In our last post, “Submission—A Universal Biblical Command,” we learned that although submission is something we’re all commanded to do, it isn’t something that comes naturally. Praising submission as a virtue goes against our American independence, and the freedom that was won in the Protestant Reformation. In order to move into any realm of submission, we first must have a proper foundation.
As believers, that foundation must always be God as he is revealed in Scripture. If there is no foundation in God’s revelation to us, then there is no reason for us to submit to anyone. On the flip side, if there IS a foundation in God’s Word for submission, and we aren’t submitting, then repentance and humble obedience should be the proper response. Before we submit to any authority, we need to submit to the highest authority: God. However, even submission to God, if not expected and revealed by God, is wrong. If God hasn’t commanded it, we shouldn’t do it. If God’s glory were to be most manifested by our expressing our creative independence, then by all means we should do all we can to break free from even God! Though, I think we all know, according to the Scriptures, that is not what brings God the most glory :
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”-James 4:7
I chose this verse for two specific reasons. First, it uses the word “submit.” Second, it uses an antonym in the same verse. A synonym is a word that has the same, or a similar, definition to a word. An antonym is a word that has the opposite definition of a word. Antonyms are helpful in defining meaning because sometimes we can visualize the opposite of a word better than we can the word itself. In this verse, James tells something TO do, and something NOT to do. First, he says submit to God. Second, he says resist the devil. While we may not be putting the word submit to work in our everyday lives, I’d bet we’re all putting the word resist to work.
Sadly, many of us have the two words of this passage mixed up. We submit to the devil, and resist God. What’s ironic is that, oftentimes, by choosing not to submit to an authority that God has commanded us to submit to, we actually end up submitting to the devil. The problem isn’t really that we don’t understand resistance and submission. The problem is that our sinful hearts desire to submit to the devil more than they desire to submit to God.
If we ever hope to follow God’s command to submit in certain areas of our lives, we’ve got to begin by submitting to God. I think if we were honest we could identify a number of areas in our lives that need to be brought into submission to God. We have a tendency to resist everything, and anyone, but our own selves. The first lesson we need to learn in our Christian walk is that we need to die, and Christ needs to live. That means we need to submit to his desires instead of our own desires.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”-Galatians 2:20
If we haven’t yet died to ourselves, then we don’t have the proper foundation upon which to build a life of obedient submission. We can’t hope to correctly submit to any authority until we first submit to the highest authority. Ironically, the way to freedom in Christ, is through submission to Christ. We need to take off the chains of sin and death, and willingly, no JOYFULLY, put on the chains of righteousness. That’s not my illustration, it’s the illustration used by the apostle Paul when he wrote Romans 6:
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”-Romans 6:20-22
Maybe that’s the first thing that needs to happen in your life. Maybe it’s time to put first things first. Maybe today needs to be the day that you stop asking “What do I want?” and start asking “What does God want?” Maybe today is the day you stop resisting God, and submitting to the devil, and start resisting the devil, and submitting to God.
Questions for Discussion
How does God want you to run your business?
How does God want you to raise your children?
How does God want you to treat your spouse?
How does God want you to act around your friends?
How does God want you to act at work?
What area of your life needs to be brought into submission to God?
Jeremy Lundmark is a former pastor and former host of the podcast "After The Sermon." Jeremy has earned his Masters of Ministry from Summit University in Clark's Summit, PA. He is the author of the book, The Fury of God. Jeremy is a husband of thirteen years to Alison G. Lundmark and is the proud father of three children: Alexander, Brionna, and Scarlett. To connect, leave a comment on one of his posts at TheologyMix.com.