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If you watch movies or TV shows about exorcism or hear people talk about their thoughts regarding spiritual warfare, you might think that there’s always a loud, violent battle and you never know who the winner is going to be.

However, in today’s Bible reading in James 4, spiritual warfare sounds pretty simple. Straight-forward. And not loud and violent.

Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (CSB)

As with other passages, we need to not just “rip and read” this verse without noting its context, otherwise, we’ll miss the point. James has told his readers the root of their warring passions is that their hearts aren’t right and their priorities are wrong. He quotes Proverbs 3:34 (James 4:6) and delivers the two-step simple solution. Then he concludes the chapter talking about yielding our plans to God.

Application

temptation

I can’t talk about anyone else, but I know that my approach to spiritual warfare isn’t always this two-step method. I suspect I’m not the only one who tends to either submit to God, but not to resist the devil or to not submit to God, but try to resist the devil. Neither single-prong approach will net a “win” in spiritual warfare. Both submitting to God — wholeheartedly — and resisting the devil — wholeheartedly — are required if you want to win a spiritual battle. A friend of mine rightly points out that you will never win a spiritual battle with a fleshly weapon. But how often do we try!

Paul adds that when we’re tempted, God will always provide a way out. You will never be forced to give in to a temptation.

No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 CSB)

The next time you find yourself facing a temptation — regardless of what you are being tempted to do — take a step back. Ask yourself if you are wholeheartedly submitting to God. If you are, then wholeheartedly resist the devil.

If James is right — and he is — this battle, for this time, is over!
You won!

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