Let’s begin today by asking an important question.
What is the rationale, or the reason that God commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit? I think that’s a pretty good question. Here is the answer.
Fulfilling our purpose
If you and I are going to be a living revelation of what God’s plan and purpose is for His creation, if you and I are going to be a visible demonstration of the new community that God is creating, if we are going to fulfill the Lord’s goal of each one of His children growing up into the image of Christ. If we are going to live in harmony and unity, if we are going to walk in love and wisdom. None of those things can be successfully accomplished apart from the Holy Spirit filling us and empowering us to live out who we truly are.
As we have already learned through the teaching of the Scriptures the filling of the Holy Spirit produces real tangible, practical results in our lives. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit it changes, it radically changes the way that we relate to one another, it changes how you and I as brothers and sisters in Christ treat one another. When we are walking by the Spirit, we are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The Power to live out the mundane
As I’ve said previously the filling of the Spirit is for the living out the mundane and the seemingly trivial events that make up our lives. Too often I’m afraid we make the mistake of thinking that the filling of the Spirit is only for the accomplishment of the spectacular and the miraculous. And that may be true for us at times. But the vast majority of our lives are not filled with spectacular moments, they are not filled with the miraculous. Rather they are filled with jobs, and tests, and career choices, and raising kids, and paying bills, and shopping for groceries. So we need to understand what the role of the Holy Spirit is in the day to day activities of life?
The Joy of Relationships
The joy of life is never really found in accomplishment regardless of how great they may have been. I’ve not read the biography of Steve Jobs yet, but I did read where he asked the man who was writing the book to try and explain to his children why he was the way that he was, and why he wasn’t always around for him. He knew that he had sacrificed his relationship with his children in order to bring Ipods, and Ipads to the masses. I wonder did that accomplishment really bring him true lasting joy? The joy of life is not found in our material goods. Sure they can make our lives easier, and certainly more productive. But the bloom of material things fades quickly and rather quickly at times.
The Bible teaches us that the real joy of life will never be found in our accomplishment no matter who great they may be, and the Bible teaches us that the joy of life will never be found in our material possessions regardless of how much stuff we may ultimately acquire. The Bible does teach that the joy of life, true satisfaction in life come from our relationships. When we are walking by the Spirit, when we are filled with the Spirit we find that our relationships are a source of great joy and satisfaction.
Something very difficult to do
That brings us to our text this morning. Frankly because of our culture and how the culture views what the Bible says on the subject we are going to begin to look at this morning, makes this a very difficult passage to study. I think that I would be fairly safe in saying that when the subject of submission is brought up, we begin to become uneasy. We may start to become uncomfortable. So let’s simply acknowledge that. Let’s recognize that as something that we need to deal with. Frankly the only way that we can obey the Scriptures commands in this area is through and by each one of us being filled with the Holy Spirit.
In most of your Bibles you may have noticed that verse 21 is included in the paragraph that begins with verse 15 where Paul first introduces the subject of being filled with the Spirit. Verse 21 says “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This may very well be the hardest thing that Paul has asked us to do. Our experience probably backs this up.
This morning that’s going to be our focus, the verse breaks itself down very nicely into two divisions. First what we are to do – i.e. submitting to one another, and second why we are to do – “out of reverence for Christ.”
1. What we are to do – “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER”
Before we explore this subject we need to remember that what the Lord is asking us to do, He has given us His Spirit so that we can submit to one another.
All of us, each one of us are to submit to each other. In the verses that follow Paul is going to give us plenty of examples of what this looks like in real life. There is not one person that the truth of this verse does not apply to. There is to be not only a spirit of mutual submission, there is to be a living out of mutual submission.
Frankly not just our society but no society could exist without submission taking place. A society without submission would simply be anarchy. A society where submission is not practiced would be in a constant state of turmoil. The reality is that submission to others, submission to each other brings order and structure to our lives so that we can function.
First I would like to point out that submission is a two way street. What God is calling for is mutual submission, submission is required of each one of us as we relate to one another. Although people in authority like to think differently their status or position does not alleviate them of their responsibility to submit themselves to others.
The submitting the Paul calls us to is as much a command as the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Again apart from being filled with the Holy Spirit we are simply incapable of submitting to one another as the Lord commands.
I think a Biblical definition would be helpful here. What does it mean to submit?
Submitting is from a Greek word that was originally a military term meaning to arrange or rank under. Spirit-filled Christians rank themselves under one another. The main idea is that of relinquishing one’s rights to another person.
Let’s focus on the relinquishing of one’s rights to another person. That is why we have such a hard time with submission. Our culture has made an idol out of individual rights, to the extent that the individual rights now take precedent over the needs of the larger group. But has this development made us a better society?
