God ordains authority. If you’re not submitting to the authority structures in your life you are opposing God’s will for your life. As long as you oppose God’s will for your life you’ll never walk in the fullness of God’s promises for your life.
We are all in a fight; it’s a spiritual battle. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. We wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
As it pertains to your spiritual walk with Jesus, do you ever feel like you have a monkey on your back? Sometimes it may feel like a light distraction, and other times it might feel like a 500-pound gorilla bearing down and crushing your soul.
Learning to resist means learning to submit. Resisting the enemy requires submitting to God and the authority structures He’s placed in our lives. The word “submit” comes from the Greek word: ὑποτάσσω (hoop-ot-as’-so), and it means, “I place under; I subject to; I submit or put myself under authority.”
God’s Kingdom operates by authority. There is a structure that God establishes for our benefit. It will be impossible to resist demonic forces at work in the atmosphere if we’re not intentionally submitted to the authority of God in our lives. God has initiated authority structure in society, in the workplace, in the church, in the home, and in various other aspects of life.
In Romans 13:1-2, Paul writes, “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. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”
When the Apostle Paul wrote these words he was living under the rule of Emperor Nero. Nero was a madman who made it a priority to kill Christians. He burned them at the stake, hung them on poles, and used them as torches at his garden parties. No matter how bad you think the authorities are in this country, it’s nowhere close to being as bad as it was when Paul penned these words.
I’d like to remind you that Paul likely had a twofold purpose in writing these words. No doubt, he believed in displaying respect toward authority unless said authority is trying to get someone to do something contrary to God’s Word. It is also likely that Paul was reminding Roman authorities who had given them their authority in the first place. This would have been insulting to the governing rulers of Paul’s day.
We should never use Paul’s words to uphold a political agenda, as we know many evil empires have caused much harm in the world on the shoulders of the Bible. However, unless governing authorities are “forcing” (an important word) us to do something contrary to God’s will as revealed by His Word, we should live in peace and submit to their authority. We all know Paul eventually suffered a martyr’s death because he would not stop preaching the gospel even after he was commanded to. How could he after meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road?
Another great example of submitting to authority is seen in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three young Hebrew men went directly against King Nebuchadnezzar’s decree by refusing to bow down and worship the golden statue he had crafted in his own image. These guys were perfect examples of obedience to authority.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worked for the man who had taken their own people into captivity. They decided to remain loyal to the law even to the point of death. They knew that not bowing down meant being cast into the fiery furnace, and they submitted themselves to that end. Yet it turned out to be the best day of their lives. Part of subjecting ourselves to authority means accepting punishment when we feel we cannot obey. God works in those instances to bring glory to Himself; there are many biblical examples of this truth.
Another great illustration of submitting to authority is found in Luke 7. There is a Centurion whose servant is sick. He comes to Jesus and says, “I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it… When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, ‘I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’”
Notice the Centurion didn’t say, “I am the authority.” No, he said I am a man placed under authority. He said, “I say to one go and he goes, come and he comes” etc. What was the Centurion saying? He was saying the people under him follow his commands, not because of who he is, but because of the authority above him. Who was above him? The Roman Empire.
Submitting to authority doesn’t mean God supports evil being inflicted on people by governments, but it does mean that God ordains government for structure in this world. The world is depraved; without any authority structures, it would be complete chaos. The governing structures of the world are in place to bring a sense of order to what would otherwise be unrestrained sin wreaking havoc across the globe.
In other words, the results of human depravity would be a lot worse if God had not instituted government and a certain level of order to rule the societies of the earth. Through authority structures, we see God’s grace at work keeping the world from being as bad as it could be. We all know it could be a lot worse.
When we learn the power of submission to the authority structures in our lives, structures in the family, structures in society, and especially structures in the church, we will learn what power in the Kingdom of God is all about.
Click here to read Part 3: Submission to Authority (Part 3)
3 thoughts on “Submission To Authority (Part 2)”
Thank you for the reminder of the importance of this subject and the importance of actually living such a lifestyle for Christ as part of the victory road we are supposed to travel.
It’s interesting that in American history Romans13 has been used in the political arena two times of note. Once by loyalists during the revolutionary war to condemn the revolution and encourage loyalty to the Crown of England, the lawful authority of the time over the colonies. The other was during the Civil War by southern slave owners defending the practice of slavery as the law of the land.
To use the Bible to under-gird a political regime, or political policy, especially in a country founded on the separation of church and state, is a very slippery slope. Would you preach the same sermon to the German Jews under Hitler? Or even to the German Christians? To those who suffered under Mao’s rule in China? To those struggling to hold body and soul together in countries with governments compromised by drug cartels or terrorist organizations?
The fact that Romans 13 cannot be applied unilaterally to all political situations and still reflect the Spirit of Christ clearly implies the need to very cautious in its application to any. To fail to do so would be to condemn the American Revolution as not God’s will and to preach the necessity of slaves being slaves, not because it is right or just but because it is the current state of the governments will.
Rather than cherry pick a verse that can be used to support even a poor or corrupt government I think it would be wiser to embrace the whole of the Gospel and the entire person and purpose of Christ. Look to that sacrificial compassion which was the life message of Jesus along with kindness, gentleness, and all the other fruits of the spirit as the only true guides to any who would name the name of Christ. Both in discerning the will of God concerning the proper empowerment of Government as well as our own behavior and treatment of those who share this world with us.