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Coming Under to Get Over
By David A. DePra
God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:5-11)
The epistle of I Peter has the general theme of suffering, and how to respond to God in trials. The above passage is really Peter’s summary remarks on this matter. He gathers up all that he has said about God’s dealings with us, and the necessity of suffering, and brings them to a conclusion. In this passage we have described both God’s purpose in His dealings with us, and God’s instructions as to how we need to respond. So what we have here is some direct teaching as to how to walk with God through difficulty, or even through blessing – how to walk with Him in a way that will result in God getting His will in our lives.
You will notice in this passage a theme of coming UNDER God so that He can exalt us OVER everything that Jesus is OVER. Thus, wrapped up in this one passage is the Truth about overcoming, and victory in Jesus Christ.
Do you want the will of God? Do you want to overcome? This passage will tell us how: We need to submit to God. Jesus must become our Lord. There is no other way in which God has provided whereby restoration in these areas is possible. This is not because God is narrow minded. No. It is because He is God, and everything in our lives is determined by our relationship to HIM.
Authority is not a THING God gives us. Overcoming is not a THING we do. The will of God is not a THING – even if it is worked out through THINGS. No. All of these are the result, or extension, of our being rightly related to God through Christ. They are to be extensions CHRIST IN US – and the product of our relationship with Him.
The will of God, rather than be a THING God gives us, or a lot in life -- the will of God is a RELATIONSHIP. It is being rightly related to God by faith. THAT relationship is the will of God. Everything else IN the will of God comes from that, and you cannot get far without it.And here, in this passage, God has given us practical instruction as to where to start: Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.
The will of God starts when we humble ourselves UNDER God. It can start in no other way. Thus, God is always working in us towards that end. And once He gets that, God intends to keep us under His hand.
Peter is, in this passage, talking about CONTROL. He is talking about who controls your life, determines the outcome – both in the overall sense and in specifics. Really, he is talking about who is the Lord of your life. It is so easy to say that Jesus is my Lord, and to hold such a claim as merely a doctrine. We can memorize all the passages that say Jesus is Lord, and agree with them. We ought to. We NEED to believe Jesus is Lord. But in this passage Peter is telling how the Holy Spirit MAKES Jesus our Lord – in a living and life changing way.
What is being described in this passage is God’s method of making Jesus Christ our Lord – not in theory, not simply on paper, but REALLY – in a way that will cause us to BECOME the will of God.
Jesus said, "The Holy Spirit will convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment." (John 16:8) He also said that the Holy Spirit would glorify Christ, and reveal to us all Truth. Well, this is not simply a matter of the Holy Spirit giving us INFO, or teaching us the meaning of Bible verses, or taking us through a course of systematic theology. Those things are good, in the sense of giving us the right doctrinal teaching. Doctrinal tells us how God works, and how we need to walk with Him. But Jesus was getting at the WORK of the Holy Spirit in the believer. This implies a drastic CHANGE. I Peter 5 is telling us HOW the Holy Spirit often works to accomplish these promises, and HOW we need to respond.
This is why the issue of CONTROL or LORDSHIP over a life comes into view, front and center. Really, everything else in our Christian lives pivots around this one point – is God really in control? Or am I still running my own life – maybe not rebelliously, or even consciously – but perhaps only because it is all I know to do. Peter is writing to Christian people – those born again. We are all in a process. Peter is describing it.
Don’t make the mistake of listing out all of your points of obedience to God, and then assuming this proves Jesus is your Lord in every way. It is entirely possible to mechanically obey God and yet have a long way to go as far as Jesus being your Lord in every way. Indeed, this process whereby Jesus becomes our Lord is a LIFE LONG process. I think there are points of crisis, and at some point, a big release in a life that is in this process, but we are never going to be done with the process during this lifetime.
Paul said, "No man can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." (see I Cor. 12:1-3) He is not saying that everyone who says the WORDS, "Jesus is Lord," is saying them by the Holy Spirit. No. Rather, Paul is saying that Jesus can become Lord over us ONLY BY the work of the Holy Spirit – and then, if Jesus really IS our Lord in practice – our confession of that fact will be real. Anyone can SAY words. Anyone can practice religion, or conjure up a belief system. But our relationship with Christ is our REAL confession. Does our relationship with Christ SAY that Jesus is Lord?
