Resistance is a Behavior
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
While mired in my own drug addiction, I knew what I should do. I knew that the addicted needed to go to treatment, attend meetings, be honest, and change their lives. Did I do those things though? No, of course not. I did what most of us who’ve been addicted have done. I just decided, in my mind, that I’d stop. Every time I picked up a bottle of pills, I promised myself it was the last time. I swore to Heaven and Earth that it was over. I’d clench my fists, squeeze my eyes, and promise that I was done. Yet, I did nothing to actually change. My plan for recovery was to simply flip a switch in my brain, declaring that I was no longer addicted.
The problem of course, is that I was still addicted and when the withdrawal, craving, or opportunity arose, I’d go right back to using. Frustrated, I’d start the whole idiotic process over again, promising myself once again that I’d stop using. I must have done that a thousand times, always believing that this time, I really really mean it. I couldn’t accept it at the time, but I now understand this truth – Not committing to a plan of action is to plan for failure. If nothing changes, nothing changes, and simply deciding something in my head is no change at all.
In today’s passage, James may not have been talking about drug addiction, but he did provide a brief, but profound remedy to our self-destructive behaviors. In it, he said that we must do whatever it takes to separate ourselves from evil (James 4:8-10). This is how we find freedom from slavery to that evil. Simultaneously, we must pursue God’s will in our lives. It does no good to flee one addiction, only to find another. We must replace following our own will with following God’s will.
To this, many of us will reply – But I’ve tried so hard, so many times, and still failed a thousand times! Looking back, if we’re honest, most of us have a lot of experience with giving in to our self-destructive desires. We don’t, however, have that much experience with doing whatever it takes to resist them. If we’re still stuck in an addictive, toxic behavior, then we’ve probably not done what it takes to separate ourselves from it.
It does get easier. Today, the struggle may be awful. Once we learn to abandon our way for God’s though, he does transform us as the evil flees. We all struggle with something, but we don’t have to live enslaved to that struggle.