Clarksville, TN – There are some things in Christianity that are harder to understand then other things. Submission is one of them.
When we become Christians, one of the first things we are told about our new life is that “But as many as received Him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God…” (John 1:12 KJV).
When we first discover that verse we think “Wonderful, all that power is mine!” Then we find out even better news, “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:17 NKJV) Just imagine being joint heirs with the Son of God who said “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18 NKJV)That’s all just great, but have you ever wondered if all that power and authority is yours how come you really can’t do anything with it. Jesus had authority over the wind and the weather. He could still a storm; whens the last time you stilled a storm? Jesus had authority over water; He could walk on it or be baptized in it. Have you been able to make that choice?
Here is where submission fits into the picture. Our authority in Christ is only valid when we submit to Him, at the same time submission aint real, until we understand our authority as children of God. If that sounds confusing, it is because we start out with a completely wrong concept of authority and submission.
In the process of growing up, some of us have learned how to always get our own way. We have learned to demand, manipulate, and take control over people and situations. We call that authority. Others among us grew up learning that we could never have our own way. We were too weak to stand up to those who pushed us around or took advantage of us. We call that submission.
Between the two extremes are the rest of us, who have developed schemes to get our way sometimes, and have felt that we’ve been forced to give into people or circumstances the rest of the times. Starting with our parents, brothers, sisters, and bullies we feel we’ve been squeezed and pressed to our limit. When God says “submit’ we don’t like it.
In years past we’ve seen so called ‘liberation movements” pop up. They all teach us that we have ‘rights’ and need to stand up for ourselves. But these movements are all based on the same false concept of authority and submission. They tell us that authority means to take what’s ‘rightfully’ yours and submission means to let everybody walk over you. We need to understand that these ideas of authority and submission are counterfeits of the real thing. When we try to apply them in our Christian life it doesn’t work.
True authority is legal and rightful power given to us to command or act. It isn’t something we claim for ourselves. The submission is the voluntary act of committing ourselves to the will of someone else. It isn’t something forced on us.
In the Christian life, authority and submission depend on each other. Jesus showed us the principle in action. He said “For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I say and what I should speak.” (John 12:49 KJV)
The most powerful thing that Jesus ever did was when He broke Satan’s hold over this world. He didn’t do it by exercising all His authority. He submitted to the power behind the crucifixion. He could have called ten thousand angels to rescue Him, but then there would have been no redemption for a lost world and no victory over evil. We are free today because Jesus submitted to death in our place.
There would have been no power behind that event if Jesus hadn’t held that the authority to save Himself. He said, “No one can kill Me without My consent, I lay down My life voluntarily. For I have the right and power to take it again. For the Father has given Me this right.” (John 10:18 Living).
The submission God requires from us is always a voluntary act of obedience. When we do it, God responds by releasing His power and authority into our situation. Involuntary submission releases no such power, and only makes us more miserable.
A commander wants to be surrounded by men who can submit to orders, not out of fear because then they would be cowardly soldiers, but gladly because they trust the judgment of their commander and know that obedience is necessary if their mission is to be successful.
Think of the picture of a well-trained dog. He eagerly obeys the least of his master’s commands with his head held up high and his tail poised. There is a beautiful relationship of loyalty and trust between them. Now think of a dog cowering with his tail between his legs before his cruel master. This dog also obeys, but it is because he fears the whipping he’ll get if he doesn’t. There is no bond of love and respect between the two and we know that if the dog got a chance, he would run away.
The dog who eagerly obeys his master because he loves him shows a picture of true submission. God has given us the freedom of choice. Our obedience must be a voluntary thing. When we become Christians it’s hard to surrender our old nature to God. We can only do it a little at a time, because we can’t bear to give up all the controls to God at once. God’s will for us is to submit to His Word, to the circumstances in which He has placed us, and to the people He has surrounded us with. God knows our old nature and that the only way it can be tamed is through obedience.
If we refuse to submit to God’s will, our Christian life comes to a screeching halt. We can’t have oneness with Christ or abide in His love. We will have no peace of joy. “If you keep My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:10-11 NKJV)
Jesus submitted Himself willingly because He knew who He was. We must know who we are. If you think you are a poor, mistreated person, pressed by circumstances, and forgotten by God then you aren’t in a position to truly submit. You need to know deep down in your heart that you are a child of God, with all the rights and privileges He has given you and that not for a moment do you have to doubt His love. Now you can submit without fear. The only true foundation for submission is to be absolutely sure of our Heavenly Father’s love.
A small child is required to obey his parents and has no real choice in the matter. Then comes the moment when he finds out he doesn’t have to obey. He is strong enough to resist. This is what happens when a teenager struggling to discover who he is and what his rights and responsibilities are as a person.
During the process he often lashes out against all authority, arguing with his parents, and standing up for his “rights.” If the teenager doesn’t know, deep down in his heart his parents love him, resentment and a sense of rejection can turn into serious, open rebellion. The teenager or young adult who comes through the crisis into maturity and submission is the one who knows he is loved and that his parents only want the best for him.
As Christians we struggle to find our true identity in Christ. The way to true maturity leads through submission, but we can’t get there unless we know our Heavenly Father really loves us and only wants the best for us. When you know who you are, submission is no threat to your identity, but it spells doom for your old nature and that’s why the old you fights it so hard. Submitting to God is a lifelong process, but the beginning is the hardest. For each step you take, it will get easier.
It is the same way in the Christian life. At first we find ourselves pressed by circumstances and difficult people on all sides. But as we submit, and God begins to work that submission into our hearts, we experience a new oneness with Christ. Now we find that true submission takes the sting out of painful circumstances and relationships.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossae “…We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.” (Colossians 1:28 Living) to achieve Christian perfection, when people look at us they should only see Christ. There is only one way God can make the transformation in us and that is through our submission. When we know we are God’s children, loved by Him, we also know that He has given us authority over our old rebellious nature.
We often quote the verse in the Bible that says we are joint heirs with Christ, but we hardly ever pay attention to the second part of that statement we are “… joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:17 NKJV)
We are joint heirs with Christ when we joyfully accept suffering with Him. Now you can be glad for every opportunity to submit to a difficulty. You can also be sure it will lead to something glorious in your relationship with God.
Excerpt from Created To Believe: The Power of Praise Through Practical Biblical Truths written by Richard “Reason” Garrett
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