Submission Is Not Just for Married People

Submission is not just for married people.

I should know; I’m not married. But submission is most definitely for me. Submission is also for you.

When you hear the term “submission”, what comes to mind? Far from a comfortable topic, submission does not always garner the most supportive responses from people. Even Christ-followers hear the word and cringe because—let’s face it—submission has been misused and its purpose misunderstood. For many, the image that comes to mind is that of becoming a repressed doormat. In our minds, submission looks akin to slavery.

For a long time, I thought submission was limited to the context of marriage. Years ago, out of a desire to obey the Lord, I pursued a supposedly submissive attitude in a dating relationship—to my disappointment and confusion. The so-called “submission” that leaves a person disrespected, neglecting holiness, and being taken-advantage of is not submission at all. It is foolishness. At that point, I wondered if I would ever fully understand it. How could I get submission so wrong, when my intentions were so right?

A month ago, on flickered the lightbulb.

What a stunning realization it was for me. My pastor was teaching a large group of women from Titus, where Paul instructs young women to be “submissive to their own husbands” (2:5). Naturally, there was an intrigued, expectant silence in the air, as we women awaited his explanation of the controversial “submission” word. What we came away with left our hearts rejoicing.

Submission is not just for married people. Nor does submission find its origin in marriage.

Submission began with Christ, Himself.

How? Our Savior humbly and willingly obeyed the Father’s will, trusted Him fully, and went to the cross for our sins. Jesus submitted to God, “Not my will, but Yours be done,” and as a result, grace abounds. Through Christ’s submission, sin and death were defeated by His blood on the cross, and reconciliation with God was made possible for all who trust in Him.

Submission is all about following the example of Jesus Christ.

Submission is therefore not just for married people because all Christians are called to submit to Christ. Living in submission to Christ’s lordship means acknowledging that our lives are truly no longer our own, offering them up to God’s perfect purposes and will.

Submission says, “Yes, Lord, You are in control of my life, and I trust that Your grace is sufficient for me. I will therefore rest in my identity as Your adopted daughter and trust the work of the Spirit in my life. I will walk by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Here’s the freeing truth about submission: The reason God commands our submission, both within marriage, the Body of Christ and to Himself, is because through it, His grace is fully manifested and His Son glorified. Submitting ourselves to God means trusting His purposed plan, His leading by the Holy Spirit, His Word, and His sanctifying work in us. What freedom there is in relinquishing control to our Sovereign God, whose grace is sufficient in our every weakness!

But what about submission in our other relationships? John Piper says that “submission is a wider Christian virtue for all of us to pursue, and it has its unique and fitting expressions in various relationships” (The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission).

Submission to others must begin firstly with submission to Christ. This means following the example of Christ through obedience to the Word of God. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other…Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (1 Peter 3:12-13,16).

So submission in our Christian relationships looks like: grieving with the brokenhearted, forgiving another’s sin, humbly listening to correction, looking past insignificant quirks, speaking honestly about a situation, putting another’s interests before our own, choosing a teachable spirit, serving others, holding our fiery tongues, and in everything humbling ourselves for the sake of the gospel.

When we choose to submit to Christ, we revere and honor His Name. The scope of submission is so much deeper than we ever could have thought or imagined! Submission is not just for married people. For in submitting to Christ, we become like Him, to the praise of His glorious Name and for the sake of the gospel!

[Post credit: iBelieve]

The Cure for Spiritual Amnesia

“Don’t forget me!”

Every evening, my little sister would yell these three precious words to my mother, once the tuck-in routine was complete, the lights were off, and the bedroom door was closed. Her tiny voice would cry out in love and in need, and my mother would respond with a chuckle, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly!”

How we long to be remembered! It feels wonderful to receive a phone call from a distant friend, as she lovingly communicates how we had crossed her mind that day. Birthdays are full of celebratory remembrance of a person’s life, as the cards arrive through the mail and emanate, “You are not forgotten.” Laughable, nostalgic stories told around the dinner table by old friends cause us to recall details of days-gone-by, as we share, “I will never forget the time when you…”

The act of remembrance is equally integral to our faith walk. Put more precisely, forgetting our desperate need for the Lord—developing a case of spiritual amnesia—weakens our intimacy with Him and fuels a life that functions dangerously apart from Christ. The Christian’s dependence upon Christ is necessary to knowing Him deeply and being all-satisfied in Him; yet all too often we forget our desperate need, choosing instead cheap worldly substitutes and unreliable, idolatrous self-sufficiency.

