HAVING
GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF
In the parallel
passage Peter (who experienced a personal encounter with Satan who was
allowed to sift him Lk 22:31, 32 [NB: Satan always has to get
the Sovereign God's permission to sift a saint! cp Job 1:8, 9, 10, 11,
12,] , ) issues several wartime commands to...
Be of sober spirit
- Do this now. Don't hesitate or procrastinate!),
be on the alert
Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking
someone to devour. 9 But
him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of
suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the
world. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God
of all grace (cp greater grace of Jas 4:6-note),
who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect,
confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1Pe 5:8-note,
I’ve found the secret of success,
’Tis holding, ’tis holding on;
The way to every blessedness,
’Tis holding, ’tis holding on;
Our warfare may be hard and fierce,
Oft Satan’s arrows wound and pierce,
But still we get more smiles than tears
By holding on, by holding on.
Found the Secret of Success)
from anti =
against + histemi = to cause to stand) is literally to stand or
The definition of the English word
resist is to withstand the force or effect of (in this case the
attacks of the devil). The 1828 Webster's dictionary adds that
Literally, to stand against; to
withstand; hence, to act in opposition, or to oppose. A dam or mound
resists a current of water passively, by standing unmoved and
interrupting its progress. An army resists the progress of an enemy
actively, by encountering and defeating it.
(like all 10 of the commands in James 4:7-10) is in the
which calls for a military like obedience. The
describes the subject making a volitional choice to resist.
James is saying...
Take a stand against the devil. Set
yourself against the devil. Withstand the devil and his minions.
Anthistemi means to arrange
in battle against which pictures a face to face confrontation.
It was used to refer to an army arranging in battle against the enemy
force and so to array against.
It means to set one's self against, to stand firm against someone
else's onset, to oppose (place opposite or against), to resist by
actively opposing pressure or power, to withstand (oppose with firm
determination). It involves not only our attitude but a corresponding
the readers (verb is in plural) to
resist effectively! Don't put this off. Don't delay. It even
conveys a sense of urgency! The
means that we must make the choice of our will to resist.
comments that resist (anthistemi) means
means “to withstand, to be firm
against someone else’s onset” rather than “to strive against
that one.” The Christian would do well to remember that he cannot
fight the devil. The latter was originally the most powerful and
wise angel God created. He still retains much of that power and wisdom
as a glance down the pages of history and a look about one today will
easily show. While the Christian cannot take the offensive against
Satan, yet he can stand his ground in the face of his attacks.
Cowardice never wins against Satan, only courage. (Bolding added)
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
Resist means to defend
oneself against the devil not to attack him. On the
other hand to cower before the devil is to invite sure defeat. Clothed
with the garment of a righteous lifestyle (Col 3:9, 10, 11, 12, 13,
14-notes) and strengthened in the
inner man by the Spirit (Eph 3:16-note) ensures effective resistance to diabolical
attacks and procures his promised flight. While we are not to flee
from the evil one per se, believer are commanded to
flee from evil
attitudes and actions...
1Cor 6:18, 19, 20
from idolatry 1Cor 10:14, 15
from these things [love of money], you man of God
from youthful lusts 2Ti 2:22
that every preceding use of the verb flee is in the
signifying a command to continuously flee. Morning, noon and night we
are to run from the evil attitudes and actions which seek to seduce
and ensnare us. Believer are never
instructed to flee from the Devil but to resist him!
There are huge texts written on how to conduct spiritual warfare
against our invisible foe, but this single command in James 4:7
succinctly presents the primary principle promising victory in our
daily struggle against demonic foes. On the other hand we do well to
recall that a lack of resistance will practically guarantee
ongoing harassment by the devil and his minions.
But as powerful as he is, the devil's primary mode of attack against
believers is through the fiery missiles of his temptations which are
calculated to appeal to our pride (our
(cp Jas 1:14-note).
Constable adds that
Whereas God commands us to forsake
the world (cp Ro 12:2-note,
Jas 1:27-note) and deny the lusts of the flesh
(1Pe 2:11-note) we should resist the devil.
Satan’s desire is to get the Christian to doubt (cp Ge 3:1, 2, 3,4, 5), to deny, to
disregard, and to disobey (Ge 3:6) what God has said. (Tom
Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible)
Despite the devil's deceptions,
accusations, power, hatred and ferocity, we can successfully resist
because God commands us to do so and His commands always include His
empowerment. Be aware that although the devil is a defeated foe, he is
also a persistent foe (prowls in 1Pe 5:8-note
= continually on the prowl!). For
Luke records that
when the devil had finished every
temptation (of Jesus), he departed from Him until (time phrase = ) an opportune
time. (Lk 4:13).
