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This is the last lesson in the 10 Ways to be a Stronger Christian series. Submission to Authority and reverent fear of the Lord is central to all of life. From the cradle to the grave, submission to authority is inescapable. Moreover, God Himself established authority, and He has done so to ensure things are done “decently and in order” (see 1 Corinthians 14:40).
In this life, there are multiple kinds of authority we must recognize and submit to. Everyone is to be in submission to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. No exceptions! There is no one higher in Authority. Those who learn how to submit to and respect authority do well, and those who fail to learn this lesson often pay for it dearly.
“…God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11
In general, people struggle with the issue of submitting to authority. We are all born as rebels at heart. However, submission to authority is God’s system of order and blessing.
Teach Your Children
There are always consequences for failing to submit to authority. Although these consequences vary in nature and intensity, there is usually an inevitable price to pay for rebellion.
A lack of respect for authority in children produces rebellious teenagers and ultimately rebellious adults. Thank God for His grace and His merciful intervention in our lives that can bring wonderful transformation. Nevertheless, disrespectful children usually grow up and become disrespectful adults.
Don’t be afraid to teach your children or grandchildren submission to authority. Furthermore, as a parent or grandparent, this is your responsibility. Consequently, they are not going to automatically wake up one day and be respectful toward authority. They are born with a rebellious, sin nature.
Psalm 58:3 states:
These wicked people are born sinners;
even from birth they have lied and gone their own way. (NLT)
Just as a fish never has to be taught how to swim, children do not have to be taught how to sin. They’re born with it in their blood. This is why everyone must be born again and saved from his or her wicked, sinful nature by renewing their heart and submitting to the authority of God’s Word.
Instruct, Lead, and Guide
To instruct and lead and guide those under your care is incumbent upon you. Moreover, you are an authority they should respect. Consequently, when you don’t teach them to respect authority, you’re enabling their disrespect of authority here on earth and disrespect toward the Lord. Eventually, not submitting to and respecting authority is going to negatively impact their lives.
Therefore, God has called you to train up your children and grandchildren in the way they should go (see Proverbs 22:6). Part of this training is teaching them to respect and submit to authority and have a reverent fear of the Lord. This training continues right into their teen years. Hence, what you teach and model before them about authority when they’re young will follow them all the days of their lives. It will affect them on their job, at their church, and in their community. So teach them well so that they can pass on what they’ve learned to the next generation.
Understanding Agreement and Submission
The truth is if you have joined a company, an organization, or a church, you have actually agreed to be in agreement with them. The very act of joining the team communicates that you are agreeing to the team’s vision, mission, and methods of business or ministry.
Therefore, by accepting employment or joining a church, you are, in effect, saying, “I agree with and am submitted to your leadership. I am here to help you move your vision forward and fulfill your dream.” If you can’t believe in and agree with what an organization or a church is doing, then you should not join that team.
There will be times when those in authority over you will make decisions that might not always make sense or seem good to you. Nevertheless, that person is the leader. God has placed him or her in authority. Therefore, in those moments when you don’t understand or like the decisions that have been made by those in authority, you must be respectful and keep in mind that God is allowing this person to be in authority for a reason.
Slaves [servants/employees], obey your earthly masters [employers/leaders] with deep respect and fear.
Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you.
As slaves of Christ [a child of the King], do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people [we are working 24/7 as Christ’s ambassadors].
Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. – Ephesians 6:5-8 Emphasis mine (NLT)
Dealing With Difficult Authority
Instead of resisting and fighting those who are in authority, cover them in prayer. Ask God to help them make the best decisions for all who are involved. Furthermore, rather than complain about or criticize their leadership, why not get in line with what they are doing and help them advance the vision of the organization or church? God will bless your humble heart of submission. However, you may be thinking:
- You don’t know how difficult it is to ... Or,
- You don’t understand how hard it is to be in submission to …
You may be correct. the authority you’re under may be very difficult to submit to and be in agreement with. However, God will help you if you will invite Him into your situation. Likewise, rather than focus on the failures and shortcomings of others, ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to focus on yourself and what He is trying to change in your attitude toward authority.
Judas Iscariot and Submission to the Authority of Jesus
If you study the life of Judas Iscariot, you will see that he always called Jesus “Teacher.” He never called Him “Lord.” This reveals a major defect in his relationship with Jesus.
Judas was connected with Him for personal gain. He enjoyed all the benefits of being around Jesus, including the amazing anointing on His life and the incredible notoriety it gave him. However, Judas never really submitted to the authority and Lordship of Jesus, and it proved to be a fatal flaw in his character.
Over time, Judas became too familiar with Jesus. As a result, he developed a dissatisfaction with and disrespect for Him that became Judas’ undoing. He had opinions about Jesus’ leadership — things he simply didn’t agree with.
Consequently, before long, Judas mistakenly began to believe that his own wisdom was superior to Jesus’ wisdom — that Jesus should promote Himself politically and declare that He was King. Hence, as a result of his improper relationship, Judas ended up betraying Jesus, and he was eliminated from a future of service to Jesus as truly King of kings and Lord of all.
A bad attitude toward authority that goes unchecked eventually eliminates people from their spiritual race. Unruly employees who won’t submit to their employers ultimately lose their jobs. Church members and leaders who are disrespectful and rebellious toward their pastor will ultimately find themselves removed from ministry. Lucifer, Absalom, and Judas are all examples, as we saw in a previous lesson. They were all eliminated from their places of authority because they became proud and rebellious toward their respective leaders.
Thank you for joining me in this study by Rick Renner. I hope you have been encouraged as much as I have. You can find more of his studies on his website. Here is a recap of the ten essential ingredients we need to be a strong, stable, mature believers for years to come. They are a passion for:
- God’s Word
- The supernatural work of the Holy Spirit
- Fear of the Lord
- Submission to Authority
Scriptures used are from biblegateway.com and unless otherwise noted, I’m using the New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.