Submit To One Another :: by Grant Phillips

Mankind almost chokes on the word “submit.” It gets hung in the throat and doesn’t want to come out. So it is heard as a mumble, barely audible. The only thing men usually remember about submitting is, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands.” That’s all they remember. All the rest is blank. God has a lot to say about submitting, and there’s a lot more to it than that. When Jesus served His disciples at the table, He was submitting. When He washed their feet (a custom at that time which is not practical today) He was submitting. Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” That is submitting. Jesus went to the cross and paid all our sins. That is submitting.

Submitting comes more from a tender heart than a bended knee. It is love personified in action. It is not “You submit. Me big chief.” That would be the total opposite.

Let’s glance at just a few verses that show the real story behind “submitting.”

“Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

Jesus is saying that “of the God-head” this role is for the Father to fulfill.

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

Jesus in His humanity did not look forward to the cross, but He submitted to the will of the Father.

“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)

The Son mimics the Father, and follows His lead.

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)

Again, it is clear that Jesus submits His will to the Father.

“Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.” (John 7:16)

Jesus submits to the teaching of the Father.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28

The Father is not greater as far as the God-head is concerned, but differs in the role each performs.

“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3)

Christ in His humanity totally submits to the will of God.

“When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28)

Here the Scripture is talking about the last enemy to be destroyed which is death. It is not saying that the Father will be put under Christ, but that Christ’s eternal rule will prevail under God in His role as the Son.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7)

Christ submits to His role as the servant in His humanity.

We see in these few verses that “to submit” is only acquiescing to the role we have been given to fulfill, and even in the God-head they differ. God the Father provides. God the Son fulfills, and God the Holy Spirit leads. Now that’s putting it VERY simply, but the point is, each submits to their role.

In our government there are three branches; executive, judicial and legislative. The President is in the executive role. The Supreme Court is in the judicial role, and Congress is in the legislative role. Each has differing responsibilities in their respective positions. (At least, that’s the way it was designed originally.)

Consider a team of two mules pulling a wagon. One is the lead mule and the other follows, maintaining stability. There can only be one leader. This is true not only with mule teams, but in the military, the classroom, the ball field (or court), etc. Otherwise there would be chaos.

As we have already seen, in the Trinity of the God-head, even though God is one, there are separate functions within the Trinity. The same is true of the home. Now it doesn’t matter how we think it should be God has said He designed it exactly the way He wants it. Homes are falling apart today, because we refuse to submit to His will. Now let’s take a look at God’s design for the Christian home.

“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.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:21-33)

I’m not going to expound on this a great deal, because the Scripture is quite clear in what is being said.

The first verse, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” is referring to the previous verses which are telling us all as Christians to submit to one another. But think this through husbands. Since it says we are to submit to all Christians that would mean we also submit to our wives. Then it moves specifically to the home, beginning in verse twenty-two.

Notice these key points from verses 22-24:

  • Wives submit to THEIR OWN husbands.
  • Wives submit to the Lord.
  • The husband is the head of home.
  • Christ is the head of the Church.
  • The Church submits to Christ.
  • Wives submit to their own husband in everything.

Now notice verses 25-33. It took THREE verses to instruct the wives, but it takes NINE verses to instruct the husbands, three times as many.

Notice in particular verses 25-27:

“Husbands, LOVE (emphasis mine) your wives, JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH (emphasis mine) and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

How much did Christ love the Church? He died for her. That is total submission. Jesus Christ submitted Himself to the cross because of His love for His Church, His bride. To know what real love is read the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. I will provide verses 4-8a here.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

That is real love. Some guys concentrate only on, “You must submit to me,” and forget all about “We must love our wives as Christ loves His Church.” If you have that attitude, your wife will never respect you. She may fear you, but she’ll never respect you, and what does the Scripture say in verse thirty-three? Let’s read it again.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

If the wife has no respect for her husband, either she is disobeying God, or her husband hasn’t earned it by his love he shows for her. My guess is that most of the time it is the latter. He hasn’t earned it. Respect can only be earned. In this case, the husband is at fault for not providing the atmosphere for his wife to comply with “the wife must respect her husband.”

The husband must be the leader of the home, not the tyrant. A wife will follow her husband through fire when she knows she is loved. He will be her prince charming and will willingly submit to his leadership.

The home today, Christian homes, are falling apart primarily because husbands and wives are not following God’s design for their happiness. But when the husbands and wives follow God’s plan, their children will see the love and stability in their parents in a God-designed marriage, and will honor their father and mother.

We all, husbands, wives and children need to embrace God’s meaning of “submit.” We will all be much happier by doing so.

Grant Phillips


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