We live in a culture that devalues, on a daily basis, the idea of submission. The word “submit” is defined as, “to give over or yield to the power or authority of another” (Webster). The humanistic mentality of “do whatever feels good to you,” has so integrated itself into our society that submission is now considered a bad word in many ideological circles. This has been especially true within the realm of American “religion.” The approach of most of the religious community is to find something you like, regardless of what is taught or practiced, and stay there until you are in the mood for something else. There is no hint of a necessity to submit to anyone or anything; it is completely self serving.
However, the Bible paints a very different picture of the attributes one must incorporate to be pleasing to God. There is great emphasis placed upon the need for one to submit before they can be acceptable to the Creator. Consider the words of Paul when he wrote to the Romans: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God forIsraelis, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:1-3). Paul indicates that the people ofIsraelas a whole had not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. It is equally evident that submission has a role in man’s response to God if he is to be deemed acceptable. Consider two factors evidenced from this passage concerning submission.
Submission requires knowledge. Submission is an intentional act and cannot be given accidently or passively. Therefore, in order for one to be able to submit, that individual must first have knowledge of that to which they are submitting. Paul reveals that the Israelites of his day were “ignorant of God’s righteousness,” (Rom. 10:3). Their lack of knowledge and understanding concerning the New Covenant had hindered their ability to submit themselves to God. Instead, they established their own values of righteousness which did not match those he had given.
Unfortunately, many in the religious world today are guilty of the same error. They have not taken the time to truly study and meditate upon the Word of God. As a result, instead of submitting themselves to the will of God, they have created their own will and made themselves subservient to their own creations and philosophies. This being the case, the only way man can get to where he should be is to come to a knowledge and understanding of the truth and submit himself to it.
Man cannot be pleasing to God without submission. In our society, we loathe any individual who feels he has authority over us. That individual is usually beaten aback with such phrases as, “you can’t tell me what to do!” This attitude pervades the religious world today to such a degree that it is easy to see why there are so many “religious” bodies.
However, if we desire to be found righteous, there is only one way it can be accomplished: through submission. If we are not willing to submit ourselves to God we will not be of the mind-set that will allow us to follow through with all He has commanded. James wrote, “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God… Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you… Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (Jam.4:6-8, 10). Our relationship with God is dependant upon our willingness to humble ourselves through submission to His will.
The role of submission in righteousness is of the utmost importance. It must be based upon knowledge of what God requires and a conscious focus upon acquiescence to His commandments, whatever they may be.