ESV - 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
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To me, even the settled fact of salvation does not eliminate the need for continuing spiritual vigilance. In addition to the passage from James cited in the question, this also seems to be clearly indicated by passages such as Jesus' teaching in Luke 11:24-26, or Peter's counsel to people who were already Christians in 1 Peter 5:8. Christians have spiritual resources (such as the indwelling Holy Spirit) available to them that they would not have had prior to their conversion, but, in this life and world, they are still subject to temptations or even outright spiritual attacks, and must use those resources to withstand them.
It says of Jesus in Hebrews 4:15 that: “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” There are two accounts of Jesus being tempted by the Devil or Satan, which are given in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13. These encounters were a testing of the commitment to His destiny, which was identified in John 6:38, wherein He saith: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” In coming from heaven and identifying a divine destiny, Jesus, therefore, came under attack by the tempter in attempts to overthrow His assignment. That it was for the redemption of mankind back into proper spiritual relationship with God, means that He would face significant opposition by the tempter, since the tempter was successful with this process when it was executed in the Garden of Eden, resulting in the expulsion of the man and woman (Genesis 3). The earlier Hebrews passage specifically notes that He was tempted as we are but did not sin. An Old Testament event that expounds on this point is in Job, where the sons of God are presented before God and Satan comes also (Job 1:6). Here, God specifically points out to the devil whether or not he had considered his servant Job, who is “perfect and upright” (1:8). While Satan did not specifically tempt Job, he was given permission to strip him of all he had, which happened in the account. However, like Jesus, Job was found to be without sin (1:22). Therefore, in considering Job and Jesus, we see that the tempter has been in the practice of tempting even the servants of God, who are identified as being sinless, ever since man became made in the image of God in Genesis. These passages reveal that even when a child of God is walking in a clean operating status, with no unconfessed sin, this is not an automatic exemption from being eligible for attack by the adversary. Additionally, prayer to God for unfolding the will of God in one’s life, may well result in more temptation events by the adversary, in attempts to derail the fulfillment of God’s plan. However, the solution was knowing and applying the Word of God as Jesus did. For when Jesus was tempted, He said: “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:1). We also observe in verse 4:6 that the devil knew the Word and tried to come against Jesus in like manner by replying: “It is written…” but Jesus knew the Word of God more excellently, as He kept applying it to him until he left (Matthew 4:7, 10-11). At this point, we come full circle with the original reference scripture provided (James 4:7). Finally, the reason why we encounter these events is summarized thus: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
It is crucial for every Christian to understand the cosmic battle between "good - God" and "evil - Satan" that is going on every day of our lives. Satan and his evil angels rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven and given dominion as principalities and powers of darkness above the earth. When Satan deceived Adam and Eve into sinning "rebelling" against God, these evil forces took dominion over the whole earth and all human beings. These evil forces use their greatest weapons - the sinful nature of human beings and the power of death to wreck evil, wickedness, corruption and decay upon the earth. But from the very beginning God had a plan to "save" his creation from these forces of evil, through the coming of his Son, Jesus Christ, to be the saviour of the world. Jesus’ death on the cross defeated sin, death, and all evil forces. Jesus defeated sin by taking the penalty of all sin upon himself and giving his righteousness to every person who would believe. Jesus defeated death by restoring the gift of eternal life, through his resurrection from the dead, for every person who believes. Jesus defeated all evil forces by sending his Holy Spirit to indwell every Christian. The power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit protects us from all these forces of evil and enables us to advance the kingdom of God upon the earth. Our enemy’s mission is to destroy everything that God created. To destroy the beauty of the created world through environmental catastrophes and extinctions of animals, plants, and fish, etc. To destroy the beauty of human beings; through proliferating evil and wicked thoughts, words and actions; through sickness, deformity, disease and death. Evil forces try to attack Christians to immobilise us, to prevent us from being effective and productive for the kingdom of God. Our enemy tries to "condemn" us for our sins, with nebulous feelings of guilt and shame, so we will run away and hide from God, like Adam did. The enemy will try to stir up the sinful desires of our flesh to tempt us into sin and try to enslave us with sinful addictions. But the good news is that we have all the resources that we need from the Word of God (bible), the presence of the Holy Spirit, and through the body of Christ - the church, to protect and defend ourselves from every attack by the forces of evil. But our victory depends entirely on our faith, trusting in God's love to sustain us. If our faith is weak because our relationship with God is a low priority, then we will fall for the lies and deceptions of the enemy and suffer through struggles with sin and calamity in our lives. When we make our relationship with God our top priority - through bible study, prayer, worship, service, and our gospel testimony, no force of evil can stop us from fulfilling every mission that Jesus gives us to advance his kingdom on the earth. We will still suffer trouble in this world but we will always be victorious. Our Father in Heaven's mission is to restore all created things to the goodness he intended at creation. God has chosen to advance this mission through the church established by Jesus Christ, through each one of us as Christians. We are on a rescue mission to save the lost, heal the sick, set the prisoners free, proclaim good news to the poor, and advance [justice, righteousness, love and faithfulness] the kingdom of God,to push back the forces of evil upon this earth. The bible assures us that this conflict between good and evil, God and Satan has already been decided. Jesus completes the victory when he returns to earth at his second coming as described in the book of Revelation. Jesus will bring every Christian (as new eternal beings) with him to a new earth that He will create, where God will come and dwell with us forever in Jesus' perfect new world. Every human being is welcome to join this eternal kingdom, simply by accepting Jesus as our personal saviour and the King or Lord of our lives.
Based on the context of the Scripture referenced in the question, I would like to share that the Holy Spirit through the writer is expressing worldliness or friendship with the world which is enmity with God. It is always wise to read the preceding verses to understand the message that the Holy Spirit is trying to get us to understand. To submit means to come under the authority of God, and when we have yielded those desires of the flesh to the Holy Spirit, it is by His power that we are able to resist or stand against the temptations of the devil. According to 1John 2:15-17: it states, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." So the devil is the evil spirit that we must resist by the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God!
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