If you read I Peter 5, you will see that Jesus becomes our Lord as we progressively relinquish CONTROL of our lives – of OURSELVES – to Him. Well, how else COULD it work? Jesus as Lord isn’t merely an on paper doctrine – that true doctrine is supposed to reflect our RELATIONSHIP with Him in life. So Jesus cannot become my Lord except His Lordship be worked out in practical situations in our lives. We could make a verbal commitment of surrender to Jesus as Lord a hundred times a day – and we might even mean it. But until we are brought to where we must actually humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God in specific circumstances – and lose our control of ourselves over to God – none of our faith in Jesus as our Lord will be proven or made real.
Of course, many of us think that losing control of our lives to God is a scary, negative thing. This is usually because we don’t know Him, or it is because we are actually in love with our control over our life, or in love with this world. Perhaps we simply do not have any frame of reference for Jesus as Lord – other than the doctrine. Why else would we be afraid of losing our control, unless we like our control? Or don’t think God is faithful?
The fact is, losing our lives for the sake of Jesus is the best thing possible. We don’t know what we are made of, or what God wants to bring to reality in our lives. If we did, we would run and embrace the Cross and continually ask God to do whatever it takes in our lives to bring His will to pass.
The reality is, "ME in control," of my life is SIN. Sure, for, "ME in control," is, "ME as Lord" – and this is directly contrary to Jesus as Lord. It is unbelief and rebellion – perhaps not conscious, but built into what we are in the flesh. Included in unbelief are even matters of, "ME in control of my life," in some seemingly GOOD ways. This is still sin because it is contrary to any possible relationship with God, and it is a substitute for God’s will in my life. The solution for such bondage and blindness is not merely teaching – the teaching is necessary and will get us started. But teaching cannot substitute for RELATIONSHIP with Christ – all it can do is tell us what that relationship ought to be. What we really need is for God to do whatever it takes to get us to actually relinquish the throne, and open ourselves to Jesus as Lord.
This is probably the biggest problem in Christianity today – people running their own lives, in a religious way, and thinking that it pleases God that they do so. But in the end, this is about CONTROL. It is about who is my Lord.
The work of the Holy Spirit in this age is to make Jesus our Lord. There are many components to that, but in the end, that is what it comes down to. If we really understood this, we would know that Jesus is Lord is freedom. There is no worse bondage than ME in control of my life, all the while I am thinking that God is pleased.
The Will of God
Do you want the will of God? Well, many of us do want the will of God. But we have not been taught how to find the will of God. Indeed, we have been taught error. For example, many people have been taught that to find the will of God, all you need to do is pray and ask God to TELL you His will. And then, once God tells you His will, all you need to do is go out and make it happen.
This is NOT how we are to find the will of God. Now, I’m not saying that God won’t tell us His will, either through His Word, or by speaking to us in some way. In fact, quite often God will do exactly that. It is normal for God to make us to know His will – and then, well, everything falls apart. Part of what Peter is describing above is a situation where I may know the will of God, but then must pass through a trial where everything BUT the will of God seems to be happening. So sure, God will often tell us His will before the trial begins. But at that point, have we really found the will of God?
No, we haven’t. It is one thing to know the will of God intellectually, and even to believe that it is true to fact. But it is another thing to actually come INTO His will. Coming into the will of God is what Peter is describing.
So again -- if there is one thing we need to see it is this: The will of God is not a THING that God gives us – not a thing in the sense of a lot in life, a ministry, a job, a marriage, or some point of success. Rather, the will of God is a RELATIONSHIP – with HIMSELF.
Never divorce THINGS that God may give you, or take away from you, from God Himself. The THINGS are just tools unto, or results thereof, of a relationship that God wants with us. If we had a whole bunch of THINGS from God – even spiritual gifts – but did not have a relationship with God, what would we REALLY have? Nothing.
Another question: Do you want to live in the authority of Jesus Christ? Today many are teaching that Christians already have it. That is not true. We might say we have it potentially as born again creations in Christ. But you cannot live in the authority of Christ, or exercise authority in Christ, unless you are UNDER the authority of Christ. In other words, authority in Christ is the result of a relationship with Him, wherein He has authority over me – wherein HE is Lord of me. My authority in Christ is directly related to my dependence and submission to Him.
