Don’t forget the other half of the verse!

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Most Christians (even non-Christians, for that matter) know James 4: 7: “Resist the devil, and he will flee.” We’ve all heard it somewhere, and it was probably said out of context. Much like the cartoon image of the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, this concept quite lives up to the unbiblical concept that “God helps those who help themselves.” .

Both are just plain wrong.

How can a scriptural requirement to resist the devil be wrong? Clearly there is no problem with the advice that we should resist the devil. In fact, this is very good advice! The problem here is that it is only half of the tips.

Look at everything James 4: 7. With the two halves attached, we find that there is something that needs to be done before any attempt to resist the devil:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

The very important precondition that James gives before calling believers to resist the devil is to submit first to God. If this verse is not taken in its full context, in the order in which it is written, it will not have any real effective meaning.

Below are a few examples of other passages that we tend to split in half.

Ephesians 6: 4: “Fathers, do not anger your children, but uplift them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. “

Judges 6: 25-26: “The same night the Lord said to him (to Gideon): ‘Take your father’s bull and a second bull of seven years old, and cut down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah which is next to it; and Build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this fortress in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of Asherah, which you will cut down.. “

Acts 1: 8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and ye shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. “

What is the common denominator?

The half that we usually forget tends to be the more important half.

Think about it; Christians tend to be familiar with the parts that require avoiding negative behavior on our own. We cling to that ‘do no harm’ mentality because it allows us to tick the box and feel like we’re doing our best …

  • Resist the devil …
  • Stop being mean to your kids …
  • Cut down your idols …
  • Talk more about Jesus …

To verify. Do.

However, the reason we often find ourselves reverting to every idol, addiction, bad habit, and negative behavior that has haunted and shamed us in the past is that we don’t replace them with what is from God. We become legalistic and proud of what we are not doing, while struggling quietly, trying to do the things of God without the power of God.

Which, by definition, cannot be done.

Essentially, we have forgotten the most important half of the verse.

We forget the part of leading our families in the instruction and discipline of the Lord, and instead we just try not to cry out at children so often.

We forget the part about submitting to God, and instead we just try to resist the devil on our own because that’s what good boys and girls are supposed to do, right?

We forget about the part about Gideon completely destroying the old idolatry altar and replacing it with the new one to God, and instead we really try to keep that empty altar-shaped hole in our empty hearts as long as we do. ‘it’s humanly possible, which usually ends up not being very long.

We forget the part about the testimony in the power of the Holy Ghost, and instead we just strive to proclaim Christ with our own strength and our own intellect.

And that leaves us wondering what’s wrong, because we’re honestly trying. And frankly in check.

We so often find ourselves lacking because the truth and strength we need is in the other half of the verse that tells us to stop trying. The other half of the verse tells us to submit to God, tear down every idol and immediately replace them with discipline and instruction from the Lord, and then watch what happens when we live as witnesses by power. of the Holy Spirit in us. we.

It is time for believers to stop reading our self-created “half empty glass” version of the Bible, with the list of well-meaning half-verses and rules that Christians have really tried to live by, and come to grips with it. ‘to exchange. for the “my cup overflows” version which places hope, strength and trust in Almighty God above what we can do with our own strength.

As a writer and musician, Jason soroski strives to communicate in a way that is insightful, meaningful, relevant, and aware of the little things we might otherwise overlook in our daily lives. He effectively draws on his experiences as a worship pastor, teacher, husband, and home-teaching father-of-five to tell poignant stories of real-life experiences. Jason holds an M.Ed. from Missouri Baptist University, has been featured in various print and web publications and currently resides in Houston, TX. Read more about Jason on his blog The Way I See It.

Publication date: Jan. 26, 2016

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