In his first epistle John
has several passages that reinforce the truth that the believer can
resist the devil
I have written to you, fathers,
because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written
to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides
in you, and you have overcome (nikao - come off victorious over)
the evil one (the devil and his evil angels). (1Jn 2:14)
Comment: These young men
know sound doctrine and so are strong against sin and error because
they have His Word in them and are enable to overcome the wiles of the
devil, who makes havoc of spiritual children - Ephesians 4:14 -note
You are from God, little children,
and have overcome (be victorious over) them; because greater is He
who is in you (the Spirit of Christ) than he who is in the
world. (the spirit of the devil and his henchmen) (1Jn 4:4).
Comment: The context speaks
especially of false doctrine, which the Spirit of God will help the
believer discern as error.
We know that no one who is born of
God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one
does not touch him. (1Jn 5:18, cp 1Jn 5:19)
Comment: The word for
touch means to lay hold of or to grasp in order to harm. Because
the believer belongs to God, Satan must operate within God’s
sovereignty and cannot function beyond what God allows, as taught for
example in Job 2:5 (cp Job 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13). God protects
His children and places definite limits on Satan’s influence or power!
A word of
caution is in order. A believer should never "discuss" things with the
Devil or his minions. Eve made this mistake, and paid for it dearly
(see Ge 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, cp 1Ti 2:14).
stand on the Word and then you will be able to withstand
his attack. Resist the temptation to try special formulas or words
directed at the devil or his henchmen. Simply purpose to remain
steadfast in the faith, continuing to live in accord with the truth of
God’s Word . As the believer feeds on sound doctrine and
obeys God’s truth, Satan is "resisted". Satan is the father of
lies and the prince of darkness but God's Truth exposes the enemy's
lies and His Light overpowers darkness.
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it (did not overpower it). (Jn
The devil is far
more intelligent and powerful than we are, so we cannot resist him in
the strength of the flesh (cp 2Co 10:3, 4, 5-note,
Eph 6:11, 12, 13, 14, see
Our example in combating Satan is the Lord Jesus who defeated the
devil's temptations by citing appropriate passages from God's Word.
For example when
the tempter came and said to
Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones
become bread." Jesus
"answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD
ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD (from
Deut 8:3).'" (Mt 4:3, 4, cp Lk 4:4)
The devil in
fact is already a defeated foe for Jesus
partook of (flesh and blood),
that through death He might render powerless him who had the
power of death, that is, the devil (He 2:14-note).
personal victory "against the schemes of the devil" in our present
circumstances, we must "put on the whole armor of
God" and then we
are enabled by God's grace to stand firm (Ep 6:11-note)
Thomas Manton offers several practical
points on resisting the devil...
Negatively. We must not fear him; the devil has no power to force
us, but only the skill to persuade us. Distrustful fear gives him the
advantage. We are to “resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1Pe
And again, we must not “give the devil a foothold” (Eph 4:27-note).
Anger may make way for malice; and when the first thoughts of sin do
not grieve us, the actual practice of them is not far off.
Positively. We must demonstrate our resistance, partly by refusing
to commune with him. Sometimes he must be checked simply by a rebuke
and abomination. When the temptation tends to a direct withdrawal from
obedience, for example, it is enough to say, “Get behind me, Satan”
(Mt 16:23) and to chide the thought before it settles. Sometimes we
must counter him with reasons and thoughts of grace. For example, when
the temptation has taken any hold on the thoughts, and corruption
rises up in defense of the suggestion, this is called “standing your
ground” when the day of evil comes and extinguishing the flaming
arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:13-18-note).
next thing is the way and means of maintaining this war by the graces
of God’s Holy Spirit. I will mention the chief ways:
Faith (1Pe 5:9, 10-note).
You need faith, so that you may overcome mystically, by taking hold of
the victory of Christ, and morally, so that you may reflect on the
glorious rewards appointed for those who stand out in the course of
trial and on the spiritual help that is at hand to encourage you in
the fight. Faith is necessary in every way; it is called “the shield”
The shield covers the other parts of the armor; thus faith supports
the other graces when they are assaulted—by getting help, by
encouraging them, etc.
Prayer. Never cope with a temptation alone, but try to bring God
into the combat: “pray in the Spirit on all occasions” (Eph 6:18-note).
