Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
I work in a field where a good deal of “attention to detail” is needed. I first came across that phrase when I was in the Navy. I am sure many of us are familiar with it in some form. All of us have some aspect of our life, where attention to detail is critical. I think of my wife, when she bakes. The measurements have to be precise or the finished product won’t work out. Sometimes life and death hang in the balance. Think of a doctor prescribing medicine, or the pharmacist filling the prescription. Think of a surgeon working on microscopic blood vessels. All of these facets require an incredible attention to detail. It is no different in our spiritual life.
I have seen many different posts on social media of often misquoted scripture and many times they are misquoted by Christians. A simple omission, unintentional though it may be, can have a huge impact on the Truth we try to share. I think of one particular scripture. I often hear people say “resist the devil and he will flee”. While this phrase is a direct quote from scripture, it is not the whole verse. The entire verse states “submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee”. Three simple words that if omitted can have a huge impact on how we share the Truth.
If we try to resist the devil on our own strength, not only will we fail, we are essentially giving Satan a foothold in our lives. We are facing the devil on his terms and that never works out well. Adam and Eve tried that and see how well it worked for them. No, the three words that are omitted in this quote “submit to God” are critical. We cannot face or deal with Satan on our own terms, it must be through the strength of God’s Holy Spirit. When Jesus was tempted directly with Satan, He didn’t have a debate, He had a truth encounter. By confronting the devil with the Holy Word of God and it’s truth, we are not only successful in resisting him, we are (as the Bible says) more than conquerors.
It is this important “attention to detail” in our use of scripture that can lead to power through God’s Holy Word and the strength of the Holy Spirit or our inadequacy if we fail to understand the whole truth and use what may sound convenient. The way we use the Sword of Truth is by knowing the Word. We know the Word by studying the Word. In this way, we can have an attention to detail that puts Satan in his place which is under the foot of our Savior Christ.