Let’s look at three of the words in James 4:7 in the Greek language to understand better what James was writing to us.
In the Greek, the word for “resist” is “anthistemi” which means “to stand against, to stand in opposition; to vigorously oppose; bravely resisting; standing face to face against an adversary; standing your ground; the attitude of one who is fiercely opposed to something and therefore determines that they will do everything within their power to resist it, to stand against it, and to defy its operation.” As we realize our divine authority, we will know our rights as God’s children and take ground for Him.
The Greek word for “devil” is “diabalos.” This comes from two words: “dia” which means “to pierce something from one side all the way through to the other side,” and “balos” which means “to throw.” These two words combined show us that “devil” means “to repetitiously throw something, striking again and again and again, until the object being struck has finally been completely penetrated.”
The third word we need to understand is the word “flee.” The Greek word is “pheugo,” which means “a lawbreaker who flees in terror from a notion where he broke the law; to take flight.”
Now, let’s put those definitions back into James 4:7 and see what it is saying:
“Stand firmly against the devil! That’s right—be unbending and unyielding in the way you resist him, so that he knows he is up against a serious contender. If you take this kind of stand against him, he will tuck his tail and run like a criminal who knows the day of prosecution is upon him. Once you start resisting him, he’ll flee from you in terror.”
God is at work today, restoring what I call “the resistance authority of the church.” He is healing our will so we can control our thoughts and drive the devil out. When we accept Jesus Christ, God restores our desire and will to obey Him. He gives us the want and the capacity to be bold and empowered to work His will out in the earth: the salvation of all humanity.
One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Gal. 5:25). When He gave us our new spirits, he gave us a “spirit of power and of and of a sound mind” or self-control (2 Tim. 1:7). This is done so we can submit to Him and have victory over the evil in our day. Without this resistance authority operating in our lives, we will not see things change.
If you live without restraint
and are unable to control your temper,
you’re as helpless as a city with broken-down defenses,
open to attack (Proverbs 25:28; TPT).
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls (Proverbs 25:28; KJV).
In antiquity, a city was protected by its walls. For centuries, the only way to keep enemies out of a town, and to keep its citizens safe, was to have large walls guarded by soldiers. The path to conquering a city then was to punch strategic holes in the walls. Many foreign invaders planned their attack by laying out where they would create breaches in the walls every few hundred yards. If those gaps in the wall were not defended and repaired, the city was compromised and vulnerable to significant defeats.
Our lives reflect this same idea. We need to have healthy, Godly walls around our hearts and minds. This is reflected in our will, where we keep the devil and his lies at bay. When we have weak or broken wills (walls), we cannot have lasting victory against the devil and his forces. We might find deliverance, healing, and freedom from depression or addictions for a time. Still, if our wills are not restored, we cannot maintain those victories.
Our lives reflect this same idea. We need to have healthy, Godly walls around our hearts and minds. This is reflected in our will, where we keep the devil and his lies at bay. When we have weak or broken wills (walls), we cannot have lasting victory against the devil and his forces. We might find deliverance, healing, and freedom from depression or addictions for a time, but if our wills are not restored, we cannot maintain those victories.
Life can beat us down. We can learn to accept everything. Broken wills are the most significant area for the devil to work. Broken people just let him in. We can see this in the lives of the Israelites. For four hundred years, they were slaves, beaten and bound, their will destroyed, and their self-image reshaped into one of the slaves. They were people that grew up with generation after generation being slaves. They couldn’t make their own choices or decisions. Despite the miraculous deliverance they experienced with Moses and God, when they reached the promised land, they couldn’t take it because of their traumatized past. Their destiny was to be victorious—God had declared it to be so, but they couldn’t keep the lies of the enemy out of their hearts. Their walls were broken down. They couldn’t see themselves overcoming because they had never overcome anything.
The war they had to fight first began in their minds. They had been conditioned to be slaves, and in the desert, they acted like it. They had to learn how to fight the war that only they on an individual level could fight: the fight of the mind to restore the will. God can set people free mentally, but they have to have will power to keep freedom. During the forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the old ways of thinking had to die. The younger generations had to get their resilience back so that they could take the land God wanted to give them.
A lot of the church today is like the Israelites in the desert. They have been knocked down and ignored, and have adopted a defeated mentality. They are passive, and though they talk about being Christlike, they don’t act like Jesus. He never walked around with his head down, wondering how to get through life. Jesus was a devil-stomping, Holy Ghost filled maverick. Everywhere Jesus went, He brought revival with Him. Every city He went into was impacted. Every person He encountered walked away different than before—sometimes they left worshipping Him, sometimes they left hating Him.
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”
For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?”
And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.
So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.
And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled. (Mark 5:1-20)
In one moment, a man’s life was restored, and his will returned to him. He was delivered from demons that were killing him, and an entire region turned their backs on Jesus because of what He had done. It was too much for them. For whatever reason, they drove Jesus from their shores because they couldn’t deal with His power. The demon-possessed man, a man, absent any walls before Jesus, found freedom and the resilience to keep it in one moment with Christ.
In a similar story, we find Jesus transforming the life of a wandering, hurt woman, and the result is astounding.
Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.
So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him…
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word.
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. (John 4:1-30, 39-44)
In our fight against the devil, we must learn how to rule our spirits once again. Jesus helped the woman at the well see that she needed to take back control of her life by coming to Him for water and love. A person who can deny their passions and lusts, the lies of the enemy and the pull of the world’s ways, will be a man or woman who can truly impact the world for Christ. Proverbs says it like this:
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (16:32).
People with broken wills are subject to the control and manipulation of the devil. But with God’s help, and a submitted, willing heart, we can restore and rebuild the torn down sections of our will. We can find the power once again to resist the devil and watch him flee. The things that once overcame us—anger, drugs, lust—will no longer have the power they once they did. We will find ourselves able to stand and overcome them.