x86.........To What Do we Submit?
"Wives submit to your husbands..." (Ephesians 5:22A)
"Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves....Ó (Hebrews 13:17A)
Here are two examples of doctrine that has been taken out of context and used to bring about wrong results in Christian churches for many many years. Let's look at the first example--
"Wives submit to your husbands..." (Ephesians 5:22A)
Taken out of context, this verse seems to say that a Christian wife is meant to "submit" to a husband. but the real question is this--to what is the wife meant to submit? Is a Christian wife meant to submit to her husbands will? Is she meant to be subordinate and follow after every whim and emotion of her husbands will? Absolutely not. The Bible never says this--yet this is exactly what this verse has meant to many many Christian wives over the years.
Wives are certainly not meant to submit to their husbands will. They are certainly not meant to submit to the husbands sinful nature! We need to read the next verses and take this in context to fully understand this--
"Husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25)
This is what Christian wives are meant ot submit to. they are meant to submit to the love of God within their husbands. They are meant to give heed to and follow after God working through their husband in the form of unconditional (agape) love. This is Gods way to make a Christian marriage work. As the husband draws closer to God, as he crucifies his flesh, and the Spirit of God puts down his sinful nature, he is to receive and minister agape love toward his wife. She is meant to submit to God inside of her husband--certainly not to his will--his every whim and emotion.
We certainly have carried out the word "submission" as to mean subordination of our will to another's will. This is one of the most dangerous tactics of the devil. It is the way he operated Nazism and fascist and communist governments in the world in order to destroy millions of people.
Submission to the will of another person is one of the most ungodly concepts there is. When people listen and obey unconditionally to another person, with no boundaries or limits, they are certainly following after the sinful nature and will of the other person. This is the basis of all cults, in fact this is what makes them cults--or "cults of personality"--The meaning here is to follow after a person--to follow after the will and nature of man--rather than God.
To be a Christian one must follow after God, not man. Certainly God in man can and does minister to us--but this is the key word--"minister". God in another person will always "serve" us, not rule with authority of will. Man and God are similar--and when people join cults they are really seeking after the will of God. It can be easy to confuse the will of God and the will of man, unless we ask whether the will we see in a person lines up with the Word of God.
"Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves...." (Hebrews 13:17A)
But when we read and understand thee rest of the verse--
"for they watch for your souls as one that must give account.." (Hebrew 13:17B)
as one that must give account this is the other half of the two way street of leadership in the church. We are not to submit to the 'will" of leadership--just the same way that wives are not to submit to the "will" of their husbands. Rather we are told to submit to the leaderships teaching of the word of God. the word "account" above is the Greek word "logos" meaning the written word of God. Christians are meant to submit to or give heed to the word of God that comes to us through others. We are not meant to submit to their will--their emotions--and certainly not their sinful nature. (note: it is "them" which we are to submit to--the plain Bible fact is that God can teach us through any other Christian--and He will most effectively teach us through many many other brothers and sisters--the teaching of the word is for all--toward all--there is no Bible rule that says it must "all come through one shpeherd")
this verse clearly describes a two-way street. In fact it is the right of every believer to hold leaders to accountability--to hold leaders to the Word of God.
We are meant to be submitting our will and spirit to the Will and Spirit of God in His Word, which is being given to us through a teacher of the wrod. This is what these verses of the Bible truly mean.
If we could just understand the meaning of this in the bible! If we could just break away from our tradition of submitting our will to the will of leaders!
God has given us a guidebook that must be followed. Now, every cult in the world says they have the true interpretation of the Word of God. But they become cults when they say that their followers absolutely must follow after their doctrine without question. How readily can we question leaders? How readily are we able and allowed to question whether or not leadership is correct? Is there mindless obedience to a leader? do we just "trust" the fact that leaders are giving us the word of God, or that their decisions really are "from God"?
One thing to remember that the Bible clearly says that we should always bear in mind is the fact that God in the New Testament says He will always speak through a body. He speaks through a group of believers--not just through one single person. Someone whom I know happens to be a person who goes to church very infrequently. He happens to be a very abusive and domineering person and in effect caught up in very worldly sin in his nature. This person's idea of what "church and God" are all about is this--
"I go to church every once in a while when I get out of line. The important thing about the Bible is the 10 commandments. I go to church and those laws straighten me out."
