James 4:7


This passage is a powerful and heart-stirring appeal to those professing Christians whose hearts had been full of worldly "pleasures" (ver. 3), and whose hands had been occupied with "wars and fightings." Within these four verses there are no fewer than ten verbs in the imperative mood; but the cardinal precept of the whole paragraph is the exhortation to submission, with which it both opens and closes. The other counsels in vers. 7-9 have reference to elements of conduct which are included in subjection to the Divine will.

I. THE DUTY OF SUBMISSION TO GOD. (Vers. 7, 10.) The immediate connection of "therefore" in ver. 7 is with the quotation at the close of ver. 6. "God sets himself in array against the proud; therefore, be subject unto God." You must either willingly humble yourselves, or be precipitately humbled by Divine Providence. "God giveth grace to the humble; therefore, be subject unto God." Clothe yourselves with humility, that you may enjoy this "grace." "Be subject" to the Captain of your salvation, as a good soldier is to his commander. Subjection to God includes:

1. Acquiescence in his plan of salvation. These Christian Jews of the Dispersion were to' avoid the sin of the Hebrew nation generally, in "not subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). And we "sinners of the Gentiles" must throw away that pride of self-righteousness which tempts us also to reject a method of redemption from which all boasting is excluded. We must make the blood of Jesus our only plea, and surrender our hearts to the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit.

2. Obedience to his law. If we submit ourselves to the righteousness of God in the gospel, we shall begin to reverence and admire and obey the moral law. We shall be willing that God should reign over us and rule within us. We shall allow him to control us in body and mind, in intellect and conscience, in heart and will, in act and habit. We shall forsake our sins. We shall long and labor to be holy.

3. Acceptance of his dealings in providence. We are to be contented with the lot in life which God has assigned to us. We are to be willing to receive evil as well as good at his hand. We must bear affliction patiently, not because it is useless to murmur, but because it is wrong to do so. In our times of sorrow we must not challenge God's sovereignty, or impugn his justice, or arraign his wisdom, or distrust his love. The spirit of Christian submission says, "Let us also rejoice in our tribulations" (Romans 5:3).

II. ELEMENTS OF CHARACTER WHICH ENTER INTO THIS SUBMISSION. These are set forth in the body of the passage (vers. 7-9).

1. We must resist Satan. (Ver. 7.) To "be subject unto God" necessarily involves resistance to God's great enemy. Human nature has in it the element of combativeness; and the greater any man's force of character, he is likely to be the more thorough a hater. But the Christian should not "fight and war" with his fellow-believers; his quarrel is to be with Satan, and with Satan's works. We are to "resist" the devil; we must not dispute or parley with him. We must not "give place" to him (Ephesians 4:27) by cherishing covetousness or envy; for, if we allow him any place at all, he may speedily take possession of the entire area of the heart. If, on the contrary, we "stand up against" Satan, "he will flee" from us. The power of the truth, the power of faith, the power of prayer, will silence his artillery. There is no giant temptation which may not be overcome with some small stone out of the brook of Holy Scripture, if we hurl it from the sling of faith, and with an arm guided by the Holy Spirit.

2. We must come near to God. (Ver. 8.) The design of all Satan's assaults is to prevent us from doing so; and the best way in which to "resist" him is resolutely to "draw nigh." What a blessed privilege to us sinners to be allowed to approach to the holy, just, and merciful Jehovah! He has opened for us a new and living way of access by the blood of Jesus. We draw near

(1) when we pray, for prayer is just the converse of the soul with God;

(2) when our deepest soul-longings go out towards him, who alone can be our Portion; and

(3) when, along with our supplications and our heart-yearnings, we live a pure and godly life. Nor shall any man who truly seeks God seek him in vain. God will be propitious to him, and visit him, and take up his abode with him.

3. We must put away our sins. (Vers. 8, 9.) For we cannot really "draw nigh" to God if we persist in hugging them. The act of coming near involves repentance; it carries with it resolutions and endeavors after amendment. We must "cleanse our hands" from the open sins of which our neighbors may be cognizant, and "purify our hearts" from those secret faults which are known only to God. Self-loathing should possess us when we realize our covetousness and double-mindedness, our divided affections and unstable spiritual purposes. Our repentance must be such as to involve us in misery; and we must cry out to God for pardon. Does any one object that we have in this a somewhat gloomy picture of the religious life? The answer is, that such is only a representation of it upon one side. Here we see the shadows of the life of grace; but its shadows are only the reflection of its joys. It is a blessed mourning of which the text speaks; and they that mourn thus "shall be comforted." Godly repentance is the true humility; and it conducts to the highest exaltation. "He shall exalt you" (ver. 10), giving you always "more grace" in this life, and a rich reversion of glory in the life to come. - C.J.







Submit yourselves therefore to God.
I. THE DUTY OF SUBMITTING OURSELVES TO GOD. This submission has its commencement and abiding root in the reception of Christ as a Saviour. The natural heart rebels against a gratuitous justification, against the renunciation of every personal claim, and the acceptance of a salvation for which we are wholly indebted to the mercy of God and the merit of Jesus. It cannot brook the humiliation of taking all as a free gift — of standing on what is not our own, but another's, and of having nothing to boast of, nothing to glory in, but that despised object, the Cross. When we receive Him as the end of the law for righteousness, the old, proud, stubborn spirit yields, is dispossessed, and a new, meek, compliant one succeeds. The surrender thus made is not a temporary or an isolated thing; no, it is both permanent and productive — it abides and fructifies. It leads to a lasting and unlimited submission.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH, OR THE STEPS BY WHICH, THIS SUBMITTING OF OURSELVES TO GOD IS EFFECTED.

