The Lord has been working in me to understand that if He is truly Lord of my life, then I must submit everything to Him, and to submit to all authority He placed over me. I called upon the Lord seeking the place where He wanted me to work in order to serve His kingdom (see Godliness With Contentment is Great Gain). That took trusting in Him completely, knowing His plans for me are best. I had to be willing to walk in whatever His plans are, knowing I could because He will be with me and His grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor 12:9). I also knew that in fully submitting, I might not like where He chose to take me.
We ended yesterday’s post (see Get Off the Fence!) with God’s truth that our choice is not Christ and the world, it is Christ or the world. We cannot serve two masters (Matt 6:24); we must “choose for ourselves today whom we will serve” (Josh 24:14-15). Jesus said we either belong to Him or to Satan. “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matt 12:30)
When we become disciples of Jesus, then we submit our will for our life (pride) to His. Jesus was clear that it’s not an option, it’s what makes us truly His. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'” (Matt 16:24-25) Indeed, Jesus even went so far as to say that those who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for Him cannot be His disciples. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
When we deny ourselves, we are submitting our spirit, mind, will and emotions to Him. We can no longer operate from a place where we consider our desires first. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24) Dying to self is never portrayed in Scripture as something optional in the Christian life. It is the reality of the new birth; no one can come to Christ unless he is willing to see his old life crucified with Christ and begin to live anew in obedience to Him.
If we are truly followers of Jesus, then it must be His will we seek first in everything. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness [His face], and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6:33) Seeking His face is seeking His will, and trusting that He will want to make provision for us, because He promises to do so. He doesn’t promise to provide first; His promises are conditional. We must seek Him first!
He died for us, and that is the redeeming claim of His lordship on those who believe by faith. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:19-20)
Lordship was at the very heart of Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross. When He died, He gave Himself for us, but when He rose, He gave Himself to live within us: “for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom 14:8-9).
In His actions of dying for our sins and rising from death, He claimed those who believe in Him and conquered ALL sin, death, principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). This means that we must live in total submission to Him, that He owns all that we are and have, and we must live in unquestioned obedience to His Word.
Lordship is inseparably linked to the name of Jesus. “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11) Notice the passage says “every tongue”, because even “the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).
I have come to realize that there have been things I’ve been holding back, so it is no wonder that I haven’t been living a victorious life in Christ. “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). When we ask for God to show us what we hold back from Him, the Holy Spirit will apply His rhema Word to us. But we can’t just know it intellectually, we must do what He says. “But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22)
When the lordship of Jesus is a settled issue in the Christian’s life, all other issues are settled. S.M. Zwemer said, “Unless Jesus is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all”. This is a challenge to all believers to bring every area of our lives under the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ. In our lives there should be no rivalry for His throne. For Jesus to be Lord of our life means that He is the ruler, the boss, the master of our whole life. He cannot be Lord of a part – He must be given control of the entire life – the whole life.
We should be so completely yielded to the indwelling Holy Spirit that He can possess us fully and, in that sense, fill us. Rom 8:9 and Eph 1:13-14 states that He dwells within every believer, but He can be grieved (Eph 4:30), and His activity within us can be quenched (1 Thess 5:19). When we allow this to happen, we do not experience the fullness of the Spirit’s working and His power in and through us. To be filled with the Spirit implies freedom for Him to occupy every part of our lives, guiding and controlling us. Then His power can be exerted through us so that what we do is fruitful to God.
An attitude of submission is truly the mark of a Spirit-filled life. It requires us to surrender it all, not holding back anything. “Above all else, we must learn how to bring our wills into submission and obedience to the will of God, on a practical, daily, hour-by-hour basis.” – Jerry Bridges. God gives His Kingdom Authority to His children who have a spirit of submission. He won’t put those things that He plans to put under us, until we submit to those things He has set over us. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet 5:6).