We live in a society that absolutely rejects the notion of submission. For most Americans, submission is a sign of weakness, inferiority, and failure. What’s worse, there is a disturbing upward trend in deviant fetishism that seeks to add a very sick and twisted meaning to submission, due in large part to a recent publication of filth I don’t care to mention. To put it bluntly, submission is a dirty word in our society. There is a very good reason the enemy works so diligently to pervert, distort, and redefine “submission” and what it means to submit. As we will see in the Scriptures, the reason is that submission to God and the authority of His Word is our only hope for salvation. While that may seem like a “given”, I urge you to bear with me and see if we might dig a bit deeper into what it means to submit to God and His Word.
In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we have the following introduction of Jesus Christ:
John 1:1-5 (NASB) The Deity of Jesus Christ
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:14-18 (NASB) The Word Made Flesh
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
I like to start in the book of John, because I find that his intro does a wonderful job of introducing the Christ in such a manner that unifies the whole Bible. Right off the bat it is clear that in order to fully understand what it means to know Jesus involves studying all of God’s Word from Genesis through Revelation. If you’ll remember the wording of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 regarding the Messiah, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us”, you see here that John was pointing out that while His flesh was born that day, Jesus was given to us… ,”And the Word became flesh”.
Now, as Christians, we are to take Jesus as our example. What did Jesus have to say about the Law and the Prophets?
Matthew 5:17-19 (NASB)
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus had every right, being God, to simply speak truth from His own authority. Why did He choose to return to scriptures time and time again? A common quick-answer given today is simply that He did so to demonstrate to us how we might live our lives. While there is truth in that, I believe that answer to be incomplete, and it leaves too much room for the enemy to inject into our minds doubts and false doctrines regarding the person of Jesus and the role of biblical submission to Divine Authority. Jesus wasn’t just demonstrating submission to the scriptures and to God the Father, He submitted to the Father’s Will. When He fasted for 40 days (Matt 4), He submitted to the Spirit, was led into the wilderness to be tempted, and He was hungry. Not an act just for demonstration’s sake, it was real. He resisted the temptation of the devil by referring to the Scriptures. That alone would make the point I’m trying to make, but look at His response to the second temptation.
Matthew 4:7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Jesus isn’t directing the quote at Satan, He presents the quote as a standard by which He must resist the temptation to put the Lord God to the test. Jesus is saying that He will not do what Satan suggested He do, because Scriptures clearly stay that we are not to test the Lord our God. Submission. Likewise in the response to the third and final temptation, Jesus isn’t commanding Satan ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ He is saying that He is to worship the Lord God and serve Him only; therefore, He will resist the final temptation. Submission. Satan had to flee… and after he had run away, the angels came to minister to Jesus. I think that it is from this example that James writes
James 4:7-10 (NASB)
7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
I look forward to returning to James 4 at a later date, but for now, I just wanted to point out that the Apostles understood submission because they saw it in the life of Jesus. In your own private reading time, examine for yourselves all of the times Jesus deferred to His Father in Heaven. In the book of John, He made it very clear to the Pharisees that He was the Son of God, and that He was sent by Him, and that His authority over sin, sickness, even the Sabbath was from God; however, He also deferred to God’s Will and Authority. Let’s go to another truly desperate and painful times when Jesus submitted to God the Father
Mark 14:36 (NASB) (Luke 22:39-46; Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42)
36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
Luke 23:34 (NASB) (On the Cross)
34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
Luke 23:46 (NASB) 46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.
Amen. Yes, Jesus demonstrated complete and total submission to God the Father… by being fully and completely submitted to God the Father. It is this point, this point exactly, that lead me to share this message today. If Jesus, being the Son of God, the Word of God, equal to God was righteous in His submission to God and the Word of God… where is it that we get this false notion that submission denotes inferiority? We submit to God not only because He is superior to us (because we are, in-fact, inferior to God) but because it is Right that we do so. If submission were based solely on inferiority of being then Jesus could not have submitted to God the Father, for He is in no way an inferior being. He submitted to the Authority of God the Father, because that is the design of God’s creation.
Pray about this, and settle it in your spirits. Biblical submission is righteousness in the sight of God. Submit therefore to God. There is much more to discuss concerning the righteousness of biblical submission. Know that the basis for subsequent discussion has been presented here, in that we must first submit to God, His Word, His Son, His Spirit, and His Will. We will take a prayerful look at what the scriptures have to say about submission, particularly in how we are to live our lives as Christians in society, family, and within the Church.
Until next time, May the Lord bless and keep you in His Will,
- Jesus Christ on the Infallibility of Scripture (creation.com)
- The Sovereignty of the One True God (faithfulstewardship.wordpress.com)
- Finding the Gospel in the Whole Bible: An Interview with Graeme Goldsworthy (modernreformation.org)