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Spiritual Disciplines: Submission

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Introduction

A common theme in this series is how counter cultural these disciplines are, and how they really go right against cultural identity. These disciplines and practices are not just foreign ideas to our culture, but are often meet with down right hostility.
Fasting for example
Solitude & simplicity.
I would say though that none is more misunderstood and reviled in our broader context than the discipline of submission.
One of the big reasons for this to be the case, is because the bibles teaching on the matter has been used and twisted in the past, to justify some horrible behaviour.
Submitting to husbands used to justify domestic violence & abuse
Submitting to church authority used to cover up sin within the church
Even using submission as an excuse/short hand for bullying practices of some leaders. “You just need to do what I say, and submit to my authority.”
Misunderstood, this discipline which like all the disciplines is designed to be a gift of grace for us, can become a law which breaks us.
Misunderstood, this
This morning, I want us to see how submitting to God and each other, creates a heart within us of obedience to God, and creates fertile soil in our lives for God to transform us.
We have already talked a little about what a bad misunderstanding is on a biblical vision of submission, so what is the biblical view of submission?

Submission to God

Psalm 2:9–11 NIV
You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Job 22:21 NIV
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.
1 Peter 5:6 NIV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Hebrews 12:9 NIV
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!
James 4:7 NIV
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
God requires us to submit to him.
Already, that idea, for many ruffles our feathers.
We hate abdicating our power or choices.
Being a control freak, not wanting to give over the power to choose
But we make terrible choices.
Example of the fall in . God required that we submit to his authority and his ways, and we could experiences the perfect life, free from death. We choose to define good evil for ourselves and the result was sin, death and a decaying world.
God wants us to submit to him, because he knows best.
Deuteronomy 30:15–20 NIV
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
When we submit to God’s authority we are in the safes possible hands
Job 22:21 NIV
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.
1 Peter 5:6 NIV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Peter
Do you know who thought it was important to submit to God?
JESUS!

Jesus submits to his father

Luke 22:42 NIV
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:
John 5:19 NIV
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
John 12:49–50 NIV
For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
1 Corinthians 15:27–28 NIV
For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
1 Cor
Hebrews 5:7–8 NIV
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered
Jesus, while he walked the earth, completely submitted to will of God.
This serves as an example to us
He need to submit in order to fulfil God’s intention for the earth.
Hebrews 10:5–7 NIV
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’ ”
So we see that we should submit to God, just as Jesus did, but submission is also to play a role in our relationships as followers of Jesus.
“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.”
Martin Luther

Submissive spirit the Church

With one another

Ephesians 5:21 NIV
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Philippians 2:5–7 NIV
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Philippians 2 NIV
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
Submission to each other is something that marks us out as incredibly different to the world around us.
Php @:5-7
Php
John 13:35 NIV
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13
We see this play out in the church, when we don’t see anyone as being any less important than ourselves.
The image of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples is such an incredible one! This is the model that he wanted to give.
We are talking next week about the discipline of service, so I don’t want to creep to much on that territory, but there is a link between submission and service. When we have the attitude of submission, like Jesus did, it sets us up to understand that no one is bellow our service.
So where else do we see required of submissive spirit?

Submission to Jesus

Ephesians 5:24 NIV
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 1:22–23 NIV
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Colossians 1:18 NIV
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Jesus is the head of the church, and as the head we submit to his authority.
He is the living head of his church.
So where else do we see required of submissive spirit?

Submission to the Bible

Joshua 1:7–8 NIV
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Psalm 119:133 NIV
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
Jos
James 1:22–25 NIV
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Colossians 3:15 NIV
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
The bible is not a list of suggestions from God, but it is his word, to us! It is a living word that is relevant for all time, because it gives us the insight into what God desires.
It is one of God’s revelations to us.
It holds the words that lead us to the truth, and when we submit to it’s authority in our lives, we create the fertile soil in our lives for God to transform us.
So where else do we see required of submissive spirit?

To Church leaders

Hebrews 13:17 NIV
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
Their is obvious accountably when in leadership, ultimately to God. This is why we see so much written in the NT about expectations for leaders with church.
1 Timothy
Paul wanted his mentee Timothy to understand how important is was to have the right people in leadership.
1 Timothy 3:1–13 NIV
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
All this to say, that leaders have an important job. One that they will be required to give an account for.
And it’s important for us to submit to our leaders.
1 Corinthians 16:15–16 NIV
You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.
Romans 13:1 NIV
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 NIV
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
So where else do we see required of submissive spirit?

Submission to civil government

Romans 13:1 NIV
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Matthew 22:21 NIV
“Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Jesus didn’t even really want to debate about it!
Matthew 22:17–22 NIV
Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Matt 22:17
So where else do we see required of submissive spirit?

Submission of Wives to husbands

Ephesians 5:22–24 NIV
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
There are also requirements for husbands, as the head of the house.
Eph 5:25
Ephesians 5:25–28 NIV
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
This is completely counter cultural in the day it was written. Women were essentially property, and here you have teaching that advocates a self sacrificial love that husbands are to have for their wives.
It’s is impossible to take these verses and justify any sort of violence or abuse in marriage.
These are joint responsibilities in a marriage, that wives submit to their husbands but that husbands have the same love as Christ has for the church.’
What does this look like practically?
Submission in marriage doesn’t mean wives are to be simple little “yes” people! In Naomi and my marriage, we make decisions jointly, because when we have done that, the outcomes have been better. But ultimately I’m responsible for my family. There are other responsibilities that we have as husband and wife.
Along with submitting to her husband, a Christian wife also has the responsibility to be transparent, speak truth, confront sin, and challenge her husband to ever increasing levels of holiness. As heirs together of the grace of life, both husband and wife have the responsibility to love, encourage, and build one another up; and to interact with forbearance, kindness and humility. Biblical authority and submission contribute to mutuality, and do not diminish or detract from it. (It’s “both-and” not “either-or.”)
This is a choice we each make.
A husband does not have the right to demand or extract submission from his wife. Submission is HER choice—her responsibility… it is NOT his right!! Not ever. She is to “submit herself”— deciding when and how to submit is her call. In a Christian marriage, the focus is never on rights, but on personal responsibility. It’s his responsibility to be affectionate. It’s her responsibility to be agreeable.
The husband’s responsibility is to sacrificially love as Christ loved the Church—not to make his wife submit.
This is also not saying that women should submit to men, but an instruction specific to marriage.
So what else do we see required of submissive spirit?

Children to parents

Ephesians 6:1–3 NIV
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:5–8 NIV
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

Slaves to Masters

Ephesians 6:5–8 NIV
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

Young to Old

1 Peter 5:5 NIV
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Others submitting to us

1 Peter 5:1–4 NIV
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Ephesians 5:25–33 NIV
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
We have talked a lot about what it means to submit, but just as much can be said to those who have people submit to them
1 Peter 5:1–4 NIV
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
As we saw with the requirements of husbands to their wives, it is
As we saw with the requirements of husbands to their wives and the warning about leadership, there are clear biblical instructions for us when others are submitting to us.
Do not lord over others
Submit yourself to others
View others as Christ sees them.
I want to end with a prayer from John Calvin, it sums up well a heart that desires to submit wholly to God.
400 Prayers for Preachers Grant that We May Wholly Submit Ourselves to You

Grant, Almighty God, that as you would have our life to be formed by the rule of your law, and have revealed in it what pleases you, that we may not wander in uncertainty but render you obedience—O grant that we may wholly submit ourselves to you, and not only devote our life and all our labors to you, but also offer to you as a sacrifice our understanding and whatever prudence and reason we may possess, so that by spiritually serving you, we may really glorify your name, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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