Submit to God

James 4:7-10

INTRO.- Submit. How do you like that word? It’s a verb that means to yield to the power or authority of another.

When we’re small and at home, it means mom and dad. When we’re in school, it means the teacher. When we’re out in the working world, it’s our boss or manager. When we’re in the church, it’s the Lord! No, no matter where we are, it’s the Lord!

ILL.- That old lighthouse story tells the story. The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message” “Alter your course 10 degrees south.” Promptly a return message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north.”

The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south–I am the captain!” Soon another message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north–I am seaman third class Jones.”

Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: “Alter your course 10 degrees south–I am a battleship.” Then the reply came “Alter your course 10 degrees north–I am a lighthouse.”

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, they say. The proof of our discipleship is what? It’s in the doing of the will of God. But didn’t these prophets prophesy and do good things?

Yes, but perhaps in their heart of hearts, they really didn’t know the Lord. And if so, it may be that they were ministering and prophesying for self pleasure or self acclamation.

Doesn’t this make you wonder sometimes about those in really big ministries where they may make big claims and receive lots of attention and perhaps receive big salaries? We all remember what happened to Jim Bakker of the PTL Club.

ILL.- Someone wrote: By the early 1980s, the Bakkers had built Heritage USA in Fort Mill, South Carolina, (south of Charlotte), then the third most successful theme park in the US, and a satellite system to distribute their network 24 hours a day across the country. Contributions requested from viewers were estimated to exceed $1 million a week, with proceeds to go to expanding the theme park and mission of PTL. In justifying his use of the mass media, Bakker responded to inquiries by likening his use of television to Jesus’ use of the amphitheater of the time. “I believe that if Jesus were alive today he would be on TV”, Bakker said.

In their success, the Bakkers took conspicuous consumption to an unusual level for a non-profit organization. According to Frances FitzGerald in an April 1987 New Yorker article, “They epitomized the excesses of the 1980s; the greed, the love of glitz, and the shamelessness; which in their case was so pure as to almost amount to a kind of innocence”. Detractors often said that PTL stood for Pass The Loot.

Jim Bakker ended up in prison for five years and was released on Dec. 1, 1994.In 1996 he wrote a book entitled, “I WAS WRONG,” admitting that he was wrong about many things. And he was.

While few of us would ever end up in prison like Bakker we all are guilty of not submitting to the Lord as we should.

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

PROP.- How do we submit to God? What is required to do this?
1- We submit by resisting
2- We submit by moving
3- We submit by grieving


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

You resist something in order to submit to something. Normally, that wouldn’t make sense to anyone but in this text, it does. We resist evil in order to submit to good. And we resist Satan by submitting to God.

ILL.- I got a letter from the social security department one day stating that they overpaid me $8000. I nearly flipped when I saw that letter. I immediately called my CPA in southern IL. He wasn’t in his office at that time. His receptionist asked me to fax a copy of that letter.

I think it was the next day when my CPA friend called me and said, “Steve, you better get your checkbook out!” I said, “WHAT?!” Then he started laughing and said, “No, the social security have your income listed incorrectly. You need to go to the SS office and take your W2 form and your taxes and show them.” I did that the next day and the lady at the desk typed some figures from my W2 form. Then she said I should get another letter from social security with the correction.

My point is this: When dealing with certain people you need help! I was over my head when it came to dealing with social security administration. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I needed help beyond myself. I need a professional, so to speak.

We have professional on our side when it comes to dealing with Satan. Who’s that? GOD!

ILL.- Christian author, C. S. Lewis wrote: “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”

It could be that we don’t give the devil enough credit for the evil that takes place in this world. HE IS BEHIND ALL EVIL, DON’T YOU KNOW? Murder, crimes, violence, abuse, wickedness, etc.

Ephesians 6:10-12 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

I Peter 5:8-9 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Brothers and sisters, we are war! The devil is out to slay you and me! He wants to trick us and trip us up anyway he can in order to get us off track and away from the Lord. And our only hope and help is in the strength of the Lord. WE GET OUR STRENGTH FROM HIM.

The more we submit to the Lord, the less we ll give in to the devil! He alone is our shield and strength against the forces of evil in this world!


8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.

