The Act of Submission

I Peter 2:13-17 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”

Text I Peter 2:13 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.”

In compliance with the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Peter sets forth a clear command concerning the act of submission; “Submit yourselves.” While it may be an oversimplification, the fact is personal, “yourselves.” Friends may be able to do a lot of things for you like offer up supplications in your behalf, but they can’t submit in your behalf. If you are not in possession of a surrendered will before the Sovereign and a submitted will before society, it is because you have chosen not to be! Peter’s command is perceived as something you should do, but not going to do. The sad thing is; your self-centered attitude has so hardened your heart that you are no longer shamed by the sin of a rebellious spirit. Submission is personal, it begins with you.

The second thing that calls for our attention is the prelude to the act of submission. Peter said in I Peter 2:11 “abstain from fleshly lusts.” It may appear to be overly honest, but as long as an individual continues to be ruled by the natural man; self-will is going to be the ruling factor of life. The natural man has no appetite for, nor the ability to perform, the will of God! Gaining possession of a submissive will begins with a trip to the cross; “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). In a way, it is a paradox; it requires submission to take possession of submission. If one will not submit to the cross, he will find himself unwilling to submit to Christ, thus unable to submit to civil government.

The third thing we notice in the act of submission is the process, “Submit.” The word means be subordinate, to be under obedience, to be in subjection or submit self. It comes from two words meaning to arrange in an orderly manner so as to position under or beneath. The word appears to be slanted toward the thoughts of military service; to rank oneself under so as to fall in rank under authority. There is a truth here that I believe is either minimized or totally overlooked. Because submission revolves around rank, it is imperative that you know where you fall with respect to rank! This may appear to be in total opposition to the nature of submission, but you need not submit to everyone and everything; a sergeant must submit and place himself under the authority of a general, but would not consider placing himself under a corporal! When Paul instructed Timothy in the performance of his duties in church leadership, he said to his young associate; “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12). Timothy’s social rank in the home as a son and grandson, under the authority of the elder (see Ephesians 6:1, I Peter 5:5) is not to be confused with his spiritual rank within the leadership of the church in which age was not to be a factor. Speaking to the saints in Rome, Paul wrote, “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” (Romans 13:7). Please note the words, “their dues.” If one is to effectively follow the command, it will be necessary to have some understanding of where you and other fall in respect to authority; both spiritual and secular.

The final thing to be noticed in the act of submission is to be permanent. I understand that the word that Peter uses is a verb in the aorist imperative tense. This means that with respect to submission, you settle it once for all that this is to be the course of action for you to follow. For this to happen it is necessary to possess the mind of Christ; “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). Speaking of His submission to the Father, Jesus said, “always those things that please him” (John 8:29).

It is important that you make the choice to not only submit, but to make the choice once and for all! This choice will only be made when we “abstain from fleshly lusts” (I Peter 2:11) which is only possible when we submit to the work of the cross in our lives; it is only then that we find ourselves in obedience to the clear command, “Submit yourselves.”