I believe “Spirit” here means not the Holy Spirit, but the heart or
soul; when you are assaulted, lift up your spirit in holy groans to
Self-control (1Pe 5:8-note).
We need to be watchful, to take heed of every worldly desire; and we
need to be self-controlled too in the use of every support, every
created thing, every activity. I think that by “self-controlled” the
apostle means moderating our affections in worldly things, which is
necessary for this purpose since all temptations are insinuated into
our minds under the guise of pleasure, honor, profit, etc.; and so a
heart drowned in the world is soon overcome.
Watchfulness. Those with gunpowder natures need to take care not
only of burning arrows but of the least sparks. God is soon offended;
therefore we must go about “with fear and trembling” (Php 2:12-note).
Our hearts are soon overcome; so we need to watch what comes in, lest
it proves itself a temptation, and what goes out, lest it proves
itself corrupt. We should keep looking for victory in the fight and
for the fight in the victory.
Sincerity. The apostle speaks of “the belt of truth” (Eph 6:14-note).
A double-minded man is his own tempter, and unsettled souls simply
invite Satan to make an alliance with their own doubts and anxieties.
Such a mixture, like civil wars in a country, makes us prey.
Either you must resist him or be taken captive by him; there is no
flatters the creatures; but the snares of sin will at length prove
chains of darkness. We look at the trouble of resisting him, but the
sweetness of victory will abundantly compensate for it. Usually we
make the mistake of seeing how delightful sin is and what a nuisance
it is to resist it, and so we create a trap for ourselves. The right
comparison is between the fruit of sin and the fruit of victory. We
have often experienced what it is to be overcome; let us now see how
delightful victory will be. Nothing reveals the power and support of
Christianity so much as the spiritual conflict. If people give in to
temptations and commit sins without remorse, it is no wonder they are
so cold and dead in religion or that they have such dim and doubtful
evidence of heaven; they never tried the truth and power of grace. The
spiritual combat and the victories of Christ are riddles and dreams to
is a foiled adversary; Christ has overcome him already. All that is
required for victory is a strong “No.” Do not give him any further
reply. To resist him, not to yield to him, is the only way to be rid
Christ has foiled the enemy, and he has put weapons into your hands so
that you may foil him. He trod on this old serpent when his heel was
struck on the cross (see Ge 3:15). Now he wants you to set your feet
on his neck; “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”
You need not doubt his help; though Satan is an “accuser,” Christ is
an “advocate.” The Spirit of God strengthens us against the
suggestions of the evil spirit, and the good angels wait on us (Heb
just as much as the bad angels molest us. Do not fear being deserted;
when you are in Satan’s hands, Satan is in God’s hands.
Christ himself was tempted, and he knows what it is to be exposed to
the rage of a cruel fiend; therefore “he is able to help those who are
being tempted” (Heb 2:18-note;
see also Heb 4:15-note).
Those who have suffered with gallstones will sympathize with others
who are wracked with pain and torture; Israel was a foreigner, so had
to be kind to foreigners. Christ’s heart is made more tender by his
own experience; since he grappled with Satan, he is full of compassion
for all who are attacked by him.
(A Practical Exposition of
The devil - Why does James mention the devil
at this juncture? How does the devil relate to the context? For one
thing James had just described earthly wisdom which "is not that which
comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic" (James
3:15). Then in Jas 4:4-note he mentions friendship with the world,
which would naturally equate with friendship with the devil
because "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1Jn
5:19). The world and the devil are always associated.
This truth in James 4 (and the parallel passages in
1Pe 5:6, 7-note,
- Observe that humility is to precede engagement of the enemy
just as we see in James 4) are vitally important in our ongoing, daily
war against our mortal foe, the Devil. Paul pointed out that believers
are not to be "ignorant of his schemes" so that no advantage would be
taken of us by the Devil (cp 2Co 2:11 - see review of some of the
Schemes of the devil)
Later in Second
Corinthians Paul reminded the saints that...
though we walk in the flesh, we do
not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not
of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against
the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the
obedience of Christ. (2Cor 10:3, 4, 5-see
(Latin diabolus) (1228)
from diá = through, between + ballo = to cast,
throw) means a false accuser, slanderer (one who
utters false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage
another’s reputation), backbiting (malicious comment about one
not present), one given to malicious gossip or a calumniator
(one who utters maliciously false statements, charges, or imputations
about, this term imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the
Hiebert writes that the word diabolos
pictures Satan as...