1. We must withstand Satan. If we yield a single step, he will instantly press his advantage. Instead of submission here, our constant watchword is to be resistance — uncompromising, unceasing, growing resistance. But in order to success, let us always remember two things, which are of the last importance in tats contest. We must encounter him in Divine strength. A heavenly panoply is provided for us, and no other can enable us to conquer. We must, above all, take the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. The Divine Word, firmly believed and wisely applied, is invincible.

2. We must approach God. Thus only can we be enabled to resist the devil. Not otherwise can we render submission and have it accepted. He will meet your advance, He will not keep aloof from you, whatever your past inconsistency, unfaithfulness — your going hack to the world, your covetous, adulterous solicitation of its friendship. Does this imply that it is not God but man himself who takes the initiative and the lead in the matter? Does he make the first advance? No; it is always and necessarily from God. He is ever the prime mover, not only preceding but actuating us; not only drawing nigh before us but prompting, causing our drawing nigh, whensoever anything of the kind really takes place. His grace brings us; His Spirit sweetly yet efficaciously disposes and enables us to approach. He must visit and quicken us before we turn our faces, or take a single step Zionward. But coming near to God implies certain feelings and exercises — a state of mind and heart suited to a proceeding so decisive and momentous. There must be preparatory to it, or rather involved in it, the putting away of sin. Hence James couples with the call to draw nigh to Him the injunction, "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." We are certainly not to interpret this in the sense that we can enter the holiest only after we have thus purged away our filthiness. In that case we should never approach God at all; for it is only by coming to Him that we can get the strength necessary for the purpose. We can sanctify ourselves by His grace alone — by it sought and obtained. But we are to draw nigh ever with sincere desires to be delivered from all sin; and not less with strenuous endeavours actually to forsake every evil way, to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. There must also be godly sorrow for sin. The renunciation of it can be made only through unfeigned and profound contrition. We cannot put this evil thing away without grieving over it, feeling how bitter and dreadful it is, how dishonouring to God and destructive to ourselves. A great variety of expression is here employed to intimate that the repentance must be real, deep, thorough. "Be afflicted" — be distressed, be wretched. Let sin weigh heavily upon you, making you sad, miserable in spirit. "Mourn and weep." Be not sullen. Keep not silence. Let not emotion be shut up, but allowed to flow forth in all its natural and proper channels. "Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness," or humiliation. The term literally signifies the casting down of the eyes, which is indicative of dejection or shame. Having thus unfolded the steps by which they were to render submission, he returns to the point from which he started. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up" (ver. 10). The one exhortation is substantially the same as the other. We are to abase ourselves, to cast away our pride, to Come down from our loftiness. We are to do it before God, in His presence. And what encouragement have we to comply with the call in the assurance, the promise by which it is accompanied? "And He shall lift you up." He shall honour you here and hereafter, conferring on you, as His children, present grace and future glory — now the foretastes, then the full fruition of heavenly blessedness.

(John Adam.)

We frequently meet with persons who tell us that they cannot find peace with God. They have been bidden to believe in the Lord Jesus, but they misunderstand the command, and, while they think the), are obeying it, they are really unbelievers; hence they miss the way of peace. They attempt to pray, but their petitions are not answered, and their supplications yield them no comfort whatever, for neither their faith nor their prayer is accepted of the Lord. Such persons are described by James in the third verse of this chapter. We cannot be content to see seekers in this wretchedness, and hence we endeavour to comfort them, instructing them again and again in the great gospel precept, "Believe and live": yet as a rule they get no further, but linger in an unsatisfactory condition. We will go to the root of the matter, and set forth the reason for the lack of peace and salvation of which some complain.

I. First hearken to THE COMPREHENSIVE COMMAND. "Submit yourselves therefore to God." According to the connection, the fighting spirit within many men shows that they have not submitted themselves to God; lusting, envy, strife, contention, jealousy, anger, all these things declare that the heart is not submissive, but remains violently self-willed and rebellious. Those who are still wrathful, proud, contentious, and selfish, are evidently unsubdued. A want of submission is no new or rare fault in mankind; ever since the fall it has been the root of all sin. Man wants to be his own law, and his own master. This is abominable, since we are not our own makers; for "it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves." The Lord should have supremacy over us, for our existence depends on His will. The hemlock of sin grows in the furrows of opposition to God. When the Lord is pleased to turn the hearts of opposers to the obedience of the truth, it is an evident token of salvation; in fact, it is the dawn of salvation itself. To submit to God is to find rest. The rule of God is so beneficial that He ought readily to be obeyed. He never commands us to do that which, in the long run, can be injurious to us; nor does He forbid us anything which can be to our real advantage. All resistance against God must, from the necessity of the case, be futile. Common sense teaches that rebellion against Omnipotence is both insanity and blasphemy. And then let it always be known that submission to God is absolutely necessary to salvation. A man is not saved until he bows before the supreme majesty of God. Now, it is generally in this matter of submission that the stumbling-block lies in the way of souls when seeking peace with God. It keeps them unsaved, and as I have already said, necessarily so, because a man who is not submissive to God is not saved; he is not saved from rebellion, he is not saved from pride, he is still evidently an unsaved man, let him "think whatever he will of himself.

