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Miranda Writes: Say Uncle! Part 1




by Omar Miranda



When I was a kid, I used to get into all kinds of fights with my two brothers—over all kinds of silly stuff. Anybody who has brothers or sisters knows what I’m talking about. Anyhow, the fights didn’t last long, and the bigger sibling usually won (not me). Usually the loser wouldn’t be released until they admitted defeat. More times than not, I was told by a brother who had landed on top of me, holding my hands and arms down, to “say ‘Uncle!’” So I did, because if I didn’t they would probably still be on top of me to this day!

God wants us to say the same thing to Him. Not that He’s beating us down and yelling at us to submit, as my brothers did with me. Rather, He’s asking for us to give up trying to do things on our own. He wants to help us. He wants us to realize that we can’t save ourselves, and when we realize this and let Him take control, awesome things happen!

Last week we talked about accepting a relationship with Jesus Christ in order for us to receive the peace, love, and acceptance that we were made for. When we accept Christ, we also automatically get plugged into God’s Holy Spirit, who gives us not only the motivation to make good decisions, but the ability and power to overcome sin and bad habits as well. There is a definite connection between obedience, humility, and submission. Now, submission is different than obedience. Obedience is the act of obeying, and submission is the attitude of obedience. If someone threatened me with death if I didn’t obey them, I would obey. This is not so with submission. Someone who has submitted wants to obey; they don’t have to be forced or threatened. When we talk about submitting to God, we are talking about willing obedience that springs out of our love for God and our thankfulness for the salvation that He’s freely given us.
Obedience is difficult for a sinner born into sin. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says “Let go and let God!” This is easier said than done. Remember, all of us, Christian or not, are dealing and struggling with our flesh—our natural sinful selves. Everything starts with our attitudes. But we as sinful human beings need an attitude adjustment. We need to exchange our attitude for the attitude of Christ! The apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Philippi writes about having an attitude adjustment. It’s found in Philippians 2:1-13. Because of space constraints, I can’t include it all here, but read it for yourself right now, and then we’ll talk about it.

This passage speaks about having a super-close relationship with God. Again we see the distinct connection between loving God and our love for others as a response to God. Paul also discusses the importance of humility and speaks about Jesus as our example. Jesus did not put His needs above our own, but became humble to God, obeying Him, and even dying as a criminal on a cross! Can you imagine the look on the angels’ faces as they witnessed this incredible act of love and sacrifice—the Creator loving His creations so much that He was willing to let them treat Him like garbage: verbally abuse Him, spit on Him, beat Him, whip Him, and ultimately kill Him. God became like one of us and died for us all? That should have been me and you on that cross!

Humility will allow us to draw closer to God because we get ourselves out of the way and God is able to use us any way He wants to. In fact, at the end of this passage we see an important principle: God’s power makes it possible for you to want to make positive changes in your life, and it is that same power that makes it possible for you to change. This is the importance of submitting your will to God. He, working in you, begins and completes the process of making you perfect (sanctification).

In verses 12 and 13 Paul writes: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”* We are to “work out [our] salvation” how? With fear and trembling. That doesn’t mean that we’re afraid of God. It means that we respect God. So in light of the profound knowledge of who God is, we are to do as much as we can, but with the understanding and respect that it is God who is ultimately in control and in charge of our progress and our victory.
James, the writer of the biblical book by the same name, stresses that you must submit to God in order to resist the devil: “‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:6-10).

There is power in humility and submission. Humility is the internal attitude that allows an individual to be externally submitted. Don’t you find it interesting that a Christian can receive power from giving it up? How is that possible? The key to the whole shebang is finding the right person to submit to. God, of course, is the right person, and when you submit to Him, all kinds of wonderful things can and will happen. The first of those being that you will begin to see that you can get free from habits, addictions, and sins that you could never stop by yourself.

Let’s take a closer look at the passage in James. There is an important progression that you need to be aware of:

1. God can and will give you the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome all evil—whether the evil comes from you, the devil, or the world—but you’ve first got to . . .

2. Submit to God. You can say “no” or “stop” to the devil all you want to, but the reality is you’re about as significant to him as a fly. The devil wants to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), so he’s not your friend. You can’t resist him by yourself. He will squash you. But once you submit to God and He moves you under His protection and authority, you will be able to say no to the devil. When this happens . . .

3. The devil will flee from you. Did you catch that? Without God you were as powerful as a fly, but when God has your back, Satan runs away! But he’ll be back—and soon—with a slicker, sneakier temptation. So what do you do?

4. Come close to God, every moment of every day, and God will come close to you. Have you ever been scared of something and then had your parent, sibling, or a friend “back you up”? How did you feel? Invincible and untouchable, right? That’s exactly what drawing close to God can and will do for you, but you’ve got to start that process. Because of your free will, your ability and freedom to make your own decisions, God will never force you. Forcing is the way the devil works. So how do you remain in that attitude of coming close to God? Well, you . . .

5. Recognize that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior; have a serious and realistic recognition as to how your attitude, behaviors, and sin affect God deeply and break your relationship with Him. Admit to what you’ve done wrong with no excuses and say you’re sorry (confession) and stop doing it (repentance). When you do that . . .

6. You will have a humble attitude that will put you in a position of submission, which allows God to lift you up to a closer and closer relationship with Him . . . and the process continues every moment of every day, and you will continually draw closer and closer to Him so He can continue making you more and more perfect and sinless (sanctification).

Next week we’ll talk about the importance of living with an attitude of submission and what happens if we consistently and purposely attempt to live our lives without acknowledging who God is and the role and position He plays in our lives.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations in this article are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
   
   
 





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