Recently, I've been considering why it was that certain people simply refuse to submit to God on some of the simplest things. Why is it that the Bible can be so plain on something, and yet we just ignore it like it was never there, declaring either that there is some other meaning, or even more brazenly, "I'm just not convicted about that!" Let me give you an example. The other day, I was discussing the issue of music with someone when they said that God did not set a clear musical standard in the Bible. Now, when I saw that, I thought, "How could anyone be so ignorant?" But the answer came to me very quickly. It isn't that he is ignorant, it's that he doesn't want to know.
The sad truth is, that the majority of "Christians" will do what they want to do, caring very little, if at all, about what God thinks. They will not submit themselves to God as commanded in James 4:7. They will not humble themselves under God's hand as directed in verse 10 of the same chapter. Instead they stubbornly hold onto their own wants and desires, and in doing so they fall captive of the Devil, and get caught up in his snare. So let's look at James 4:7-10 and see how to make our will pliable to the able hands of the Master Potter.
Submit Submission is more of a decision than it is an action. If you will, it is an attitude of the heart. You have to come to a point where you decide, "Whatever God says, whatever God wants, that's what I want for my life. It's not about me, It's about God." The number one reason most Christians don't submit is that they can't see past their own wants and desires. We have spent so much time pleasing ourselves, that we don't know how to please anyone else.
Resist Resisting the Devil in our life is the most active and most prominent part of a Christian's walk with God. The more you walk with God, the more you have to resist the Devil. It doesn't get easier, you simply learn priorities. You learn that pleasing God is more important than the "fun" you will have in submitting to the Devil. This is how you resist him, priorities.
Draw nigh Getting close to God is the most important thing that a Christian can do. The Bible says in Galatians 5:16 "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." If you want to walk in the Spirit, you have to fill your life with things of the Spirit. How you begin your day will set the precedent for how your day will continue to go, so start it with things of the Spirit. How you continue your day will determine your successfulness for the day, so continue to fill your day with things of the Spirit. How you end your day will decide how well your next day will begin, so end it partaking of things of the Spirit. Read your Bible, pray, listen to Godly music, fellowship with other Christians, meditate on the things of God, for the Bible says, "...to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6)
Humble yourself Day after day after day, humble yourself. It is a daily struggle to remember just how weak we are and just how much we need God. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed, lest he fall." Remember from whence comes your strength. You don't stand in your own power, else you wouldn't be standing at all. I find that the greatest sin in any Christian's life is pride. Truly, it is pride that keeps us from submitting, it is pride that keeps us from resisting, it is pride that keeps us from drawing nigh. Somehow, we have gotten the idea that we are strong enough to handle our situation on our own. We need to look back and remember how weak we were when we got saved and then we need to realize that we are indeed, still that weak.
If we would simply let go of our stubborn will and submit to God's will, we would have no need to worry about the future, for it is in His hands. If we would just submit ourselves to God, we wouldn't have to worry about the present because He promised that He would take care of us. If we would just yield to Him, we wouldn't have to fret over the past, it's under the blood. With this being the case, I ask you, why would we want it any other way?
Have you ever noticed how insincere we are when we pray? Just today I was thinking about prayer and I thought of praying over a meal. Then the thought came to my mind, "I wonder just how often we truly are thankful for our food, and how many times we just say that we are." It's sad that this should even be an issue, yet it is. We have made prayer so mechanical. I see it in my own prayer life. Certain things I always say in my prayers have become empty words, I pray sometimes, only because I have to. Then when I do open up my heart to God and really pour out my thoughts to Him, I think "Wow, that was amazing!" But shouldn't it always be as such? Shouldn't we open up our heart to God every day? It's no wonder our churches are full of weak Christians, they have no connection with the Father.
I believe very firmly that prayer is for your benefit, not God's! Why would God need us to talk to him? He already knows our thoughts. If pray, then, is for our own benefit, the only person we're hurting through insincere prayer is ourselves. Are we really so petty? Have we become so selfish as to hurt ourselves because we don't want to put forth the effort to talk sincerely with God? It is so sad to me that so many Christians have so little love for their Saviour as to spend so little time with Him! What is the purpose of prayer, if not to express your love and trust for God. We say that prayer, as it pertains to salvation, is simply an outward expression of the heart. Does not the same hold true for your Christian life? We need to check our heart and ask ourselves, "Why are my prayers so empty and insincere?"
There is a balance to life. Everything we do is, or should be, by balance. However, balance does not necessarily mean in even proportion. For instance, if I want a good balance of flour and yeast in my bread, I will surely not use the same amount of yeast as I do of flour! Life is the same. Different situations call for different proportions, and sometimes the balance is somewhat hard to find.
This morning, I was looking in the back of my Bible and I saw a thought that I had written down a few years ago. "The difficulty I find in my Christian life is that, when I should be a man, I am a child, and yet when I should be a child, I am a man." Let us consider what the Scriptures say. I Corinthians 13:11 says, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man , I put away childish things." And yet, when you look at Mark 10:15, we see Jesus say, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." So where is the balance? When do we be "as a little child" and when do we "put away childish things"? The difference, I believe, is the difference between childish and childlike.
The word childish is defined as, "Belonging to a child; trifling; puerile (boyish, immature). However, the word childlike is defined as, "Resembling a child or that which belongs to children; becoming a child; meek; submissive; dutiful; as childlike obedience."* Notice the difference in the following: one is to belong to a child and one is to resemble a child. Let me give you an example. I am, and always have been, a bit of a cut-up. Now I have often been accused of being immature because of this; however, if I was childish, I would have no sense of when to cut up and when not to. Hence, we see that the difference between being childlike and childish is that being childish applies to all the aspects of children, whereas being childlike applies to the excellency of children. Spurgeon put this way, "It would be a good thing for us all if we had never stopped being boys and girls, but had added to all the excellencies of a child the virtues of a man. Surely, it is not necessary to kill the child to make the saint?"**
So, in my Christian life, there comes a time when I should be more like a child. Children tend to be more forgiving. How often have we seen two children squabble one minute, and be best of friends the next, as if the incident had never happened. How blessed it would be if we could find this in our own life. Unfortunately, adults tend to be much too full of pride to do this. Children tend to be trusting. We as Christians do not trust God. Whatever our reason is, we lack trust. Children are quick to love. However, adults tend to look for a reason not to love people. Why? Simply because we like to feel sorry for ourselves.
And yet, in my Christian life, there comes a time for me to be a man. A child, by nature, is fearful. A man (or adult) should not be. Isn't it funny that a child's fear is far less damaging than an adult's, simply because a child knows how to trust. Adults when they fear, also refuse to trust. A child tends to be dramatic. Unfortunately most people do not grow out of this. A child is mostly selfish; they have to be taught to think otherwise. The problem is, many of the adults instructing them to not be selfish are often selfish themselves.
I finish with a very sobering thought from Spurgeon. "Do not others expect from children more perfect conduct than they themselves exhibit? If a gracious child should lose his temper, or act wrongly in some trifling thing through forgetfulness, straight way he is condemned as little hypocrite by those who are a long way from being perfect themselves."*** Let's stop being so childish, and start being childlike.
*All definitions are taken from the Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary. **Spiritual Parenting pg. 17 ***Spiritual Parenting pg. 18