Resisting The Devil In James 4 and 1 Peter 5

In light of the way that the Bible speaks often about Satan, it is rather telling to consider what the Bible’s advice on dealing with the devil is.  Indeed, the Bible consistently urges believers to resist the devil.  We can see this in James 4:7-10:  “ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”  We see similar advice in 1 Peter 5:5-11:  “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

It is notable that both James and Peter urge believers to resist the devil.  To be sure, it is easy for people to think that they are resisting evil when they are not.  It is a rather common misapprehension, for example, that advocating violent resistance in politics is a worthwhile maneuver in ridding the world of evil.  Yet not all forms of resistance are popular in our own combative times.  People no longer believe that one has to resist one’s own longings and pulls, but rather believes that no one else is to resist the fulfillment of these desires, lest one be repressive or something.  Whatever one urges resistance to is marked as illegitimate and whatever one abhors resistance to is viewed as a legitimate authority.  It is little surprise that the Bible views Satan as being well worth resisting given the hostility that has always existed between God and Satan.  What is telling is how this resistance is to be undertaken, and it is to this question that we will now turn as it offers us some unexpected elements.

How are believers to resist Satan?  Are they to acquire expertise in exorcisms?  No, no such advice is given by James and Peter.  Are they to seek to develop technologies that would allow believers to throw their weight around on the spiritual plane?  No, that isn’t what is discussed either.  Instead, both Peter and James urge believers to be humble.  Peter tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and James gives just about the same advice when he tells believers that God will lift them up if they humble themselves.  Why is humility such a big deal?  Let us remember that according to the statements of Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 (see above) that it was Satan’s overweening pride that led him to rebel against his God-given position and seek to be viewed as being like God.  This was improper, and for his presumptuous rebellion, Satan was removed from his position of honor among the angels.  And it is telling that the most important aspect of what Peter and James tell believers to do when it comes to resisting Satan is avoid becoming like him.  By remaining humble to God when it comes to areas where colossal ambition is often in existence, we resist becoming like Satan and there by resist his influence in our lives.  After all, lest we forget, Christ humbled himself to become human and to pay the penalty for our sins, while Satan resisted being a servant and instead became a lord of evil.  Who we imitate and who resist is a demonstration of our loyalties.

In both cases as well James and Peter state that following God and resisting Satan is not always going to be pleasant.  James, in his typical bluntspoken fashion, tells his readers that repentance is going to involve lamentation and gloom.  Peter is not much more sanguine when he tells his readers that they will be settled and established after suffering, and that this will require submitting to one’s elders and humbling oneself under God’s hand, which possibly involves some sort of judgment.  It is by no means easy to do these things, but the advice of Peter and James is not really about the ease of obeying and following God but rather the reality that it is possible to resist Satan and that this resistance will not necessarily be pleasant.  Since we have seen Paul’s frequent connection between humility and his actions and the actions of other believers against Satan it is perhaps not surprising that humility would be so closely tied to opposition to Satan and his demons, but that does not make it any easier to be humble.  It is our natural proclivity to rebel against God’s laws and God’s ways and God’s providence for us that makes humility such a challenge, but if we are to avoid becoming like Satan in being enemies against God and His kingdom, humility is a virtue we will have to cultivate through painful experience.  Given Satan’s power it is perhaps surprising to many that the Bible would be so insistent that we resist it, but the Bible also clearly demonstrates that Satan’s hostility to God and the people of God regularly leads to a positive outcome that is contrary to Satan’s interests and in the best interests of God and His children.  It may not always be pleasant while it is going on, but it ultimately works out for the best.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical Guide To Demonology, Christianity, Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Resisting The Devil In James 4 and 1 Peter 5

  1. Pingback: A Biblical Guide To Demonology Project | Edge Induced Cohesion

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