Friday, January 11, 2019

The Letter Of James, Brother Of Jesus. Day 16, Resist

The word "resist" has lately become a political slogan in our nation. It's being used by some who are unhappy with the way the last presidential election turned out. I don't clearly understand exactly what they are resisting or what good it will do them. Being unhappy with those who have been legally elected isn't going to put them out of office unless they have done something blatantly illegal that they can be prosecuted for. But there is a type of resistance that can do us a whole lot of good. James is going to use the word "resist", but about something far more important than politics. After all, no matter how happy or unhappy we might be with our country's current leaders, their terms are temporary. We need to concern ourselves more with eternal matters, and James reminds us today that we have an enemy we must actively resist every day of our lives.

We concluded yesterday with James assuring us that God rewards the humble. Keeping this in mind, he says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God." (James 4:7a) Does this mean we don't have to also obey the laws of the land? No, not unless a law of the land violates a law of God. We found a lot of advice regarding submission in the letters of the Apostle Paul, and on the authority of the Scriptures we have learned that there are many instances in life where the right thing to do is submit to those in authority over us. Paul also told us to submit to each other in a loving attitude, not being prideful or thinking more of ourselves than others. But if we want to maintain a humble attitude and receive rewards from God, we must submit first to Him. If we do not learn to maintain a humble spirit before our God, we will not be very successful in submitting to any other authority and we will not understand how to be gentle and humble with our fellow man. Have you ever known anyone with the attitude that they don't have to do what anybody says? It's a safe bet to assume they have not yet learned to live in submission to God.

What is submitting ourselves to God going to help us do? It helps us to resist sin. It helps us to say no to the temptations that Satan scatters in our path. If we have made up our minds to be humble before our God and to obey Him, it's going to be much easier to resist the devil. It's too late to make up our minds while we're in the midst of fierce temptation. That puts us in a weak position to fight back. But making up our minds beforehand to obey the Lord puts us in a position of power. And when we're in a position of power, do you know who is in a position of weakness? Satan. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7b) When we stand firm in the Lord, we can send the devil running.

The Apostle Peter knows what it's like to not make his mind up beforehand to stand firm. On the night before the crucifixion, it was Satan who sent him running and not the other way around. He never forgot the hard lesson he learned when he denied the Lord three times, so he gives us the same advice James gives us, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith." (1 Peter 5:8-9a)

We, as the people of the Lord, have slogans of our own, and they are far more important than worldly slogans. When it comes to the Lord our slogan should be "Submit!", and when it comes to the devil our slogan should be "Resist!" If we keep those two things straight, we are going to be able to feel peaceful no matter what happens in this world, because our minds will be focused more on eternal things than on temporary things.

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