What I am saying is this: Rather than give us THINGS – even the THINGS of God – Peter is describing a process through which God will give us HIMSELF. Rather than give us things apart from a relationship, God gives us a relationship with Jesus as our Lord, and all of the, "things," then emerge from that relationship. This relationship IS the will of God. The THINGS are merely an extension of it – of Jesus as Lord, and of His kingdom rule. Peter is describing how to enter more deeply into the relationship with Christ that is the core of everything else.
But often, when we say we want the will of God, we don’t really want the will of God. Rather, we want OUR will. I’m not saying we openly rebel, or consciously desire our will, over and against God’s will. No. But usually we say we want God’s will because we think that there is something in it for us. We have a personal agenda. Or, perhaps we say we want God’s will because we know that is what God wants to hear, and so we think saying it will get God moving. Well, part of what will be accomplished in the process Peter is describing is to purge us of all these ideas. And in the end, God really shall have His will.
Incidentally, I’m certainly not saying that if God has His will with us that we are not going to benefit from that, or, "get something out of it." No. In fact, didn’t Jesus say, "Seek first His kingdom and all things will be added unto you?" Sure. But I’m talking here about motivation. The Christian life is supposed to be one where God accomplishes His will unto His glory – not only in my life, but IN ME. I am to become an expression of God’s will and glory. Thus, this is not supposed to be about, "me getting God to do stuff." It isn’t even supposed to be about, "me getting God to do HIS will FOR ME." No. That is not the motivation. Rather, it is supposed to be about God dealing with me in such a way that I BECOME His will, and DO His will – to His glory.
God wants to bring us to the place where we honestly desire that He do whatever is necessary in our inward lives, and in our outward lives, to bring to pass His will, His way, to His glory. He wants us to be totally abandoned to this by faith. In other words, God wants us not only to say we want that, or to religiously comply with that – He wants us to sincerely DESIRE it as much as HE desires this. And obviously, this is impossible unless we BELIEVE and trust God. Does that sound impossible? Well, Peter says that the first step is the, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God."
Again – this is about God establishing a relationship with us. It is about – not God so much doing a THING called, "His will," in our lives – as much as it about God revealing HIMSELF to us, and bringing us into the relationship with Him that will set us free. The things that comprise God’s will then will follow.
The Proud and the Humble
God’s definition of pride and humility are a bit different from ours. The Greek words found in the above passage bear that out. "The proud," in the eyes of God are those who put themselves FIRST – yes, above other people – but more importantly, before God Himself. Conversely, the humble are those who put GOD FIRST.
Note that right off the bat we are again talking about our relationship with God. You cannot talk about conditions of heart, and attitudes of mind, to the exclusion of God. We are all accountable to God before anything else. Thus, pride and humility find their definition in our relationship with HIM. Our relationships with people are really an extension of that.
This is why Peter leads into this passage by talking about relationships between people. It is not that we get right with God by getting right with people first. No. His conclusion in this passage is that we will be right with people only if we are right with God first. And the passage is HOW to come into that right relationship with God.
He says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Well, think about it. If a PROUD person is one who puts himself before God, and God’s entire purpose is for that person to put God first – to make Jesus Lord -- then it means that God must resist this path of pride. ME FIRST is absolutely, by definition, contrary to God’s desire to bring to pass His will to His glory in our lives. But since the humble put God first, then, by definition, they are on the right course, and the grace of God will be there.
We think ME FIRST is safe and comfortable. It is actually destructive, and the root of all sin. God’s original design for man as a creature was for God to be first. This is the key to all soundness, redemption, and happiness.
Perhaps a good way of illustrating God’s purpose vs. ours is to think in terms of swimming upstream vs. swimming downstream. The flow of God’s Spirit – God’s work in our lives – is flowing downstream. If we humble ourselves, and surrender to God, His flow will carry us along. This is grace. But if we are proud, and put ourselves before God, it will be like swimming upstream against the flow of God. God cannot bless us, help us, or affirm us. In fact, Peter says that God Himself will resist us.