1. Now, in the saved man there is and must be a full and unconditional submission to the law of God. If you say in your heart, "He is too strict in marking sin, and too severe in punishing it," what is this but condemning your Judge? If you say, "He calls me to account for idle words, and even for sins of ignorance, and this is hard," what is this but to call your Lord unjust? Should the law be amended to suit your desires? Should its requirements be accommodated to ease your indolence?

2. And before a man can have peace with God he must submit himself to the sentence of the law. If your plea be "not guilty," you will be committed for trial according to justice, but you cannot be forgiven by mercy. You are in a hopeless position; God Himself cannot meet you upon that ground, for He cannot admit that the law is unrighteous and its penalty too heavy.

3. A man must next submit himself to the plan of salvation by grace alone. If you come with anything like a claim the Lord will not touch the case at all, for you have no claim, and the pretence of one would be an insult to God. If you fancy you have demands upon God, go into the court of justice and plead them, but the sentence is certain to be against you, for by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified.

4. You must also submit yourselves to God's way of saving you through an atoning sacrifice and by means of your personal faith in that sacrifice.

5. And then there must be full submission to God in the matter of giving up every sin. Either you must cast sin out of your heart or it will keep you out of heaven.

6. If we would be saved there must be submission to the Lord as to all His teachings; a very necessary point in this age, for a multitude of persons, who appear to be religious, judge the Scriptures instead of allowing the Scriptures to judge them.

7. And now I must ask another question of you who desire peace and cannot find it: have you submitted yourself to the providential arrangements of God? I know persons who have a quarrel with God. He took away a beloved object, and they not only thought Him unkind and cruel at the time, but they think so still. Like a child in a fit of the sulks, they cast an evil eye upon the great Father. They are not at peace, and never will be till they have owned the Lord's supremacy, and ceased from their rebellious thoughts. If they were in a right state of heart they would thank the Lord for their sharp trials, and consent to His will, as being assuredly right. Yield yourselves unto God, and pray to be delivered from future rebellion. If you have submitted, do so yet more completely, for so shall you be known to be Christians when you submit yourselves unto God.

II. Now consider the other and FOLLOWING PRECEPTS. I think I am not suspicious without reason when I express a fear that the preaching which has lately been very common, and in some respects very useful, of "only believe and you shall be saved," has sometimes been altogether mistaken by those who have heard it. Repentance is as essential to salvation as faith: indeed there is no faith without repentance except the faith which needs to be repented of. A dry-eyed faith will never see the kingdom of God. A holy loathing for sin always attends upon a childlike faith in the Sin-bearer. Where the root grace of faith is found other graces will grow from it. Now notice how the Spirit of God, after having bidden us submit, goes on to show what else is to be done. He calls for a brave resistance of the devil.

1. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." The business of salvation is not all passive, the soul must be aroused to active warfare. I am not only to contend with sin, but with the spirit which foments and suggests sin. I am to resist the secret spirit of evil as well as its outward acts. "Oh," saith one, "I cannot give up an inveterate habit." Sir, you must give it up; you must resist the devil or perish. "But I have been so long in it," cries the man. Yes, but if you truly trust Christ your first effort will be to fight against the evil habit. Ay, and if it is not a habit merely, nor an impulse, but if your danger lies in the existence of a cunning spirit who is armed at all points, and both strong and subtle, yet you must not yield, but resolve to resist to the death, cheered by the gracious promise that he will flee from you.

2. Next the apostle writes, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." lie who believes in Christ sincerely will be much in prayer; yet there are some who say, "We want to be saved," but they neglect prayer.

3. The next precept is, "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners." What! does the Word of God tell sinners to cleanse their hands and purify their hearts? Yes, it does. When a man comes to God and says, "I am willing and anxious to be saved, and I trust Christ to save me," and yet he keeps his dirty, black hands exercised in filthy actions, doing what he knows is wrong, does he expect God to hear him? If you do the devil's work with your hands, do not expect the Lord to fill them with His blessing.

4. Then it is added, "Purify your hearts, ye double-minded." Can they do this? Assuredly not by themselves, but still in order to peace with God there must be so much purification of the heart that it shall no longer be double-minded. When you cease trying to serve two masters, and submit yourselves unto God, He will bless you, but not till then. I believe that this touches the centre of the mischief in many of those hearts which fail to reach peace; they have not given up sin, they are not whole-hearted after salvation.

5. Then the Lord bids us "be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness." I grieve to say that I have met with persons who say, "I cannot find peace, I cannot get salvation," and talk very prettily in that way; but yet outside the door they are giggling one with another, as if it were matter of amusement. What right have you with laughter while sin is unforgiven, while God is angry with you? Nay, go to Him in fitter form and fashion, or He will refuse your prayers. Be serious, begin to think of death, and judgment, and wrath to come.

6. Then the Lord sums up His precepts by saying, "Humble yourselves in the sight of God." There must be a deep and lowly prostration of the spirit before God. If your heart has never been broken, how can He bind it up? If it was never wounded, how can He heal it?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE DUTY REQUIRED. We are to submit ourselves unto God.

