Welcome to Becomning Closer! 

First Peter


{13} Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among  men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, {14} or to governors, who  are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do  right. {15} For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the  ignorant talk of foolish men. {16} Live as free men, but do not use your  freedom as a cover‑up for evil; live as servants of God. {17} Show proper  respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the  king. {18} Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not  only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.  {19} For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust  suffering because he is conscious of God. {20} But how is it to your credit if  you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for  doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. {21} To this you  were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you  should follow in his steps. {22} "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found  in his mouth." {23} When they hurled their insults at him, he did not  retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself  to him who judges justly. {24} He himself bore our sins in his body on the  tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds  you have been healed. {25} For you were like sheep going astray, but now you  have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  ‑‑ 1 Peter 2:13‑25 (NIV)

  The Problem of "Submission"

  To the modern American ear, the word "submission" has a foul ring.  We view it as the result of defeat and surrender, and our reply is "There is no substitute for victory."  In the first of two lessons on submission, Peter begins to give us the virtue of submission.  To understand it in our time, there are some preliminary principles that we must review.

              Contract or Covenant?

              The logical phrase "if . . .  then . . .   " can be used in two ways.  In the first, we can picture the auto mechanic saying, "If you pay me fifty dollars, then I will lube and oil your car."  In the second, picture your father saying, "If you miss the nail with that hammer, then your thumb is going to really hurt."

            Do you see the difference?  Both sentences have the same structure.  The first, however, is the result of an exchange of value.  It's a contract.  It's quite binding; it gets your oil changed - but both of you had to agree if the contract is to be valid.

            The second is a law of nature (which is to say, a law of God).  There is no sense bargaining with God about it ("How about best two out of three strokes?").  It exists, because He says it exists.  If you follow its terms, things will be good.  If not, not.  That is the defining characteristic of a covenant.

              We are the people of a covenant, the New Covenant (New Testament).  We are not the people of "The New Contract."  What Peter describes under the heading of submission is part of God's covenant relationship.  We shall see this throughout.  Submission is not a "bargain" with God;  it is the way spiritual relationships work.


            The Problem of Pride

              To see why submission is so important, look at its opposite:  Pride.  We have raised Pride from the pit of sin to the pinnacle of virtue in our country.  We admire the arrogant;  if you think not, watch a football game on TV - and look at the "heroes."

            "Pride," said C.S. Lewis, "is the completely anti-God state of mind."  Why?  Pride is essentially competitive:  "I'm better than you are - nyah, nyah, nyah!"  If my life revolves around being better than any other person - what do I do when I meet God?  How can I be "better" than God?  If I am to have a deeper spiritual relationship with God, I must get rid of this barrier of Pride.


            The Covenant Solution:  Submission

              "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake . . . " (verse 13) - there is the key.  Submission is not to the powers around us but to the Lord himself.  By accepting God's submission, we are training ourselves to the will of God.

            One way to look at this is the athletic model.  Suppose you want to be a great athlete - a major league football player.  You will need to train long and hard, for the competition will be tough.  At each step along the way you will have a coach, telling you what you should and should not do.  If you want the rewards, you must submit to the discipline involved.  Submission is not so much surrender as training in the will of God.

            Athletes do not make a bargain with the coach and so become stronger.  They accept the natural laws around them (the "covenant" relationship again!) and work within them to become stronger.  This is just what the Christian must do in submission:  train his will to become stronger for God.


The Character of Submission

              Submission as a Voluntary Act

              We have a running joke around our house.  "I am Lord and Master of my house - and I have my wife's permission to say so."  My wife is, in fact, submissive to me (and she's in the classroom when I say it).  Her submission is entirely voluntary.  She accepts the covenant relationship with her Lord and Savior.  Therefore, she submits to me, at His command.  Because His "Word is Truth," such submission is a prime cause of the happy marriage we enjoy together.

            Note that I am not "entitled" to her submission.  There is no contract;  there is a covenant.  A covenant relationship says, "I submit to you because things work best that way;  that's how God designed it; that's what He commands."  If I too am in that covenant relationship, I follow God's command too.  The result is a happy marriage.  It's not the result of a bargain, but God's covenant.


            Submission as "Setting in Order"

              A key phrase is found in verse 17:  "Show proper respect to everyone."  It happens that I am not enthused about Bill Clinton as president.  But I feel obliged to pay proper respects (should I have occasion) to the President of the United States.  It is proper.

            What does "proper" mean?  In this sense, it involves a fair recognition of the responsibilities of others.  That man is your boss?  That's a responsibility;  respect it.  Bill is the President?  That's a great responsibility, respect it.

            In the Army, there is a saying:  "You salute the uniform, not the man."  It is not mine to judge whether a man is fit for his position;  who am I "to judge another man's servant?"  (How particularly true in the church!  See Romans 14:4)  It is mine to respect the position another holds - whether boss, king or elder.  

              Submission and Reward

              Peter makes a key point in verses 19-20:  If we suffer for God's sake, it is God that will reward us.  That point determines how we are to be rewarded.

            Suppose I am unjustly accused - and the motive is because I follow Christ.  Do I whine and complain?  Or do I take the Lord's own attitude about it:

  {11} "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say  all kinds of evil against you because of me. {12} Rejoice and be glad, because  great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the  prophets who were before you.    ‑‑ Matthew 5:11‑12 (NIV)

  It all works together:  submit to the Lord, submit for His sake - and be rewarded.

    Submissive Evangelism

  Peter has a logical argument to make here.    Let's lay it out in steps:

  1.         You are a servant - indeed the slave - of the Lord.  It is the nature of the human being to take a master of one sort or another, be that pride, the flesh, the world or the Lord.  You have chosen Jesus.

  2.         It is the command of your Lord, express and direct, that you are to spread the Gospel.  For some, this is a call to travel.  For most of us, it's a call to evangelize those closest to us.

  3.         We may lack eloquence.  We may lack the brilliance of mind to defeat God's enemies in debate.  But there is a weapon that each of has every day.  That weapon is our conduct.  By our conduct we may put to shame the lies of Satan, spread by fools.

  4.         Therefore, by your submissive behavior, you show those  to whom you submit what your Lord has done.  If nothing else, they see the change in your life.  It may take a long time, but example overcomes.  Submit then, to those to whom submission is due.

  It's interesting to note who the "king" in this passage is.  It's Caesar Nero, the ruler who started one of the greatest persecutions of Christians.  It took almost 300 years, but goodness triumphed over the weapons of Satan (sometimes our suffering bears fruit after we leave the planet!)  Purity of character is a weapon against which Satan has no defense.


Jesus, the Example

  The author of Hebrews puts it this way:  "Because of his humble submission his prayer was heard:  son though he was, he learned obedience in the school of suffering . . . " (Hebrews 5:8, New English Bible).  Our Lord prayed in the garden that his suffering might pass from him, yet "not my will but thine be done" is the phrase that shines in that dark hour.

  We, the servants of Christ, are not superior to Him.  If he had to suffer what God had planned, can we object to suffering?  If that suffering comes in submission, as it did to Christ (see verse 21), are we willing to learn obedience in the school of suffering?  That is submission.  That is a mighty weapon in God's arsenal.  The question is, will you allow him to use it?

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