Can we see that this is the LOVE of God? This is not a picture of God punishing us, or being stubborn with us. No. It is a picture of us being stubborn with God – and one of God, because He loves us, refusing to cooperate. God is NOT going to help us destroy ourselves, or destroy His purpose in our lives. Indeed, our prayer ought to be, "Lord, if I am operating in pride, and out of Your will, please RESIST me! Turn me around."
Here we see that God, rather than punish, will CHASTISE His children. Again – because He loves us. This passage from I Peter is really a picture of God doing exactly that. Often, we just don’t know what we need. Often, we are blind. Pride is built into us. We don’t need to work at it, or plan it. It is just THERE. So God says, "I want to bring you into a relationship with Me wherein you will be free to know Me, experience Me, and come into the fullness of My will and purpose. But in order to get you there, I must resist everything you are doing because it is contrary to this relationship I want to have with you."
So many troubles in the Christian life can be traced back to this possibility. Jesus said we must LOSE our lives to FIND them in Christ. But often, in ignorance, we are trying to HOLD ONTO them – and say that it is God’s will that we hold onto them. We are trying to SAVE what God tells us to LOSE. Therefore, we are swimming upstream – and don’t even realize what we are doing. God would say to us, "I am going to bring about circumstances that will open the door to freedom. But the first step is this: Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God." In other words, submit to God – abandon yourself to Him. This is the first step to turning. It is really the first step to losing your life to find it in Christ.
Do you want the will of God? Well, then submit to God Himself – for if you give yourself to God, what you get IS GOD. And if you begin to experience Him in the relationship He desires, you will receive the will of God with the package.
You cannot want God’s will more than God wants it for you. But it all begins with a RELATIONSHIP with God that is established upon the right basis – the right basis being for us to, "humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God."
Faith is the Victory
Note that it is NOT to circumstances that we are to submit. Rather, it is to God IN those circumstances. There are times when God wants us OUT of circumstances, and other times when He wants us IN. Submit to God. It will become clear what God wants in your specific case.
Once we realize that the will of God is a first a RELATIONSHIP with Himself, and not a circumstance, this becomes clear. Any circumstances in our lives are merely what God uses to get us INTO a right relationship with Himself, or one that is the RESULT of being rightly related to Him by faith.
Note that Peter tells us that we are to, "humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God." Again, it is to GOD that we are surrendering. The phrase UNDER THE MIGHTY HAND shows two things. First, the will of God for you is under God’s hand, and you cannot find it any other place. You must humble yourself UNDER His hand. Secondly, God’s hand is mighty. There is no way that God is going to fail to get what He wants out of you, or in your life – but you must humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.
As stated earlier, you must trust God to be able to do this. This means FAITH. But what if you want to trust God in that way, but don’t seem to have the faith? Well, then instead of submitting to God IN FAITH, submit to God FOR FAITH. In other words, if you don’t think you have faith enough to submit to God, then you submit yourself to God and ask Him to build in you the faith. And actually, this is more along the lines of what Peter is telling us to do. If we had strong faith in God, we wouldn’t need to go through this process. Thus, built into this teaching is the understanding that we need the process to build faith – indeed, that is what this process DOES. It builds a relationship of faith between us and God.
Herein we actually see why God condemns a lack of faith. God is not so stupid to demand that we believe what we cannot believe. You cannot FORCE faith – and the fact is, sometimes we don’t have much faith. Sometimes we just don’t know enough TO believe. But God sometimes condemns a lack of faith because it goes back to our NOT submitting to Him FOR faith. Submit to God FOR faith and He will do whatever it takes to build faith. But refuse to submit and you aren’t going to have faith. How could you? THIS refusal to submit to God FOR faith is the problem. THAT is what God condemns. It is unbelief.
In the end, faith IS surrender. Surrender to God FOR faith, and faith will be there. Refuse, and you will live in unbelief.
If you see what is happening here, it is not a matter of having a THING called, "faith." It is a matter of our relationship with God. Faith is not a thing, or a force. It is a relationship word, and it all begins by submitting to God BY faith, FOR faith, or however. But all it takes it a turning to God.
