What is the Will of God? Principle 8: Submission

5229962132_99876f98ba_z

After we follow all the principles we are to submit ourselves to God’s Providence. Even though God grants us great liberty in making any decision we want (as long as it conforms to His Word), we need to recognise that sometimes our decisions are not actually God’s will. What must we do then? We are not to fight or resist it, but rather we are to submit ourselves to God’s will. This is illustrated by what we read in . In this passage is a picture of two kinds of people. One person lives selfishly by making all their decisions and plans separate from God. Then the other person is the one who regulates their life by the will of God. Both of them make use of sound judgment and have plans, but there is a huge difference.

James begins in by addressing those who are making plans for the future (specifically business plans),

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”

The person in makes a decision that involves five specific facets: (1) Time of departure “today or tomorrow”, (2) destination “such and such a town”, (3) duration “spend a year there”, (4) duties “trade”, and (5) desires “make a profit”.

James goes on to reveal why this planning is foolish. Notice that the foolishness is not because of the five facets of planning – they are wise. Instead, he observes a glaring omission in the plans of . He begins his argument by reminding his readers that their knowledge and lives are limited (4:14). Then he reveals what was missing in the plans of : “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that‘” (4:15). His point is that the man in is a foolish planner, whereas the person in is the wise planner. What is the difference? Both make plans, but only one makes plans in recognition of who God is and submits to His will. James does not condemn planning for the future. This is apparent because the person in still plans by saying “we will live and do this or that.” The person that says, “If the Lord wills” rightly understands that they are limited (4:14) and that God is sovereign and knows all things. So in their planning they submit their plans to the will of God. Such an attitude prevents the believer from bragging about what their future accomplishments will be.

In James exposes what is the attitude of the foolish planner. Boasting in self and future plans is evil because it ignores who God is, and places self as sovereign. In this passage James has rebuked the individual who makes future plans without considering the will of God. The point is this, if you make a decision and God closes the door, you are to submit to Him. Also, if He opens the door you are to submit to Him. Make plans with the view that you will do what God allows.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—

15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Published by

Andrew Courtis

Andrew Courtis

ANDREW - Serves as Pastor of Hills Bible Church. I am married to Dianne and we have three children (Kate, Emma and Jack). I was born and raised in Melbourne, moved to Adelaide to undertake theological studies (BMin.), and have completed additional studies with the Australian College of Theology (MATh.). I have served in pastoral ministry in both Melbourne and Sydney and am a qualified school teacher. I am committed to expository preaching and making the word of God known and understood.