Expanded Bible (EXB) 6 But God gives us even more grace, as ·the Scripture [L it; orhe] says, “God ·is against[opposes; resists] the proud, but he gives grace to the humble [Prov. 3:34; 1 Pet. 5:5].” 7 So ·give yourselves completely [submit]to God. ·Stand against [Resist] the devil [1 Pet. 5:9], and the devil will ·run[flee] from you.
So we are on vacation and spending some time with my sister-in-law. She has a bunch of dogs. She is a pet groomer and works at a pet store. She sees most everything through a set of lenses that are different from mine. So I love to listen to her talk about her pets and how other people view their pets. She knows a lot about dogs, really. So I am watching these dogs interact with each other and she tells me about the new alpha dog. Most of you already know about alpha dogs and packs. For her situation the new alpha dog is a bit of a problem child. She has some behavior issues. So this whole dynamic got me thinking about submission, surrender and identity.
When we think like beasts we act like beasts. OK, that is probably a little strong, but think about this: When you have a “strong-willed” dog, he may behave in your presence but will do exactly the thing you don’t want him to do when you aren’t looking. You try to “train” this behavior out of him by giving him treats, rewarding good behavior and all that. Can you see that often we think of ourselves the same way. There are many out there that will say we are exactly like the misbehaving beast and need to be “trained” into submission. Do you know that there is nothing farther from the truth? As a child of God you have been restored to the original intended condition. You are a new creation. You have the mind of Christ. You are God’s son or daughter. You are in the family of righteousness. God isn’t in the business of “training” the nastiness out of you. He has already removed the nastiness. What is remaining is our thinking. We have been told by the world, the enemy and even our own understanding that we need training. God’s solution to our apparent contradiction is to “renew our minds.” Take a look at James 3 and 4. The Holy Spirit is talking about WISDOM. Just like the last post we need to re-evaluate our thinking.
James 4:6 is directly from Proverbs 3. Take a look at Proverbs 3 and you will see it is about WISDOM as well. We have all heard these verses: 5 Lean on, trust in,and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. 6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths (AMP). So when we live from our self-wisdom that comes from this world and the enemy, we will behave as we believe. Right thinking leads to right behaving. Can you see that we are not “beasts” that need to be trained? Can you see that we are co-laborers with Christ? Can you see that God gives us the will and the way to live in His good pleasure? Can you see that Christ in you is the great expectation of good things as revealed in the good report of God (hope of glory)? Can you see that we actually have the very nature of God, His will, His “laws” written on our hearts and minds?
So what is going on such that James needs to write such a strong passage? Probably a variety of reasons (I wasn’t there) but mostly because we have wrong thinking. He works backwards from behavior to root cause. When we see who we are and learn to surrender to God’s wisdom, this life we live looks like rest. We get to rest in His goodness. We get to live from the solid foundation of the love of God. We get to love our King because we know He loves us. Isn’t that awesome?! So when you are out and about, rest in Him. It is His life flowing through us as we abide. The only “beast” left in you is the occasional “squirrel” that distracts you. Keep your eyes on Papa instead and trust in what He has said about you.