Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

The Discipline of Submission

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Submission means having the willingness to voluntarily submit to Christ and also to others in authority. Thus, we make a commitment and resolve to yield our will, mind, and body for God's purposes so we can better hear, receive, and obey His Word. It is a call to submit and a Discipline because it takes our effort, even though we are not required to do so. When we are submitting to others, we are also submitting and serving Christ as Lord (Col. 3:23-24)! It is an aspect of the surrender of our lives to God so we are in His will.

Is the Discipline of Submission Working in You?

 

Principle Scriptures on the Discipline of Submission: Psalm 40:6-9; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 16: 21-28; John 14:15-21; Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:1-8; James 4:1-12; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 2: 13-18; 3:1

 

Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this Discipline of Submission from God's most precious Word by examining your life and the passages above. Now ask yourself:

 

1.    How do I exhibit a life of Submission in my daily life?

2.    How can I develop the willingness to be a more disciplined person who will realize I am to obey Christ as well as respect others?

3.    What blocks Submission from working and being exhibited in me?

4.    How can I initiate Submission, and discipline myself to carry it out?

5.    What can I do to make Submission function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty and stress?   

·       Here are positive examples from Scripture: Matt. 26:39; Luke 1:26-56; 7:1-10; John 1:19-28; 3:28-30; Acts 4:19-20; 5:29-32; 1 Cor. 16:7; Phil. 2:3-11; Heb. 5:7-8.

 

·       Here are negative examples from Scripture: Isa. 14:12-17; Dan. 4:30-34; Matt. 26:40-41; Luke 18:9-14; 1 Cor.16:8-9.  

The Discipline of Submission means having the willingness to voluntarily submit to Christ and also to others in authority. Thus, we make a commitment and resolve to yield our will, mind, and body for God's purposes so we can better hear, receive, and obey His Word. It is a call to submit and a Discipline because it takes our effort, even though we are not required to do so. When we are submitting to others, we are also submitting and serving Christ as Lord (Col. 3:23-24)! It is an aspect of the surrender of our lives to God so we are in His will. Because Submission is respect, it is not to exceed the parameters of the will of God or of love and righteousness. This Discipline of Submission is more about our interpersonal relationships and how we humbly reverence God, whereas Surrender is how we should come before God, which we will address in the next DOF study. The application is for our benefit. In our churches, when we are under the leadership of those who are more mature and respect others' leadership, we will learn and grow more. In so doing we will become a better, healthier church. This will also affect our home life and relationships as we will show love and respect thus creating harmony and contentment.

 

What Submission is not is a loss of our identity or personality; rather, we are freed and enhanced to be better and more content with God and others. Submission is not about hating ourselves; rather, it means to have a right respect and relationship with God. The Bible calls us to also love ourselves, because we can't love others as we love ourselves unless we respect and love ourselves! But, this does not mean having pride or placing ourselves always on top or having to have it our way-period (Mark 12:30-31)! In contrast, arrogance lifts our self-interests and self-sufficiencies, which may seem necessary and good. However, when we are self-sufficient or self-indulgent, we not only fail to see our need for redemption, but also fail to see our need for growth in spiritual matters. Therefore, self becomes the god, and any work of the One True God is muted and put aside. This means we are not to base our identity on who we are in society or in wealth or anything outside of who we are in Christ, our love, and Christian maturity and growth. This is not being "weak;" rather, it is being "meek," as Christ exemplified and called us to be. Meekness is showing humbleness and gentleness toward God and others (Ex. 32:19-20; 30-34; Num 12:1-3; Psalm 37:11; Prov. 3:5; Matt. 5: 3-12; 11:29). Meekness causes us to seek to please God and submit our will and aspirations to His will and what is best. This will enable us to endure being personally attacked as we keep our focus on Christ and humility.

