v. 6. But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
v. 7. Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
v. 8. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
v. 9. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness.
v. 10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.
All sins may be said to have their root and origin in the pride of the human heart, which refuses to bow to the will of the Lord. Christians, therefore, will deny themselves and depend upon the help promised from above: But He gives greater grace; wherefore He says: God sets Himself against the proud; to the humble, however, He gives grace. If the Spirit, who has made His abode with us, can but perform His work unhindered by willful transgressions and outbursts of evil lust, then the Lord, through His work in our hearts, will give us grace for a life of proper sanctification. For this truth we have the authority of the Word, in which the Holy Spirit Himself gives us the assurance that, while God always resists the proud, it is His good pleasure to give grace to the humble. See 1Pe_5:5. A Christian's constant effort, then, will be to conquer and vanquish the natural pride of his heart, through the power of the Spirit that lives in him, and always to offer to the Lord a heart that is willing to hear and to keep His will. Note that the divinity of the Holy Spirit is plainly taught in this passage.
The need of this attitude is spoken of by the apostle: Submit yourselves, then, to God; but set yourselves against the devil, and he will flee from you. That is the characteristic of the believers of all times, that they overcome the haughtiness and pride of their evil nature more and more, and place themselves, with all their gifts and abilities, in the hands of God, whether for good days or for bad, Psa_37:5. As the Lord teaches them in His Word, so do they unhesitatingly follow, even though it means entire denial of self. And in performing this part of their Christian calling, they will set themselves against, they will resist with all the power at their command, the wiles and temptations of the devil. It is a matter of ceaseless vigilance, of tireless battling; but there is only one outcome possible, namely, the flight of the devil. With God and the Word on our side, the victory is bound to be ours.
This necessitates what the apostle further urges: Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. The more closely our new, regenerated, sanctified nature draws to the Lord, the more firmly we are united with Him in faith and love on the basis of His Word, the better will be our chances of overcoming all the enemies that try to draw us away from the Lord. But to such as are loath to do that the apostle says: Purify your hands, you sinners, and make chaste your hearts, you double-minded. Wherever there are men that call themselves Christians and still long after the flesh-pots of the world, they must be brought back to their right minds by such a loud call to loyalty. They should purify the hands that have become soiled by any contact with the filthy matters of this world; they should see to it that their hearts, whose allegiance they have tried to divide between God and the world, turn all alone to the Lord and His will.
In most cases this would make necessary a return to the Lord by a real repentance: Undergo hardship and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to lamentation, and your joy to depression. Throughout this passage a person may find many allusions to the Old Testament calls to repentance, such as were uttered by the prophets. The fact of their having turned from the Lord and become guilty of such trespasses as the apostle has enumerated, should cause the guilty ones to feel miserable and afflicted; their sins should call forth mourning and weeping on their part, as evidences of a genuine change of heart. Whereas they formerly laughed in the boisterous manner of the world and with the children of this world, they should now substitute bitter lamentation; whereas they found their joy in the delights tending to idolatry, the thought of their transgression should cause them to feel dejected and depressed in spirit.
If this attitude would be found among them, a true repentance of the heart, then they would also have the assurance: Be humbled before the Lord, and He will exalt you. So long as pride is the dominating trait in a person's life and works, so long God will resist the efforts of such a person. But if a poor sinner has thrown overboard all his self-righteousness, all the sinful pride of his heart, and lays before the Lord a broken and a contrite heart, then the Lord Himself will exalt him, will pardon his sins and accept him through the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior.