Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
These verses point me to the starting point of what renovation looks like in my life and the life of the church. Renovation can only come when you are willing to see where your heart is truly focused. Is my heart focused on myself, my pleasures, my desires or is it focused on God, His Word, and His purposes for the church in this world? The first verse tells me to actively submit and turn to God and to resist the devil. The choice to me is plain. Who am I going to submit to – God or the devil? It is easy to follow the world and the ways of the devil. The world and the devil teach pride and selfishness. God’s Word says that pride comes before a fall. The hard way is the narrow path, the way of submission, deep heartfelt repentance. These verses describe that heartfelt repentance as one of mourning and sorrow. Do I really see the impact of my sin and selfishness on my family, friends, and my church? Do I weep over my sin?
These verses are speaking to me of action, not standing on the sidelines, or waiting for something to happen. I must submit, resist, cleanse, purify, grieve, mourn, and humble myself before God. What are the promises of these actions from God in these verses? He will draw near to me, the devil will flee, and God will lift me up.
I remember a time in my life when I was so down and hopeless. I was wrapped up in an addiction that was draining the life out of me. I hit my desperate point, that bottom. But I turned to the only One who could help me get out that mire. I turned to JESUS. I went through a difficult time of grieving and awareness of the decisions I made and how they affected others. I saw my sinful ways and the impact they had on my family and friends. God showed me the way out, the way of repentance. I turned to God and asked for deliverance and humbled myself under His mighty hand. He forgave me and gave me hope again. He freed me from the chains of my addiction and He gives me strength every day to resist. As the verse states above, resist the devil and he will flee. God comes near to me when I submit and humble myself.
This is what a lost and sinful world needs. This is what the church needs. This is what I need. May we turn our lives over to God with humble and submissive hearts that He may work through us and the church to reach a dying world, groping for truth and hope. May our friends, family, and neighbors see Jesus in us.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for these verses of Scripture that remind us of your wonderful promise to lift us up if we humble ourselves before You. May Your Spirit come and make our hearts aware of our selfishness and pride bringing us down and hindering Your renovation in our lives. Help us to resist the devil. Thank You for drawing near to us when we submit and turn to You. May You break our hearts for what breaks Yours. May You move in our hearts and our church to bring renovation and changed lives sold out for You, God, and love for the lost and dying world. All to Your glory!” In Jesus’ name. Amen.