You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:3–8)
Every word in this passage is true; I know it because God said it. I also know because it has played out in my experience — which is humbling.
I’ve asked and not received because I asked with a selfish motive. I’ve made friends with the world because of those selfish motives. I’ve experienced the jealousy of God for the Spirit of God that lives in me. He has protected me by grace from my own foolishness.
God has also opposed my pride, not letting me run my own life to the point of disaster. But I’ve also submitted to God and then found it possible to resist the devil and put him to flight. As I draw near to God, He is always by my side, faithful to cleanse and purify my heart. He knows how to turn me from being dual-minded (partly for God and partly for me). He has shown me that I cannot serve Him while I’m persisting in serving my selfish desires.
Today’s devotional reading says that everyone who comes to God knows instantly that the life of Christ is there, instantly. Then the “dominating power of the world, the flesh and the devil is paralyzed.” This is not by what I did, but happens because submission to God and His redemptive power sets me free from the dominion of all other forces.
In this, I rejoice! God never fails to prove the truth of what He says by applying it to my life.