slanderer" and gives a description of his principal activity. But
James here simply thinks of him as God's enemy and does not stress
that activity. In the
Septuagint, this Greek term
is used almost uniformly to render the Hebrew term Satan." But the
articular (Ed: Definite article "the" precedes diabolos in
Greek = to diabolo) designation, in the context, makes it
unmistakable that James thinks of the devil, the chief power of evil,
as a person. As God's inveterate enemy, he is constantly engaged in
seeking to subvert the allegiance of God's people by leading them to
self-centered and world-centered attitudes and activities. Satan is
the prime and most perfect enemy of God, the beginner and finisher of
all pride leading to apostasy from the Supreme, to whom all things
should be submissive...He cannot lead a man into sin without the
consent of the man's will. As long as a man's will is submissive to
the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit, he can stand victorious
against all the seductive arts of the devil. As a defeated foe Satan
now has no power over the Christian except the power of seduction. But
he is a persistent foe. When confronted with the sword of the Spirit
he surely flees, but "he returns again and again, sometimes,
immediately after the most shameful defeat." (Ibid)
is used 37 times in the NAS
- Mt. 4:1, 5, 8, 11; 13:39; 25:41;
Lk. 4:2, 3, 6, 13; 8:12; Jn. 6:70; 8:44; 13:2; Acts 10:38; 13:10; Ep
4:27; 6:11; 1Ti 3:6, 7, 11; 2Ti 2:26; 3:3; Titus 2:3; Heb 2:14; Jas
4:7; 1Pe 5:8; 1Jn 3:8, 10; Jude 1:9; Re 2:10; 12:9, 12; 20:2, 10)
is the noun form of the verb diaballō which describes not only
those who bring a false charge against one, but also those who
disseminate the truth concerning a man, and do so maliciously,
insidiously and with hostility.
Notice how the
root words (diá = through + ballo = throw) picture what
the devil does. He constantly throws between seeking to divide whether
it be between a husband and wife, a child and parent, a church, etc.
Resist his divisive, condemnatory accusations firm in your faith.
an interesting comment that the literal meaning of
"to throw through" means “to riddle
one with accusations.” (Wuest's
Word Studies from the Greek New Testament:: Eerdmans)
is applied some 34 times to Satan, the god of this world, and
in each case has the definite article in the Greek ("the" =
defining a specific entity) and is never in the plural (the three uses
below in the pastoral epistles are all plural) as when applied to men
who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the
devil or to side with him.
Timothy that in the last days difficult times will come and one of the
characteristics is that men will be "malicious gossips
(diabolos)" (2Ti 3:3-note)
instructed Timothy that
Women must likewise be dignified,
not malicious gossips (diabolos), but temperate, faithful in
all things." (1Ti 3:11, malicious gossips = diabolos also in Titus
thus is the term used to describe those who pick holes in others and
spread criticisms and innuendos. What a telling statement about the
diabolical effects of slanderous gossip or malignant
misrepresentations in the church! Oh, how each of us need to set a
guard over our tongue in God's house!
A T Robertson
has no mercy, calling these women "she devils" (but in an
effort to be "politically correct" note that in Titus 2:3
they would be "he devils"!) These men and women actually do the work
of the arch slanderer, the Devil himself!
Those who are
unsaved are called children of the devil for as John explains
By this the children of God and the
children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice
righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his
brother. (1John 3:10).
notorious use in this regard is Judas. Jesus, referring to Judas,
declared to the 12 disciples that
one of you is a devil
(diabolos) (Jn 6:70).
As Vincent writes
It is of the very essence of the
devilish nature to oppose Christ.
Luke records that Satan
himself "entered into Judas...Iscariot" as a prelude and
preparation for his betrayal of Jesus to the chief priests and
officers (Lk 22:3)
The point is
that the devil clearly uses men to carry out his devilish work, and
some of those men may appear to have a close relationship with Jesus!
Jesus in His explanation of the parable of the tares of the
field records that
the field is the world
(contrary to the persistence of many interpreters maintaining that
this is a reference to the church!) and as for the good seed,
these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons
of the evil one and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and
the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are
angels." (Mt 13:38, 39)
Jews who had superficially (but not "savingly") believed in Jesus, He
You are of your father the devil,
and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer
from the beginning (see Genesis 3:1-15, see his demise predicted in Ge
3:15, Ge 4:8, 1Jn 3:12, 15) and does not stand in the truth, because
there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his
own nature; for he is a liar (see Ge 3:4), and the father of
lies. (Jn 8:44)
And they went on
to prove their relationship to the devil when shortly
they picked up stones to throw at
Him. (Jn 8:59)
writes that is but
a small step from the thought of
one who searches for everything thing that can be said against a man
to the thought of one who deliberately and maliciously slanders man in
the presence of God."
