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.
Now James turns to the practical details. “Therefore” here are the things you should do.
This is a long and detailed list, but the first item is the key. Therefore submit to God.
The Greek word translated as submit (ὑποτάσσω, hoo-paw-tass-oh) literally means be a subject of. That is, it’s not about submitting right now; it’s about putting yourself under someone’s authority.
And the Greek word translated as resist (ἀνθίστημι, an-thi-stay-me) is, likewise, not in the moment. It means “set oneself against.”
So the first two sentences, which are one verse in Greek, get us back to basic long-term lordship.
Being 100 percent committed to Jesus as lord of your life drives the enemy away.
This is what the book of James has always been about, and now he’s getting down to the nuts and bolts. The next three verses assume the first one. This is practical advice for committed Christians.
“Draw near to God,” is a command to move away from worldly pleasures toward God centered activity, such as prayer and daily devotionals. James promises that if you seek an intimate relationship with God, you’ll get one.
The command to “Cleanse your hands,” is reminiscent of the washing priests must do before they can approach God. The command to “purify your hearts,” is reminiscent of what Jesus said about Pharisees.
“For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.“ — Matthew 23:25b
James is insisting that the internal match the external. The Greek word translated as double-minded (δίψυχος, di-psoo-khos) is “di” (two or double) prefixed on the Greek root of “psychology.” Here it refers to people who want to have it both ways—love the Lord while still loving worldly pleasures.
And then James slams the door on this. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Wow. Is James saying that Christians shouldn’t be happy?
No. He’s calling out the double-minded—the “Christians” who haven’t yet given up being party animals.
This is pretty much the theme of the whole book. Being a half-way Christian isn’t being a Christian.
You have to be all in, or you’re not in. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community
The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.