If you are facing a situation where you need to trust God – where you need to abandon yourself to God for His will – then you DO have the ability to do so. You may not FEEL confident, or think you have much faith. But God hasn’t brought you to this place where you know you must surrender for no reason. Therefore, abandon yourself to God – and ask Him to do whatever it takes to build in you the faith, and to do whatever is necessary to bring His will and purpose to pass.
I said earlier that the will of God is not a THING or a lot in life. Rather, the will of God is a relationship with you. Can we see from this that the will of God IS FAITH?
Now, what this means is precisely this: The moment I humble myself under the mighty hand of God – the moment I turn ever so slightly and do that – I am in God’s will. I am swimming downstream with God. I am believing. The rest of the process is a matter of standing by faith, and withstanding the enemy. And if I do, faith will be built.
For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4)
So again – this process isn’t a matter of me thinking I know some THING God wants to do out here in my life, and then pushing through to make it happen. No. It is a matter of me coming into the relationship of faith that IS the will of God, and then of God building me up in that. The will of God is faith. The will of God is relationship. The will of God is that we surrender to Him. So the moment I do turn, I am in the will of God.
Faith is THE victory -- faith is the relationship. It has to be LIVED OUT in the real world -- but the, "lived out," part is not the relationship. FAITH is the relationship. The relationship of faith with Christ is not the possession of THINGS – but faith is God’s possession of US. Faith is the victory, because if I have faith in God – the way the Bible means it – then God has victory over ME. The only definition of victory that the Bible knows anything about is victory that is the outcome of surrender to God. If I surrender to God, He has victory over me, and thus, the victory that Christ won for me can be made living IN ME. The result is that I can reign and rule WITH Christ over all that HE reigns and rules over. All authority in the Christian life is directly related to the authority of Jesus Christ over me – is directly related to my weakness and dependence upon Christ, indeed, directly related to His Lordship over me.
Do you want authority in the Christian life? Then the answer is to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. When you are UNDER His hand, you are OVER everything that He is over. It is just that simple.
Trying to take authority any other way is contrary to the will of God. Do we actually think that God is going to hand us authority if we are not surrendered to Him? Are we crazy? Do we actually think that we could be trusted with it? No. Authority in Christ is always the result of surrender to Christ. This is because if we surrender to Christ we trust Him, and are dependent upon Him, and thus, all authority will be the outcome of a relationship of surrender TO Him.
Now, as far as my lot in life, and the THINGS that God might want to do, they all arise as the OUTCOME of my surrender to God. I must be brought in a relationship of faith and surrender TO God, and then, out of that, I not only GET GOD, but I am able to receive – now on the right basis – all that God has as a part of His purpose for me. In effect, once I surrender to God, I AM seeking first His kingdom and His rule. Thus, as the outcome, over the course of time, God will be free to add to me everything else that serves His purpose and kingdom.
Humble Yourself to Be Exalted
God’s way of exaltation is through humiliation. In other words, if we put God first, then He is free to do His will in our lives.
Of course, exaltation through humiliation is simply another way of saying that the way to true life is through death to self. The way to life in Christ is through carrying our cross. I relinquish my SELF to God – I lose my life – and the result is that I find it in Christ.
You cannot decide how to put SELF to death. You cannot fashion your own cross, or choose the scene of your own martyrdom. SELF-crucifixion is impossible, because it is SELF that must be crucified. Thus, only God can bring about what is necessarily to do that job. That is why Peter says, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of GOD." Not some other mighty hand – but the hand of GOD. In other words, this isn’t about following a religious pattern. This isn’t about jumping through some religious hoop, such as, "submission to authority," as a law or rule to follow. It is about surrender to God Himself by faith.
God can use any number of things as an extension of His mighty hand. But again, it is TO GOD that we are submitting, not to the THING or other person. Our relationship to them, or it, is really only an extension of our relationship by faith to God.
God can exalt those who submit to His hand because it is through their submission that they become rightly related to Him by faith. He can exalt them because such exaltation will not destroy or corrupt them. It won’t come between them and Himself.