No one likes to move from one city to another. Moving is a pain. It’s a lot of work. And moving from where we are to where God is also a lot of work. In fact, it’s so much work that most people don’t want to do it. Some people don’t want to repent from their sin and turn to Christ. Even though they may believe the message of the Bible and the gospel, but they may well resist it.

ILL.- One time a preacher announced there were 726 different sins listed in the Bible. Soon afterward, he received lots of requests from people who wanted that list of sins because they thought they were missing out on something!

Some people are having too much fun in this world to repent and turn to Christ. They don’t want to give up what they are doing and where they are in life in order to do what God wants them to do!

DO YOU KNOW OF ANYONE LIKE THAT? They are having too much fun drinking, partying, or maybe even just playing around in life in order to do the will of God.

ILL.- I recently talked to a 33 year old man who is a Christian but he said just eight years earlier he was lost and was something of a womanizer, that is, until God got his attention and he gave his life to Christ. I don’t know how God got his attention but this is something that needs to happen to all people.

ILL.- When I totaled my 1955 Chevrolet when I was only 18-19 years old, believe me, that got my attention. I had been raised in the Baptist church and knew that I needed to give my life to Christ but hadn’t done that yet. And I thought, “What if I had been killed tonight?” It was scary thought and incident that I think God used to help get my attention. I wasn’t a bad guy but I was a sinner and I needed Christ to save me!

Some people want God on their terms and not His terms. How so? They might think or say, “I will go to church when I want to go to church.” Or maybe, “I will read the Bible if I want to. If I don’t, I won’t.” Or again, “I am not going to give any money to the church. They have enough already.” Or perhaps, “I am not going to help do anything in the church. Let George do it.”

ILL. – C. S. Lewis wrote: There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.”

But the problem is in having it our way! Having life our way, like Frank Sinatra singing, “I did it my way,” is always the way of trouble! If we want God then self must be pushed out of the picture of our lives.

ILL.- Preacher Billy Sunday said, “Deathbed repentance is burning the candle of life in the service of the devil, and then blowing the smoke into the face of God.”

Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We submit to God by moving from a sinful, self-serving life to Christ. When we move toward God He will most definitely move toward us and move in us.


Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Wash your hands. Do you have OCD? Obsessive compulsive disorder. One sign of this for some people is that they constantly wash their hands. I like clean hands and a clean body but of course, James is talking about a different kind of cleanliness.

When we sin, we need cleansing, we need purification. And there is only place to get that cleansing.

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

ILL.- Marvin Vincent wrote: Mere sorrow which weeps and sits still is not repentance. Repentance is sorrow converted into action, and a movement toward a new and better life.

Genuine repentance means that we are willing to allow the Lord to do a good work in our lives, but first, he has to cleanse us from our sins. He does that when we surrender to Christ in faith and obedience.

True repentance means that we must do something to allow God to cleanse us and work in us. This is a matter of works, it’s a matter of surrendering to the will of God.

Wash your hands, you sinners. YOU WASH YOUR HANDS. You do something in order to be cleansed by God.

This is why Peter said these words in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ….”

To repent and be baptized are matters of action which people must do in order to surrender to Christ and be cleansed.

Grieve, mourn and wail. Not every person that comes to Christ will literally grieve or mourn over their sins, BUT SOME PEOPLE SHOULD! And some may only do it on the inside, but it should be done. If a person isn’t broken over their sins, how then can they be saved from their sins?

While most of the world finds sin to be a funny thing, as in late night comedian jokes, etc., the person who is truly seeking God in life is upset, broken or perhaps horrified over sin.

Ephesians 5:3-4 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

Humble yourselves before the Lord. This is so vitally important. No proud person can be saved. We all must go down in order to go up. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

We may not be like the prodigal son who found himself in the hog pen, eating what they ate, but we all need to humble ourselves before God and Christ in order to be cleansed of our lives. And this is, I think, a daily thing that should happen. As in, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” If you can’t see the need to pray that prayer every day then something is wrong with your heart!

We submit to God by grieving over our sins and the sins of the world.


D.L. Moody said, “We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.” God can’t use anyone unless they recognize how small and sinful they are.

Someone else wrote: The best way to know God’s will is to say “I will” to God. Saying “I will” to God is the best thing any of us can do. Saying “I will” or “I submit” brings life to our lives! Amen!


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