7 Therefore, submit yourselves to God. – James 4:7a ISV
The Old Testament law was given to show man that he could not live up to the perfection required for redemption. Man could not and cannot do anything to save himself. Those living in that time who thought they were doing a good enough job to satisfy God’s requirements for redemption were caught up in prideful thinking. They became so full of pride that they actually added laws to the ones God had already given. We can only assume that they thought they were improving the situation, when, in fact, they were putting burdens on the people. So, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who was full of grace and mercy.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14 NIV
We are saved by grace through faith and Jesus wants to continue to give us grace upon grace.
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. — John 1:16 NASB
It is this continued gift of grace that allows us to overcome the flesh and submit ourselves to God. Without it, we would be like the religious leaders of ancient times and become so full of pride that we would be useless in spreading the word of God. There is nothing in this world that is worthy of praise when it is compared to the joy and the hope that we have through Jesus Christ.
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” — 1 Cor. 1:30, 31 NIV
If anything or anyone in this world brings us greater joy, pleasure and happiness than knowing Jesus, then we are double-minded. We should mourn and wail while asking God to forgive us and bring our focus back on Him and Him alone.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. — 1 Samuel 15:22
When our plans go awry or when we are having a bad day, do we stop and consider that perhaps what we are doing in not pleasing to the Lord? Maybe our failures have more to do with our reasons for doing something than we want to believe. Saul was doing a “good” thing, but because he didn’t complete it as God had instructed, it was not a “God” thing. We start down the Godly path but then we see something that the flesh desires and we hang on to that instead of God. That “thing” or “person” becomes our “god” because we desired it or them more than we desired God. When this happens we are guilty of rebellion and stubbornness. Just as this led Saul to worship idols later in his life, so will our rebellion lead us into idol worship. We would deny that we have idols in our lives, but most every home is full of the signs and symbols of who our “gods” really are.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. — 1 Thess. 5:16-25 NIV
If we rejoice all the time, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, that doesn’t leave us any time to be idle. Of course, we can’t literally do these things all the time, but we can develop habits that will allow us to spend more time actually doing these things. We can take all of our thoughts captive and bring them into submission under Jesus Christ. .
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.– 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV
When we find our thoughts wandering into areas that lead us into temptation, doubt and worry, we need to immediately bring them back into submission. If we do this, then we will always have an attitude of gratitude. We will always be in an attitude of prayer regardless of what we are doing physically. We are not bound by our circumstances or feelings, but by our knowledge of Jesus Christ and who we are in Him. When we feel those little nudges of the Holy Spirit, we will be ready to act on them and do what God is asking us to do minute by minute. We will also find that our days are full of peace and joy as we are being sanctified daily by the Holy Spirit. We cannot do this in the flesh, God knows that. But the God that called us to repentance is able and He is faithful to finish what He has started in our lives. We are saved by grace through faith and we must live our daily lives walking by faith.