James 4:7
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. (But) resist the devil.—The hardest advice of all, to a man reliant on himself, is submission to any, more especially to the Unknown. But, as a correlative to this, the Apostle shows where pride may become a stimulant for good, viz., in contest with the Evil One.

He will flee.—Or, he shall flee. “The Devil,” says the strange old book called The Shepherd of Hermas, “can tight, but he cannot conquer; if, therefore, thou dost withstand him, he will flee from thee, beaten and ashamed.”

The text is another proof of the personality of Satan; no amount of figures of speech could otherwise interpret it.

4:1-10 Since all wars and fightings come from the corruptions of our own hearts, it is right to mortify those lusts that war in the members. Wordly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will not allow content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections stop prayer, and the working of our desires toward God. And let us beware that we do not abuse or misuse the mercies received, by the disposition of the heart when prayers are granted When men ask of God prosperity, they often ask with wrong aims and intentions. If we thus seek the things of this world, it is just in God to deny them. Unbelieving and cold desires beg denials; and we may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of lusts than of graces, they will return empty. Here is a decided warning to avoid all criminal friendships with this world. Worldly-mindedness is enmity to God. An enemy may be reconciled, but enmity never can be reconciled. A man may have a large portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who will conform to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God. So that any one who resolves at all events to be upon friendly terms with the world, must be the enemy of God. Did then the Jews, or the loose professors of Christianity, think the Scripture spake in vain against this worldly-mindedness? or does the Holy Spirit who dwells in all Christians, or the new nature which he creates, produce such fruit? Natural corruption shows itself by envying. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up, or lay out for ourselves, according to our own fancies; God the Holy Spirit teaches us to be willing to do good to all about us, as we are able. The grace of God will correct and cure the spirit by nature in us; and where he gives grace, he gives another spirit than that of the world. The proud resist God: in their understanding they resist the truths of God; in their will they resist the laws of God; in their passions they resist the providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God resists the proud. How wretched the state of those who make God their enemy! God will give more grace to the humble, because they see their need of it, pray for it are thankful for it, and such shall have it. Submit to God, ver. 7. Submit your understanding to the truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the will of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armour of God, and stand out against him, he will leave us. Let sinners then submit to God, and seek his grace and favour; resisting the devil. All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or, hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before him.Submit yourselves therefore to God - That is, in his arrangements for obtaining his favor. Yield to what he has judged necessary for your welfare in the life that is, and your salvation in the life to come. The duty here enjoined is that of entire acquiescence in the arrangements of God, whether in his providence or grace. All these are for our good, and submission to them is required by the spirit of true humility. The object of the command here, and in the succeeding injunctions to particular duties, is to show them how they might obtain the grace which God is willing to bestow, and how they might overcome the evils against which the apostle had been endeavoring to guard them. The true method of doing this is by submitting ourselves in all things to God.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you - While you yield to God in all things, you are to yield to the devil in none. You are to resist and oppose him in whatever way he may approach you, whether by allurements, by flattering promises, by the fascinations of the world, by temptation, or by threats. See 1 Peter 5:9. Satan makes his way, and secures his triumphs, rather by art, cunning, deception, and threatenings, than by true courage; and when opposed manfully, he flies. The true way of meeting him is by direct resistance, rather than by argument; by steadfastly refusing to yield in the slightest degree, rather than by a belief that we can either convince him that he is wrong, or can return to virtue when we have gone a certain length in complying with his demands. No one is safe who yields in the least to the suggestions of the tempter; there is no one who is not safe if he does not yield. A man, for example, is always safe from intemperance if he resists all allurements to indulgence in strong drink, and never yields in the slightest degree; no one is certainly safe if he drinks even moderately.

7. Submit to … God—so ye shall be among "the humble," Jas 4:6; also Jas 4:10; 1Pe 5:6.

Resist … devil—Under his banner pride and envy are enlisted in the world; resist his temptations to these. Faith, humble prayers, and heavenly wisdom, are the weapons of resistance. The language is taken from warfare. "Submit" as a good soldier puts himself in complete subjection to his captain. "Resist," stand bravely against.

he will flee—Translate, "he shall flee." For it is a promise of God, not a mere assurance from man to man [Alford]. He shall flee worsted as he did from Christ.

Submit yourselves therefore to God; viz. voluntarily and freely, and that not only in a way of obedience to all his commands, but (which is chiefly meant here) in a way of humility, and sense of your weakness, and emptiness, and need of his grace.

