Submitting to the Lord, Natural Man, and Happiness (1 Corinthians 7:22-23)

I have a friend with whom I love to converse about various gospel topics. I’m not sure why, but talking about doctrines of the gospel is really exciting to me – especially if it is in a situation where both participants seek more knowledge. (I don’t like to bible bash, I like to learn!) This is what I miss about going to institute – thinking and talking about points in the gospel.

Yesterday, we were talking about the natural man – what it is, exactly. We were also talking about submitting our wills to the Lord. She mentioned that, according to her personality, she balks at “submitting to the Lord.” (I must state that she is an extremely faithful person, and from what I see – she does so much to submit to the Lord). Anyways – the point is – this idea got me thinking.

Why exactly do we need to submit to the Lord? I know that we do, and I know that it is essential in our development. But it is hard to put into words sometimes. I mean, the Lord is all about agency – so why, exactly, is it so important to submit to Him? How do I answer this question if someone asks me???

Today, I came across the following:

“22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” – 1 Corinthians 7:22-23

The thing is this: we don’t have to submit to Him. No one will make us. He won’t make us submit to Him. But, in the scriptures, the Lord is giving us the answers to the test. Our lives on earth don’t have to be a mystery. We have the entire equation – including variables and their outcomes.

I – we are fallen people – The fact of the matter is – we are fallen men. We are mortal. We will die physically and spiritually. Without an atonement, there is no means for salvation.

II – we have hope – Heavenly Father didn’t leave us in such a dire situation. He loves us, and He sent His Only Begotten Son to live on this earth and offer His life as the infinite and eternal sacrifice that would overcome the effects of mortality (physical death) and the consequence of Sin (spiritual death). … So – we have a way out of the predicament we are currently in.

III – Christ saves us physically – ” 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:22 – Christ’s atonement saves us in two ways. First of all, Christ’s death and resurrection saves each of us physically – from mortality. Just as Adam’s choice – to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil – has caused all of us to die; Christ’s choice – to die and then be resurrected – enables every person that dies to be resurrected. This benefit comes to each of us at no cost. Well, let me rephrase that – the cost was Christ’s life. But, we each are blessed with this gift. No person on the earth – no matter how wicked or righteous will be denied this blessing. We will all be resurrected. We are all saved from physical death.

III – Christ saves us spiritually – This is where the idea of “submitting to the will of God” comes in. Spiritual salvation – our redemption from our own sins is not necessarily free. First of all, Christ paid the price for sin. We could not have done it without Him. However, His atonement can only be applied to our sins if we allow it. How do we allow Christ’s balm to heal us from the effects of our fallen nature? By giving up our wills (the natural man) to Him.

IV – We can be free – When we give up our wills to Christ, then we are made free – from the bondage of Sin and Death. It is really pretty simple. I think that the scriptures focus on this idea because it is the truth. We aren’t told that we need to give up our wills to the Lord because he has some kind of ego problem. It’s because that is the way it is. He’s giving us instructions. If you were trying to tell a person how to get to your house, your instructions are not some kind of control or power trip. They are a set of simple instructions that will help a person find his or her way to a destination. If we want our destination to be the “promised land” of eternal life and happiness, then we go His way – through Christ – by giving up our wills for His, it’s as simple as that.

V – Serving man only brings us bondage – We can serve men if we want, but we can’t serve men and then expect to receive the blessings of Salvation that impede us from Heavenly Father and His happiness. (See more in a second on happiness)… Oh – and when I read this verse, “be ye not the servants of men,” I’m struck with the idea that Paul isn’t just talking about “not” serving people and their ideals. I think that he’s talking about our not serving our own “natural man.” We need not serve our own unrighteous desires. If we seek to please and serve our own “natural” self, then we are serving man, and not God.

VI – We cannot serve both Christ and man

” 24 ¶No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” – Matthew 6:24

We have to choose whom we will serve. Heavenly Father will not make this choice for us. He has let us know the consequences of our service:
Serving Christ (or submitting our Wills to Him) → Freedom and Life
Serving Man (or giving into our own natural desires) → Bondage to the consequences of these choices.

VII – Happiness and freedom only can come from God Many Mormons are familiar with this scripture: ” 10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness,” (Alma 41:10). Wickedness never was happiness is one of the best one-liners in the Book of Mormon. But what about why? Why isn’t wickedness happiness? Alma answers that question in the next verse: “ 11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness,
(Alma 41:11). So – why isn’t wickedness happiness? Because sin opposes the nature of God, and the nature of God is happiness. We may have pleasure for a moment when we sin, but we won’t find happiness – because happiness, like righteousness, cleanliness, or peace is a quality of God.

So…I feel like I’m kind of on the right track to the answer of why we need to submit to God. I don’t think that we need to be threatened by this concept. Submission of our wills to the Father – it is recognizing that we need to be born again (of the Spirit) it is the recognition that we can’t achieve happiness without Him. It is accepting the way, the path, that has been paved by Christ’s blood and body to Heaven. There is only one way – submitting to Christ’s will is choosing to take it.