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Submit and Obey

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (NKJV)

There are many Scriptures within God’s Word with respect to our submission and obedience to Him. Submission is often confused with obedience; however, the two words differ in this way:

Obey – The biblical word for obey comes from the Greek “hupakou” which means to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority. This word conveys the idea of actively following a command. There is no choice in the matter, it is to be done whether one agrees with it or not. Obedience is involuntary.


Submit – The biblical word submit comes from the Greek “hupeiko” which means to yield; to passively surrender to an authority. Submission is similar to obedience but in this case one might question what is being commanded. Submission is voluntary.

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me." John 14:23-24 (NKJV)

Knowing the difference can give us great practical application for a healthy Christian walk. For example, if we’re not willing to submit our lives to Jesus to make Him Lord of our life, then we will not likely be willing to be obedient to His Word with any consistency. We will simply pick and choose what we want to obey, and follow our own desires and feelings. Conversely, when we truly submit to His Lordship, and His will, then we genuinely want to be obedient. Obedience is a fruit of our love for Jesus.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 (NKJV)

The truth is, once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we have also made a covenant with Him to be our Lord. It is by His blood that we have been redeemed and we no longer have the right to live our lives according to the desires of our flesh (1 Cor. 6:19-20). 

If we are going to allow Jesus to be Lord, we must choose to allow His Spirit to guide us, empower, and transform our lives to be more like Him — we must walk in the Spirit.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:25-26 (NKJV)

As we get to know Jesus intimately (Matt. 7:21-23) and we reflect upon what He has done for us upon the cross of Calvary, what He does for us in our lives daily, and in what He is preparing for us in eternity, we will find our heart’s desire is to submit, surrender and obey our Lord. Then, and only then, can we be used for Kingdom work, and we will be vessels of honor in His hands (2 Tim. 2:21). 

STUDY QUESTION: What can we learn from the Scriptures contained within this devotional with respect to submission and obedience?

PERSONAL INVENTORY: Have you submitted every aspect of your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Choose to allow God to guide every decision you make, and make it your heart's desire to obey His Word. 

MAKE THIS YOUR PRAYER TODAY: Father it is my heart to submit my life to You today and to allow You to transform me by renewing my mind with the truth of Your Word. Give me Your wisdom and fill me afresh with Your spirit today. In Jesus’ precious name, amen…

Be Blessed, Pastor Scott





Copyright ©2017 by Pastor Scott Wright.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000