Therefore; both because of the danger of pride, (opposed in the former verse to humility), he resisteth the proud; and because of the benefit that comes by humility, he giveth grace to the humble.

Resist, by faith, and the rest of the spiritual armour, Ephesians 6:13,14, &c. Or, resist, i.e. comply not with his motions and temptations.

The devil; the head and leader of fleshly lusts. These likewise are military terms. Having spoken before of strife and contention, he directs here with whom we may, and with whom we may not, contend. He had commended modesty toward men, they are our equals, we must not lift ourselves above them, nor envy nor strive with them; here he adviseth to submission to God as our supreme Governor, we must not contend with him; and to open war with the devil as our great enemy, our contention must be with him.

And he will flee from you; as to that particular assault in which you resist him; and though he return again, and tempt you again, yet you still resisting, he will still be overcome; ye are never conquered so long as you do not consent. To the will of God, with respect to worldly things, and be content with such things as are enjoyed, and be satisfied with the portion that is allotted; it is right and best for the people of God to leave themselves with him, to choose their inheritance for them, since by all their anxious cares, their striving and struggling, their impatient desires, wars and fightings, as they cannot add one cubit to their stature, so nothing to their worldly substance; and it becomes them to submit to God in all afflictive dispensations of his providence, and be still and know that he is God; as well as to submit to his way and method of salvation by Christ, and particularly to the righteousness of Christ, for justification; and to depend upon him for supplies of grace in the discharge of every duty, and the exercise of every grace:

resist the devil, and he will flee from you; Satan is to be looked upon as an enemy, and to be opposed as such, and to be watched and guarded against; the whole armour of God should be taken and made use of, particularly the weapon of prayer, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and the shield of faith; and also the grace of humility, than which nothing is more opposite to him: he is a proud spirit, and he endeavours to swell men with pride of themselves; and when he has worked them up to such a pitch, he is then master of them, and can manage them as he pleases; but a poor humble believer, with whom God dwells, to whom he gives more grace, and who comes forth not in his own strength, but in the strength of the Lord God, as David against Goliath, and who owns his vileness and sinfulness, and flies to the grace of God, and blood of Christ, Satan knows not what to do with him, he is puzzled, baffled, and confounded; such he leaves, from such he flees; he does not like the power of prayer, nor the strength of faith, nor the sharpness of the twoedged sword, the word of God, nor the humble believer's staff, bag, scrip, and sling.

{5} Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

(5) The conclusion: We must set the positive virtues against those vices, and therefore whereas we obeyed the suggestions of the devil, we must submit our minds to God and resist the devil with a certain and assured hope of victory. In short, we must endeavour to come near to God by purity and sincerity of life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jam 4:7. From the sentiment expressed in the preceding, James infers (οὖν) several exhortations expressive of the duty of humility.

ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ Θεῷ] The exhortation is addressed to the ὑπερήφανοι: because God ἀντιτάσσεται them, they are to ὑποτάσσειν to God. In Schneckenburger’s explanation: plena obedientia vos Deo committite, ut sitis δοῦλοι Θεοῦ, obedientia is incorrectly emphasized. Calvin’s is better: subjectio ista, quam commendat, humilitatis est; neque enim generaliter hortatnr, ut pareamus Deo, sed requirit submissionem.[199]

ἀντίστητε δὲ τῷ διαβόλῳ] This exhortation is closely joined to the preceding; submission to God means resistance to the devil. This requirement was so much the more appropriate, as the readers wished to be the friends of the κόσμος, whose ἄρχων is the devil.

καὶ φεύξεται ἀφʼ ὑμῶν] comp. Hermas, I. 2, mand. 12 (ed. Hefele, p. 380): δύναται ὁ διάβολος παλαῖσαι, καταπαλαῖσαι δὲ οὐ δύναται. ἐὰν οὖν ἀντίστῃς αὐτῷ, νικηθεὶς φεύξεται ἀπὸ σοῦ κατῃσχυμμένος. Calvin: Quamvis continuos insultus repetat, semper tamen exclusus discedit.

καί after the imperative commencing the apodosis; so also in Matthew 7:7 and frequently. 1 Peter 5:5-9 is to be compared with this passage, where upon the quotation of the same O. T. passage follow exhortations to humility before God, and to resistance to the devil.

