Resolved: 11. What They Didn't Teach You About Truth & Submission

Submitting to Truth

This post is part of the Resolved series: a collection of 21 personal resolutions that I’m writing/preaching to myself.

If you’d like a little more information, please visit this introduction to the Resolved series.

Resolution #11

Resolved, to humbly submit to God’s truth in all things; not because it will make Him love me, but because He already does.

What and Why?

Here’s where I explain what I mean and why it matters.

Truth

As Christians, we accept that there is final and absolute truth. Although we may disagree in areas of its interpretation, the Bible is our authority. It is God’s self-disclosure to the world. Since God is good, holy, and perfect, so are His words for us. We stand on them.

The Bible tells us what we need to know about God. It’s a book about His work in history; His grand plan for the reconciliation of all things through Christ. For the Christian, this book is our truth. It is the blueprint for our salvation and the source code for our joy.

 … so long as we submit to it.

Submission is not a very popular concept. I believe this is because we have a moralistic definition of submission. We’ve been culturally conditioned to believe that submission is something we do in order to earn favor.

  • We submit to our boss’s rules in order to keep our jobs and earn a paycheck.
  • We submit to the government’s laws so that we can gain safety and freedom.
  • We submit to our cultural norms in order to win society’s approval.

This is a give-to-get mentality. If I submit to you, then you owe me something. In our human economy of relationships, this makes tons of sense. You can disagree, but I’m willing to bet most of you don’t work 40 hours a week for free. You give (or submit) your time in order to get money.

Where this stops making sense is when we apply this economy to God and His grace…

[The Lie] Begrudgingly submit and then you’ll get God.

This is how religious people work:

Dear God,

I submit the following for your review…

  • I serve every Saturday at the Rescue Mission.
  • I only read the King James Bible.
  • I memorize 10 Bible verses a day.
  • I have never danced, not even at my own wedding.
  • I don’t watch R-rated movies.
  • I don’t touch alcohol.
  • I choose Chick-fil-A over KFC every time.

In consideration of these righteous acts, I believe you owe me salvation, blessing, and favor. After all, I’ve been working very hard on this.

Please deliver these gifts to me as soon as possible. I will provide follow-up communication regarding exactly how these blessings should be delivered.

Sincerely,
The Older Brother [Luke 15:11-32]

Here’s the problem with all that: 

The Bible is crystal clear that there is nothing we can do in order to make God love us. If we submit to His word out of a desire to follow the rules and “earn” His approval, we will fail every time. The entire Old Testament is one long story about man-kind doing just that.

These two verses sum it up pretty well:

“God saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy…” Titus 3:5 ESV

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8 ESV

[The Truth] Get God and you’ll willingly and joyfully submit.

Here’s where this beautiful thing called the Gospel comes in…

  • God creates everything, including the first humans – Adam & Eve. [Gen 1:1-31]
  • Our original parents try to become equal with God, fall, and sin enters the world. [Gen 3:1-19]
  • As a result, we’re alienated from God and given up to our own futility. [Rom 1:18-32]
  • Nothing we do can fix our situation, but God repeatedly promises future salvation. [Gen 3:15, Gen 12:3, Deut 18:18, 2 Sam 7:16, Isa 9:6-7, Isa 49:6]
  • God writes Himself into history as Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully human. [John 1:1-3, 14]
  • Jesus lives a perfect, sinless life. [1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5]
  • Jesus is condemned and delivered to be brutally murdered (by religious people.) [Acts 4:10-11]
  • God’s just punishment for all our past, present, and future sin is poured out on Jesus at the cross. In return, we’re given His righteousness – a.k.a. a right standing with God. Martin Luther calls this the “Great Exchange.” [2 Cor 5:21]
  • Jesus rises again on the third day, just like He said He would. [Acts 2:32,33]
  • Jesus ascends back to Heaven, where He rules and reigns over all creation. [Isa 6:1-3]
  • Jesus promises to return one day to judge the world, ultimately defeat Satan, sin, and death, wipe every tear from every eye, and restore all things. [Matt 16:27, Rev 19:11-16, Rev 21:4, Rev 21:1-27]

We had nothing to do with that plan. It was God’s plan from eternity past. We didn’t dream it up. He did. We didn’t earn His grace. He gave us that gift at the cross, not because we loved Him but because He loved us.

When you hear that truth and believe it, everything you know about submission changes. Everything you ever thought about earning your way to God flips upside down. Whatever your church may have taught you about works-righteousness flies out the window. Your prior performance, whether good or bad, becomes a moot point.

We don’t submit to God’s truth because it’ll make Him love us. We submit to it because we sit in absolute awe and adoration towards Jesus Christ. We love Him because He chose to love us first. We submit to God because we love and treasure Him so deeply that we have no other choice.

How and When?

Here’s where I look at ways to practically apply this resolution to my life.

  1. This is one of those all day, every day kind of resolutions. The best I can offer is the practical urging to hold each decision and action up to the light of Scripture.

That’s it for resolution #11. If you’d like to keep up with this series, feel free to click one of the links below and subscribe to my RSS feed.

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