Why Submitting before Resisting Temptation is Essential

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7, ESV

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Yes, that’s what Scripture says.

However, if this is where we begin, we’ll at best have spotty success in the actual resisting.

Let me explain.

If the first thing we do is attempt to resist Satan, we’ll do it relying only on our own strength. That would be like a skinny kid telling the neighborhood bully to get lost. Sometimes this may work just fine; other times, not so well.

But what if that kid first ran to his older brother or to his dad? This “surrender” would place him in an altogether different position. Now, his resistance against the bully would be fully supported from a backdrop of strength. This would be a very different experience for both the kid and the bully.

In a very real sense, this is what the apostle Paul calls “strength in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It simply requires that we first recognize the truth: our relative weakness in the face of temptation or adversity. If we first run to God, our tower of strength for help in our time of need (Psalm 144:2), Scripture says we’ll then have the full backing of our Big Brother or Daddy (depending on how you want to see it) when we go to “resist the devil”.

Next time you’re faced with a bullying temptation, remember:

Submit, then resist.