Well, it’s that time again: it’s officially summer, time to get outside and roast food—and ourselves! During this time of year folk in the United States are gearing up to celebrate Independence Day, when every citizen can gleefully let their inner pyromaniac out and blow stuff up (you can tell, I’m not too excited about this holiday).
Actually, I find it interesting that people like to focus on the United States kicking England to the curb. But in actuality Americans were never really free, they just traded one type of submission for another.
Submission Versus Obedience
There’s a definite connection between obedience, humility, and submission. Submission is different than obedience. Obedience is the act of obeying, and submission is the attitude of obedience.
If someone threatened me with death if I didn’t obey them, I would obey—you would too! This is not so with submission. Someone who has submitted wants to obey; they don’t have to be forced or threatened. When we talk about submitting to God, we’re talking about a willing obedience that springs out of our love for God and our thankfulness for the salvation that He’s freely given us.
Meek Isn’t Weak
James, a leader in the early Christian church and the writer of the biblical book by the same name (and a brother of Jesus), stresses that we must submit to God in order to resist the devil. Take a minute to read what he wrote in James 4:6-10.
There is power in humility and submission. Humility is the internalattitude that allows individuals to submit externally. Don’t you find it interesting that Christians receive power by giving it up? How is that possible? The key to the whole process is finding the right person to submit to. God, of course, is the right Person; and when we submit to Him all kinds of wonderful things can and will happen.
The first of those being that we begin to see that we can get free from habits, addictions, and sins that we could never stop by ourselves. Let’s take a closer look at the passage in James. There’s an important progression. God can and will give the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome all evil: whether the evil comes from within, the devil, or the world. But first we have to:
Submit to God.We can say “no” or “stop” to the devil all we want, but in reality we’re about as significant to him as a fly. The devil wants to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He’s not our friend. We can’t resist him by ourselves. But once we submit to God and move under His protection and authority we will be able to say “no” to the devil.
When this happens . . .
The devil will flee.Without God we’re about as powerful as a gnat. But when God has our backs Satan runs away. But Satan will be back—and soon—with a slicker, sneakier temptation. So what do we do?
Come close to Godevery moment of every day, and God will come close to us. Have you ever been scared of something, then had your parent, sibling, or a friend “back you up”? How did it feel? That’s exactly what drawing close to God does for us, but we have to start the process.
Because of free will—the ability and freedom to make our own decisions—God will never force us. Force is how the devil works. So how do we remain in that attitude of coming close to God?
Recognize that we’re sinners in need of a Savior. We have to recognize how our attitudes, behaviors, and sins affect God deeply and harm our relationship with Him. We have to admit what we’ve done wrong (without excuses or justifications), say we’re sorry (confession), and stop doing it (repentance). When we do that . . .
A humble attitude will put us in a position of submission, which allows God to lift us up to a closer relationship with Him. The process continues every moment of every day, and we will continually draw closer and closer to Him, so He can make us more perfect and sinless (sanctification).
You? Or God?
So what will we choose? Will we choose to honor ourselves above God and live out-of-control lives full of selfishness, pain, and passing pleasure—then die? Or will we choose to humble ourselves before God, recognize that He’s in charge, order our lives accordingly, then live lives of joy, peace, and contentment both here and in the world to come? The choice is ours.
We’re much better off living life with God than without Him.
Omar Miranda, a counselor and writer, lives with his family in unplainPlainville, Georgia.