“Submit yourselves therefore to God.”—James 4:7.
THIS ADVICE SHOULD NOT NEED much pressing. “Submit yourselves unto God“—is it not right upon the very face of it? Is it not wise? Does not conscience tell us that we ought to submit? Does not reason bear witness that it must be best to do so?
“Submit yourselves unto God.” Should not the creature be submissive to the Creator, to whom it owes its existence, without whom it had never been, and without whose continuous good pleasure it would at once cease to be? Our Creator is infinitely good, and his will is love: to submit to one who is “too wise to err, too good to be unkind,” should not be hard. If he were a tyrant it might be courageous to resist, but since he is a Father it is ungrateful to rebel. He cannot do anything which is not perfectly just, nor will he do aught which is inconsistent with the best interests of our race; therefore to resist him is to contend against one’s own advantage, and, like the untamed bullock, to kick against the pricks to our own hurt.
“Submit yourselves unto God“—it is what angels do, what kings and prophets have done, what the best of men delight in—there is therefore no dishonor nor sorrow in so doing. All nature is submissive to his laws; suns and stars yield to his behests, we shall but be in harmony with the universe in willingly bowing to his sway.
“Submit yourselves unto God“—you must do it whether you are willing to do so or not. Who can stand out against the Almighty? For puny man to oppose the Lord is for the chaff to set itself in battle array with the wind, or for the tow to make war with the flame. As well might man attempt to turn back the tide of ocean, or check the march of the hosts of heaven as dream of overcoming the Omnipotent. The Eternal God is irresistible, and any rebellion against his government must soon end in total defeat. By the mouth of his servant Isaiah the Lord challenges his enemies, saying, “Who would set the briars and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.” God will be sure to overthrow his adversaries: he may in his infinite patience permit the rebel to continue for a while in his revolt, but as surely as the Lord liveth he will compel every knee to bow before him, and every tongue to confess that he is the living God.
“Submit yourselves unto God.” Who would do otherwise, since not to submit is injurious now, and will be fatal in the end? If we oppose the Most High, our opposition must lead on to defeat and destruction, for the adversaries of the Lord shall be as the fat of rams, into smoke shall they consume away. For the man who strives with his Maker there remains a fearful looking for of judgment and the dread reward of everlasting punishment. Who will be so foolhardy as to provoke such a result?
“Submit yourselves unto God” is a precept which to thoughtful men is a plain dictate of reason, and it needs few arguments to support it. Yet because of our foolishness the text enforces it by a “Therefore,” which “Therefore” is to be found in the previous verse,—”He resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.” His wrath and his mercy both argue for submission. We are both driven and drawn to it. The Romans were wont to say of their empire that its motto was to spare the vanquished, but to war continually against the proud. This saying aptly sets forth the procedure of the Most High. He aims all his arrows at the lofty, and turns the edge of his sword against the stubborn; but the moment he sees signs of submission his pity comes to the front, and through the merits of his Son his abounding mercy forgives the fault. Is not this an excellent reason for submission? Who can refuse to be vanquished by love? Who will not say as our hymn puts it—CONTINUE TO SPURGEON ARCHIVE
“Lord, thou hast won, at length I yield;
My heart, by mighty grace compell’d,
Surrenders all to thee;
Against thy terrors long I strove,
But who can stand against thy love?
Love conquers even me.”