Resist the devil and he’ll flee? Context please!
Resist the devil and he’ll flee (Exposing a misinterpretation)
James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
A lot of people claim that this is proof that a Christian never needs a deliverance. They claim that all we have to do is draw near to God and resist the devil and he’s quickly on his way.
What an ear tickling message to say the least. So why isn’t it working with so many countless believers who are being tormented and harassed by demonic spirits? They can try to resist the devil and draw near to God with everything they’ve got, and still the harassment and torment doesn’t stop. Many pastors are known for writing the people off and saying that they aren’t trying hard enough, but these people can try with everything they’ve got and still have no progress! What’s wrong?
Quite frankly, James chapter 4 is not speaking of demonic harassment or torment… no, it’s speaking of how to deal with the temptation that the devil sends our way!
This verse has been taken out of context to make it say something that it never said.
It’s like the saying goes, “Never read a verse in the Bible again, always read a chapter!”
Furthermore, it’s not telling us that the devil will come out of us, it’s telling us that the devil will flee, which gives us a good indication that this is speaking of spiritual warfare where we are resisting the temptations of the devil from the outside.
Now let’s take a look at some stories found in the Bible on how to deal with demonic torment or harassment.
An example of how demonic problems were addressed:
In Luke 13:11, there stood a woman with a spirit of infirmity:
“And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.”
How did Jesus handle her? Did He walk upto her and say, “Thou woman, you aren’t resisting the devil and drawing near to God! If you would just do that, your demon would depart from you!”
No, that’s not what happened. Jesus gave us a clear indication that she was a precious and sincere child of God when He said…
Luke 13:16, “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?”
Obviously this women didn’t need to draw near to God and resist the devil, she needed to be set free from her demonic bondage! That’s exactly how Jesus did for her in verse 12:
“And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.”
For those who insist that this woman was not a believer, I encourage you to read the following teaching, which will present an irrefutable case that she was indeed a believer, and she indeed had a demon: The Daughtor of Abraham
Another example of how demonic problems were addressed:
In Acts 19:12, we find where Paul was sending out prayer cloths to those in need of healings and deliverances.
“So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.”
Now Paul was known for teaching and guiding the believers in the ways of the Lord. After all, he wrote a very large percentage of the New Testament! He was continually instructing them on how to grow in the Lord. Now if those requesting prayer cloths could have solved their problems by simply drawing near to God and resisting the devil; why would Paul have been trying to give them a quick fix to get rid of their demons?
It makes no sense! After all, he was the one who was so diligent in teaching them the ways of the Lord and how to successfully do spiritual battle!
Let me put it bluntly, if all we had to do was resist the devil, then honestly, what would be the point in casting out demons? Would that not be a quick fix so we wouldn’t have to draw near to God and resist the devil?
Did you know that Jesus never told us to fight or struggle against demonic oppression?
How was demonic oppression solved in the Bible? It was certainly not something the people did on their own, it was something that Jesus did for them as they came to Him. Acts 10:38 tells us…
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
The word healed means to make a person whole. There were other times when Jesus was said to heal a person of an unclean spirit, which involved casting it out. A good example of this is found in Matthew 12:22…
“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.”
What do we find just a couple verses down the page? We find out how Jesus healed the man…
“But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” (v.24)
So if all the people had to do was draw near to God and resist the devil, why would Jesus be going around taking so many ‘shortcuts’? Why wasn’t Jesus teaching them to draw near to God and resist the devil? I’m sure these people would have done ANYTHING to be freed from their condition!
In a nutshell
I encourage you to go read James 4, then tell me, is it speaking about dealing with demonic harassment, possession, bondages and being vexed by demons? Is it speaking of getting people set free from demons? No, it is not! It’s telling you how to overcome the temptations that the devil throws our way in this world!
The Bible is also clear on how we are to go about handling demons that need to be driven out:
Matthew 10:8, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
Mark 16:17, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils…”
Now if all we had to do was draw near to God and resist the devil, there would be no point in casting out demons, would there? Would not Jesus and His disciples have been wasting their time, along with the early church? Would they have not been giving people ‘quick fixes’ to problems that they ought to be drawing near to God and resisting the devil to solve?
While it is true that we should always resist the devil and draw near to God, it is not the Biblical solution to solving problems that are demonic in a person’s life.