“For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority; whether the King as head of state, or the officials that He has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish them that do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the body of believers. Fear God and respect the king.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)
For some people, the word “submission” sounds like a dirty word. The very concept has been hijacked by cruel, selfish authoritarians who have twisted and distorted the truth for their own purposes. But true submission, when properly understood and applied, replaces the pain and strife of rebellion and greatly increases human happiness ….
Submission is not just for a few. It’s for all people. According to (Romans 13:1), “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”
It goes on a step further in Romans to add that “anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and they will be punished.” (v.2).
I’d say that’s pretty clearly stated how God feels about rebelling against authority. Every single one of us must practice, on a regular basis, this principle of submission. It’s not just for the children; it’s also for parents. Not just for church members; but also for pastors. Not just for wives; but also for husbands. Not just for employees; but also for bosses. It’s for everyone. In fact, we are to be “submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
So before we ever ask or expect someone else to submit, we must first submit all of us, to one another …..
Submit is a military term that refers to “placing oneself in order under established authority. Operating within the chain of command. Yielding to authority without resisting or rebelling. Finding one’s place of humility and cooperation under the influence of others”….
No one is to force you to submit; God’s Word specifies “submit yourselves” (1 Peter 2:13). Nowhere does the Bible teach forced, top-down submission. People in authority should never demand or command submission. Leaders receive that from those under their authority. Leaders should win the favor of those under them through selfless, servant leadership. A godly response to that servant leadership is the choice of submission. Submission is a choice — not top down, but bottom up.
If you are in a role in which you should submit, that’s a choice of heart that God asks you to willingly make — “for the Lord’s sake” (2:13).
Those are such sticky words! If Jesus, in all His glory, were to stand before you and ask you, “Would you please do this for Me?” you wouldn’t hesitate … or would you?? In fact, you’d likely answer, “No problem, Lord. I’ll start right now. And I’ll spend the rest of my life getting that done for You!” I know I would, and it wouldn’t matter what it was that He asked of me either. He laid His very life down willingly for me. How could I possibly deny Him anything?
The problem is that we can’t see the Lord. He’s behind the scenes. Those we do see: bosses, parents, elders; are human, frail, and imperfect. Often we use the imperfections of human authorities to dismiss our responsibility to submit. What a flawed attitude, which God will not bless, by the way. We are to submit, not because the authorities are perfect or even consistent, but “for the Lord’s sake” …..
If your boss is unfair and demanding, easy on themself or others, but hard on you, you can rebel, or you can submit. But remember, if you rebel, you’re actually refusing to submit not only to your boss — but also to the Lord. If you submit, you invite God’s blessing ….
Submission is not slavery. God does not want His children living or acting like slaves. Though Paul called himself a slave (or bondservant), he was not a slave to human authority but a slave to Christ (Ephesians 6:6). Big difference. We’re not slaves. Wives are not to act like slaves either, except to Christ. Workers are not to act like slaves, except to Christ. Other than that holy servitude, we are free people. Free to choose. The obedience we give to human authorities, we give freely—“for the Lord’s sake” …..
I challenge you to make a list of the primary authorities in your life. Then, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = total rebellion, 5 = willing submission), how would you rate your attitude toward each authority? Consider one way you could improve your attitude of submission toward each person …..
While it’s easy to submit to a leader in obvious authority, what about a gentle pastor, or another elder in the body of Christ. Those loving authorities who have asked difficult tasks or placed unpleasant demands on you?
The Word says, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow.” (Hebrews 13:17)
Obedience is the key that opens the lock from which blessings come. When we are willing to obey; and say with a submissive surrendered heart, “Thy Will – not mine be done” regardless of the difficulty of what is asked of us; we can rest in the assurances that God is well pleased ….
Let us pray ~
Lord God, I need Your help. Please help me put off my pride and rebellion and instead put on deference and humility. Teach me to live in submission, and ultimately more important, not to human authorities, but to You and for Your sake. Grant me grace and favor as I learn to set aside my defiance and submit willingly to my pastors and accept their counsel and correction as needed. I offer myself afresh to You as Your humble servant, and a servant of God to any in the body whom You place before me. I pray in the name of Jesus, Who has set me free. Amen ….