What Is It?
The Biblical Definition of Submission?
The word submit or submission means to submit under the authority or power of someone else; which is usually deemed mandatory or obligatory. To submit or be submissive is to be obedient to some requirement or authority and it is the very act of submitting to or being under that authority of someone or something. We submit to the transportation authorities every time we obey the speed limit. In Submission to God, “James 4:7 counseled us to:” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” With regards to governing authority, in Romans 13:1-we read, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” To the authority of the church we are told to:”Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be of no advantage for you” ( Hebrews 13:17).
Submission to God ~ The Power Of Submission
What does submission to God mean? It simply means that no one can live the Christian life without submitting to God. Jesus our greatest example had to submit to the Father in order to accomplish what He came to do for us on earth; He also had to submit to His earthly parents for 30 years – until it was the time of His ministry on earth. That is why, we are encouraged by God in Ephesians 5:21, “To Submit one to another as in the fear of the Lord.” Jesus first submit to God and then to His parents and then to John the baptist. Therefore, to have authority one must be under authority. It is this principle which governs relationships within the home. When the husband is under the authority of Christ, he has the authority of Christ. When the wife is under the authority of her husband, she has the authority of her husband in the home. But if the chain of authority is broken at any point, then authority breaks down in the home. Here is the major problem of many homes today. There is a breakdown of authority because one of the links in the chain is out of place. Either the husband is not submitted to Christ, or the wife is not submitted to the husband. Often both are out of their place. The result: disorder, disharmony and rebellion. “A submitted wife is an empowered wife not an enabling wife. A wife who refuses to use her power is just as destructive as a wife who dominates with her power. They both are distortions of God’s design for marriage. The problem arises in many homes because the wife knows the husband weaknesses and so she refuses to submit to him. Why? You’ve seen him make bad decisions, you know the areas in which he is capable of failing. This intimate knowledge gives the wife the power to look down on her husband; deem him unworthy for respect forgetting that God said to submit to him in all things. You also feels you have the power to expose your husband’s weakness like no one else in the world. He can pretend for everyone else, but not in front of you.
One of Satan’s greatest lies is that God’s will isn’t appealing. Satan wants us to distrust the Lord. He wants us to be skeptical of God’s plan for our lives. Satan wants us to believe that God does not have our best interest at heart, he did it with Eve and it works so he continues today. God created wives to be a “helper” to her husband so that he can succeed in his Godly assignment. Solomon acknowledged this when he tells this in Proverbs, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1). A wife’s power is always being used to either build or to tear down. God instructs wives to submit, not because he sees us as weak, but because of the power of influence that a wife have in her home.
We see throughout the Bible those who submit to the will of God, get the victory. Let us consider the life of Jesus who is our example and His submission to the Father, Jesus did not fight for recognition or authority, but willingly submitted Himself to His Father and allowed His Father to fill His rightful place of ‘headship’ By remaining in submission to His Father, Jesus maintained the unity within the Godhead. If He had left His voluntary place of submission, the unity of the Godhead would have been broken Likewise, even though the wife is one with the husband— and therefore also equal with him—The Father Himself has honored the Son by placing the entire creation under His feet (Ephesians 1:22). The Father delights to honor the Son (Philippians 2:9–11). He desires to lift Him up and have all things placed under Him. There is never a word about the Father “putting down” His Son, or trying to take more honor than His Son. It is the Father’s desire to honor, promote and establish Jesus over all creation. The attitude of the husband to his wife should reflect that of the Father to Jesus.To be submitted then is to walk in the will of God for our lives. The will of God and the plan of God both come out of the heart of God. God’s will is the expression of His love for us, and when we do not joyfully submit to the will of God, we miss out on the blessings He has for us.
The Importance of Submission
At the heart of every unsubmitted is a person who does not want to be told what to do. A disobedient person, a person who is in rebellion against God, God’s Law and those whom God has placed in authority. The bible tells us to: “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6). Refusing to submit takes us to a place of blindness and darkness. In James 4:7, this same scripture mentioned earlier, The Bible tells us to: “ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Without submission we cannot and we will not be able to live this Christian life.”We all are commanded to submit to or to be in submission to God as James writes in 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The way James writes this is that our being able to resist the devil is conditioned on whether we are submitting ourselves to God…only then will “he flee from us” but if we’re not submitting to God, we will not be able to resist the devil because if we resist God then we cannot expect God’s help in resisting temptation from the devil or his demons while we’re refusing to submit to God.” That is why we are encouraged by Philippians 2:5-7 to: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Like the picture above many are frozen in their resolve of what they think is right for themselves as they walk unsubmitted to God and those God placed in authority, in rebellion and disobedience.
