In recent posts I've talked about trusting God and how that trust is refined through trials and tribulations. Today I would like to cover three things: surrendering control, obedience, and submission. When we ignore God in the day to day matters of our lives we are effectively saying to Him, “No, I can do this without Your input.” We don’t want to release full control of our lives to Him. We may hear what He wants us to do but we don’t obey Him. Without obedience to God, we are ignoring His will. Without submitting to His will, we miss out on the blessings He had planned for us. These three things: surrendering control, obedience and submission must be present in the life of every believer. Yet for some reason that word "submit" seems to rub people the wrong way.
While Mary had three months to come to terms with the news that she would bear the Messiah, Joseph did not have that luxury. In Chapter 8 of my novel Come to Me we learn that Joseph was a righteous man who wanted to be obedient to the Law. Yet, at the same time, he wanted to spare Mary from the Law’s demands: that of being stoned for adultery. He was having a hard time deciding between obeying God’s laws and following his heart. You can read about it in Matthew 1:18-25.
During biblical times, adultery was a serious thing. If found guilty, the woman (and man) could be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). Today we see this form of punishment still in effect in Muslim countries. However, it is usually only the woman who is punished. Although we are shocked, this is a law God gave to Moses.
This law was a drastic measure on God’s part. It showed His unruly and disobedient children how much He hated sin. The practice of stoning anyone caught in adultery, therefore, was to act as a deterrent. No father wants his child to suffer, and no father wants to see his child suffer because of wrong choices. God loves His children, but like any parent trying to teach his child right from wrong, He needed to put in place consequences for disobedience. I truly believe the consequences were severe in this way so that people wouldn't risk their lives for the chance to sin. Unfortunately, the children of Israel disobeyed the laws God set forth because they did not respect Him. Regrettably, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees saw it as an opportunity not only to exercise their power and authority to carry out the punishment, but to lord their own self-righteousness over the people.
Mary obediently submitted to the Father’s will, accepting the fact that it might lead to her stoning. She gave control of her life over to Him, trusting Him in all things. As Christian women, we are called to be obedient to our husbands. But, it is sometimes easier to surrender to God than our own husbands. For some of us, the word obey strikes a nerve. So much so, many young couples have asked the word be stricken from their wedding vows. When Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands, many modern women are aghast at the suggestion. But are we interpreting the words obey and submit properly?
What is Control?
Control is to have power over or rule. God’s will is not considered.
• A controlling person says I can do all things by myself.
• A controlling person will not include God in their plans.
• A controlling person does not easily surrender.
What is Obedience?
Obedience is submission to authority. There is a fear of consequences involved.
• We obey our boss or we lose our job.
• We obey our teachers or we fail the grade.
• We obey our parents or we are punished.
• We obey the laws of the land or we are arrested.
• We obey God or we suffer the consequences of failing to heed His warnings.
What is Submission?
Submission is obedience based on love and respect.
• I submit to my parents out of love and respect.
• I submit to my husband “as unto the Lord” out of love and respect.
• I submit to the Lord’s will because I love and respect Him.
• Jesus submitted to God and gave His life for us out of love and respect.
What Submission is Not
• Submission is not allowing myself to be abused either physically or verbally, dominated, or hurt by another.
• Submission does not allow a husband to be “lord and master” over his wife. Jesus is to be his Lord and Master. He is to submit to the Heavenly Father.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:21-24, NIV).
Did you notice that the first thing we are commanded to do in these verses is to submit to one another? And we are to do it out of reverence for Christ. People always leave out verse twenty-one and start right in on verse twenty-two, missing the entire context of this verse. Men and women are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. And women are to submit to their own husbands. Why? Because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. So husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. All this comes down to is respect for one another. If your husband is not respecting you he is not loving you as Christ commanded him to and if you are not respecting your husband, you are not loving him as Christ commanded you to.
Women see that word submit and see red. Men see it and get haughty. But did you know that this example of submitting to one another is to prepare you for eternity with Christ? How we treat each other in our marriages is essential for our spiritual maturity.
Did you know that a husband (as the head of the wife and the family) is charged with his wife's spiritual growth? Christ has made him head of the wife (and family) for a reason. The husband must love his wife as Christ loves the church. A man who treats his wife badly or "lords" his headship over her, is not loving her properly. Jesus gave himself up for the church and it is this kind of love He expects from husbands towards their wives. Why? For the same reasons Jesus died for the church - to sanctify her. Yes, women are smart enough to discern Scripture and grow spiritually on their own. Many single women can testify to that. But when you marry, Christ effectively says, "I am putting your husband in charge of your spiritual growth. It is his responsibility to love you and care for you, so on the day when he stands before me he may present you in all your glory. Holy and blameless. He is acting on my behalf. It is his duty to see you home to me. So respect him and submit to him because I have ordained it." The husband who uses his authority over his wife in a threatening or domineering manner therefore, will have much to answer for when he meets Christ face to face. NOTE: If you are a Christian woman in an abusive relationship LEAVE! Your husband is defiantly disobeying the Lord and you do not have to submit to any kind of emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Jesus died for his church and he expects that same kind of selfless love from your husband.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27, NASB).
When we relinquish control of our lives to God, trust soon follows. If we obey God’s Word and submit to His will, then it should follow that we also submit to our husbands as they submit to the Lord. In the end it all comes down to love and respect. How much do you love and respect God, His Word and your husband? If the husband is to lay down his life for his wife as Christ laid down his life for the church (his bride), then how could any wife not honour that kind of love? And men - if you are not loving your wife in this way, then how do you expect her to respect you? It works both ways.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.