Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Submission to God is a process. We are born sinful, full of lusts and evil desires, wrong thoughts that make us do wrong things. In essence, we are submitted to the devil, following his ways, and those often become our patterns. But when we are saved, we have the Holy Spirit, so we are changed and transformed. The ability is now there to overcome the flesh through Him, but we have to be willing to submit to Him. We yield those sinful desires to Him. We yield our hearts and our minds, our whole lives to Him. We give God control instead of our flesh. We say no to the temptations of Satan, refusing to compromise and go back down that wrong path.
Instead, we take steps that lead us closer to God. Our proximity to God has a significant effect on us. The nearer we are, the less likely we’ll be to sin and the more likely that we will be changed. So we seek Him in prayer and in His Word. We spend the time. We focus our hearts and minds in His direction instead of toward the world. The closer we are, the easier we can hear His voice. As we draw nearer, we begin to understand more things about Him, like how big He is, how loving, how gracious, how wise, as He draws near to us.
And in that place so near to Him, we may start to notice some things about ourselves that aren’t quite matching up with what we’re supposed to be. So we deal with known sin and seek a righteous path. We give up those old patterns and seek to truly live for God. And the more we draw near, the more our sin will grieve us, but the pain of that also serves to humble our hearts. And we’ll get to that place where we will relinquish control, giving up our right and our way and being willing to conform to His way instead.
Submission to God, then, is not so much self-control as it is Spirit-control. The deeper we go in our relationship with God, the more of ourselves we are willing to let go of. The less our flesh is in control, the more His Spirit can be. And when we’re willing to bow low at His feet, we’ll find it’s much different to submit to Him than to submit to the devil. Instead of bondage, we’ll find freedom. Instead of chaos and destruction and death, we’ll find peace and hope and life. And as we continue to submit, as we draw nearer still, we’ll find true wholeness and satisfaction in Christ.