The Devil Made Me Do It!

James 4:7-10
7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

  1. Submit – to God
  2. Resist – the devil
  3. Draw near – to God
  4. Cleanse – hands (actions)
  5. Purify – your hearts (thoughts and emotions)
  6. Be wretched – grieve over your sin
  7. Mourn – grieve over your sin
  8. Weep – grieve over your sin
  9. Let your laughter be turned – change your ways
  10. Humble yourself – recognize the truth about yourself

In these four verses we find ten COMMANDS. They are written in the Greek in such a way as to call for immediate action on the part of the reader. Also to be noted, ten is the number for completeness in the Greek. These words from James lie at the heart of his letter. They are worth our time and attention for in them he gives us some hope and some marching orders. The first command is to submit to God then follows nine ways to do just that.

Back in 1970 (and I confess, I probably saw this when it was actually on!) Flip Wilson did a comedy routine on the Ed Sullivan Show about the temptations that the devil throws into our paths. (Here’s a link to the video if you’d like a laugh today.

The thrust of the routine is “the devil made me do it! If you believe Flip, the devil is not resistible. But Flip was wrong, which I guess is where the comedy lies. We can resist the devil, for we are told to do just that by James. How do we resist the devil? We run in the opposite direction. For an excellent example of that choice, read the story of Joseph running from Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. In the opposite direction of evil we find God, waiting to receive us. Drawing near to God is the exact opposite of allowing the devil to “make us do it.”

The next eight commands in the passage for today all deal with the fact that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Our only job is to recognize that truth and be honest about it before the throne of God. In that honesty lies freedom, for Christ forgives all of our sin. When we are drawing near to God, submitting to Him alone, we are the owners of that freedom and it colors every aspect of our lives. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Satan actually run away from you?!? That is possible when you are seated in God’s lap.