“Submit yourselves therefore to God.” – James 4:7
Charles Spurgeon believed that “This advice should not need much pressing.” As begin his sermon he asked his congregation: “is it not right upon the very face of it?” “Is it not wise?” For Spurgeon the answer was a clear and simple yes for “Our creator is infinitely good…to submit to one who is ‘too wise to err, too good to be unkind,’ should not be hard.”
Furthermore, God’s righteous rule made resistance unconscionable. After all, “He cannot do anything which is not perfectly just…therefore to resist him to contend against one own advantage.” Submission to God was what “angels,” “kings,” “prophets,” and the “best of men” had done and there was “no dishonor nor sorrow in so doing.”
Indeed, “All nature is submissive to his laws.” The “suns and stars yield to his behests,” and so by “willingly bowing to his sway” one would be “in harmony with the universe.” To resist God was like “chaff [setting] itself in battle array with the wind.” Simply, “The Eternal God is irresistible, and any rebellion against his government must soon end in total defeat.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon applied the Scripture “To the people of God.” First, Spurgeon emphasized that the commands means to “exercise humility.” Referring back to the context of James 4, Spurgeon stated “submission here meant must include humility.”
With this in mind Spurgeon exclaimed, “A pardoned sinner boasting! A debtor to sovereign grace extolling himself!” Since Spurgeon knew that it is “one of the fundamental truths of our faith that we are saved by grace” that made boasting “horrible.” Indeed, he thought “Nothing can be more out of place than boasting upon the lips of a child of God.
Accordingly, true submission required the “true surrender of every proud pretension or conceited claim” as well as “to walk with lowly humility before God, and with meekness towards fellow Christians.”
Second, Spurgeon asserted that his text required “submission to the divine will.” Here Spurgeon asked his congregation “Are God’s appointments your contentments?” In his view “Too many professors are quarrelling with God that they are not other than they are.” He believed that “This is evil, and shows that pride is still in their hearts.” In essence “You will never be happy until self is dethroned.”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon applied the Scripture “To those who are not saved, but have some desire to be so.” Here Spurgeon prayed that such desires may “grow at once into and impetuous longing.”
Here Spurgeon fixed his gaze on the lost sinner who had been “anxious about your soul for some time” but who had “made no headway.” He had in mind the person who was “putting forth great efforts” and warned that “It is very possible…that you have not submitted yourself to God.” Simply, “you are trying to do when the best thing would be to cease from yourself, and drop into the hand of a Saviour who is able to save you.” However, this was difficult because “For a proud heart the very hardest thing is to submit.”
Furthermore, Spurgeon warned proud sinners that even in their proud resistance “You are submitting even now.” Spurgeon knew that they would deny his claim but declared “you are submitting to the devil.”
To prove his point Spurgeon appealed to Scripture, saying, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” He then added “If you do not submit to God you never will resist the devil.” The result would be remaining “under his tyrannical power.” As Spurgeon said, “No man is without a master,” and so the question was “God or the devil, for one of these must.”
Finally, Spurgeon explained “In what respect am I to submit myself?” First, the sinner could “submit yourself by confessing your sin.” Second, the sinner could “honour the law which condemns you.” Here Spurgeon cautioned “Do not persevere in picking holes in it and saying that it is too severe, and requires too much.” Rather, all needed to affirm that “The law is holy, and just, and good.”
Third, the sinner could “own the justice of the penalty.” Here one had to own the fact that “Thy sins condemn thee to hell.” Fourth, and finally, Spurgeon called sinners to “submit yourself to God as your king” and to “submit…to God’s way of saving you.” Sinners had to “cast away those robes of pride” and rejoice that salvation is “not by merits,” but by “the blood of Jesus.”
“Wilt thou believe or no?”
Why you should take up and read:
Charles Spurgeon believed that “Our creator is infinitely good,” and so “‘to submit to one who is too wise to err’” and “‘too good to be unkind’ should not be hard.” In this sermon Spurgeon unpacked precisely what it meant for sinners and saints to submit to God. For those wanting to grow in submission please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/unconditional-surrender#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves as the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City while studying in The Residency Ph.D. program.