Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This whole passage is a good example of the lesson that small words matter a lot. James has been talking about conflict in the church and it’s causes. He has moved on to some ways in which we can alleviate that conflict.
Immediately after giving us a grim list of failures, James follows with Verse 6., “But, he giveth more grace.” There, we see the solution, which is God’s grace. He then tells us who He gives that grace to; that would be the humble and not the proud. Then James, as is his habit, gets yet more specific. So, we have humbled ourselves and are seeking God’s grace, now what?
“Therefore, submit yourselves to God.”
That is fairly self explanatory, but let’s explain more nonetheless. We need to submit, or “rank under, ” God. We need to toe the line, so to speak, and line our selves up to do what He want in His way. A very important thing comes up during the study of this particular word, submit. I have said repeatedly that I am NOT a Greek linguist, but grammar counts. It seems that this particular word in this particular sentence is in the passive voice, indicating a voluntary submission to God. In other words, God is not twisting our arm or forcing us into this willingness to “rank under” Him, but wants us to willingly and voluntarily submit.
This word appears elsewhere in the New Testament as well, and some of these passages really reinforce the concept of this voluntary, willing submission.
Jesus’ submission to his parents in Luke 2:51
The general responsibilities of citizens to submit to government in Romans 13:1
Wive’s submission to husbands in Ephesians 5:21-24
So, the first step in overcoming our conflicts, then is willing, voluntary submission to God. Isn’t that really the first step in everything related to our lives of faith? It’s the first step in salvation also, that willingness to admit our shortcomings, accept Jesus’ payment for them, and His Lordship in our lives. James may have been talking to some unsaved people in his Epistle, and I may be here as well. Have you taken that step and submitted?