1. The first step in submission to God has respect to the truths of revelation. The cordial reception of these, however sublime or profound, however obscure or clear, lies at the foundation of all personal religion. It is no degradation of our reason to make it submissive to what God has spoken, although we may not be able fully to understand it in all its bearings. God only wise must know better than man, and therefore the scholar must bow, and not the Teacher.

2. But the submission particularly intended here, has respect to the discipline of God. Does any one ask for illustration? It was displayed by Aaron who held his peace when his two sons fell in death, judicially smitten down by the righteous decree of God. It was evinced by king Hezekiah, who, when the prophet announced the impending destruction of the monarch and his throne, replied to the terrible intelligence — "Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken." It was exhibited in the placid spirit of the sorrow-smitten David, when, amidst the cursings of Shimei who was a ringleader in the conspiracy of Absolom, he said to his faithful servant Abishai — "Let him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him." It was seen in the meek and placid spirit of Eli when rebuked for his remissness of parental authority, and the ephod was to be taken from his family, he exclaimed in words of exemplary resignation, "it is the Lord, let Him do as seemeth Him good." It was apparent in the conduct of Job, when messenger after messenger brought him the dismal tidings of the destruction of his cattle, his servants, and his children, "he fell down upon the ground and worshipped, and said — the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." And more than all, it is the spirit and temper of Him who said — "The cup which My father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" Such are instances of resignation. It is the filial submission of the will and the heart to a parent's conduct. It is the enlightened and sanctified acquiescence of our inner nature with the dealings of God, under the conviction that all His ways are just and good, and that He has our welfare in view by every trial He sends us.

II. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH THE DUTY OF SUBMISSION IS COMMENDED AND REQUIRED.

1. The first is the universal disposal of a righteous and gracious providence. There is no truth clearer to the thoughtful mind than this, that nothing can be beyond the notice or the power of God; and yet there is no truth less practically received by a large part of mankind.

2. Submission is our duty — our reasonable duty, as sinful and dependent creatures. Can a child span with its little fingers the vast expanse of the heavens? Can a mortal hand grasp the globe in its palm? Just as easily can our finite minds take in the entire scheme of Him who is wonderful in counsel and mighty in working.

3. The third ground of submission is the great doctrine of redemption. The love of One who has loved us, suffered and died for us, snatched us from the verge of everlasting woe, placed us beneath the light of the loving-kindness and tender mercy of God, called us to seek and find, if we will, a crown of heavenly glory — may well constrain us to submit for a little while to a discipline which He judges necessary to train us for the inheritance He has procured for all the redeemed.

4. Another consideration on which this duty is founded is that repining is as fruitless as it is sinful.

(H. Hunter.)

1. The thing enjoined is submission to God, proceeding from humility, than which nothing is or can be more acceptable unto Him, nothing more commendable among men. Men submit themselves unto God divers ways.(1) In obediently and reverently yielding themselves to His Word and will, in hearing what He commandeth and carefully performing what He enjoineth.(2) As by obeying His will men submit themselves unto God, so by yielding themselves to God's pleasure, to do with them after His will, men likewise submit themselves unto Him.(3) Neither thus only submit men themselves unto God, but also when they bear with patience the cross which the Lord layeth upon them, then submit men themselves to God.

2. The next thing in this first part of duty is the contrary: we must submit ourselves to God, but we must resist the devil also. Wherein we are taught whither all our strivings must tend, even to the withstanding of Satan, with whom we have continual war, and therefore ought we wholly to bend ourselves with all might against him.(1) Now the devil is sundry ways resisted of men, first by faith in Jesus Christ, wherewith we are armed, stand fast without wavering, and thereby resist the assaults of Satan.(2) As we resist him by faith, so also we resist him by prayer, when in our manifold temptations we fly by prayer unto God for succour against the devil — our ancient enemy.(3) Moreover the saints resist the devil when they earnestly give themselves over to the study of virtue and practice of godliness, serving the Lord in righteousness and true holiness of life. Hereby all entry for Satan is shut up; hereby all holes of our hearts are stopped so that he cannot invade us.(4) Satan is, besides this, resisted of the saints when they oppose the law and commandment, the will and the Word of God, to his suggestions and wicked temptations.(5) To conclude, this our enemy is resisted by the aid of God's Spirit, and by the presence of His power, whereby we subdue our enemies, therefore we are exhorted to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Therefore is the spirit of power, the spirit of might, the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of strength, the spirit of fortitude, promised by Christ, that by the help thereof, not only our mortal enemies, but our ghostly adversaries, might be resisted by us.(3) The precept and the contrary being thus set down, the third thing in the former part of duty is the reason of the contrary, why we should oppose ourselves unto Satan and set ourselves to resist him. Which reason is drawn from hope of victory: if we thus and by all means resist him then is he put to flight. Wherefore he may be compared to the crocodile who, as it is affirmed, fleeth away when a man turneth boldly unto him, but followeth very fiercely when he is not resisted. So Satan, that old dragon, that cruel crocodile, fleeth when he is resisted, but followeth us hardly when we give place unto him.

(R. Turnbull.)

