V77Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.. To receive the grace of God it is necessary to have the right mind, that of humbleness. You can show that by submitting yourself to God. That is the motive of James’ call. You will always need to be reminded of this appeal. The point is that you are not in control anymore over the desires of your heart and your whole life, but that you let go of everything and lay everything in God’s hand. Without a doubt you will then experience His grace to be living out of that consciousness.
Don’t think that you can therefore easily lean back and think that everything will run smoothly for the rest of your life. Absolutely not. You can be sure that the devil comes into action when you allow the Spirit, Who dwells in you, to work also in you. In order to stop his activities you have to resist him. The devil is all about making you act independently of God again. If you submit yourself to God you will surely be able to resist him. In this way the devil does not encounter a weak person, but the almighty God and this will surely make him run.
The Lord Jesus is the perfect example of submission to God. There was nothing that He had to submit Himself to, for His whole life has been a full submission to God. That submission led Him to the wilderness. There you see how He resisted the devil, when he approached Him to tempt Him (Mt 4:1-111Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”4But He 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.’”5Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”8Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”10Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”11Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and [began] to minister to Him.). You learn from the Lord Jesus that you are able to resist the devil by the Word of God. You see the resistance also in the life of Abraham, when the king of Sodom comes to him with his trick (Gen 14:21-2421The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.”22Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,23that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’24I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”).
V88Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.. To be able to resist the devil you need to be in the sanctuary. There you see the greatness and power of God. Therefore you are being exhorted to draw near to God. It is indeed important that you draw near in faith (Heb 11:66And without faith it is impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and [that] He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.). When you do that you experience that God is drawing near to you. He will make you aware that He is defending you against the power of the enemy. To be in the presence of God demands a practice that is in accordance with God’s holiness. Your submission to God must be seen in your deeds. Your hands show that. Your hands show to the people around you what you are doing.
It is good to consider that your actions come forth out of your heart. It is your hands that actually lead you to act. In order to be in God’s presence and to experience His protection, your hands are to be cleansed. That means that you need to have put away whatever does not belong there out of your life. You can hardly draw near to God while there are things in your life of which you know that God is speaking to you about those things. It is better to say that certain malpractices that you still maintain are depriving you from the desire to draw near to God.
Because man is able to draw near to God in a wrong mind (e.g. Lk 18:10-1210“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’), James also points to the disposition of the heart. Your heart should be purified from ulterior motives. James already talked about praying in a wrong way, meaning that you can pray with wrong intentions (verse 33You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend [it] on your pleasures.). Now he appeals to you to purify your heart from those wrong intentions. God desires “truth in the innermost being” (Psa 51:66Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
). You can purify your heart from wrong intentions by praying: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psa 139:23-2423Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.).
James addresses his readers as “double-minded”. Does he have to address you like that? Literally, a double-minded person means a person with a ‘double soul’. It indicates that a person is faltering between two opinions when he has to choose between two choices. Then you are tossed to and fro between both choices, while you inwardly know what the good choice is.
You find a good illustration of that in the history of Elijah on mount Carmel. Being led by Ahab and Jezebel the people find themselves in the realm and power of the idol worshipping and Elijah serves the true God. When Elijah challenges Ahab to a clash between God and the idols he called the people and the false prophets on mount Carmel together. When then the people draw near to Elijah he says: “How long [will] you hesitate between two opinions?” (1Kgs 18:2121Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long [will] you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.).
Have you already made your final choice, or do you still falter between two opinions? Subject yourself to the authority of James and make a clean sweep with your life when there are things of which you know that they hinder your service for God.
As you have read in the first verses of this letter, James writes to the whole of God’s old people, the twelve tribes. Of this people many have not been born again. He tells the people as a whole that they should be miserable and have to weep and mourn. It is a miscalculation that has fatal consequences when a person thinks to be sharing the blessings of God’s people automatically, simply because of the fact that he is an Israelite by birth.
It is a miscalculation of the highest order that you also see in Christianity. A lot of people count themselves to be a member of God’s people and claim to be Christians, simply and only because they belong to a church by their baptism or because they have Christian parents. What applies to these people is the word of the Lord Jesus that they are wretched and miserable, blind and naked (Rev 3:1717Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,).
V99Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.. It is crucial that such people realize the tragedy of their situation. He who gets the true picture of the world will surely become aware of his tragedy. The world is a system that functions as a fun fair. There is fun for everyone, but it is a fun fair of death. God will judge that. He who ponders on it just for a moment, must feel the emptiness. As long as a person remains in the world among his so-called friends, he will give the impression that everything is all right. He laughs and drinks together with them as if life is a big party. But at home in his room he finds himself deeply miserable. He is overwhelmed by emptiness.
If he could and would only want to take up the courage and be honest about the life he is living, he would then definitely come to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to be part of it any longer. He will certainly come to realize that God must judge that. He also will realize that God will judge him too. After all, his life is a tragedy, full of disgusted deeds. It is justified that a fear arises for God’s judgment.
V1010Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.. The moment that he acknowledges that he starts up the road to blessing. That road begins with admitting his own hopeless situation without having any possibility to liberate himself from it (Lk 15:14-2014Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving [anything] to him.17But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!18I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”‘20So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion [for him], and ran and embraced him and kissed him.). Then that will be the end of the laughing with which he fooled himself as if it was all fun. He who learns to see himself in the light of God cannot but only weep and mourn. There comes repentance and a desire for forgiveness. The empty fun of the world, the laughing without real happiness changes into weeping and sorrow. In this way the sinner humbles himself before the Lord.
Once he comes to that point, he gets the assurance that the Lord will lift him up. It is an exceptional promise for a sorrowful sinner. He will share in the exaltation of the Lord Jesus, Who has freely humbled Himself. God will deal with the sorrowful sinner in the same way He has done to the Lord Jesus – exalt Him –, when the sinner does what the Lord Jesus has done – humbled Himself.
Beside to the unconverted sinner, the call also applies to those who are born again. The situation around you gives you absolutely no reason to express joy, but rather to express sadness. For those who have lost the sense to do that, the same exhortation applies as to the sinner who fully lives in such a situation.
In the so-called beatitudes the Lord Jesus speaks out a particular ‘blessed’ about those ‘who mourn’ (Mt 5:44“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.). Those are His followers who could very well sense how everything in the world is in rebellion against Him. They share in His feelings about the rebellion of the world and the resistance against everything that is His. In return He wants to give them His joy (Jn 15:1111These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full.). That is a joy that has its origin in that other world of which He is the center. You experience this joy when you share with others what you have found in the Lord Jesus (1Jn 1:3-43what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.).
When you live in the world you sometimes share with others, but you always lose what you share. Everything you share in the world of the Lord Jesus with others, enriches your spiritual life. Whatever you share you will not lose and you will never lose the profit. It can only increase.
Now read James 4:7-10 again.
Reflection: Which orders (these are not kind requests!) does James give in these verses? Which of them apply to you?