 

What happens when we do not practice this discipline? If we do not submit, we will have a disregard for unity and no respect for authority; thus, our sinful nature will win out. The result will be quarrels (because of pride), discord (because of a battle of wills with one another instead of love and Fruit), and shame, bringing the destruction of our church, our families, and our relationships. We will become imprisoned in our own agendas and hurts so the wonder of relationships and the sweetness of His work are not received by us. We will become consumed with our anger that results in bitterness and strife with others. We will become ingrates and our hurt, which is mostly self-inflicted, will become a weapon to hurt and destroy others instead of building and growing with them in God. When our minds are focused on Christ and not on status, situations, possessions, or experiences, we will glorify Him. Then, we do not need to worry, fret, or become consumed with anger, bitterness, or ingratitude when others come against us. Thus, if our situation is bad, or we do not get our way, we can still succeed and be joyful. And when new are doing well, we will not let pride rule over us either. This comes about when we realize that Jesus does indeed care, and loves us ever so deeply!

 

Further Questions

 

1.    How would you define the Discipline of Submission? Are you a person who tends to be submissive? If not, why not? What desires do you have that seem so much better than what Christ is offering you? How can your own vision and agenda be better than what the Creator LORD, King of the universe has for you? 

 

2.    What part does Submission play in your relationships with church members, friends, coworkers, and family? How can it improve them?

 

3.    How does focusing on what we want counteract God's call? What is the cost to our lives personally as well as to the people around us when we refuse to submit to Christ as Lord or to leaders?

 

4.    What happens when your church leaders refuse to submit, or teach or encourage others to submit to Christ?

 

5.    What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you refuse to agree with His precepts or practice His presence (worship Him)?

 

6.    When have you exercised Submission the most? What is the difference between being submissive and being prideful?

 

7.    In what situation did you fail to be submissive when you should have? What does it mean to your daily life and its stresses to realize that His death was meant to give you life?

 

8.    What are the benefits of the Discipline of Submission? What must take place within us to transform us so we can be submissive?

 

9.    How would Submission help you in distinguishing between what is good and what is bad in life? What would real, authentic Submission look like in your life?

 

10. What issue is in your life now that would improve with more Submission? How would it greatly enhance your attitude toward God and affect your attitude in how you communicate and interact with others?

 

11. How does Submission help us see the Holy Spirit's convicting us of a sin or a bad attitude that we need to confess and submit to Christ?

 

12. Think through the steps that you need to take to put Submission into action in a specific instance. For example, how can you use this Discipline of Submission to improve your faith, Fruit, character, relationships, confidence, leadership ability, parenting, and/or relationship with Christ and others? What can you do to motivate yourself to examine your attitudes to see if there is room (and there should be lots of it) for improvement in your relationship with both God and those around you?        

 

 

The Discipline of Submission helps enable us to receive Jesus, not just as Savior, but as Lord so we are receiving His work in ourselves, and in so doing, becoming His workers in others, too. This Discipline of Submission comes from our complete conviction in the truth-His Truth. We do this when we recognize Christ's Authority, and believe it, trust in it, and have faith in Him. Then we are influenced, infused, and in agreement of His call and precepts. Then we can apply them to our lives by our faith, maturity, and character so our conduct and attitude reflects Christ with joy.

 

Submit comes from a military term, which means "to place under" or "to subordinate" as a line relationship. This is not because of weakness or inferiority, or, that one is better than the other; rather, it is respect. It is also an aspect of our reverence to Christ for who He is and what He has done for us, and our resulting attitude and obedience (Eph. 5:21-22; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 5:5, 22). This means we submit "For the Lord's sake" which is about His authority and sovereignty. God establishes His will and is the authority. For this reason, Christ is extolled; His name and reputation remain good and are shown in good light when we are respectful and become His windows to the world! 

 

When we become "Christians," either by birth in a Christian family (which does not actually make you a Christian just as being in a supermarket does not make you a cucumber, but many Christians just think that since my family is so and so I am too…) or through evangelism as an adult, a time must come when Christ must take hold of us on a deeper level in radical commitment and conviction. This requires our determined practice of our Christian faith. So the reality of who we are in Christ hits us deeper with more power in faith and conviction as we start to grow and be more serious with our faith. The result is of more use to God, and better in our relationships with others. The Discipline of Submission allows us to completely change the filthy agendas of our minds and fill them with the new golden wonders of His love and precepts.