W: Mark - The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
Barclay also writes that
the devil, is the patron saint of
all slanderers and of all slanderers he is chief. There is a sense in
which slander is the most cruel of all sins. If a man’s goods are
stolen, he can set to and build up his fortunes again; but if his good
name is taken away, irreparable damage has been done. It is one thing
to start an evil and untrue report on its malicious way; it is
entirely another thing to stop it. As Shakespeare had it...
Good name in man and woman, dear my
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘tis something, nothing;
“Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
Many men and women, who would never
dream of stealing, think nothing—even find pleasure—in passing on a
story which ruins someone else’s good name, without even trying to
find out whether or not it is true. There is slander enough in many a
church to make the recording angel weep as he records it." (The
letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. The Daily study Bible series,
Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)
Note that this
discussion of diabolos is intended to focus primarily on the
meaning of the Greek word and not the more general Biblical teaching
on the devil. For more all inclusive articles on "the Devil" click one
of the following resources - see study on spiritual warfare and the
devil's schemes in Ephesians 6:11.
Torrey's Topical provides an excellent
Scriptural summary of "The Devil" (see also
Torrey's topic on the various Names
of the Devil) ;
Holman's Bible Dictionary article has a well
done summary on "Devil";
Nave's Topical Analysis of Satan;
in depth article on
"Satan" in International Std Bible Encyclopedia.
is coupled with the word “Satan” (transliteration of Hebrew
word meaning “adversary”) in the Revelation, John recording that an
angel from heaven
laid hold of the dragon, the
serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a
thousand years (Re 20:2-
is used of one who makes accusations and presses charges. In
Revelation 12:9-10, we read that
was thrown down, the
serpent of old who is
called the devil
who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his
angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven,
saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Christ have come, for
(kategor) of our brethren has been thrown down, who
= describes the devil's continual activity) them before our God day
and night. (Re 12:9, 10-see notes
saints can be that
There is therefore now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Ro 8:1-note:1)
Are you safe and
protected from the devil's accusations "in Christ Jesus" dear
reader? If not, cry out this very moment to the Most High God for Him
to give you His grace that you might this moment experience eternal
security in Christ through your exercising of personal faith in
Christ's life, death, burial, resurrection and sure, soon return. God
William Evans wrote that it is popular in some circles to day
to spell the word devil with the letter "d" left off thus
reducing the idea of an actual person called the devil to a mere
influence called evil. The devil may be out of fashion, but he's not
out of business and as Evans adds...
If the devil can't mislead people
that way, he would have them think of him as a horrible,
monstrous-looking creature with a forked tail, dressed in a fiery red
suit, and with horns protruding from his head. If the devil can get
folks to think of him like that, then when he comes as an 'angel of
light', he will not be recognized, and so find it easier to beguile
his unsuspecting victims.
is used 16 times in the
the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT - 1Chr 21:1; Esther 7:4; 8:1;
Job 1:6, 7, 9, 12; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7; Ps 109:6; Zech 3:1, 2. Several of the
OT uses are recorded
below. Note that it is not surprising that 10 of the 16 uses of
diabolos are in Job 1-2 (If you have not studied these chapters,
you would do well to take some time to read them carefully, taking
careful note of what God teaches about the "limits" of Satan as well
as Job's and his wife's reaction - cp 2Co 2:11)! Diabolos is the usual
rendering of the Hebrew word Satan (accuse, accuser) in the
suggesting that these two words are virtually interchangeable or
translation of the Septuagint (Brenton's
of the Septuagint) of Job 1:7 is illustrative of the 10 uses of
diabolos in Job...
And the Lord said to the devil,
"Whence art thou come? And the devil answered the Lord, and
said, I am come from wandering about (cf prowls
around) on the earth, and walking up and down in the world.
So even in the
OT we see that the Devil was prowling about like a roaring lion
seeking someone he might devour. He is wandering through the earth
looking for victims. He tried to devour Job but was unsuccessful and
in fact what that the devil meant for evil, God used for good (see
Job's "revelation" in Job 42:5, 6). We need to understand that
spiritual warfare is real. Our enemy is not a figment of some science
fiction writers imagination. And God calls on us as His children to
stand against the Adversary in the grace in which we stand and the
promised Spirit which He has given us when we placed our faith in
Christ Jesus our Lord.
