Submission to God is not submission to a religious order, the traditions of men, or strongholds of the mind. It is submission to God’s order. It is submission to God, therefore, it is submission to every expression of God. This involves submission to other people, not some form of law. It comes from a right relationship with God. Without submission there is no Authority. How did Jesus show His submission? Jesus submitted to Authority. He did only what He saw His Father doing.
Jesus didn’t do away with the Law. He fulfilled it. How did He fulfill the Law? Did He fulfill it by submitting to the Law? Or did He do it through relationship with the One that was reflected by the Law? Even Jesus had to be revealed by the authority of a man named John.
Luke 3:3-6 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”
Luke 3:16-18 John answered, saying to them all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.
Authority is on the King’s highway. Wherever the King is there is submission, because wherever the King is there is authority. It is in the presence of the King that low places are raised up, high places are made low, crooked places are made straight, and rough places are made smooth. It is a matter of submission. It is a matter of authority. Everything is under the King. Everything is under authority and that authority changes everything to manifest the presence of the King. The presence of the King is the presence of authority in all things. It is the presence of the King’s life that brings life to the world.
In order to have the authority of the King we must submit to the places of the manifestation of His authority. Authority doesn’t belong to human flesh. It belongs to t he King. To whom must we submit? There are many examples of submission in the Scripture. That submission is not a thing of control. It is a relationship with life. God has given us gifts and He has given each of us as gifts to one another. One gift that God has given is that of leaders. Leaders are not controllers; they are simply God-graced people to lead. They work with us in the direction of God in our lives. Paul says this about leaders:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. I urge you, brethren–you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints–that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours; therefore acknowledge such men.
We are to submit to those who have accepted the responsibility of leading among us. These are not self-appointed leaders, but God ordained gifts of leadership given to us in the Church. Those who lead must submit to God in receiving the delegation of leading in His Church. They must also submit to others with who they are in relationship with in their responsibility of leading. They must submit to giving life to those they lead. As members of the Body of Christ we must all submit to those who have been given the authority to lead in our lives. We are all part of the Body and God brings direction through the voice of His Holy Spirit within us, but that directed voice is also activated by God-given gifts of leadership.
The writer of the book of Hebrews says this about leaders:
Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
As I have looked at these words in the Greek text I have come to my own wording of this verse. Leaders are not those who control your life. They are those who help you in the direction that God is leading. You must rely upon those who lead and induce you toward life, surrender yourself to them, for they are required to be awake concerning your souls, and they must give an account in thought and word for you. They will help keep you from falling into deception and will be alert to the life that God has for you. Let them do this with cheerfulness and joy and do not make them sigh and murmur because of you. Don’t put them in straits, for if they are forced to live in a tight and narrow place because of you it will only be unprofitable for you and prove to cut your purpose short. Leaders are given to those they lead. We do not serve leaders as lords. We submit to leaders because they serve us by leading. We come under the authority of leadership in order to have authority in our own lives for those we influence. Leaders are not a substitute for the voice of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. They merely serve to help us be stable and taught in our hearing of God’s voice.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood subjects is that of the submission of a wife to her husband.
Ephesians 5:22-23 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
The wife’s submission to her own husband is not a submission of women to men. It is a submission of a wife to her husband. That submission is not because her husband controls her. It is not a submission where the husband receives what he deserves. It is a submission where the wife can receive what the husband is giving. She is to receive his love, his life giving words, and she is to come alongside of him in everything. Together they are both being led by the voice of the Holy Spirit within their hearts. They are joint heirs in fulfilling the purpose of God in their lives.
- Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
- For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
- Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
- that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
- that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
The Greek word for “present” in Ephesians 5:27 is the GSRN 3936. paristemi, par-is´-tay-mee, and it means, “to stand beside, i.e. (transitively) to exhibit, proffer, (specially), recommend, (figuratively) substantiate; or (intransitively) to be at hand (or ready), aid”. The submission of the wife to the Husband is a relational connection for God’s purposes in their lives. The husband has the responsibility of leading, but he does not have a responsibly of lording.
Even our relationship with God is one of submission. We are to receive Him in His authority in our lives.
James 4:1-8 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Notice that the defeat of the devil is found within the sandwich of submission to God. When we submit to God we resist the devil. It is a matter of drawing near to God and receiving His life-giving authority. Submission to God is the key to authority! It is a matter of relationship, not one of mere obedience to structure. It is intimacy with the life source.
Believers in the Church are to submit to their elders.
1 Peter 5:1-11 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves 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 walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Consider your relational connections of submission. Authority comes from submission to authority and authority is the substance of life. It is not a taking from others, but a giving of life and the function of life in all things.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson