Picture One: Submitting (4:7a) “submit to God”
The first step in walking dependent on Christ is submission to Christ. Submission is the way down and the way up to salvation.
When I was in college, I took a lifeguard certification course. We were taught that, if someone were drowning and fought against us as we tried to rescue them, then we should move away. If the lifeguard attempts to save the drowning swimmer, as he kicks, flails, and tries to save himself, then both will drown. As that drowning person becomes exhausted, he/she will give up. It is at this point of yielding (submitting) that the swimmer can be saved.
This is true with us. If you are going to continue to do things your own way, God will allow you. Once you are tired and submit to Him, it is then that he will save you.
Picture Two: Resisting (4:7b) “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”
To Submit and resist, for the born-again believer, seem to be two sides of the same coin. Resisting will not happen, if submitting to God has not already taken place. The resisting depends on the submitting. Submission to Christ puts a person in place to resist the enemy.
You may desire to provide pest control at your house. The pest control company comes out, lets you know the prices and plans, and you submit to the contract for the pest control people. Once you have signed (submitted) to their contract, then they partner with you to resist the bugs.
In a submissive position in Christ, we stand able to resist the enemy. Resisting the enemy is really the impact of Christ in us as we submit to Him.
Picture Three: Drawing (4:8a) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”
According to Jesus in John 6:44, God draws us first before we can come to him. If that is the case, then how can James call us to draw first? Remember, James is a man of action. From the human side, he calls us to draw near to God through His Word, through repentance, through obedience. This is all with the understanding that God has already made a way to Himself for us.
When a piece of metal is put near a magnet, the energy pull of the magnetic draws it. The magnet was already drawing before the metal arrived close by. It is the nature of the magnet to draw. It is the nature of God to save and redeem, and while the magnet illustration may not be perfect, it is true that God does the drawing while we are responsible for moving toward Him.