"submitting to one another in the fear of Christ."
Devotion for Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Eph. 5:21, “submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.”
Submission has become a very complicated topic in the twenty-first century. In secular, relativistic culture, like the one we live in today, submission seems repulsive and an antithesis to freedom and liberty. Today, let’s take a look at how submission works within the context of fearing God.
In Paul’s famous passage dealing with the concept of a God-glorifying family, the apostle prefaces that discussion with the statement, “submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” This caps Paul’s outline for God-glorifying character in the context of the community of faith. Thus, Paul concludes that ALL Christian lives are to be marked by the characteristic of submission. Plus, that submission is founded upon the fear, reverence, and love of Christ Jesus.
Paul connects godly fear with submission. The exemplar of the life of submission is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He enjoyed equality with the Father for eternity past, yet willingly humbled himself in submission to the Father’s will and remained obedient, even to death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-11). As we saw in the devotion on John 4:34, Jesus says, “My food (my sustenance, my driving force, my mission) is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” That is willful submission.
Yet, when we discuss submission, our mindset, especially here in the United States, recoils at the notion of submitting to others. It seems to be one thing to submit to God, but quite another to consider submitting to a fellow believer, a spouse, a civil authority, an unbeliever. Since a secular, hyper-individualist worldview has become pervasive in this culture, and people now see themselves as captains of their own souls, the thought of willfully yielding lordship over your life proves anathema.
However, submission indeed is the mark of the true believer in God – a true God fearer. Fearing the Lord yields the rights over your life to your creator and the Savior who died for you. The Holy Spirit becomes the guiding force in your life tied to the Word of God. And as you love and submit to the Lord, the Lord will lead you to love and submit to others as well. Remember that Jesus, did not “come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom to MANY.” (Matt. 20:28) Paul says, “Therefore, since we know the FEAR OF THE LORD, we try to persuade people…For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, IT IS FOR YOU. For, the love of Christ compels us.” (2 Cor. 5:11, 13-14)
The Bible teaches us that the fear of the Lord should move us, compel us to view each day as a mission for the kingdom of God. Because Paul feared the Lord, he worked to persuade people. His whole ministry was based on a desire to help people find the way to Jesus. If they understood the gospel, it was to the glory of God and to the benefit of the lost. For the LOVE OF GOD drove Him.
Submission is not debasement. Submission is not slavery. Submission is not demeaning. Jesus remained GOD THE SON – equal with the Father, even while he submitted to and carried out the Father’s will to the cross.
A worldly sensibility views submission as a weak reaction to POWER – earthly power and coercion. That is not the biblical sense of submission. Godly submission is a reaction in the fear of the Lord to LOVE!!! For the love of Christ compels us! For the love of Christ motivates us to submit to one another.
When we come to Christ, he bids us to lay aside our former selves full of agendas, desires, ambitions, and power. He bids us to deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. When we yield ourselves to His Lordship and His leading according to His word, an ironic thing occurs. God gives us dynamic power from the Spirit to be His witness. The Lord gives us a power that the world knows not of.
Do not recoil from Christian submission. Fear God; submit to one another. When you recoil from the notion of submission, perhaps you are confusing the worldly notion of submission to the one found in the gospel. For with godly submission in the fear of Christ, there is POWER, wonder-working POWER.
Pastor, Sharon First Baptist Church