CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick, May 1, 2023 – Adam’s sin wasn’t disobedience to God, it was willful submission to evil. Adam was willfully submissive to Eve and the snake rather than being willfully submissive to God. God doesn’t require mere obedience to him; he requires willful submission. Willful submission is what Jesus demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t want to do what God required of him (be arrested, tortured, and executed), but he willfully chose to do it anyway. He tried to find a way around it, and when no way was offered, he willfully submitted to doing it. God didn’t force him; he willfully submitted to doing it. By his own free will Jesus said “yes” to God, even while hating what he was agreeing to do.
You can hate what God asks of you, but you can still do it free-willingly, you can still choose to be willfully submissive to God. Your willful submission to God enables his Holy Spirit to work through you. Mere obedience to God does not enable that. Mere obedience is not what God is looking for. Mere obedience is lukewarm and noncommittal. We have whole churches full of people who are merely obedient rather than willfully submissive. Mere obedience will not bring a soul into relationship with God. Only willful submission can do that.
On the surface, willful submission looks the same as obedience. The difference between the two can only be seen in the heart. A heart that’s willfully submissive to God looks entirely different from a heart that is merely obedient to God. That’s why scripture says that God looks at the heart, not at the mouth or the hands. Your mouth can be saying something that’s completely at odds with your heart, just as your hands can be doing something that’s completely at odds with your heart. How many of us have been fooled by people’s mouths and hands! God is never fooled because he looks on the heart. That’s how he can discern those who are willfully submissive to him from those who are just pretending to be.
As an atheist, I hated the term “submissive”. I loathed it. I thought being submissive was for weak people and losers. I prided myself on never submitting to anyone or anything. I did what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. Now, as a born-again believer, I want only to be submissive, but only to God. Because I understand that God is every good thing I could ever want or need and that God loves me more than any person could ever love me.
To be submissive to God – willingly submissive – is to agree to receive everything that is the best for me. So it’s not about God, my being submissive to God, it’s about me and my best interests. Our submission to God puts us at the center, looking up at God who is over all. Even when we choose to do something for others that exalts them and debases us, if it’s God’s will for us to do that, we remain at the center, looking up. There is nothing we can do in willful submission to God that doesn’t keep us at the center, looking up.
Scripture says we are always before God’s throne, serving him. As born-again believers, we are always before God’s throne. We are always waiting for his direction and always willing to do whatever he asks of us. This is what I mean by being at the center and looking up. The first thing God asked me do when I was born again was to stand on my feet and look up. I felt then that I was at the center of all created things, and I have remained there in spirit ever since, looking up.