If you see what I’m getting at, by the time God exalts someone, they have already been made humble. His exaltation of them is not to glorify them, but to glorify Himself through them. God cannot do this if we are proud – for if we are proud, we will put ourselves first, and use even the things of God for our own pride and self-interest. Only if we are first humbled under the mighty hand of God can we be trusted with exaltation – for even in that we will glorify God and be expressions of HIS WILL.
How often this is taught and illustrated in the Bible! Joseph spent thirteen years in a dungeon – to humble him so that he could be exalted as second in command under Pharaoh. Moses spent forty years in the wilderness – to humble him so that he could lead Israel out of Egypt. David spent years in the desert – to humble him so he could be king. Paul the apostle was given, "a thorn in the flesh." Why? "Lest he be exalted through the abundance of revelation." He had to submit to God through that, so that God could exalt him, God’s way. And need we mention Jesus, who for the glory set before Him, endured the Cross? You cannot be exalted unless you are first humbled – brought into a relationship of submission to God.
Humiliation, then, is a matter of being brought in a relationship of submission and dependence upon Christ, so that THROUGH THAT SAME RELATIONSHIP, you can be an extension of the will of God and the glory of Christ.
Now note – exaltation is NOT a matter of being DONE with submission to God. It is not God saying, "Ok, I got the humility I wanted. Now you are done with that. Go out and reign and rule." No. Exaltation is the extension of humility. When God exalts someone they are supposed to remain humble – and will do so to the degree that they have submitted to God. In effect, I live in the exaltation God gives me from out of the humility He has built into me.
Again – this is all about a relationship with God. If my relationship to God is submission, obedience, faith, and dependency, God will exalt me because I will live in that SAME relationship with Him when I am exalted. I will continue to do God’s will to His glory – not my own.
Now, what do we really mean by exaltation? How does God exalt someone? Is this a glory trip? No.
God exalts us by sitting us with Christ in heavenly places OVER those things that were once OVER US. In other words, once we come UNDER the authority of Christ, we are then OVER all that HE is over. THAT is exaltation!
What we are seeing here is that every component of what Peter is teaching is really ONE thing. It is about Jesus as our Lord. I humble myself under God by relinquishing control. I am exalted because I have no control. I lose my life to find it. It is all about letting God have His will and His way unto His glory. I receive all that I could want in the package, because by the time God is done with me, I want what He wants – which is the whole point of the process.
Casting All Your Care
Jesus told us to, "take no anxious thought." The word, "anxious," there is the same word translated CARE, here, in I Peter 5. The word means, "to be torn in two directions." This is a pretty good picture of our internal struggles in this life.
If you notice carefully, however, we are not merely being told to surrender THINGS to God. Rather, we are being told to also surrender our CARE or anxiousness about those things. Now that really changes things! God not only wants us to trust Him for things, but He wants us to entrust to Him our anxiousness.
Actually, this goes back to what I said about surrender to God, yes, BY faith, but FOR faith. God knows what we are made of, and so He knows that we are going to be anxious and wrapped up in the cares of the trial. He is not insensitive to that. But He is saying, "Give me even THAT. I want to set you free from THAT."
It is one thing to surrender to God for His will in a situation. But it is another to surrender MYSELF to God – and open myself to Him so that He may transform me into a person of faith. And really, this is what God is after the most. God wants to do IN US whatever is necessary to cause us to become His will, and be in the relationship with Him that He intends.
Casting our care upon God is really an act of faith, because it means that we know we can afford to NOT worry – because God is in charge. It is also an acknowledgement that how we feel, and our perspective of things, is NOT necessarily the Truth. Our emotions are never the source of Truth, that is, how we feel isn’t indicative of reality. No. Truth is completely independent of our emotions, and of our knowledge. That is why no matter how we feel, we need to get to where we can put it aside and trust God.
God wants to bring us to the place where we won’t listen or be moved by our cares, but will stand fast upon Him in dependence. This is faith, and much of what God is after in this process described in I Peter 5. The way we get there is through surrender. If I won’t surrender to God – if I won’t cast my care upon God – then they are going to be MINE to deal with. And with that we will not get far.
According to the Bible, spiritual warfare is business as usual. Therefore, if the Devil never bothers you, I’d worry. He might be happy with you right as you are.
But if God begins to bring a person on, especially into a trial through which God intends to do a wonderful thing, the Devil will oppose us. And guess what? God will let Him.