The unsubmitted is entangle in a besetting sin that will eventually lead them to death and destruction. We are commanded to “submit to one another as in the fear of Christ.” Consequently, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1). “Anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience” (Romans 13:2-4). Submission is not just for some to so -it is for all to do.
Broken Through Submission ~ Zac Poonen
God breaks us in our early years by setting some authority over us, to whom we have to submit. It is thus that He breaks us. Even Jesus had to submit to the authority of Joseph and Mary for 30 years before God gave Him a ministry.The right hand, for example, is part of the right arms “team” and submits to the “leadership” of the right arm. The left hand however, is not a part of this team. It submits to the left arm. In the Body of Christ too, God connects some members (like those in one local church or in one team of workers) more closely with each other than with others.If you don’t have confidence in your leader, then of course, you must leave such a team (or such a church) at once. But you should never stay in a church or a Christian organisation and become a cause of rebellion or strife there. God will never bless you if you stay in a group and rebel against its leadership – even if the leadership is wrong.
Submission to a godly man will not only protect us from doing many foolish things, but will also enable us to learn a great deal of wisdom from him. He will be able to warn us about dangers that he himself has faced that we may be unaware of. So to be under spiritual authority is as safe for us, as it is for children to be under their parents. In 1 Peter 5:5 we read that younger men should be subject to their elders, because God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Here is a great secret of obtaining spiritual authority from God. I’ve known many fine brothers who were never given spiritual authority by God, for just one reason: They never learned to be subject to anyone in their entire lives. And so their strong will was never broken.
Authority is a very dangerous thing in the hands of an unbroken man. If you’re not broken first and you try to exercise authority over people you’ll ruin them and you’ll destroy yourself in the process too. God has to break the strength of our pride first before He can commit spiritual authority to any of us.Even to exercise authority in a home, in a godly way, as a husband or as a father, one has to be a broken man. If you want your wife and children to be subject to you, you’ve got to first learn to be subject to spiritual authorities yourself. Only then will God back you up in what you do in your home.
The Meaning of Submission in the Bible~Denise Larson Cooper
Matthew records Christ’s perfect submission most vividly in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. The Gospel writer draws us into a vision of Jesus in communion with the Father. We see Jesus’ anguish as he faces the horrors of the cross. Jesus’ words, reverberate through the ages, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Even with the terror of death looming, Christ does not exercise His own will but obeys His Father. In the garden, Jesus refuses to avoid the cross. He pleads in agony for strength to fulfill His Father’s will.“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Hebrews 5:7-8). Perfect submission made Jesus subject to the unjust control and power of sinful man. He stood silent before Pilate. Pilate asserts his authority over Christ, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (John 19:10) Jesus answers, “You would have no power over me if it were not give to you from above” (John 19:11).
What does Christ’s perfect submission mean for Christians? Christ lived in perfect submission to the Father. The Father did God did not coerce Him to “become flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14). Jesus chose to enter the fallen, sinful world to “lay down his life” on the cross (John 15:13) so that God could “save the world through him” (John 3:17). Jesus Christ came from Heaven of his own volition to die on the cross. He chose to place himself under the authority of the Father while incarnate. In Philippians 2:6-7 Paul writes, [Jesus Christ] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”Christian submission is not an act of human will. It is divine work. We can submit to God’s authorities and His will only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ imputes his righteousness to believers so the work of submission is faith. Through faith in Christ we receive his righteousness as our own and keep his commandments through the power the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Christ eternally intercedes on our behalf before the Father. Christ empowers us to follow Him in submission.
Pastor Charles Spurgeon wrote, “A lack of submission is no new or rare fault in mankind. Ever since the fall it has been the root of all sin…From the moment when our mother Eve stretched out her hand to pluck the forbidden fruit and her husband joined her in setting up the human will against the divine, the sons of men have universally been guilty of a lack of conformity to the will of God. They choose their own way and will not submit their wills. They think their own thoughts and will not submit their understanding. They love earthly things and will not submit their affections. Man wants to be his own law and his own master” (The Reason Why Many Cannot Find Peace, sermon 1408, www.spurgeongems.org).
How should Christians submit?
“Out of our love for Christ and our gratitude for His work of salvation Christians choose to submit their ways, wills, affections, thoughts, desires and understanding to God. (Spurgeon) In all matters of submission our conscience guides us to obey.We trust ourselves to Christ knowing that He submitted himself to God for our sake. He laid down His life for us, so through the power of the Holy Spirit we can lay down our life for Christ for the sake of the Gospel.”
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