Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
It was one of those man-bites-dog stories.
Only this time it was the story of a teenage girl in New Zealand who was bitten by a shark. The girl was Lydia Ward, aged 14, and the shark was probably a broad-nosed seven-gill shark.
And no, Lydia didn't bite the shark when it bit her on the hip, but she didn't panic either.
What she did do was clobber that shark over the head with her surfing body board. She clobbered it again and again and again. Finally, the shark decided it was in his best interest to let her go. Just for the record, Lydia is doing fine. I've received no reports on the condition of the shark.
Now Lydia's story is being told for a purpose. It would seem to most of us that a young lady doesn't have much chance against a shark. Thankfully, the young lady didn't know that, and because she didn't know that she is alive and well today.
Similarly, it would appear that as Christians we don't have a prayer when Satan comes at us with his bag of temptations. He is old, and wise, and has considerable resources. To most observers it would seem we would come out on the short end.
Not necessarily. When Luther was confronted by the devil, so the legend goes, he pegged an inkwell at Old Nick. Your pastor can tell you some of the other more colorful suggestions Luther had in regard to handling the devil.
The bottom line is this: Lydia had her surfing body board and Christians have the power of the Holy Spirit. That's what James was telling God's people. Submit yourself to God and at the same time do some serious devil-resisting.
Having said those words of encouragement, James makes a rather unusual prediction of what will happen: resist the devil and he will flee from you.
That's right. The devil will flee from those who, armed with faith in Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, are persistent in their resistance. Understand, the battle might not always be easy, but the idea is to follow Lydia's example and resist and resist and resist yet again.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, help us understand that in the battle against Satan we are not on our own. The risen Redeemer has always promised to be with us. The Holy Spirit has shown that He wishes to keep us safe and strong. With their power, may I resist Satan and have the joy of watching him flee. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries