Submission to Authority
Read 1 Peter 2:13-15
I would say that this portion of the text from chapters 2 – 3 revolves around these phrases from the text:
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution…” (ESV)
“For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority…” (NLT)
Here is a definition of "submission" as it is to one being turned, given in, or to divulge…
"to place (oneself) under the control of another, to yield oneself," from Latin to yield, lower, let down, put under, reduce…"
“For the Lord’s sake…”
What does Scripture mean when He says, “For the Lord’s sake?”
These will be instructions for our benefit.
So, as we will prepare to hear what it is that Peter is preparing us for…
…we should know what that is for our sake but how so for His?
Let’s put it in context to our living today.
We have heard people say, “for your mother’s sake, do this or do that”
Typically, it means that you must do something so that those who are being named for their sake will gain something from what you do.
For your children’s sake, stay out of the streets!
-For mom’s sake, drop in on her from time to time, and see how she is doing.
“For the Lord’s sake…submit to all human authority…”
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme…” (KJV)
How does God benefit from our willingness to submit to human authority?
God benefits, or in other words, He gets the glory when we show our willingness to do what He asks.
This can be in any kind of obedience to God.
However, this text is specific to submitting to human authority, so we need to go deeper here.
As an example, I want to go back a bit to the Old Testament.
I want to pull from the book of Jonah.
Often, this is a story that is taught with the lesson of what happens when we are disobedient to God’s commands. We are told from this book how not to respond when in ministry or even in our daily life.
However, there is so much more and I think that in this context, we can pull from God's wisdom as it applies here.
Today within the framework of today’s lesson on submission to human authority, I want to show how Jonah despised the people of Nineveh.
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, to warn them of His judgment. (1:1-2)
…but he refused and took the first boat away from it. (1:3)
As Jonah ran from God and His instructions, the ship he was in fell victim to a wicked storm. (v.4)
…to then be swallowed up by a giant fish for three days and nights. (v.17)
Stopping the story there, you might be waiting for the correlation between Jonah’s lack of obedience to God with submission to people.
Here is the keynote to jot down:
It was people whom Jonah was not willing to serve and in turn, was his lack of willingness to serve God!
I can hear the words a person from an old friend from way back say, “I have a problem with authority.”
What that means is, when someone who holds authority in whatever setting you are in requires something of you, the initial instinct is to resist.
My old friend had trouble with authority like Jonah did with the Ninevites. Why, because of what was known of them from their past. They remember their experiences and let them destroy any further growth or service God had for them.
God is asking, why are you resenting service toward the people you despise thus, ignoring my instruction?
An obvious example of authority is police officers who work in common scenarios in relation to us in our day-to-day life.
A person wearing the uniform may automatically trigger past traumatic experiences. Some may have been a child and watched as the officer or officers stormed off with a loved one.
Some may have had a direct experience such as being arrested and losing the freedoms and reputation once held.
Granted, if looking at those experiences from the outside looking in, it might be noted to be the result of poor action on the part of the sufferer.
Or, there may very well be an abuse of the police officers' liberties that caused the trauma.
Either way, if the person continues to let the hatred fester and destroy any potential for peace because of past experiences, the resentment will continue whether or not those officers hold true integrity.
The motivation to hate, despise or reject anyone simply for their position of authority or reputation is a sin.
The motivation to hate anyone despite their previous known or conceived actions is a sin.
Especially if it causes you to reject God's command to serve them.
God is saying, “for His sake, do this for me”
He asked Jonah, to go to this wicked nation and tell them that His coming punishment is justified.
Jonah simply wanted God to bring down the hammer without any word or warning. He figured, why even send me, just do it.
(Note, a warning is what God was providing through Jonah yet, Nineveh repented.)
Mark my words though that this message is NOT to be obedient or submissive to those who are seeking to do evil.
-What this message is teaching is that the text is stating to be submissive to God first.
Then, He instructs us to show the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), while discerning to who we are being submissive.
The Book of Daniel
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found themselves in a tough spot. (3:19-27)
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who had just taken over Judah allowed the royal families to be taught and of their ways.
Some might see this as selling out.
Many would blame the three for accepting the culture of their conqueror.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were submitting to these people.
They did what they had been asked to do. They earned the Babylonian culture and became acquainted with their customs and everyday life.
Until the golden calf was made and the command to bow to it.
Remember, verse 14 says,
“…sent by Him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
Whomever it is you are submitting to should be in the light of God.
…and even if they are evil, we are to remain good, not fighting evil with evil.
Jonah did not understand this in the story and was rebellious even as he was in Nineveh.
-Though Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to any other God but were willing to die.
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this is so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. [a] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[a] the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Our bottom line is to understand how we as servants who submit to authority will be mirroring Jesus as He submitted. When we go to our jobs, when we are in the grocery stores or are around people in general; our ministry is a submissive one that counts as second. When we are a forgiver, a peacemaker, an ambassadors for Christ, we live to serve Him for His benefit.