Explore the Bible

with Liz McGraw

Sunday,  November 18

With Submission

James 3:13-4:17

James teaches that believers are to be committed to living out God’s will. But why? Why can we (Christians) not live the way we want? And who wants to be committed to anything anymore? I mean, Jesus is in my heart, so I won’t spend eternity in hell; but committing to do His will every day? Really?

The answer is clear. YES! We are to live out our lives with perseverance, obedience, works, control, AND submission to the will of the Father. James will explain that we should commit to living out God’s will through humility, grace, submission, and obedience.

Through Humility (James 4:6-10)

Folks, even with Jesus in our hearts, we are all just one bad choice away from sin and destruction. Think that’s not so? I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Recently, I was listening to the story of a Christian friend. He told me that it all began with one look. His eyes met her eyes and there was an immediate connection. Over time, they chose to pursue that connection. One bad choice led to another and another. Those choices led to sin which then led to the destruction of his marriage.

Another example comes from one of my guys at Angola. He recounted how his grandmother used to take him to church when he was a boy. One day, with a clear understanding, he asked Jesus into his heart. In high school, he suffered a football injury that required surgery. The pain pills he received led to a full-blown heroin addiction. One terrible night, in a drugged-out stupor, he killed someone during an armed robbery.

James called on his readers to live a life of humility, emphasizing that they were not capable of overcoming the devil on their own. Remember, he was speaking to fellow Christians. He directed them to flee the devil so they could purify themselves.

Folks, let’s acknowledge that the devil is real. He is a real being who opposes God and his followers. Peter wrote, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). While the devil cannot steal your salvation, he can destroy your life.

How do we stop the devil? Peter and James provide our answer. Peter continued, “But resist him (the devil), firm in your faith…” (v. 9). James wrote, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Listen. Instead of pridefully saying, “None of this will happen to me. I’m not going to fall like those other people,” we must recognize that only through submitting to God can a person have victory over sin and the devil. We resist the devil, not in our own strength, but by recognizing our own weaknesses and humbly asking the Lord to help. James wrote, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (v. 10).

Through Grace (James 4:11-12)

While we live out God’s will with humility, we also need God’s grace. James scolded his readers for criticizing others, acting as a judge. He reminded his readers that they too would be judged by the One who gave the law. When someone falls, do we shake our heads and proclaim that could never happen to us. Do we call our fellow Christians and say, “Have you heard…”? Instead, believers are to offer grace to others who are struggling with obedience. After all, we could be the ones who have stumbled.

Through Submission (James 4:13-16)

With humility and grace, we also need to submit to God’s plan. James questioned his readers’ plans that failed to include God in the process. He emphasized that God is in control of history and time. So often we make plans and then ask God to bless them. Instead, believers must seek God’s leadership in every area of their lives.

My friends, Rob and Michelle, ask the Lord to show them where to eat lunch. I never thought of that! Instead, I’m thinking about what I want to eat. I do not stop to think that the Lord may have a “God encounter” waiting for me if I will just submit.

Through Obedience (James 4:17)

Finally, James challenged his readers to act on what they knew from God. He explained that failing to act on God’s revealed truth was a sin. We too must recognize that God desires His people to be obedient followers.

McGraw is a NAMB-endorsed chaplain at Louisiana State Penitentiary and member of Woodville Church, Woodville.