Do we see this in this passage? Paul says, "Resist the Devil." Well, if I have to resist the Devil, it must mean the Devil has been given access to me – by God. Sure. Indeed, the very purpose for which God gives the Devil access to me is SO THAT I may resist him.
Why is this so? Because you cannot truly have victory unless you face the enemy and defeat him. Now, of course we don’t have to defeat the Devil in the same way Jesus has already defeated him. Rather, we resist the Devil BY SUBMITTING to Jesus as Lord. And if we do, then we have the same victory over the Devil as Jesus has – because we are submitted to Jesus.
So what we see is that God allows the Devil to access us on those points where we are weakest, and where we need to submit to God. This gets our attention. We are then exposed. But then if we turn to God in these areas, then Jesus becomes our Lord, and the Devil cannot defeat us.
So we see once again that if we come UNDER Jesus as Lord, we are then exalted OVER everything He is OVER – and have His victory. The enemy is defeated because Jesus has defeated him, and we are fully UNDER that victory.
But what will likely be the goal of the Devil? Well, the opposite of the goal of God. God wants us to submit to Him, and to relinquish control of ourselves to Him. The Devil will cast doubt upon whether God is there for us, and tempt us to take an escape route out of submission to God. Paul says, "Be sober and watchful." In other words, the approach of the Devil may be subtle. It may make perfect sense to save yourself and keep in control of your life – the Devil will suggest that God expects you to. But somewhere along the line this will require unbelief, and compromise with Jesus as Lord. Peter says, "Watch for that. Don’t be intoxicated by fear, confusion, or unbelief. Be steadfast in faith."
To be steadfast in faith really means to WITHSTAND the Devil by standing by faith in your submission to God. You are ONE with Christ and the Devil seeks to bring division between yourself and God. We are to STAY SUBMITTED to God – and not allow anything to move us. If withstand these temptations, God will have His will in the end.
In the beginning it is easy to proclaim our faith for God. But it is when the test comes that the real value of our faith is exposed. Jesus said that if we build our house upon sand, the storm would collapse it. This is often like our faith – it is not built upon ROCK, but upon sand – upon our emotions, and our pride. We don’t know what we are made of, and when the storm comes, the façade goes down.
Well, there is good news – even if that happens. If our house collapses, then we can begin building a new one, upon THE ROCK. Often, God will expose our house of cards for that reason, so that He can begin building us up anew in Christ. He may allow the Devil to bring the storm to collapse the facade. But if we turn to God, we will be building upon the Rock. A house built upon Rock is obviously a person who has submitted to God – their life is based in HIM.
When Peter says that the, "same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren," he is not talking about some need, "to log in suffering time." No. Peter is referring to the fact that God is making a corporate man – the body of Christ – that will glorify Him. And in order to do this, we must submit to God through this process Peter is describing. The accomplishment of the suffering is that we live for God. It is all unto that end.
The God of All Grace
God is a God of ALL grace. But His grace isn’t going to do us any good unless we submit to Him. We know this because Peter began this passage by saying that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. God gives grace for His will. Nothing else.
The wording of the next part of the passage carries a great Truth:
But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
If you read this verse, especially the part, "after you have suffered for a while," it almost sounds like a timetable that God is in charge of, to accomplish what He wants. God is in charge of this thing. Nothing is going to happen out of His control.
Peter ends the passage perfectly by saying that to GOD belongs the glory and dominion. This is not only to show God is in charge, but really, it is a summary of what God wants to accomplish through the whole process. God wants to have dominion and glory OVER us, unto our benefit. The end of this process, if we submit, will be exactly that – Jesus will be our Lord. God will have HIS will unto HIS glory.
Do you want the will of God? Well, then you really want a RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. What you want is to know Jesus Christ, and to walk in Him. And if you want that, well, then submit to God. Come under Jesus as Lord. And what you will GET is Jesus Himself – an enlarged experience and relationship with Him.
Coming with any relationship with Christ is always going to be the THINGS or lot in life that constitute the will of God. Because I submit myself UNDER God, He is able to exalt me OVER everything Jesus is OVER – and this will result in my experiencing what God has for me.
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