This person's concept of church is that he goes and submits his will to the leaders of the church once in a while and it "does him good". The people in the front of the church do all the "God mumbo-jumbo"--He believes his job is to go to church occasionally, and pay the people who know how to do the "God stuff" at the front of the church. This submission to leaders and the acting out of the ceremony of the church, is what "gets him right" with God.
This person certainly needs a lot of prayer and guidance. He certainly needs a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. but it interesting to study how this person does not believe that this is even necessary or possible with God. he believes firmly that God is distant, uncaring, unknowable, and can only be understood or interpreted by the leaders of his church. And in fact it is really not necessary for the average person in the church to ever question the leader or even know or understand anything about God or the Bible. His entire relationship with God, he believes, comes from his submission to authority, and there is no such thing as a personal relationship with God. it only happens through the leadership, in the church building, by the will and direction of leaders and his temporary submission to their will and form and function that comes from the tradition of his church. This person actually has the same type of belief as most Christians did hundreds of years ago before the Bible was available to common people! This person is actually still living in the dark ages, and being held there by his belief in leadership and authority, which replaces his having to believe in God Himself personally.
I certainly am using this person as a bad example--yet the question remains--how is it that this type of thing can happen in Christian churches? What holds these things in place--that keep such darkness in many people who "attend church"? And, to what degree do all of us who attend church follow after these dark ages beliefs--the beliefs of absolute authority in leadership--the beliefs that following after the leadership is what church is all about. The belief that leadership is always right--and should never be openly questioned or held to accountability.
Do we have this concept in our church doctrine? Are leaders really held to accountability? Or do we in reality hold to the very strong tradition that comes from the Roman form and function of government. the form that says that leaders are always right and are never to be questioned?
We need to understand just how dangerous taking the Bible out of context can be. How many Christian women have been abused over the years, and have believed that God gave their husbands the right to force their will on them?
How many Christians over the centuries have been stopped and limited and perhaps even abused by the wrong notion that leadership in church is "always right in their decisions" and can "never be questioned"? that God gave church leaders the right to force their will on the people in the church. If we ever study history we would see that our most influential Bible translation--the King James version (although a very accurate translation in many respects!) was done ina time of absolute authority of Christian monarchs. The words "submit" and "subject" and "rule" etc. were inserted wherever possible (and there are very few places these words can be inserted!!) in order to establish the rule of an earthly king. In that day, it was powerful tradition that the king was put inplace by God--that he had God-given rights to rule with absolute authority over the people--which literally meant life and death. The church was used by tradition as a place of rule over people--"minsters" were very often politicians. the protestant church of that era was very much fixed upon the catholic traditions which they were protesting--the pope was replaced by the king--but "having the rule with authority" was the key issue, and central to the operation of the society of that day and age.
How many times have we wasted our assembling together--the opportunity to hear from God--and instead have only heard form the one leader who is "allowed" by tradition to be the only speaker in the church? How many words have come from God and been wasted when we do not receive or believe them since they did not come through the church leadership? How many souls have been lost because we have followed after men rather than God? How many revivals have been stopped since the revival started at the back of the church instead of at the front--where tradition says that the "real" Godly activity occurs?
How many ministers of the word of God have spent their lives on earth not knowing who they were, because they submitted their will and authority to another person, rather than God Himself?
the example of marriage is used in Ephesians 5 to describe the relationship of Christ and the church.
In a Godly marriage, the agape love of God is meant to be ministered through the husband to the wife. This is what she is told to submit to. If the husband should minister his will to the wife--if He says to her something that is outside of the love of God--she certainly does not have to submit to this.
The same relationship is meant to be in the relationship of leaders in the church. They are meant to minister the Word of God, from God, through them, to us. This is what we are meant ot submit to--God--the word of God in them. Certainly, when they minister to us from their will, or from anything that does not follow after the Word of God--we are not to submit to this!