Summary: The Biblical principles of submission. This study looks at how submission is an act of humility and faith in God. We are trusting God to lift us up and fulfill His promises.
Submission – A Command with a Promise
8 And He said, "Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai."
9 The Angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand."
10 Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, "I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude."
11 And the Angel of the LORD said to her: "Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction.
I will state right up front that I don’t expect this to be a popular message. Submission is in direct conflict with the human pride that we all struggle with. As Ben Franklin once said, “Humility is such a hard virtue to attain that if I should attain it, I would be proud of myself”. The Biblical principle of submission, as with every other New Testament principle, finds its origin in Genesis. The book of Genesis is the foundation that the entire Bible is built upon. Not surprisingly, this principle taught by the Angel of the Lord is identical to what the New Testament teaches in 1 Peter 2:18-20
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.
19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
Lets look at the biblical principles of submission.
Submit to God
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
The first principle of submission is to submit to God. Without first submitting to God, we cannot submit to others. Humanly speaking, we are not submissive by nature. Most people can submit when everything is going in their favor, but it takes a spiritual focus to submit at all times. There must first be a transition from the flesh to the spirit. My flesh only looks at my own will and self-interest. “Is this going to fulfill what I want?” My flesh looks at the person in authority and asks, “Does this person measure up to my expectations?” When I become spiritually focused, I am not looking at the person that I am submitting to, but to God. I submit to God through those He has put over me. If I am looking at the worthiness of those in authority, I will always find fault.
An example of this can be found in the military. When a soldier approaches an officer, he salutes the officer. There is no question about worthiness, only about rank. As a soldier, I did not have to judge the officer, only his rank or position. An officer stands on the authority that was determined by the military. In the same way, everyone in authority does not stand on their own claims or by their own strength, but by appointment of God. Whether people realize it or not, God is the One who determines leadership. Even wicked leadership can only stand by God’s power. In the Bible we see the wicked in authority to punish those who abandon God or to be used by God for a specific purpose. Sometimes that purpose is just to show God’s people that God can overcome the impossible. Pharaoh’s power served to reveal God’s power to His people so they could have the confidence to follow Him. The Bible commands us to submit to those in authority regardless of whether they are righteous or not. Look at Romans 13
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.