Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 ESV
Isn’t this a great promise? We can break the chains of the enemy simply through submitting to God and following his ways! Sadly, many people hate submission and rather follow their own desires. They are putting their flesh and sin first, ignoring the fact that this behavior leads to eternal destruction. I don’t want this to happen to you! Neither do I want the enemy to take a hold of you again. Therefore, I’d like to share the story of how I found true freedom in submitting to God.
In case you think a God who throws sinners into an eternal furnace is cruel, I’d like to introduce to you The Perfection of God’s Justice.
What Does Submitting to God Mean?
When I first learned about what submitting to God really means, I was somewhere between surprised and shocked. That was the case, because the submission which God demands from us goes much further than just saying “yes” and “amen” to him. Instead we are called to
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 NIV
Since this is a pretty broad command, I have splitted it up for you.
Submitting to God Means Submitting to Leaders
It might sound kind of obvious that we should submit to leaders and authorities, but there is an important clause to this command. Peter wrote,
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 1 Peter 2:13-14 NIV
The part I’m talking about is that we are called to obey the leaders “who are sent by him“, with “him” being God. That means, that we should always be mindful of whom we are following. I am stressing this point because it’s easy for us to come up with an excuse like “I only did this because he told me to do so”. This however is not a valid excuse for God because He declares,
“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 10:17 NKJV
Therefore, don’t follow evil people or fools. Instead follow godly people, because they are concerned about your welldoing. This is why it is written,
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
Those leaders are the ones who will guide you with the counsel of God. Their primary concern is for you to stay in the truth and to follow the path which God has prepared for you. When you obey your such leaders, you will not be put to shame. Instead, you will find stability and wisdom and will grow in knowing God.
For those of you who don’t trust their spiritual leaders, I can recommend reading the Bible. That way you will see if their teachings are according to God’s word. And if they are, please know that and how God Cares For Us and that his way is always best!
Submitting to God Affects Every Household
True submission to God affects every single one of us, no matter which role we have in our household. That it does through the following command:
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 2:13-14 NIV
To be honest, when I first learned how wives should submit, I was pretty shocked. My mind was filled with the lies of the world crying “You must stay independent!”. And since I heard this from a man, my thoughts further evolved to “He just wants to take advantage of you”. Those are terrible thoughts and so wrong! Just look at the second line of the verses above. Or read what Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her Ephesians 5:24-25 NIV
It’s not about dominion or abuse. Instead it is all about love and care for one another! I’m not denying that there are people who are abusing others. Those terrible things only happen because they don’t know Why We Should Fear God though. To save you from such people, God has filled his word with wise instructions on how to choose your partner for life.
What the Bible Says About Choosing Your Life Partner
Here are some of the advices, God has given to us:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8 ESV
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. Proverbs 12:4 NIV
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 ESV
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NASB
Thus, you should choose someone who fears the Lord and has a sincere heart. And whatever you do, don’t rush into anything! If you keep your eyes on the Lord and trust him, He will bless you and provide for all of your needs.
What If I’m Already Married?
Well, first of all: pray. Tell God about your situation and your worries. Although He knows everything, the Lord wants us to approach him in prayer before He acts. This is why Jesus said,
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11 NKJV
So, dare to ask! And if your partner is not saved yet, preach the gospel to him or her.
Either way, I’d like to encourage you to go to your local church and speak with the elders there. They will be able to help you with your specific situation and can also provide shelter in case you need it. Also, don’t hesitate to speak up about domestic violence because this is definitely not the will of God! Otherwise He wouldn’t have decreed for women to submit and Peter wouldn’t have written,
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 ESV
God is good and whatever your situation is, He will show you a way out! Remember:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV
The Purpose of Submission
Since it might not yet be clear to everyone why we should submit to others, I’d like to share what the Bible says about God’s purpose behind this command. The first reason I found is that through submitting to others, we are following the steps of Jesus. He made himself a slave to the world and was raised to the right hand of the Father. Similarly Peter and even Jesus himself declare,
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 1 Peter 5:6 ESV
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 NIV
Only those who are humble will enter the kingdom of God. Furthermore, our submission is a sign of reverence for our Savior (see Ephesians 5:21)! And just like a government brings order to a country, so submitting to one another in love brings harmony. This is why Paul demands,
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14 ESV
This can be felt in both, the life in the church and the life in each household. Therefore, submitting to God and to authorities (including husbands) is for your own good! God commanded it not to bind us, but to set us free,
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NKJV
How I Learned To Submit
As mentioned above, I initially struggled a lot with this command. Throughout my whole life I was told to stay independent and “free”. Never would I have thought that following this instruction was actually holding me captive! I realized this once I took the second part of Peter’s command above to heart. It reads,
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV
Thus, after learning about God’s will for us to submit and feeling the resistance in my heart, I lifted it up to him in prayer. I knew that God is good and loving, so I confessed to him what was going on in my head and begged for help to learn how to submit. I desperately wanted (and still want) to obey him in everything, because He has saved me from eternal punishment although I did not deserve it!
In his grace, the Lord has answered my prayer. After my declaration of wanting to be nothing but a servant to God, a huge weight seemed to have been lifted off of my chest. Through humbling myself and laying aside my own will, I experienced true freedom! In that moment I fully realized who I was and where I belonged. It was an amazing display of the Psalm,
I will walk in freedom,
for I have devoted myself to your commandments. Psalm 119:45 NLT
How Submitting to God Affects Your Life
After I had this experience of true freedom, the chains were broken. The lies of the world about the need for independence had no effect on me anymore. Ever since, I am free and was allowed to experience a wonderful harmony in a relationship. Moreover, serving others became one of the greatest joys in my life! And the good news is, that the promises in the Bible are for everyone who believes!
Therefore, if you are still struggling with who you are or where you belong, bring it before God and ask him to guide you. Seek him with all your heart and don’t let other people deceive you. He has given us his word so that we can stay on the right path. This world is filled with lies and evil, but through submitting to God and staying close to his word, you will be able to withstand those things! Indeed, through submission and obedience, God will guide you well, for He declares,
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.
Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Psalm 32:8-10 NKJV