7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
As James has spent the first three chapters pointing out how the early church was not in alignment with Jesus' values, today he exhorts them to a process of being restored to a vital relationship with God. This includes:
1. Submitting to God. While submitting can be a loaded word, in this case it is appropriate. Simply put, submitting to God means realizing He is God and you are not. It is the first step in our coming back to a right relationship with God.
2. Resist the devil. James acknowledges that the devil is part of the problem. Yet, he can be resisted. Just knowing you can resist the devil is a huge step in defeating him. Notice the promise, as you resist the devil he WILL flee from you.
3. Then comes a most awesome promise. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Notice if we feel far from God, guess who moved. Notice that our God waits for us to come back to him. Pretty cool.
4. The general call to repentance. He uses phrases like "wash your hands", "purify your hearts", and to "grieve, mourn and wail". Simply put this means realizing what we have done in light of God's goodness and grace, and be truly sorry. We can't create this, God works it in us as we are convicted by the Holy Spirit. Bottom line: take sin seriously and turn from it in His power!
5. Finally, another promise. As we submit to this process and humble ourselves, God will lift us up. As hard as this process can be, as we truly repent and turn to God, we are lifted up. Lifted up in a new relationship with God and with others around you.
How do these verses apply to you today? As Christians we will continually go through this process as the Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out, so that we might glorify God in all we do! This is our new life!