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" — it is what angels do, what kings and prophets have done, what the best of men delight in — there is therefore no dishonour nor sorrow in so doing. All nature is submissive to His laws; suns and stars yield to His behests, we shall be but 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?" 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. 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?

I. To THE PEOPLE OF GOD, "Submit yourselves unto God." He is your God, your Father, your Friend, yield yourselves to Him. What does this counsel mean?

1. It means, first, exercise humility. The right position of a Christian is to walk with lowly humility, before God, and with meekness towards his fellow-Christians. The lowest room becomes us most, and the lowest seat in that room.

2. Let us next observe that our text bears a second meaning, namely, that of submission to the Divine will — that of course would strike you in the wording of the verse, "Submit yourselves therefore to God." Be willing to accept whatever God appoints. It is a happy thing when the mind is brought to submit to all the chastisements of God, and to acquiesce in all the trials of His providence. Knowing as we do that all these things work together for our good, and that we never endure a smart more than our heavenly Father knows to be needful, we are bound to submit ourselves cheerfully to all that He appoints. Though no trial for the present is joyous, but grievous, yet ought we to resign ourselves to it because of its after results.

3. It means also obedience. Do not merely passively lie back and yield to the necessities of the position, but gird up the loins of your mind, and manifest a voluntary and active submission to your great Lord. It is not ours to question, that were to become masters; but ours it is to obey without questioning, even as soldiers do. Submission to our Lord and Saviour will be manifested by ready obedience: delays are essentially insubordinations, and neglects are a form of rebellion.

4. "Submit yourselves to God" by yielding your hearts to the motions of the Divine Spirit; by being impressible, sensitive, and easily affected. The Spirit of God has hard work with many Christians to lead them in the right way; they are as the horse and the mule which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle. There is the stout oak in the forest, and a hurricane howls through it, and it is not moved, but the rush by the river yields to the faintest breath of the gale. Now, though in many things ye should be as the oak and not as the rush, yet in this thing be ye as the bulrush and be moved by the slightest breathing of the Spirit of God. The photographer's plates are rendered sensitive by a peculiar process: you shall take another sheet of glass and your friend shall stand before it as long as ever he likes, and there will be no impression produced, at least none which will be visible to the eye; but the sensitive plate will reveal every little wrinkle of the face and perpetuate every hair of the head. Oh, to be rendered sensitive by the Spirit of God, and we can be made so by submitting ourselves entirely to His will.

II. I desire now to address myself TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT SAVED, but have some desire to be so. You tell me that you have been anxious about your soul for some time, but have made no headway. It is very possible that the reason is this, that you have not submitted yourself to God; you are trying to do when the best thing would be to cease from yourself and drop into the hand of the Saviour who is able to save you, though you cannot save yourself. For a proud heart the very hardest thing is to submit. "How, then, am I to submit?" says one: "To what shall I submit, and in what respects?"

1. Well, first, submit thyself, if thou wouldest be saved, to the Word of God. Believe it to be true. Believing it to be true, yield thyself to its force.

2. Yield thyself, next, to thy conscience. He was a fool who killed the watch-dog because it alarmed him when thieves were breaking into his house. If conscience upbraid thee, feel its upbraiding and heed its rebuke. It is thy best friend; faithful are its friendly wounds, but the kisses of a flattering enemy are deceitful.

3. God also sends many messengers. To some of you He has sent the tenderest of monitors. Hearken to their admonitions and regard their kind warnings, for they mean good to thy soul. Remember, God has other messengers whom He will send if these loving ones do not suffice. He will soon send thee a sterner summons. Be not so foolish as to provoke Him so to do.

4. Moreover, submit yourselves to God, since He has, perhaps, already sent His messengers in sterner shapes to you. It was but a few days ago that you lost your old friend. Is there no voice from that new-made grave to you? Methinks your friend in his sudden end was a warning to you to be ready for the like departure! You have also yourself suffered from premonitory symptoms of sickness; perhaps you have actually been sick, and been made to lie where your only prospect was eternity; a dread eternity, how surely yours. I charge you, hear the voice of these providences; listen to these solemn calls,

5. Above all, I pray you submit yourselves, if you are conscious of such things, to the whispers of God's Holy Spirit. The worst man that lives has his better moments, the most careless has some serious thoughts: there are lucid intervals in the madness of carnal pleasure. At such times men hear what they call" their better selves." It is hardly so. I prefer to call it the general reprovings of God's Spirit in their souls. "Submit yourselves to God." If you ask me again, "In what respect am I to submit myself?"(1) I answer, first submit yourself by confessing your sin. Cry peccavi. Condemn yourself and you shall not be condemned. Confess the indictment to be true, for true it is, and to deny it is to seal your doom.(2) Next, honour the law which condemns you. Do not persevere in picking holes in it and saying that it is too severe, and requires too much of a poor fallible creature. The law is holy, and just, and good.(3) Next, own the justice of the penalty. Confess with thy heart, "If my soul were sent to hell it is no more than I deserve." It will go well with you when you make a full capitulation, an unconditional surrender. Fling wide the gates of the city of Mansoul, and admit the prince Emmanuel to rule as sole sovereign in every street in the city. Thou shall find grace in the sight of the Lord if thou wilt do this.(4) Furthermore, submit yourself to God's way of saving you. Now God's way of saving you is by His grace, not by your merits; by the blood of Jesus, not by your tears and sufferings. He bids you trust His Son Jesus; will you do so or not? If you will not, there is no hope for you; if you will, you are saved the moment that you believe — saved from the guilt of sin by trusting Jesus.(5) You must also surrender yourself at discretion to His method of operating upon you. He tells thee plainly, "If thou believest on the Lord Jesus Christ thou shall be saved." Wilt thou believe or no? For if thou dost not, neither dreams, nor visions, nor terrors, nor anything else can save thee.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. Man must "submit himself" to God as the God of the gospel. In dealing with men as sinners, the offended, but most merciful, Majesty of heaven has proposed certain terms as those on which alone He will receive any guilty soul into peace and favour with Himself. These terms are admirably fitted to harmonise the salvation of the sinner with the righteousness of God's government and the threatenings of His law. But pride, and other feelings, in the human heart, are wont to rise up against them. Many "going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." But submission to this righteousness must be realised in all who would be justified.

