The Duty of Christian Submission
May 12, 1996
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:13 - 3:7
Prayer - (for mothers):
First, we praised God for His plan of salvation. Then we realized how that plan of salvation laid the groundwork and enablement for our proper conduct before God to live the life of that salvation, and then to grow in that salvation (holiness).
But our conduct before God is not Peter's only concern for us. Our conduct before God will also carry over into our conduct before other people. Those who yield their lives fully to God will influence others about His grace as well. Not wanting to leave any "stone" unturned, Peter exhorts us about godly conduct in our relations with government, business, and family. Our lives are visible to others as we place our faith and trust in God day by day.
Other people need to see the proof of God's reality in us. They may even test us in this - perhaps unknowingly. This may require (indeed Jesus said it will require, Jn. 15:18-25) us to suffer seemingly without reason. But that is a major reason Peter wrote this letter - to encourage Christians in the face of suffering. He is going to tell us how to do this effectively by submitting to God in difficult human situations on all fronts. The key is submission.
Definition of submission: submission means to deny self in the sense of yielding or surrendering obedience, to renounce one's own will for the will of others, to place self under and to place in order, that is, to place under in an orderly fashion.
Submission can cause mental or spiritual suffering, but only because it is not something that sinful human pride likes to do. We put ourselves through a lot of anxiety because of it. Submission leads to joy if we are able to let go of pride. Society does not value submission. It teaches that the ideal, highest position is personal autonomy. But then we are as a ship without a rudder because it is all up to us - and we can't do it.
Make me a captive, Lord,
And then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword,
And I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life's alarms
When be myself I stand;
Imprison me within Thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand.
The purpose in life is not to find your freedom, but your master.
Freedom then comes because we need no longer search. Man was created to serve God. The biggest mistake you can make is to believe you are working for someone else.
I. The Christian and his Government
(Living as Citizens: being subject to magistrates)
A. Submitting to human governing authority has its basis in the purpose of God.
13* Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,
14* or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
Human government exists because of sin. It therefore is not sinless but still a necessary institution because man ceased to contribute to each others welfare. Instead they prey on one another. In place of harmonious society, we have murder, lust, theft and war as symptoms of humanity that lost its spiritual bearings. The institution of government has been given by God through grace to restrain men from reaping the entirety of their consequences for their own sinfulness.
There is no explicit description of the State in Scripture - no attempt to define the prerogatives of government. But it is implicit in Biblical teaching, i.e. Israel's desire for a king and the story of Saul and David. Even the story, The Lord of the Flies, depicts the inherent sinfulness of mankind and his need to be accountable to some authority to prevent self-destruction.
B. Submitting to human governing authority results in good according to the will of God.
15* For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
C. Submitting to human governing authority reveals the freedom we have as servants of God.
16* Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
D. Submitting to human governing authority is a characteristic quality of Christians just like that of submitting to other believers and even to God Himself.
17* Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
II. The Christian and his Business
(Living as Servants: being subject to masters)
A. Submitting to the authority of even unjust human masters is a credit to God's greater authority to whom all must give account.
18* Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
19* For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
B. Submitting to the authority of even unjust human masters credits not only God but us as well.
20* But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
C. Submitting to the authority of even unjust human masters is our calling in Christ because of his example of submission to human injustice through consciousness of God.
21* To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22* "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."
23* When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
D. Submitting to the authority of even unjust human masters relieves their burden of sin to draw them to Christ even as Christ drew us to God himself.
24* He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
25* For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
III. The Christian and his Family
(Living as Spouses: being subject to mates)
A. The submission of wives to even unbelieving husbands is a wordless book that speaks volumes about the holiness of God.
1* Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
2* when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
If you want to attract your husband you need to spend more time in front of your Bible putting on holiness rather than sitting in front of your mirror putting on makeup.
B. The submission of wives to even unbelieving husbands is a priceless picture of the spiritual beauty of God.
3* Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
4* Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
C. The submission of wives to their husbands carries the Scriptural precedent of generations of women who obtained eternal beauty by placing their hope in God rather than in man.
5* For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,
6* like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Your hope in God gives hope to your man because your fear of God rather than man makes your man sit up and take notice of God. When he sees this beauty of hope in you then he sees the beauty of God who gave you this hope.
D. The consideration of husbands towards their wives is an acknowledgment of God's created order of protective headship to which they must give account.
7* Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
The husband's submission to his wife does not relate to headship but to a divine responsibility for her. He must, in a sense, submit to being responsible. This is a tough call for a lot of guys. Men rebuff against the idea of being submissive to a woman (and nowadays vice versa), but we need to define our terms. God created men and women spiritually equal, but as we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 11:8, man did not come from woman but woman from man. In God's created order the man has headship. The woman must honor this headship or it creates problems in God's order for the man and for the family and even for the woman herself.
But as Matthew Henry wrote: "Eve was made by God not out of man's head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.
Viva la difference! Remember what attracted you to her in marriage? The woman has been fashioned by God as a helpmate for man. Since God fashioned her from man, He surely knew what man needed. So it is with a wife placing herself in the proper and divinely-fitted position under her husband. Only a wife can bear children, and to do this she must subject herself to her husband. The functions are equally important although different. And they are different not because we want them to be but because God made them to be so.
But a word to the wise: I'm speaking to you men now. True submission is usually initiated by those under authority, not achieved by the demand of the ones in authority.