James makes it clear to his readers that they are involved in a spiritual conflict. The choice before them is stark – they will do what God wants or they will do what the devil wants. Obviously, what God wants will come under the umbrella of righteousness and what the devil wants will come under the umbrella of sin.
James calls on his readers to resist the attacks of the devil. Although he knows that they are less powerful than the devil, he also knows that they are able to resist his efforts. So even in using this word ‘resist’, he is reminding his readers that they have access to a power far greater than the devil, and that power is the Holy Spirit.
It is important when fighting an enemy that we know something about their commander or leader. Different names are given to the enemy commander in the Bible, such as the slanderer or the accuser of the brothers. He is crafty and he is malicious and he never has our good at heart. He will tempt us to sin and he will focus on our weak points (and our strong points, at times). It may be the case that James mentions several of those weak points here. In any case, we are to expect the devil’s attacks and resist his attacks.
How do we resist? By saying ‘no’ to whatever he suggests. Yet we also have to know when to resist because the devil will come to us stealthily and we may not recognise his involvement. The only way by which we can get this information is through the Bible. This fits in with what Paul says about using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to withstand the attacks of the devil. James reminds us that resistance is the way to victory.