2. Man must submit himself to God as the Lawgiver. In offering pardon Heaven does not absolve the sinner from the moral obligation of the law. Naturally, man rises up, both against the duties which the law prescribes, and against the law which prescribes them; and even where some general submission is indicated towards both, particular parts are apt to be resisted and opposed. But the law of God is wise, and right, and good, in all its principles (James 2:11). The more arduous are as truly matters of obligation as the more easy duties. And man, as under law to God in all things, must in all things "submit" himself to Him.

3. Man must "submit himself to God" as the God of providence. Many are the considerations by which this threefold submission to God might be enforced.(1) Among these is the character of God Himself — more especially His rightful supremacy, His unerring wisdom, His unsullied justice, His irresistible power, His generous love, and His unswerving faithfulness, alike to the threatenings and the promises which He addresses to His creatures.(2) Here, by the connective word "therefore," the oracular saying, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the lowly," is brought to bear, as an enforcement, on the rule, "Submit yourselves to God." And the argument is both clear and strong. If "God sets Himself in battle array against the proud," shall a man proudly refuse to submit to Him? If "God giveth grace to the lowly," Shall not the creature yield meek submission to the Creator, and cast himself in dust and ashes at His feet?

(A. S. Patterson, D. D.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. EXPLAIN THE NATURE OF THE SUBMISSION HERE ENJOINED.

1. We should submit to God in His authoritative sway.

2. We should submit to God in His gracious influences.

3. Submit yourselves to God in His providential dispensations.

II. URGE THE REASONS FOR REDUCING IT TO PRACTICE.

1. We urge it from a consideration of the greatness and goodness of the Being to whom you are called to submit.

2. We urge it on the ground of relationship and obligation.

3. We urge it for the salve of your personal happiness.

4. We urge it from a consideration of the punishment which inevitably follows the crime of non-submission to God.

(Sketches of Sermons.)

I. SOME PARTICULARS IN WHICH WE ARE TO EXERCISE SUBMISSION TO GOD.

1. We are to submit to God with respect to His providential dispensations towards us.

2. We are to submit to His commands. We may object; we may try to find excuses for disobedience, but till we thus unreservedly submit to God, He will treat us as rebels against His authority.

II. A FEW OF THE REASONS WHY WE SHOULD THUS SUBMIT TO GOD.

1. We must submit, because we can make no resistance to any of His appointments.

2. It is good for us to submit ourselves unto God, because He knows what is best for us.

3. The consequences of thus submitting to Him are —

(1)Peace in this world.

(2)Happiness in the world to come.

(B. Scott, M. A.)

There is a threefold submission to God: of our carnal hearts to His holiness; of our proud hearts to His mercy; and of our revolting hearts to His sovereignty; and all this that we may be pure, humble, and obedient.

(T. Manton.)

The submission that makes no merit of its cross; that does not venture to choose one lighter than the Lord lays on us; that does not seek the ability to bear it in the delirium of pleasure, or the drugs of the world, or the deadening influence of time and change; that does not compare your cross with those borne by others, or ask an explanation of it till the day break and the shadows flee away, but bears it all with a child's love for His sake who did not impose it till He had borne all the weight and sharpness of all the world's crosses together — this is the victory. The earth has no fatal fear, and no insupportable sorrow in it after you have come to this; you are free in a boundless liberty, strong in immortal strength, and at peace in a peace too deep for the understanding to explain, or any sufferings to disturb.

(Bp. Huntington.)

It is no less our interest than our duty to keep the mind in an habitual frame of submission. "Adam," says Dr. Hammond, "after his expulsion, was a greater slave in the wilderness than he had been in the enclosure." If the barbarian ambassador came expressly to the Romans to negotiate, on the part of his country, for permission to be their servants, declaring that a voluntary submission, even to a foreign power, was preferable to a wild and disorderly freedom, well may the Christian triumph in the peace and security to be obtained by an unreserved submission to Him who is emphatically called the God of order.

Payson was asked, when under great bodily affliction, whether he could see any particular reason for this dispensation. "No," replied he, "but I am as well satisfied as if I could see ten thousand; God's will is the very perfection of all reason."

