“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Js. 4:6-7
There are many different species of pride. There is pride that refuses to listen to godly counsel. There is pride that refuses to ask for advice. There is pride that is offended when counsel is offered. There is pride that resists loving correction. There is pride that masquerades as humility. There is pride that masquerades as strength. There is pride that preens in the mirror; there is pride that mourns in the mirror. There is pride that ignores sin; there is pride that obsesses over past failures. There is pride that thinks it is not proud. But at its root, pride hates God. Pride hates God’s wisdom, pride hates God’s providence, pride hates the way God is telling the story, pride hates the fact that God is God. And this is why James knows that the devil is never far off when pride is glowing hot. And this is because whether you admit it or not, when you are being proud, when you are being self-sufficient, when you are refusing the advances of grace, you are resisting God, and God is resisting you. God is at war with all pride. God hates your pride because it is a deadly poison that will kill you. But the devil doesn’t come in with his pitchfork and red suit, the devil comes as an angel of light. He comes encouraging you to be strong, he comes encouraging you to see humility as ugly, he comes speaking sweet words, showing you humility as weakness. He comes with fists full of lies, and they are lies that your flesh longs to be true. You don’t want to look weak, you want to look strong, you want to look confident, you want to look brave and courageous and beautiful and handsome. You want to be right, and you want everyone to know. And so you cling to your pride, cling to your rights, cling to your story, clinging to the very poison that will kill you.
But there is good news. James does not say that if the demon of pride has overtaken you, there is no hope or escape. He simply tells you to resist the devil, and he will run. The devil is dangerous, the devil is poison, and pride will kill you. But this is an enemy that will flee from you. Submit to God and resist the devil, and he will run away. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.” (Js. 4:8)