[199] On account of its strangeness, we give here Semler’s remarks on this passage: Jacobus, Paulus, Petrus, Judas, uno quasi ore id confirmant, opus esse, ut Romanis et sic Deo se subjiciant (in which Lange finds no fault were it only said: ut Deo et sic Romanis); and afterwards: τῷ διαβόλῳ, qui per πνεῦμα φθόνου vos suscitat adversus magistratum Romanum; similar also, of course, Lange.Jam 4:7. ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ θεῷ: Cf. Hebrews 12:9, οὐ πολὺ μᾶλλον ὑποταγησόμεθα τῷ πατρὶ τῶν πνευμάτων καὶ ζήσομεν. It is not a question of 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 be curbed.—ἀντίστητε δὲ τῷ διαβόλῳ, καὶ φεύξεται ἀφʼ ὑμῶν: the two ideas contained in these words are very Jewish; in the first place, the withstanding of the devil is represented as being within the competence of man; the more specifically Christian way of putting the matter is best seen by comparing the words before us with the two following passages: Luke 10:17, Ὑπέστρεψαν δὲλέγοντες· κύριε, καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια ὑποτάσσεται ἡμῖν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου. And the passage in 1 Peter 5:6 ff. which is parallel to the one before us, is prefaced by the words. “Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He careth for you,” and followed by the words, “And the God of all grace … shall Himself perfect, stablish, strengthen you”. The difference between the Jewish and Christian doctrines of grace and freewill here cannot fail to be observed. It is useless to cite the words, “Be subject unto God,” as indicating divine assistance in withstanding the devil, because the subject of thought in either passage is quite independent; the meaning is not that ability to withstand the devil is the result of being subject to God; but two courses of action are enjoined, in each of which man is represented as able to take the initiative.—In the second place, the representation of Satan (the devil) here is altogether Jewish; the Hebrew root from which “Satan” comes (שׂטן) means “to oppose,” or “to act as an adversary”; the idea is very clearly brought out in Numbers 22:22, where the noun is used: And the Angel of Jahwe placed himself in the way for an adversary (literally “for a Satan”). This is precisely the picture represented in the words before us; the ancient Hebrew idea of something in the way is to some extent present in the Greek ὁ διάβολος, from διαβάλλω “to throw across,” i.e., the pathway is impeded (cf. Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11). Jewish demonology was full of intensely materialistic conceptions; the presence of demons in various guise, or else invisible, was always feared; primarily it was bodily harm that they did; the idea of spiritual evil, as in the passage before us, was later, though both conceptions existed side by side. The words under consideration are possibly an inexact quotation from Test. of the Twelve Patriarchs, Naphth. viii. 4, “If ye work that which is good my children … and the devil shall flee from you”. Knowling quotes an interesting parallel in Hermas, Mand., xii. 5, 2, where in connection with the devil it is said, “If ye resist him he will be vanquished, and will flee from you disgraced”.7. Submit yourselves therefore to God] The forms of the Greek verbs express a somewhat sharper antithesis than the English. God setteth himself against the proud, therefore, set yourselves as under God.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you] The rule seems to point to the true field for the exercise of the combative element which enters into man’s nature. Not in strife and bitterness against each other, not in setting themselves against the will of God, but in taking their stand against the Enemy of God and man were the disciples of Christ to shew that they were indeed men. We may, perhaps, trace in the form of the precept an indirect reference to the history of the Temptation in Matthew 4:1-11.Jam 4:7. Ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ Θεῷ) Submit yourselves therefore to God: Psalm 62:5. Septuagint, πλὴν τῷ Θεῷ ὑποτάγηθι ἡ ψυχή μου, but, my soul, submit thyself to God. This exhortation, submit yourselves, agrees with the lowly, Jam 4:6; and after an intermediate explanation of this submission, it is brought to a close in Jam 4:10 : comp. 1 Peter 5:6.—ἀντίστητεἀφʼ ὑμῶν, resistfrom you) The opposite follows, Draw nighto you. Comp. resist, 1 Peter 5:9.—τῷ διαβόλῳ, the devil) who is proud, and especially tempts men by pride; the enemy, under whose banner pride and envy are enlisted in the world.—φεύξεται, will flee) as overcome. A word of joy, 1 John 5:18.Verses 7-10. - Exhortation based on the preceding, quite in the style of a prophet of the Old Testament. Verse 7. - Read, but resist, etc. (ἀντίστητε δέ), א, A, B, Coptic, Vulgate. Submit yourselves (ὑποτάγητε)

Rev., be subject. The verb means to place or arrange under; as resist (James 4:6) is to array against. God sets himself in array against the proud; therefore, array yourselves under God, that ye may withstand the devil.

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