Then he showed me Joshua the high
priest standing before the angel of the Lord (Christ), and Satan (LXX
= diabolos) standing at his right hand to accuse him. (Zech 3:1)
Appoint a wicked man over him; and
let an accuser (LXX = diabolos) stand at his right hand. (Psalm
Chronicles we read that
Then Satan (LXX =
diabolos) stood up against Israel and moved David to number
a man after God's own heart (see Acts 13:22, cf 1Sa 16:7) clearly was
not immune to the temptations of the Devil. This "attack" on David was
not a surprise to God for the parallel passage in 2Samuel suggests
that God permitted Satan to attack (God's "permissive will")...
Now again the anger of the LORD
burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, "Go,
number Israel and Judah." (2Sa 24:1)
had David allowed Satan? Why did God permit Satan to tempt David to
number the troops (take a census)? The following verse shows that
David recognized his census taking was a sin (even a great sin - read
the context for how many lost their lives because of this sin!) and it
appears most likely that it was the sin of pride ("Look how big my
army is"). For a moment David took his eyes off his Lord and what He
had enabled him to accomplish, and gave Satan a foothold or base of
operations from which to shoot fiery missiles to his mind...
Now David's heart troubled him
after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, "I have
sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away
the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have acted very foolishly. (2Sa
stay sober and ever on the alert! We are in a very real war with real
victims (70,000 lost their lives as a result of David's sin above!)
and real devastation. And yet remember that we are no where told to
fear the Devil nor his power, but we are told to be aware of his
continuous evil schemes to destroy us.
If you are
fearful or doubting, treasure the truth in your heart that
in all these things we
overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced
that neither death, nor life, nor angels (including diabolos), nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Ro 8:37, 38, 39-note)
Did you notice
how Romans 8 begins and ends? It begins with no condemnation
and ends with no separation for those in Christ Jesus our Lord
and Savior forever. Glory!
Barrett Browning said,
The devil's most devilish when
Chadwick, a great English preacher, said,
The one concern of the devil is to
keep us from praying.
Joseph Hall added that the devil...
rocks the cradle when we sleep at
One of the most
devious devices of the devil is to convince people that he no longer
exists, or to trivialize himself as an old goat in a red costume, with
a forked tail. As someone has wisely quipped "God is not dead, but
neither is Satan."
William Shakespeare even wrote about the devil stating that
The devil can cite Scripture for
his purpose," and in another place noted that "The devil hath power
to assume a pleasing shape.
describing the schemes of the devil said that
He sometimes slanders God to men,
as to Eve.... sometimes men to God, as Job.... and continually, man to
against the devil Martin Luther said that...
The best way to drive out the
devil, if he will not yield to the texts of Scripture, is to jeer and
flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.
Jesus called the devil the "father of lies" (Jn 8:44), Paul Matlock
framed this telling sentence...
Satan deals with confusion and
lies. Put the truth in front of him and he is gone.
He will flee - While this is a promised
conditioned on the humble believer's submission to God, the very
statement itself teaches that our mighty enemy (and his henchmen
demons) can be successfully resisted. The corollary is that when we
fail to submit and/or manifest an a double-minded attitude of
indecision and/or doubt when confronting the devil, our indecision
causes him to become bold and even aggressive in his attacks. We must
never forget that Christ's victory of the devil on the Cross (Jn
12:31, 32, 33) has rendered Satan a defeated foe (cp Heb 2:14, 15-note)
means to flee away in the sense of to take to flight in order to seek
safety. To flee in the sense of to escape something, being made safe
from danger by eluding or avoiding it (He 11:34-note,
Mt 3:7, Acts 27:30). To flee in the sense of to avoid, shun (Webster =
to avoid deliberately and especially habitually), have nothing to do
with (1Co 6:18). To vanish or disappear (Re 16:20-note,
defines flee as to run away often from danger or evil or
to hurry toward a place of security. Pheugo is the root of our
English word "fugitive" defined as one who escapes from
something or someone.
He will flee
- The future tense can speak of certainty. When we submit to God and
resist our archrival, then he must immediately flee! This is a golden
promise believers should commit to memory (see
orizing His Word)
so that they are always prepared for spiritual battle. But remember
that this promise is conditional and must be preceded by our willing
submission to God! Only then can we "claim the promise"
beloved! And in the context of James 4 we see that humility
manifest by submission is not weakness but in fact is
our strength to live the supernatural, Christian life!
MacArthur reminds us of the foundation which guarantees this
promise writing that...
