“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8
This is our focus promise for today. We are moving into our conditional promises of God. For the next couple of weeks we will look at some of the promises of God that require some action on our part. This promise reads pretty simply, but it can seem pretty hard to do. It all depends on how you look at it.
Man generally likes to say and think “I’m my own boss. I’m in control of my own destiny. I have my own rights” Basically “I’ve got this.” And then when we make a mess of things we want to ask God to come in and clean up our messes. And thankfully many times He does just that for us. The truth is, we are all submitting to something whether we like to think we are or not. It’s just that if we aren’t submitting to God and asking His direction and His will for our lives, we are submitting to the devil. And that is what James is pointing out to us here, when He says “submit to God” and then he says “resist the devil.” We have to make a decision in our minds and in our hearts who we will submit to. The devil is going to try to trip us up anywhere he can. He knows our weaknesses and he knows what to throw our way.
This is a pretty simple illustration but I have a memory that keeps popping in my mind. I haven’t always been a morning person. In fact in my much younger years, I could stay up really late and sleep until noon. I remember when I was first feeling the draw to this daily quiet time. I was a young mama who kept my friends children in my home. She was a school teacher and had to be at work very early in the morning. I wanted to be there for her as we had both been stay at home mamas together and she was in a position to have to go back to work. But I worried I was falling short of what these children needed from me. At the time my pastor kept preaching on getting in the word daily. Looking at my schedule with 3 preschoolers in my home every day and my oldest child in school the only time I could find to do this was early in the morning. So I started setting my clock to get up early to meet with God. I can remember dragging myself from my bed with voices in my head saying “you don’t need to do this. Don’t you think you need more sleep? You can find time to do this later.” I knew where those voices were coming from. Satan had no desire for me to begin my day with Jesus. And he knew at the time that sleep was my friend. I can remember one particular morning I was at the doorway to my room and I almost turned around and went back to bed. I set my feet firmly and I’m not sure if I said it out loud or not. Probably not since my husband was in the same room still sleeping but in my head I said “NO, I am not going back to bed. I am going to have my quiet time with God and I am going to do this every morning, so devil LEAVE ME ALONE!” Now I know this may sound far fetched to you but I can tell you 26 years into this daily appointment I have, with the exception of sickness or a few times I have had to adjust it because of other things, pretty much gotten up every morning. And for the most part I feel like the devil has left me alone on this one. There are times when we have to get firm with the devil and tell him NO. He is not going to get us on this one. That is submitting to God.
The rest of this promise “draw near to God and He will draw near to you!” Friends, when you seek Him, when you spend time with Him, He will certainly draw near to you. He is my best friend, He is with me always. Studying His word is one of the greatest delights of my life. He is in my thoughts all day long. I want my life to be authentic and real for Him. I pray that all can see Jesus in me. My pastor preached yesterday on being light for a dark world and I hope that my life is a light for all, for the sinner and the saint. I want others to see Jesus in me and I pray that they will want what I have. I am not saying I never mess up and the devil doesn’t look for and find other ways to get at me. He wants to put out my light. But that is part of the process of drawing near to God. The cleansing of my hands and asking God’s forgiveness for when I get it wrong and asking Him to help me to get it right. I know that not checked my mind wanders all over the place. I can find myself falling into negative thought processes and conversations before quick can get ready. That’s why I have to come to Him daily and ask Him to purify my heart. And when I do that, I do feel Him near to me. I know that as I draw near to Him, He is drawing near to me.