The Bottom Line

The apostles Peter and Paul had much to say regarding submission to governmental authority, employers, and spouses. But the underlying point—the bottom line—is that all people, particularly believers, should willingly and readily submit to God.

After God completed His creation, He declared that submission to His authority was manda-tory: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen. 2:16–17). God made his position absolutely clear: If Adam didn’t want to die and experience punishment, he and his progeny needed to submit to God’s authority. Since mankind was created by God and for God, it was to submit willingly to Him.

But from the beginning, people refused. Eve was deceived; and Adam, with his eyes wide open, willingly rebelled against the Creator’s authority and thus plunged all humanity into a lost, rebellious state. Submission to God brought life; rebellion brought death.

Later God gave His Law, His commandments, to His chosen nation Israel. God made clear what He expected from them: “So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lᴏʀᴅ and all the judgments . . . and Moses wrote all the words of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Ex. 24:3–4). The Israelites understood what was required to experience blessing from the hand of God: submission to His laws, statutes, and judgments.

And Israel accepted the arrangement: “All that the Lᴏʀᴅ has said we will do, and be obedient [submissive to His authority]” (v. 7). Israel promised obedience but could not keep its vow.

Young King Solomon, keenly aware of his insignificance in relation to the Almighty, understood the need to submit to God: “The fear [respect] of the Lᴏʀᴅ is the beginning of knowledge. My son do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands” (Prov. 1:7; 3:1). Later, however, Solomon apparently rejected the very concepts he espoused and led his nation into sin.

Enticed by the pagans sur-rounding them, the Israelites sought other gods and abandoned their covenant with their beloved Deliverer—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The Lord continued to beseech Israel to submit to His leadership and authority, reminding them,

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chr. 7:14).

It is amazing that today the followers of Allah worship their god by falling on their faces and prostrating themselves. They regularly humble themselves and pledge their lives to Allah’s book and to the worldwide spread of Islam. Yet many of us who belong to Christ struggle to humble ourselves before Him and to submit to His commands.

He told us to proclaim the gospel message: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt. 28:19). Yet many Christians keep silent. He told us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15). Yet many of us in the West are as preoccupied with materialism as unbelievers are. God’s Word says we cannot love the Lord and the world at the same time.

Scripture also requires the followers of Messiah Jesus to be different, even as Israel was to be different. Israel was to be a holy nation, separated from the surrounding world, as believers are to be today:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:1–2).

The Lord expects His followers to submit to His authority, as declared in His Word. The prophet Micah summarized the Lord’s position on submission as he declared, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).

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