Submission as Freedom: Part 1

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You are in for a major treat over the next three days and we have a man of both “heart and pen” with us. 


I first met Chad Berry when he spent several weeks in Taiwan one summer. Originally from Alabama, Chad ended up on a team of volunteers from South Carolina. Isn’t it just like our Father to have his future wife on that Carolina team?


Previously with the Tuscaloosa News, Chad now writes for a large overseas organization. Get ready to eat heartily as he opens James 4:7 to us in a fresh way.





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


James’ letter is often hailed for its practicality and straightforward, God-inspired wisdom. Today’s verse is a prime example. In just 14 (English) words, it captures the essence of living as a follower of Jesus. The ramifications are massive. It is as forceful today as it must have been to the 1st century church. 


Really, the admonition in this verse goes back even further, to the Fall (Gen. 3). God gives a command. The devil tempts Adam and Eve. Instead of resisting the devil, submitting to God and obeying his command, they rebel against their Creator, believe the father of lies and sin. The rest is history, with us in rebellion against God. 


Our world today is certainly reflective of this, making James 4:7 seem as “countercultural” as ever. Especially in the West, the idea of “submitting” and “resisting” goes against the norm.




 I don’t think so.


I don’t have to submit to anyone and do anything I don’t want to do. Authority is not to be trusted.


Resist temptation? No, we prefer “if it feels good, do it.”  It’s all about me anyway. Sin, if it really exists, is a subjective thing. What’s wrong for you may be right for me. We have natural impulses – why would it be wrong to follow them? The boundaries of absolute truth are ever constricting. We live out our self-made, self-centered theologies. 


This is the world we live in and the air we breathe. Following Christ and teaching others to do the same takes place in a context that goes against what we see every day and, indeed, against our sinful nature. Now, let’s look at this verse…


Submit yourselves, therefore, to God.”


It’s always good practice to go back and look at what “therefore” refers to. In this case, it’s the preceding verse:


But he gives us more grace…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (4:6). 


As we submit to God, we should remember and reflect on God’s grace. The Fall wasn’t the end of the story! Jesus came to redeem (“buy us back”) us from our sins, and did so at the cost of his life and rose again, triumphing over death and sin. If you are a believer, God has graciously worked in your heart to awaken you to this gloriously good news and recognize (submit to!) him as Lord and Savior.


How does submission grant you hope?