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The Power of Submission

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Submission is a difficult idea for many, mainly because they think it means humiliation and defeat. Certainly, when submission is forced, it is most humiliating: but when submission is a voluntary act of service, it is beautiful and strong. 'Submit' is derived from two Latin words that mean to 'put yourself under' somebody else: you choose to agree that a higher authority has the right to tell you what to do. This happens in every employment, agreeing to surgery and making marriage vows - where the submission should be a two-way matter (Ephesians 5:21).

Submission is godly. As God the Son submitted to God the Father (John 14:31), and as the Spirit is not independent but brings honour to the Son (John 16:13-14), and as the Father has given all things to the Son (Matthew 11:27) – there is mutuality of submission. In the same way, wives should submit to husbands and in turn they should love their wives sacrificially as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). In fact, the rule for God's family is that everybody must submit themselves to each other (Ephesians 5:21). That makes submission in the workplace a normal godly activity (1 Peter 2:18).

But this kind of submission is not under duress, it is voluntary, willing and joyful. It is the natural expression of the life of God's Spirit in the believer. But it is also a choice we have to make. As we start by submitting to God, it is not demeaning, because verse 6 says that 'God gives grace to the humble'. As we place ourselves humbly under God's authority we are enabled to receive mercy and grace. Because of His burning love towards us (James 4:5), He freely gives so much that we do not deserve and can never earn. Also, He gives us the authority and strength to resist the devil - because in submitting to God, we belong to Him and not to Satan. The Evil One has no right to order us about, and as we resist him, in the Name of Jesus, Satan has to go.

No professional practice or business corporation can function if people do not choose to submit to their superiors (problems usually come when people act independently). Those who submit to God should also choose to submit to their boss; it is the right thing to do, and a good witness to your Christian faith. And submit even if the boss is unfair (1 Peter 2:19). The battles we face are not against horrible people but against spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:2). So we can resist Satan's temptations because we have submitted to God's authority: and Satan knows his authority is broken.

Almighty God. Thank You for setting the pattern of submission for everybody to follow. Forgive me for the times when I have not been humble but have proudly refused to submit and have failed to receive Your grace. Help me to be humble before Your great power and authority, so that I may submit myself to You afresh. Thank You that Your authority is far greater than Satan's; and as I come under Your command, help me to resist the devil in Jesus' Name. For His glory's sake. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams