Summary: A not too popular subject, but one that is essential to successful Christian living, family living, and congregational living.
Obedience and Submission
We live in a permissive world, a world where the absolutes of God hold diminished influence. This should not surprise us for the Bible tells us that lawlessness will characterize the days that precede the Second Coming of Christ.
Believers in Christ are not governed by a world system. We walk to the beat of a different drum. We are God’s children and that which characterizes our behavior – or at least it should - is our absolute obedience to God
The Bible teaches six areas of obedience and submission that believers are called upon to observe
First: Obedience to Parents.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ephesians 6:1
"Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord." Colossians 3:20
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12
One way by which we can understand the reason for these directives is by examining the purpose of parental discipline.
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15
"My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12: 5-11
Everyone struggles with the temptation to sin. Even the youngest child tends to disobey his parents. Why? We are born with a sin nature that compels us to act “foolishly”. Life is full of regrets. “If only I hadn’t acted so foolishly”, is the haunting memory held by almost everyone.
God’s cure for foolish behavior is discipline. The discipline we receive from our parents is designed to drive away foolishness from our hearts. Without discipline we are not legitimate children of God. A legitimate child is one who bears the image and likeness of his father. It cannot be said that we are truly God’s sons and daughters if we bear the image of Adam, the father of the human race who sinned. Through discipline we grow into the image and likeness of Christ, our heavenly Father’s true and perfect son.
Children who do not respect their parents who try to administer discipline, not only reject their parents, they reject God. God works his purposes in the parent/child relationship.
What about parents who are abusive, cruel and ungodly? The principle to observe is this: Give honor wherever and whenever it can truly be given. If obedience to parents means disobedience to God, God comes first.
Second: Obedience in Marriage
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Colossians 3:18
Submission is not about inferiority it is about roles. Women are not a lesser form of species than men are. Husbands and wives are assigned specific roles in marriage that are intended to be the same as the different roles seen in Christ’s relationship with the church. Jesus loved and sacrificed himself for the church. The church submits to Christ on that basis. Husbands are to love as Christ loved, sacrificially and unselfishly. Wives are to submit to their husbands on that same basis.
If parents are submitted to each other and to Christ, rendering discipline of their children has the best possible effect. Children see modeled in their parents the behavioral change discipline is designed to produce. This is true correction.
Churches too must practice discipline amongst its members. Church members will model their response after the submission pattern they observe in their leaders. If leaders themselves are not submitted to the disciplines of God and practice them in their relationships, the church is deprived of the example it needs to be true Disciples of Christ.
Just as parents who fail to discipline produce an illegitimate child, spiritual leaders who fail to discipline produce an illegitimate church, one that does not truly bear the image of Christ.