“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
We are in a battle. This is not news to many. You don’t have to be religious or attend worship to understand there is a war raging. We know it when we open our laptops or turn on our TV. We know it because we have lived long enough to endure multiple attacks. We know casualties of war, and we have witnessed the devastation of this attack on the souls of human beings. For many, a battle is a reasonably accurate description of life.
What are we to do? James provides a brief answer in 4:7. Most Christians are familiar with James’ declaration to “resist the devil.” We know the temptations we face, and we understand this as a charge to run away from lust, greed, envy, anger, or any other ploy that Satan uses. The problem is that we sometimes forget the first part of the verse. The first step in resisting the devil is submitting ourselves to God. If we focus on God and give more of our time and attention to Him, then we might not face the struggles with lust, greed, envy, anger, etc. that we were dealing with before.
If the best way to combat Satan is to submit to God, then busyness and distraction are sometimes more significant threats than lust or envy. The first question we need to contemplate in our battle against the evil one is, “What is taking me away from God?” A busy schedule might not seem like a threat at all, but if it keeps us from God, it can be deadly. Spending hours on Facebook may seem innocent, but if it distracts us from prayer, study, and helping others, then Satan is winning. James has provided us with the key to winning the battle. We must submit to God. We must guard against busyness and distraction. We must resist the devil, and he will flee from us.