Few things are easier than to perceive, to extol the goodness of God, the bounty of Providence, the beauties of nature, when all things go well, when our health, our spirits, our circumstances, conspire to fill our hearts with gladness, and our tongues with praise. This is easy, this is delightful, None but they who are sunk in sensuality, sottishness, and stupefaction, or whose understandings are dissipated by frivolous pursuits; none but the most giddy and insensible can be destitute of these sentiments. But this is not the trial, or the proof. It is in the chambers of sickness; under the stroke of affliction; amidst the pinchings of want, the groans of pain, the pressures of infirmity; in grief, in misfortune; through gloom and horror — that it will be seen, whether we hold fast our hope, our confidence, our trust in God; whether this hope and confidence be able to produce in us resignation, acquiescence, and submission. And as those dispositions, perhaps from the comparative perfection of our moral nature, could not have been exercised in a world of unmixed gratification, so neither would they have found their proper office or object in a state of strict and evident retribution — that is, in which we had no sufferings to submit to but what were evidently and manifestly the punishment of our sins. A mere submission to punishment, evidently and plainly such, would not have constituted — at least, would very imperfectly have constituted — the disposition which we speak of — the true resignation of a Christian.

(Paley.)

Here is a physician who has for months been tracing an obscure disease, from which he has been suffering, to its secret cause. Very acute has been the reasoning process by which he has been approaching to a certain conclusion as to the nature of the disease. At last the cause is plain. And what does he find? That an operation is necessary if he would regain health. He cheerfully puts himself into the hand of others; suffers them to reduce him to unconsciousness; leaves himself entirely in their hands; and by and by he wakens up to find, by means he had no consciousness of, the obstacle removed, and his way open to returning health. This is a rational and sober-minded process right through. And when we — convinced of our morally diseased condition, which makes it impossible for us to enter into a full and hearty appropriation of salvation — yield ourselves up in self-despair, that God may work in us to will and do, the spirit of our action is precisely that of the physician. Presently we waken up to the first glad consciousness of faith, to the joy of surrender, to the dawning realisation of a new life — begotten to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Resist the devil, and he will flee.
Homilist.
I. HERE YOU HAVE AMPLE SCOPE FOR YOUR FIGHTING INSTINCTS. "Resist the devil" —

1. As you find him on the arena of your own soul. The most terrific battles are fought within, the most illustrious victories are won there.

2. As you find him in the arena of society. He is not only in the grosser habits of life, and the corrupter institutions of society, but in literature, friendships, and even religions.

II. HERE YOU HAVE GLORIOUS ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUR FIGHTING INSTINCTS. "He will flee from you."

1. You are provided with armour before which he must flee.

2. You are associated with allies before whom he must flee.

3. You are commanded by a leader before whom he must flee.

(Homilist.)

I. THE FOE.

1. His power. Can suggest ideas to the mind. Inflame the evil desires of the soul.

2. His diligence. Continually going about as roaring lion. If repulsed a hundred times, he tries again.

3. His malice. Envies all human happiness.

4. His policy. Crafty and subtle.

5. His experience. Has long studied human nature, and practised the art of deceiving mankind.

II. THE FIGHT. "Resist" — not dispute. To parley with him is to be conquered.

1. General orders.

(1)Be sober. Physically. Mentally. Pride, anger, love of pleasure, incapacitate the soul for this warfare.

(2)Be vigilant. His time is always ready.

(3)Be united. Call in all your allies. Stand shoulder to shoulder.

2. Tried weapons.

(1)Word of God.

(2)Past experience.

(3)Earnest prayer.

3. Invincible armour (Ephesians 6:10-18).

III. THE FLIGHT.

1. This promise imports temporary flight. In this life, he flees only to rally his forces and return. But constant resistance, while it strengthens the Christian, weakens the adversary.

2. This promise implies final flight (Romans 16:20). Lessons:

1. A Christian's life is no easy one.

2. A Christian's life is a most blessed one.

(R. A. Griffin.)

Nothing is more plainly taught in the Scriptures than that men are exposed to Satanic influence. If God "worketh in Christians to will and to do," Satan is the" spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience." If the sanctified are said to be "filled with the Holy Ghost," "why," said Peter to Ananias, "hath Satan filled thy heart?" This is the being, then, whom we are commanded to resist.

1. And, among other reasons for so doing, I will mention, first, this — our ability to do it. We can resist evil. No one is compelled to sin. To each proposition of virtue and vice you finally say "Yes" or "No." Nothing brings out so sharply the personality of man as some act of sin. It brings him out into the foreground as an agent. He has the universe as the witness to his conduct. His decision is his decision, and against God, in whom all which is assailable by vice finds expression. I wish each of you, in whatever you may purpose of evil, to feel this. Upon the edge of this terrible ability to resist God plant yourself, and behold the abyss at your feet.