Now the reason that I highlight this is because we must be careful that we don’t let the direction and the mindset of the culture at large influence our view of how we are to relate to one another in the church. Many churches suffer needless harm simply because one or two people insist on their rights, instead of what is best for the larger group. Whenever a situation like that is encountered you can be sure of at least one thing and that is that the one insisting on their rights is neither Spirit filled or obeying the command to submit to one another.
Kittle’s Theological Dictionary says “ The general rule in New Testament exhortation is that there should be a mutual readiness to renounce one’s will for others.
Of course the ultimate example of this is Jesus. What did Paul say about Jesus in the book of Philippians?
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
(Philippians 2:4–8 ESV)
Submission does not mean inferiority
As we read about the actions of Christ this brings up a subject that needs to be addressed and that is that submission has nothing to do with inferiority. Critics of Paul’s instruction in verse 22 that wives should submit to their own husbands unfairly and without justification charge Paul with saying that the wife is somehow inferior to her husband. Paul says nothing of the sort.
But back to the actions of Jesus. Paul clearly states that the Lord Jesus certainly set aside His rights for the sake of others. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father and came to earth in the most humble of forms a baby and submitted Himself to the Father’s will throughout His life. Did Jesus somehow become inferior because He submitted Himself to the will of the Father? Was Jesus an inferior being because He humbled himself and put the needs of others first? was Jesus inferior because He obeyed His Father’s will?
Of course Jesus wasn’t inferior. Submission has nothing to do with the quality of the one submitting. Submission has nothing to do with the worth, the value of the one who submits.
Submission is not absolute
The principle of submission is not absolute. Meaning that submission cannot be used to justify sin. For instance a husband can never ask his wife to do something in the name of submission if what he has asked her to do would be sinful. Remember the words of Peter when he said “We must obey God rather than men”. The time that the principle of submission is absolute is only to God.
Submitting to one another does not mean that we are somehow an inferior person because we submit. Submission is not absolute – except in our submission to God and our obedience to him.
Submission applies both inside and outside the church. Our responsibility to submit doesn’t stop one we step outside of the church. Peter instructs us
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
(1 Peter 2:13–15 ESV)
Paul wrote to the church at Rome
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
(Romans 13:1–7 ESV)
Submission is a powerful apologetic for our faith in Christ. Perhaps even more so today in our culture in which places such a high value on the right of the individual. Our faith in Christ should reveal us to be radicals, radical in the sense of just how different we are in our relationships to those in the church, our relationships to those in our family and even in how we relate to the authorities that God has placed us under.
2. Why we are to do it – OUT OF REVERENCE FOR CHRIST
Why are we to submit to one another? Because of who Christ is. We Christians like to talk a lot about the Lord Jesus Christ but then we go out and disobey Him, which makes our claim of him being Lord seem hollow. If Jesus is Lord then He is not one to be trifled with, He is not one to be ignored or disobeyed.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46 ESV)
Perhaps some unbelievers would think more of Jesus if they saw that we thought more of Jesus. That we do respond to Him as Lord and not just a good friend of ours. Other translations say “in the fear of Christ” or “in the fear of God”. Our motivation for submitting to one another is our respect, is our fear of the Lord.
When you submit to another, when you put the interests of others ahead of your own interests you are making a powerful testimony, you are making a powerful statement of what you believe about Christ. You are make a powerful statement of how you feel about Christ.
When you and I submit to one another we are being like Christ. When you and I submit to one another we are visibly demonstrating our Christ likeness. Conversely when we do not submit to one another regardless of what we may think, or what we may be telling ourselves or telling others we are not being like Christ.
When you think of submission as a parallel of being like Christ, when we understand that submission is visible demonstration of our Christ likeness that impacts every area of our lives as believers.
For instance we can’t call ourselves a disciple of Christ if we will not submit to one another. We can’t claim to be Spirit filled if we will not submit to one another. Submission to one another is a visible demonstration of discipleship, of being filled with the Spirit. Submission to one another is a reflection of what we think of Christ. Submission to one another is a reflection of whether we really believe that Jesus is Lord or if we are just giving lip service.
We submit to one another our of reverence, out of respect, out of fear of displeasing Christ. To submit to one another, indeed all of our obedience is shows that we don’t want to be displeasing to Christ.
As I mentioned when we started this morning, submission has almost become a dirty word to many if not most people. Unfortunately many professing Christians fall into this same category.
Submitting to one another, is putting the interests of others ahead of ourselves is a visible demonstration of our Christ likeness.[/sws_author_bio_ui]