 

Submission comes before obedience-before we can venture with real, authentic obedience without drudgery of compulsion; we cannot surrender to Christ until we have submitted to His Lordship. This will transform into a practical application of our faith. This is a Discipline because we have to continually work at it. It does not just happen on its own; something astounding must take place within us to transform us.  In other words, we must become the people of God in order that we can be capable and willing to do the work of God. Our relinquishment of our will to His is paramount to making this happen (Mark 8:34; John 3:27-30).

 

The Discipline of Submission will greatly enhance, for the better, our attitude toward God, which will greatly affect our attitude in how we communicate and act with others. We learn this by our humility through the Work of the Spirit spurred on by the spiritual disciplines of being in His Word, and practicing before God our dependence on Him, seeking His will, and being in prayer. Our motivation is to be the realization that we are saved by grace, and kept by His love (1 Kings 8:58; Psalm 25; Mark 1:7; Luke 9:23; 18:9-14; 22:27; Romans 12:3; Eph. 4:1-3; Col. 1:18; Phil. 2:8; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:3-5). We must realize that the faith to respond to Christ and others will never grow in the shallow soil of our pride.

 

Christ calls us to take up the cross and deny ourselves; this is extreme discipleship, a call that is to cancel out our will so we can submit to His. When we confess Christ as our Savior, it means He is our Lord. We are to surrender to His direction, call, and purpose. When we claim to be His, we need to commit and follow, leaving behind all that hinders and causes us to go astray. This goes against our will and our culture that says, you are number one, and you deserve whatever you want. But, usually what we want is not what is best. Yes, we deserve better; and better is to be in Christ and to follow His ways.  When we deny ourselves, we are liberating ourselves from misdirected ways to His way and from temporary, skewed fun to eternal wonder.

 

The Discipline of Submission allows us to see that our real, authentic faith follows Christ (Matthew 9: 9-13)! But, we have to be careful because our faith and Discipline are easily distracted and even blocked when we are too puffed up with ourselves. If you think you do not need Submission, you are very mistaken, for you will be living in your hurt and/or will and not in Christ.

 

This Discipline is about our giving of things over to Christ such as agendas, passions, motivations, hurts, feelings, and will. Thus, it is more of a form of meekness where our strength and agendas are under control to a greater good and purpose-His purpose. It is also a respect to those who are in authority. This Discipline of Submission is the relinquishing of our self-centeredness and pride so our hearts and attitudes are lined up to Christ and not ours or others skewed, personal agendas or past hurts. So, our focus is not on pleasure, but on holiness. This is the practice of the Fruit of the Spirit so it is flowing from our relationship with Christ. This will make our faith and conduct easier because of the assistance of our discipline of focusing on Christ and being in compliance to Him and His precepts, and not on our perceived self-importance. The Discipline aspect of Submission is our resolve, fortitude, and practice to remain faithful and take what Christ has given us and make it grow as we are called to do.

 

The Discipline of Submission is also an attitude of humility which is a parallel to an attitude of obedience. Submission attacks our self-promoting posturing and pride; the attitude of humility attacks and nullifies our self-love mentality that causes pride. Humility minimizes our arrogance and removes pride. The misunderstanding of our fallen nature and weaknesses causes us to think we are better than we are, and that causes us to strive to lift ourselves above others and God. Humility admits that most importantly God, but also others are responsible for our achievements. Humbleness enables us to be a teachable person who is willing to have a good attitude of submission and servant-hood, a person who confesses sin and remembers how Christ saved as well as served us! And, the Discipline of Submission is essential if we are to be free of our pride!

 

Submission as a Christian:

 

We are called to Fear God, which means to reverence Christ as Lord, and not as an afterthought or only when it is convenient. We are to come before Him in this way, along with humbleness. We are to fear and submit as we present our endearment and respect. This is supercharged when we realize who we are in Christ, so our intense reverence and awe of God and His holiness comes from us and is shown to others. It does not mean we are afraid of Him; rather, we are fearful of His wrath (Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7; 3:5; 8:13; 9:10; 16:6; 31:30; Psalm 2:11; 34:11; 111:10; Is. 12:6; Eccl. 12: 13; Mal. 1:14; Matt. 10: 27-33; Rom. 2:11; 3; James 2:1;1 Pet. 5:6).

