Submission According to the World of Men
Submission is not a popular idea in today’s world. It is often referenced in a negative way by political activists. The word “submission” to them is viewed in the context of one group of people dominating and violently subjugating another group. The narrative continues: as a result of the injustice inflicted by the cruel oppressors, the subjugated people are denied their basic human rights. They are humiliated and forced to comply with all sorts of demeaning rules.
These activists often claim the high moral ground as champions of liberty and human dignity – until the moment one disagrees with their worldview! Suddenly, a new tyranny comes to light that is starkly undignified: liberty is only to be granted to those whom they deem worthy of it and, so often, Bible-loving Christians are not included. This is one of the glaring paradoxes so obvious in society today.
Submission According to the Word of God
It is always refreshing to turn away from these dark and claustrophobic ideas so prevalent in the world and seek out the light and “fresh air” of God’s Word. No Christian advocates the shameful mistreatment of others. In fact, the Bible from cover to cover teaches that every human being has been created in the image of God; the weak, the poor and the vulnerable are not to be exploited or oppressed. Furthermore, the gospel is a message of forgiveness and reconciliation, life and liberty, peace and joy, as well as hope and assurance. It is a message of blessing for all. It does not discriminate against anyone.
The submission which God seeks from His children is totally different from that of the world. It is a noble Christian grace. Those who once were rebel sinners have been transformed to become yielded servants of the living God. But how does this change take place? Those who come to Christ for salvation are marked by repentance, faith and love. All of these features display different aspects of submission before God.
Repentance – We Agree With God and Accept His Word
Repentance is a complete change of mind and heart. Before conversion, some might have had their own ideas about God, about Christ, about themselves and about the future. Perhaps they thought that God was some kind of remote being who was not overly concerned about those living upon the earth. Christ was viewed as being no more than an itinerant teacher and healer who set a good example. Although they did not claim to be perfect, they were trying to do their best in the belief that God would reward them one day by granting them entry into heaven. These are the sorts of ideas that many subscribe to.
When the Spirit of God brings conviction to sinners through the truth of the Word of God, all false ideas must be abandoned. They begin to understand that God is great in power, holiness and justice, but He is also great in love, mercy and grace. He is interested in each individual, and out of love He sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1Jn 4:14). Christ died upon the cross of Calvary to pay the price of sin. He is the only way back to God. In repentance, the sinner submits to these truths.
Faith – We Depend Upon God and Trust His Direction
The natural man is self-reliant and plots his own course according to what he can see and understand. The spiritual man relies upon God and submits to His will, walking by faith and not by sight (2Co 5:7). Every child of God begins on the Christian pathway through faith in Christ but also goes on to live by that same principle day after day. A wise believer will diligently seek to know God’s guidance in every area of life and then follow it (Heb 11:6). In such matters as the choice of a career, finding the right marriage partner, or where to live and how to serve the Lord, God is pleased to make His will known to us. We can trust Him to lead us, not only in these key decisions but also in the small details.
The believer continues to trust God, even when times are tough. A notable example of faith put to the test is the story of Job who lost nearly everything in one tragic day. His response was to bow to the will of God and declare, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21 KJV).
Love – We Are Devoted to God and Seek to Serve Him
For us as believers, rather that acting out of a sense of duty or obligation to behave in a certain way, we willingly and wholeheartedly seek to please God in any way we can. We serve Him, not because we are forced to but because we want to. We gradually learn not to be self-centered but to focus on Him and His interests. We gladly yield to His will by purposing to live holy lives for His glory (Rom 6:13,16,19).
Sacrificial love undergirds all true service. It flows from a sense of thankfulness at being the recipients of undeserved favor from a gracious heavenly Father. The apostle Paul described love as his sole motivation for service: “For the love of Christ constraineth us” (2Co 5:14 KJV). In other words, it hemmed him in and left him no option. Love has its own unique power to move men and women to worship and to serve the living God. It has also inspired them to pour out their lives for others.
Spheres of Divine Order
For the good of society as a whole, God has established spheres of authority. These all require willing cooperation and submission to make them function effectively. The devil, however, seeks to overthrow God’s order at every level. He is busier than ever today, as is evident in a world marked increasingly by rebellion and anarchy, chaos and confusion.
We shall consider our subject of “Submission” in relation to the following spheres: in the Godhead, in society, in the workplace, in marriage, in the family, and in the local church.