It is common for folks to be stubborn and rebellious against authority. However, God does not want His people to be of this same sort. Instead, He wants His people to have hearts that are willing to yield in the proper areas. For instance, James wrote that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Therefore, if you are not willing to yield your own desires to the things God wants from you, you are resisting the wisdom that comes from the All-Knowing God!
Yielding To God
A yielding attitude begins with the determination to yield to God. James 4:17 says, “Therefore submit to God….” To “submit” is to yield. No matter what the question or the issue is that is under consideration, the answer is always to submit to God (to yield your will and desires to His). In order to do this, it will require that you recognize His way is always the best way and that He has full authority to control the ways in which you live your life. Now, please recognize that the way in which God instructs you today is through His written word (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17)!
Then, in Romans 8:5-8, Paul contrasts the one who is focused on doing what God says (the spiritually minded) and the one who is focused on fulfilling his/her own earthly desires (the carnally minded). Ultimately, notice that the one focused on fulfilling his/her own earthly desires lives a life of hostility against God, does not please God, and will experience spiritual death (separation from God). This is all because this individual does not “subject” (submit) himself/herself to the law of God. He/she is too focused on doing what he/she desires that whenever there is a decision to be made either to listen to God or please himself/herself – he/she will choose to satisfy the fleshly desires!
By implication, then, the one who is focused on living in a way that will please God will submit himself/herself to the will of God rather than fulfill his/her own earthly desires. This individual is willing to deny himself/herself of earthly pleasures, riches, comforts, etc. in order to be obedient to the instructions of God. This one, therefore, will experience the spiritual life and the true peace that comes from living in harmony with the will of God!
Ultimately, as a Christian, you must view yourself as clay in the hands of the Potter (God). This is how God wanted His people to view themselves during Old Testament times. You must make the same kind of determination about your life as was made in Isaiah 64:8. “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” If you will view yourself in this way, you will determine to do or be anything God wants you to do or be (as revealed in His written word).
Yielding In Areas God Says To Yield
If you will yield yourself to the will of God over your own desires, this will necessarily include listening to God when He identifies other areas in your life you must yield in. For, the Bible does not only instruct you to yield/submit to God; but it also instructs you to submit in some other areas as well. Let’s consider some of these areas in which the Christian must be yielding.
(1) Yielding to governing authorities. In Romans 13:1-7 Paul is clear that “every soul” has the responsibility to be submissive to the governing authorities. Particularly notice that Paul states “there is no authority except from God” – and demonstrates that the governing authorities have been given their authority by God! Thus, God is the one who has recognized the need to establish such governing powers and has given them the responsibility of punishing the wicked and rewarding the good. Peter commands the same thing of Christians in 1 Peter 2:13-17.
(2) Yielding to husbands. God has created the home and He has ordered the home in the way that will accomplish His purposes. This involves the particular structure of the husband as the head of the home and the wife with the responsibility to be yielding. Ephesians 5:22-33 demonstrates this to be the case. In this passage, the wife is instructed to be as yielding to the husband as the church is to Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul says that the wife must be subject (yielding) to her husband “in everything” (verse 24). Peter also identifies the same responsibility in 1 Peter 3:1-6.
(3) Yielding to earthly masters. Though earthly slavery is not as common as it once was, it is still useful to consider that God gives Christian slaves the responsibility to yield themselves to their earthly masters (see Ephesians 6:5-8). Particularly, Peter is helpful (in 1 Peter 2:18-25) to demonstrate that Christian slaves are not just to yield whenever their masters would treat them well. But, they were to yield even when their masters would be harsh against them.
(4) Yielding in Christ’s church. God has also given His people the responsibility to yield to one another in His church. He does not want His people fighting against one another in His church (either in the “universal” or “local” sense). Instead, Ephesians 5:21 says that His people ought to be “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” While all of God’s people must submit to one another, God also specifically instructs that His people submit themselves to elders in local churches (Hebrews 13:17).
Not Yielding To Satan
Since God instructs for His people to be yielding to Him and yield in the areas He instructs, God also expects that His people will not yield to the temptations of the devil (who attempts to lure people away from following God’s laws).
Go back and consider the rest of James 4:7. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” First, as we have already established, God’s people must yield themselves to God – in everything. Second, if God’s people are going to yield to God’s ways, it necessarily involves that they reject/stand in opposition to the ways of Satan. It is simply impossible to yield yourself both to the ways of God and the ways of Satan! You must make a choice which master you will serve (see Matthew 6:24)! Then, if you will choose to yield yourself to God and resist the ways of the devil, God promises that the devil will flee from you.
In addition, given the principle we have just established, if there is any earthly authority that requires you to yield to it rather than to God, you must listen to God rather than men (Acts 5:29). This is applicable whether it is a church leader, a husband, a president/king/governor, or any other earthly authority! You must always yield to God first and foremost in your life.
Are you willing to yield your life entirely to God? Are you willing to yield in those areas He has commanded you to yield? If you are not yielding to God, you are yielding to the devil – and you have made yourself the enemy of God!