There’s a guy wanders around the place near my home in Cape Town putting up posters he’s made himself. They are simple, hand-written messages I’m sure he intends to encourage people. The trouble is, they only tell half the truth.
On these posters he’s written “Resist the Devil and he must Flee” along with the James reference.
It’s all well meaning, and most people just shrug it off or ignore it completely. Then yesterday I was driving past a church building in the same area with an official notice board outside proudly proclaiming “Belief in God will not get you into Heaven – Obedience will”
This trend worries me. With the increase in number of false prophets proclaiming the end is near – or that we missed it a couple of weeks ago – it is worrying in the extreme that churches and their members are proclaiming half-truths in print like this.
Yes, we must resist the devil and his schemes. But it is fruitless to do that in our own strength. The whole concept in James states “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded”(James 4:7-8) Before we can resist the devil effectively we must submit ourselves to God. Doing otherwise is fruitless. We must draw close to God. His power is what we must use to defeat the enemy of our souls.
Even blind obedience is pointless. That way leads to legalism and religion rather than a living, breathing relationship. It is the difference between expectation and expectancy. Religion places expectations on us. “We must be obedient or God will not bless us” is the attitude. Paul wrote and spoke against such things by criticising those members of the early church who were insisting new converts be circumcised and follow the teachings of the law. The Truth sets us free, it doesn’t tie us to a life of concrete rules with some transcendental Shylock sitting on his throne muttering “you’re all going to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect 200 sheckels”. Rather we are yoked to a living Saviour who seeks to lift the burdens of this world from us and free us to be the people He created us to be. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and all the other “paths” the world would have us look at to learn the ‘right’ way to live and find God all set out rules from what to eat, to what direction to face when you pray to how your body must be positioned. Christianity must differentiate itself from these religious ideas or it becomes the very thing it was created to destroy – dead!
Our faith is one of Life, not death. We serve a Living and Loving God who presents Himself to us where we are, He doesn’t wait for us to be worthy of His love, for to do so would condemn us all! Paul writes in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. God is on our side. The world will seek to tear us down and imprison us in itself, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
That is the real Truth. God is on our side. God is for us.