Another writer, besides Peter and Paul, was James, the half-brother of Jesus (same mother, different father). Chronologically, his was the first inspired book written in the New Testament and was addressed to Jewish Christians. James taught them about living for God, and spiritual warfare was/is an important part of that life.
James’ words are quite interesting because they are the first written words about spiritual warfare in the New Testament. He starts talking about sin which comes from within man (James 4:1-3) then the influence of the world from without (James 4:4). He affirms God’s great grace to those who are humble (James 4:5-6). Following this he gives three strong commands and two great promises. Command one is to submit to God (James 4:7), total and complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). There can be no victory in the Christian life without this first requirement. This means that all sin must be confessed (1 John 1:9; James 5:13-16).
Following this comes the second command: resist the devil (James 4:7). “Resist” means to not give in, compromise or yield but to stand fast. It has the idea of a difficult struggle but remaining firm. How do we resist him? The same way Jesus did – we quote Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) and we use God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).
LESSON FOR TODAY: When we resist the enemy, God promises he will flee (James 4:7). That is God’s first promise to us in this passage. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). James says he “will” flee – he has to because God makes him. Sometimes God drives him away instantaneously, other times it is more gradual as the person learns and grows in their faith. That is why continued counseling after spiritual warfare deliverance is so important. Demons may fight, stall and do what they can to resist, but ultimately they must obey when God sends them away. The only exception is if God allows them to stay because He wants to use them for our growth and His glory, like with Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). When God doesn’t remove the source of the demonizing He promises to give special grace so we can hold up under it. It becomes His chosen tool to make us more like Jesus.
Peter concludes this passage with another command and promise. “Draw near to God” (James 4:8) means to keep Him and His greatness in the center of our focus. When we do this His promise is “He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Don’t sit back and expect Him to come wait on you, move in His direction and He will move in yours!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Don’t focus on Satan or demons, nor let them keep your main emphasis from being on God and Jesus (Philippians 4:8-9). Too many live in fear of what demons are doing or may do. That gives them the power, attention and worship on which they thrive. We can’t ignore them to the extent we let them do anything they want, but we must make sure God is always foremost in our thoughts and motives. When we move towards God He moves more than half way to move towards us.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)