All true, Biblical submission flows from the believer’s submission to God. We cannot submit to governing authorities, employers, church leaders, spouses, or anyone unless we are first willing to submit to the authority of God. All rebellion against those whom God has placed over us begins first with rebellion against God.
Submission to God begins with His word. We cannot submit to the authority of God if we do not know and understand what God has said. This is why the very first challenge – the very first words out of the serpent’s mouth in the garden were, “Indeed, has God said…?” However, it is clear that the beginning of rebellion in man’s heart was not a lack of knowledge of what God had said, but the temptation to doubt the goodness of His Word when the challenge was brought forth from the serpent. From this little seed of doubt, grew not just a sapling but a whole forest of sinners.
We have a responsibility to God, especially those of us who claim His name and profess His Son, to study and obey His word. We must read it to understand it, and we must understand it to apply it. And we must apply it, for that is to submit to Him. To read it and understand it, but fail to apply it… that is rebellion.
At the same time, we also know that in our natural state we are incapable of discerning and obeying the commands of God. We are dead in sins and trespasses, servants of the kingdom of darkness. The Apostle Paul goes so far as to say that prior to our conversion we were darkness; not that we just dwelled in darkness, but in fact we were the darkness itself. The Apostle John writes in the beginning of his gospel that “The Light shines into the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5 NASB)
Unless we are born a second time, as Jesus discussed with Nicodemus, and made alive in the Spirit, then we are incapable of truly understanding and obeying the Word of God. It is only by our total reliance on the Spirit that we can overcome the darkness, die to our own sin and self, and submit unto the authority of the God in whom we move and breathe and have our being. Certainly, we are called to strive and put forth every effort to fight against sin, and to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against our souls. (1 Peter 2:11)
But if this fight was only ours to fight, we would be powerless – just as we were before our conversion. In James’ warnings against worldliness, he too points us to our strength and our only hope. James writes, “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 4:5-8)
Unmistakably, we must submit to God, abandon our pride and come humbly before Him, drawing near to Him, and He will cause His Spirit to work His grace in us.
Prayer: Lord, by the power of Your Spirit would you destroy my pride. Strip me of the great enemy of my self when it comes to this necessary act of obedience. Blow over the coals in my heart that burn for You, Lord; let Your breath ignite the flames that burn away all else but a holy desire to serve You and submit to Your will and Your ways. Lord, would you help me to look more like You and less like me. Would You humble me to give me grace, o Merciful King? In Jesus Holy Name, amen.