The Lord Jesus defeated him at His
temptation and at the Cross (Jn 12:31, 32, 33, cp He 2:14, 15-note)
and left him vulnerable. He cannot hold a sinner against that sinner’s
will. He can’t even lead a believer into sin without the consent of
that believer’s will. When confronted and resisted with the truth of
the gospel, he flees, releasing his hold as that repentant sinner who
believes is delivered from darkness to light. After salvation he comes
again and again through the world system’s working on the flesh, but
can be defeated repeatedly by the believer who has the “sword of the
Spirit” and the rest of the armor (Ep 6:10-17-see
J. James. Moody or
writes that in classic Greek...
(cf. Lat. fugere). From the time of Homer,
its most common meaning is “flee”, “take flight”, whether absolutely,
or from someone or something (Homer, Plato, Herodotus, etc.). The
present and imperfect tenses often express only the purpose or
endeavor to get away. Hence the compounds apopheugo, katapheugo,
ekpheugo, or propheugo may be added to the participle pheugon in a
sentence to denote the escape itself. The accusative (and occasionally
the genitive) with pheugo specifies that which is being “shunned”,
“escaped from”, or “avoided”-whether death and war (Homer), evil
(Demosthenes), or the consequences of murder (Euripides).
Metaphorically reins may “escape from” the hands of the charioteer.
Because a person may flee his country, the articular participle refers
to “the exile(s)” (Homer, Xenophon, Thucydides); and since such people
may well have been banished, by a natural extension the active verb
itself takes on the quasi-passive force of “be banished”, “be
expelled” (Herodotus, Xenophon, Dinarchus). Similarly phyge comes to
mean “exile”, “banishment”. In Attic Greek, both pheugo and apopheugo
occur as law-terms. The pheugon is the defendant, as opposed to the
diokon, the prosecutor; and pheugein graphen (or diken) means “to be
put on trial”, while an added genitive (e.g. phonou, murder) specifies
the charge. To escape the prosecutors (apopheugein tous diokontas)
therefore means “to be acquitted”.
Pheugo is used 29x in 29v in the NT and is
translated in the NAS as escape(2), escaped(2), fled(5), fled away(2),
flee(13), flees(2), ran away(3).
Matthew 2:13 Now when they
had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a
dream, saying, "Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee
to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to
search for the Child to destroy Him."
Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming
for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to
flee from the wrath to come?
Matthew 8:33 And the herdsmen ran away, and went to the city,
and reported everything, including the incident of the demoniacs.
imperative = command to make this your
continual practice) to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not
finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.
Matthew 10:23 "But whenever they persecute you in this city,
Matthew 23:33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you
escape the sentence of hell?
let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;
Matthew 24:16 then (When? When the Antichrist breaks the covenant with
Israel -this occurs at the midpoint of the 7 years of Daniel - see Da
Matthew 26:56 "But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the
prophets may be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left Him and
Mark 5:14 And their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the
city and out in the country. And the people came to see what it was
that had happened.
imperative = command to make this your
continual practice) (When? When the Antichrist breaks the covenant
with Israel - this occurs at the midpoint of the 7 years of Daniel -
see Da 9:27-
note) to the mountains.
Mark 13:14 "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing
where it should not be (let the reader understand), then let those who
are in Judea
Mark 14:50 And they all left Him and fled.
Mark 14:52 But he left the linen sheet behind, and escaped
Mark 16:8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for
trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to
anyone, for they were afraid.
Luke 3:7 He therefore began saying to the multitudes who were going
out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to
flee from the wrath to come?
Luke 8:34 And when the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran
away and reported it in the city and out in the country.
imperative = command to make this your
continual practice) to the mountains, and let those who are in the
midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country
enter the city;
Luke 21:21 "Then let those who are in Judea
John 10:5 "And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will
flee from him, because they do not know the voice of
John 10:12 "He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the
owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and
flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them.
Acts 7:29 "And at this remark Moses fled, and became an alien
in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
Acts 27:30 And as the sailors were trying to escape from the
ship, and had let down the ship's boat into the sea, on the pretense
of intending to lay out anchors from the bow,
imperative = command to make this your
continual practice) immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is
outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
Comment: There are over 160
uses of pheugo in the Septuagint, but 4 uses in Genesis 39 that
parallel Paul's command to flee sexual sin - cp Joseph's fleeing from
Potiphar's advances (Ge 39:12, 13, 15, 18).
1Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my beloved,
imperative = command to make this your
continual practice) from idolatry.
1Timothy 6:11 But flee
imperative = command to make this your
continual practice) from these things, you man of God; and pursue
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Comment: This sin is the
hallmark of all false teachers, who pervert the truth for personal
gain. Wuest writes that pheugo is "in the present
imperative which commands a continuous action. Timothy is to make it
the habit of his life to be everlastingly fleeing away from a fondness
for money. Expositors says that “love of money in ministers of
religion does more to discredit religion in the eyes of ordinary
people than would indulgence in many grosser vices.”
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
imperative = command to make this your
continual practice) from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness,
faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure
quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from
weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee
And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; and they
will long to die and death flees from them.
And the woman (Reference to Israel) fled into the wilderness
where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be
nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
And every island fled away, and the mountains were not
Revelation 20:11-note And
I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose
presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was
found for them.
Comment: This describes
the "surreal" time of the Great White Throne judgment, when creation
as we know it has "fled" or vanished, and before the appearance of the
New Heaven and New Earth (Re 21:1-note)
Pheugo is used 161 times in the
- Ge 14:10; 39:12f, 15, 18; Ex 4:3; 14:5, 25, 27; 21:13;
Lev 26:17, 36; Nu 10:35; 16:34; 24:11; 35:6, 11, 15, 32; Dt 4:42;
19:4, 11; 28:7, 25; Josh 7:4; 8:5f, 20; 10:11, 16; Jdg 1:6; 4:15, 17;
7:21f; 8:12; 9:21, 40, 51; 11:3; 20:32, 42, 45, 47; 1Sa 4:10, 16f;
14:22; 17:51; 19:8, 12, 18; 21:10; 22:17, 20; 23:5f; 27:4; 30:17;
31:1, 7; 2 Sam 1:4; 4:4; 10:13f, 18; 13:29, 37; 15:14; 17:2; 18:3, 17;
19:3, 8f; 23:11; 24:13; 1 Ki 2:28f; 11:43; 12:18; 20:20, 30; 2Ki 3:24;
7:7; 8:21; 9:3, 10, 23, 27; 14:12, 19; 1Chr 10:1, 7; 11:13; 19:14f,
18; 21:12; 2Chr 10:2, 18; 13:16; 14:12; 21:9; 25:22, 27; Neh 13:10;
Job 27:22; 30:3; Ps 31:11; 60:4; 68:1; 104:7; 114:3, 5; 139:7; Pr
28:1; Song 8:14; Isa 10:18, 29; 13:14; 16:3; 20:6; 21:14f; 22:3;
24:18; 27:1; 30:16f; 31:8f; 43:14; 48:20; Jer 4:6, 21; 37:13f; 38:19;
46:5f, 15, 21; 48:6, 19, 44; 49:30; 50:16, 28; 51:6; Da 10:7; Amos
5:19; 6:5; 9:1; Obad 1:14; Jonah 1:3, 10; 4:2; Nah 2:5, 8; Zech 2:6.
Here are a few of the uses...
14:10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of
Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who
survived fled to the hill country.
39:12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me!" And he
left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. 13
When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had
fled outside...18 and it happened as I raised my voice and
screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled outside."
Ex 4:3 Then
He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and
it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
'And I will set My face against you so that you shall be struck down
before your enemies; and those who hate you shall rule over you, and
you shall flee when no one is pursuing you.
(For the choir director. A Psalm of David. A Song.) Let God arise, let
His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee
At Thy rebuke they fled; At the sound of Thy thunder they
The sea looked and fled (Miracle of the Red Sea - Ex 14:21 and
40 years later at the Jordan River); The Jordan turned back (Josh
3:13, 14, 15).... 5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O
Jordan, that you turn back?
Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy
Pr 28:1 The
wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold
as a lion.
Crafty Coyotes - “Like many sheep ranchers
in the West, Lexy Fowler has tried just about everything to stop
crafty coyotes from killing her sheep. She has used odor sprays,
electric fences, and ‘scare-coyotes.’ She has slept with her lambs
during the summer and has placed battery-operated radios near them.
She has corralled them at night, herded them at day. But the southern
Montana rancher has lost scores of lambs—fifty last year alone.Bible.org
Sermon Illustrations - Recommended)
“Then she discovered the llama—the aggressive, funny-looking,
afraid-of-nothing llama. ’Llamas don’t appear to be afraid of
anything,’ she said. ‘When they see something, they put their head up
and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the
coyote is concerned, and they won’t have anything to do with that.
Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.’”
Apparently llamas know the truth of what James writes: “Resist the
Devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7). The moment we sense his
attack through temptation is the moment we should face it and deal
with it for what it is. (