The process can be a slow fade. In examining my heart a couple of months ago, I realized that my comfortable life circumstances combined with my pride had somehow been blinding me to how desperately I needed Christ. My passion for spending time at His feet had dulled. Thank the Lord above I had a “measuring stick” in the form of remembrance: the previous year of my life had been one of loneliness, poverty, physical distress and, ultimately, utter dependence upon the Lord.

I knew what it was to suffer. I knew what it was to cling to Christ for dear life. And I knew what it was to find Him all-sufficient for my every spiritual need.

What about you? Do you honestly believe that your life is nothing apart from Christ? Each day, are you seeking to remember the depth of God’s grace, as you cling to Him for dear life?

Or are you coasting? Have you forgotten? The slow fade to self-sufficiency, busyness and pride can creep up stealthily without us even noticing. Life gets comfortable, our need for Christ supposedly lessens as a result, and in sets spiritual amnesia. Our heart grows apathetic, as we go through the motions of our faith, instead of engaging in the life, death and resurrection of Christ by abiding in Him.

We need a cure, a reality check. And praise God, His Scripture is continuously faithful to give us wisdom and guidance in our time of need.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15)

Realize your need. Ladies, think of the last time you went to the doctor when you were ill. You clearly would not have put forth the effort if you thought you were healthy. Your realization that your health had somehow failed you prompted your visit. Similarly, the Christian must realize that she can do nothing apart from Christ. Nothing. Before you trusted in Christ, your depravity was so great that it meant being forever separated from your Creator. Yet even now, as a believer reconciled to the Father, you can bear no lasting fruit apart from abiding (holding onto, keeping with) in Him. Though we have overcome sin and death, our victory is not complete until the day of Christ, so our need for the Savior stands as our reality each and every day.

Do you truly believe that your very life—from your salvation to your sanctification to your eventual glorification–depends solely on Christ?

Remember the Gospel. “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you” (v.3). When Christ humbly submitted to His Father’s will, went obediently to the cross to absorb God’s wrath for our sake, and then rose to new life, He defeated the power of sin and death once for all time. An eternity with God was made possible by Christ’s shed blood and victorious resurrection. The person who places her faith in Christ is united to Him, takes part in His inheritance and is made into a new creation, holy and blameless in the sight of God.

Remembering what Jesus did for us—meditating on His perfect life, atoning death, and powerful resurrection—puts our lives in eternal perspective. Without Christ, we would be eternally lost—but because of Christ, our lives are purposed to glorify Him, our future is secure, and a living relationship with God is our reality!

How does remembering the Gospel point you to your need for Christ?

Repent of sin. What are the cheap substitutes that threaten to dull your desperate need for Christ? What are the attitudes of the heart that cause you to turn away from Him? Is there anything getting in the way of you spending time at the feet of Christ?

Yes, Christ has made the believer clean by His perfect record; but until we reach eternity, our struggle with sin continues. Staying connected to the Father involves a constant practice of confession and repentance, as we seek first to recognize our sin and then to turn from it. Ask the Lord to search your thoughts and attitudes for pride, to help you recognize idols, and to strengthen you to lay aside sinful patterns and return to the cross. Only by His power are we able to recognize our sin, confess in humility, and repent, knowing full-well that His grace abounds in our weakness.

Remain in Christ. Abide in me, and I in you” (v.4). What’s the final truth to the cure for spiritual amnesia? Stay in Christ. Read the Word daily. Persevere in prayer. Obey His commands as a response to His loving kindness. Fellowship with others believers. Boldly proclaim the Gospel. If you are united to Christ, being a partaker of His very life, then certainly your life cannot function apart from Him.

May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened by the Holy Spirit to know more deeply each day the love of Christ, as we praise Him for the cross and cling to Him in our desperate need!

[Post credit: iBelieve]