2. Out of this thought comes also what might be called the hopefulness of morality. The assurance, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you," is a blessed and needed one. The thought that you can succeed in keeping your hand and heart clean is a constant inspiration to persevere. The contest, as waged by every man and woman against evil, is no longer a heavy, dragging spiritless contest, but a brave and hopeful one. The current we stand in is deep, swift, and hissing; and who of us, at times, is not swayed and staggered by it? But there is no reason why, by care and effort — a careful placing of the feet, and keeping our powers well collected — we cannot make headway against it. We do make headway. The Light that has come into the world, and shined upon so many hearts, is quickening the germinal capacities of man for virtue. The race is slowly but surely forging ahead. The waters behind are white with the freshening breeze; and the purposes of God, like a mighty wind, will put an increasing pressure upon the sails, and blow them grandly along. As a fleet of great merchant-men, impelled by the steady trade winds — their yards like bars of gold, their ropes like lines of ruby — go sailing at morning towards the east and the rising sun; so the race, in all its powers and motives, will be grandly luminous as it moves on into the light of the millennium. To live ignobly is, therefore, to live unworthy of your clearest possibilities. In the waters of this assurance the dirtiest may wash and be cleansed. Only "resist evil," only stand firm, only try, and whatever of good you in your better moments crave will come to you, and abide with you, as the light of the sun to-day comes to the earth, elicting its manifold fruitage, and illuminating it from pole to pole. Yea, your life shall be like a globe belted and zoned with expressions of life; and never shall there be an hour when some portion of it shall not be in flower and fruitfulness.

3. But again: the wisdom of this injunction, "Resist the devil," is seen when you reflect that in resistance, and resistance alone, is safety. Between this and some other course there is no election; you must fight, or die. On some streams you can drift; but, in the rapids which plunge hellward, no man can lie on his back, and float; he must keep in quick nervous action, or sink.

(W. H. H. Murray.)

The enemy who meets me fairly on the field of battle is very different from the assassin who steals upon me in the dark, when unprepared, to rob me of my life. The one I may overcome, but the other nothing can shield me from but the all-watchful providence of my God. Now Satan is the assassin, and not the open enemy; how, then, is he to be resisted?

1. In the first place, we must resist him boldly and at once. There must be no parleying with him, no yielding to him even in the slightest thing, no shrinking from his attack: to shrink from him is only to make him more bold, while to resist him, resting simply on the atonement of Jesus, is to drive him from us, vanquished and overcome.

2. In the next place, we must resist the devil constantly; because he is unceasing in his assaults, we are never safe from him, no, not for an instant, under any circumstances or in any place.

3. In the next place, we must resist the devil "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." All other resistance is utterly vain: we have no power in ourselves.

4. In the next place, we must resist Satan clad in the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11, 13). Mark it well, it is not a part, but the whole armour which is to be put on; not one part of that armour must be missing, or we at once expose a point of attack to our adversary. Mark again, the armour must be put on; it is not Rive us to look at, but to use. Mark again, whence is this armour to be obtained? only from heaven.

5. Yet once more, we must resist the devil watchfully and prayerfully.

(A. W. Shape, M. A.)

1. This resistance must extend to all the variety of his temptations. We must beware of resisting him in one or more, and making this a kind of compensation for yielding to him in others.

2. He applies his temptations to those lusts and passions of the old nature which remain in us, and especially to those which, by the study of our character, he knows to be the strongest, and most apt to yield — those which "most easily beset us." The most effectual resistance we can make to him, therefore, is a constant and strenuous opposition to these — whichsoever of them we are conscious, from our experience, have most power within us. And, as his temptations are often sudden — meant to take us at unawares — this vigilance over our own hearts must be constant and unremitting — "lest he find us off our guard."

3. The resistance must be made in the strength of God.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

Luther says: "Once upon a time the devil said to me, 'Martin Luther, you are a great sinner, and you will be damned!' 'Stop! stop!' said I; one thing at a time; I am a great sinner, it is true, though you have no right to tell me it. I confess it. What next? "Therefore you will be damned." That is not good reasoning. It is true I am a great sinner, but it is written, "Jesus Christ came to save sinners"; therefore I shall be saved! Now go your way.' So I cut the devil off with his own sword, and he went away mourning because he could not cast me down by calling me a sinner."

New Cycle. of Illustrations.
A minister asked a little converted boy, "Does not the devil tell you that you are not a Christian?" "Yes, sometimes." "Well, what do you say?" "I tell him," replied the boy, "whether I am a Christian or not is none of his business."

(New Cycle. of Illustrations.)

If any temptation to spoil your purposes happens in a religious duty, do not presently omit the action, but rather strive to rectify your intention and to mortify the temptation. St. Bernard taught us this rule: for when the devil, observing him to preach excellently, and to do much benefit to his hearers, tempted him to vain-glory, hoping that the good man to avoid that would cease preaching, he gave this answer only, "I neither began for thee, neither for thee will I make an end."

(Jeremy Taylor, D. D.)

He who would fight the devil with his own weapons must not wonder if he finds him an over match.

(R. South.)

In an old tower on the Continent they show you, graven again and again on the stones of one of the dungeons, the word "Resist." It is said that a Protestant woman was kept in that hideous place for forty years, and during all that time her employment was in graving with a piece of iron, for any one who might come after her, that word. It is a word that needs to be engraven on every young man and young woman's heart. It represents the highest form of courage which to them is possible — the power to say "No" to every form of temptation.

(J. C. Lees, D. D.)

A gentleman, who has spent many years of his life in capturing wild animals, says of the wolf, that, when attacked, he will first note the earnestness with which the enemy presses the attack, and, if he shows great determination, he scampers away. But if he detects the least fear in his pursuer's movements, he will defend himself with great bravery. The same way with old Satan: he tempts us by first placing some trivial thing in our path; and if we offer no resistance, he suddenly attacks us with all his force, and overcomes us.

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