How to Get Farther from Satan and Closer to God (James 4:7-8)
WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – It can sometimes seem like Satan is attacking us at close range and God is busy elsewhere. James reminds us that there’s something we can do about that: Our obedience to two simple commands can send the devil running and bring God to our side.
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).
You can do three things to resist more effectively:
Know your enemy. – “Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). You may be his next target, or you may just be between him and his prey. Either way, you stand in his path, and he doesn’t intend to let you slow him up. He means to scare you off or run you down.
Put up a fight. – Your resistance is the key. Satan is so accustomed to quick surrenders or feeble fights, that he is shocked to run up against someone who stands firm against his onslaughts. His threats are loud, but his resolve is weak when he meets resistance, and “he will flee from you.” Oh yes, he’ll be back; but for the moment, he’s farther away, and you get a breather.
Come to the fight armed. – As we say in Texas, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” Here’s how God says it in Ephesians 6:11-17: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Two items in the soldier’s gear are especially important in resisting the devil:
- “the shield of faith” – Stand firm on your belief that God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” and that He can always defeat Satan: “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 John 4:4).
- “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” – Jesus resisted the devil by countering his lies with God’s truth. Three times Satan tried to deceive our Master, and three times He responded “It is written…” quoting specific Bible verses (Matt. 4:1-11). Your logic and wisdom aren’t strong enough to resist Satan; God’s Word is – but this is a weapon you must pick up before you go into battle.
“Draw near to God.” If you’re not as close to God as you once were, it’s pretty certain who moved away. His promise has always been, “The Lord is with you when you are with Him” (2 Chron. 15:2). And when we leave Him, his loving invitation is always, “Return to me, and I will return to you” (Mal. 3:7).
Do you remember a time when you were closer to God? That may be where to start. Do you need to go back to studying His Word, loving His people, obeying His commands, or serving His purposes like you did then? The Ephesians’ love for God had grown colder than it used to be, and He gave them this prescription: “Remember then how far you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first” (Rev. 2:5).
Please hear this as a promise from God to some of us for this week: “You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you” (Jer. 29:12-14).