 

When we to submit to God's mighty hand, we are under His covering power, His controlling power, and His sovereignty-God's love because He is in charge. It is the loving, caring hand of God that is in charge of us. It can be a Hand of shelter, deliverance, a testing, or a chastening. His hand is always His best love for us so we become our best for His glory (Duet 26:8; Phil 4:13; 1 Pet. 5:5-9)! So, do not debate with God; be humbled under His will, under His Word, and under His power. 

 

Even though we were deeply loved before the cross or our faith in Him, we are accountable for our actions and where our trust, faith, and heart are placed. Is it in Christ, or in the world (Matt. 23:12)? As Christians, we are to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from our thinking and actions! In so doing, we are to recognize and respect those in authority (Ex. 22:28; 1 Kings 21:10; Prov. 24:21).

 

Submission as a Marriage:

 

Submission in marriage also means freedom. It is not the tyrannical concept most of us have in mind. It is a form of mutual respect and love. It is not to be forced, but offered freely in response to each other's love. Because the husband loves (the women's greatest need), because the husband is caring, because the husband is putting his wife's best interests forward, the wife submits, and he earns her devotion (a mans greatest need). It allows us to be free, and to have the best flowing in and out of us and thus the best interest and care of each other at heart. It frees us from bad thinking that leads to bad choices which, in turn, leads to a life of misery and trouble!  A wife's respect for her husband shows him unconditional love that helps fuel his desire to return love. He receives his value and honor that is so important to a man. The wife responds because she knows she is cared for and cherished, her important need. Love is often reciprocal; the husband loves and the wife responds with respect and honor. And, when things are not going well, the wife should and must still respect him (unless there is abuse), as with the husband who must still love, regardless of how his wife is being with him. Then, the relationship will vastly improve (1 Cor. 7; 13:4-7; Eph. 5:1-2; Col. 3:18-21; Gal. 2:20-21; 5:22-26; 1 Thess. 3: 11-13; 4:1-8; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).

 

Submission as a Leader:

 

Real, biblical leadership is found in humbleness by the developing of a servant attitude. Real church or spiritual authority is not based in our ordination, election, position, title or degree; and, it definitely doesn't come from our will or personality. Rather, it comes to us from God. This is about His authority being exercised through us, evidenced by our love, Fruit, and compassion, while our power is under control and matures. Humbleness will enable us to be teachable, willing to have a good attitude of submission and servant hood, and a people who confess sin and remember how Christ served us (Mark 9:35)!

 

We are to accept His mighty hand; then, we will be lifted up. We are to endure the pain and difficulties that life brings, for He will lift us up. We are to endure the trouble and trials, for He will lift us up. We should never think that our circumstances are too difficult; rather, we should seek to cast our anxiety on Him because we have the confidence that He does care for us. Take heed; God will not lift us up until we are ready for it. Our grace came after the cross. Our crown comes after the cross. Suffering comes before glory.

 

The Discipline of Submission is happening when we are overflowing with the magnitude of the greatness of God's grace! To grow and to be mature and faithful requires us to work on our willingness to submit and to be humble. The result is respect, cooperation, unity, community, and the power of His Fruit at work. We have to see that God wants us to submit; this is best for us, both individually and collectively as a church. Being a Christian and a church is about relying on Him, not ourselves. It is about His mighty power at work in us-not our feeble ways! His favor and power will be poured out on us when we are faithful, obedient, and meek.

 

A true disciple is willing to submit to Authority! Remember that Jesus took a towel to show His willingness to submit; what do you take to Him?

 

 

More Scriptures on Submission: Gen 33; Ex. 22:28; 1 Kings 21:10; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 15; 37:11; Prov. 3:5; 21:3; 24:21; 28:13-14; Matt. 5:3-12; 10:39; 11:29; 22:37-39; Mark 8:34-35; 9:35; John 3:27-30; 21:19; Eph. 5:21-22; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 3:23-24; Hebrews 13:15-17; James 2:1; 4:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 5:5-6, 22. 

 

 

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D., Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org 

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