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. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Notice the verbs James uses in his address to his audience: submit, resist, draw near, cleanse, purify, lament, mourn, weep, turn, (your laughter and joy) and humble. All of these words are direct commands to repentance. Full submission (the first verb) requires the rest of the actions. To submit to God we must resist the devil, draw near to God, cleanse and purify ourselves of our “double-mind,” or the desires of our sinful nature, lament for our sins, turn our lighthearted attitude to contrition, and finally humble ourselves to fully submit.
Now take the inverse of all these actions to see what it is that we are renouncing: independence, (the soul that is “independent” is really a slave to the sinful nature), fear of the devil, (he flees with our resistance, and the power he has is only the power we give him), distance/apathy to God, the sinful nature that contaminates us, the pleasures that distract us from our own sin, and our own pride.
The sinful nature is always influencing us towards a state of apathy, pride, and distraction. Some sort of survival instinct kicks in from the moment we are born that dulls the conscience and works towards self-preservation, even if it means that we become incapable of feeling remorse or guilt. God wants us to grasp those difficult feelings and be humbled by our own sin so that he can exalt us.