Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Causing the devil to run away sounds great. But I’ve had people come to me and tell me, “I tried resisting and the enemy kept pestering me. This verse doesn’t work.”
Things like that happen because we take things out of context. The enemy doesn’t flee simply because you resist. There’s more going on in this verse that you need to apply.
The first thing James says is for us to submit ourselves to God. That word, submit, means to place under. Its usage is like what happens in the military when a soldier takes his orders from a superior officer.
When we find our place in the kingdom of God, under submission to Christ – our Commander in Chief – we can then resist effectively. The devil flees because heaven is backing me up, not because I’m resisting on my own.
The Apostle Paul tells us pretty much the same thing.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
The word stand in this verse is the same word as resist that James used. We need to stand our ground and resist the devil. We’re told that if we do this, in submission to the Lord, the enemy will flee. But I’ve found that it’s the time frame between the resisting and the fleeing that gives us the most problem.
Why would the devil ever flee from us? After all, we’re not that strong compared to him.
This is a great lesson that the church needs to hear. So many people give up when things get hard. Some of us are under the impression that working for God should be all hearts and flowers.
Why then does Paul use the analogy of a warrior, fully armed, and dressed for battle? The fact is that there are spiritual forces that don’t want us to succeed in our service to the Lord. The victory comes from knowing that it’s the Holy Spirit giving you strength, and not giving up.
We need to learn how to stand in the center of opposition. The ancient Romans knew how to do this. It was the secret to the success of their army. Each of the Roman soldiers was taught how to defend a 3-foot square of ground from an invading army. When they fought together, there was no way to break through their lines.
We need to get it into our heads that the only way to victory is to move forward in the Lord. Backing up WILL NOT get you out of the battle. It will only make you have to fight to regain that ground later.
But the thing about this verse that gives me the most trouble is when Paul says, “when the day of evil comes.” Not “if”, not “there might come a time when problems arise”. He tells us in a straight forward way that this day is coming whether you’re ready or not. So the best thing to do is prepare now.
The word that both James and Paul used for stand literally means to stand in opposition to. We must be prepared for the enemy to oppose us.
The phrase after you have done everything actually translates after you have fully accomplished your work. When you have done everything you were assigned to do by the Lord, then it’s time for the Holy Spirit to take over. One thing I’m certain about. The enemy is no match for the God I serve!
So, being forewarned with the knowledge that the day of evil is coming, we need to be ready. We must be fully armed and prepared to stand our ground in Christ. Then we will see the victory of God manifest in our situation.
Question: What are you going through right now that will require you to stand your ground?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017