The topics of authority and submission can be difficult for our human nature. Is submission to authority good or bad? As Christians, we should want to submit to God and resist Satan. We should not want to stray from the authority of Christ and His benefits.
These are notes taken live during the webcast. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the video.
I’d like to talk to you about a topic I’ve been studying. I would appreciate any feedback on this topic. We are all in this together as we walk down a narrow and difficult path that leads to the kingdom. When we get to the end of that path, there is a narrow door that is very difficult to get through. This calling is difficult. Any misstep could be fatal. This topic is difficult because you and I are human beings. I still have my own thought processes. I still have to submit to a higher power. Yet we have this way of thinking we grew up. We also have God’s spirit and His mindset. Will we go with the wide broad way that leads to destruction? Or will we follow the path that Jesus said was narrow? Let’s talk about a couple of words today. The first is very difficult for many of us because of our experience with human beings who are imperfect. It is “authority." Authority is a very challenging word because depending on your experience with authorities you will have nightmares or you might be okay with it or you might even be very pleased with authorities. But it can be a very dark concept to even bring up the word “authority”, especially in a nation that prides itself in not being under a lot of authority. We tend to grow up being rebels to authority. We think we can go out and speed and do whatever we want, pretty much.
This nation tends to be rather self-confident as compared to nations of the rest of the world. We have a brash, internal resolve that I know what I’m doing and where I’m going; I know how to get there and nothing is going to stop me. In a way, that is not a bad mentality, as long as it is directed along the narrow road. We can have the confidence that we are to have in God and Jesus Christ. We are to be strong and of good courage but while we are being submissive to God and His authority. How do you feel about authority? Can we even talk about it without internally feeling emotions, or having some reservations? The second word is likened to it. It is the word where many of the friendly ladies that I’ve spoken before will come up before church and say, you aren’t going to use the “S” word today, are you? Jokingly. Because “submission” is kind of hard, too. Why would my human nature want to submit to someone else? Indeed, the whole record of the Israelites who God called out of Egypt was that they knew better. Eve herself knew better, with the right influence, than to follow what God had said. So, we come down to the time of Jesus Christ and one of the principle themes of his ministry and that of writers of the New Testament was that there is a different mindset that we are to follow. There is a different code that you and I are to live by. And that code doesn’t always make a lot of sense to humanity because it begins with the Ten Commandments and the law in the Old Testament and as Jesus said retains every bit of those laws and Ten Commandments without removing so much as a fleck of a Hebrew letter.
Then it expands and magnifies them with the spiritual intent going far beyond the letter of the law to keeping both the letter and the love of others; the service of others; the concern and care of others; even to the point of enemies who want to kill you. Blessing them and helping them. Submission to God’s law of authority and love is a challenge to our human nature. Today, let’s take a look at why God instituted authority and see that not only are there authorities out there, but to be reminded that each one of you in this room is also an authority to someone else or something else. Rather than run from the topic of authority, and saying, I don’t want any, we need to look at ourselves and ask what kind of authority am I to others in the roles that God has given me? Am I being a proper authority as God defines authority? What is God’s intended purpose for authority? Mankind has a lot of purposes and intents for authority. Mankind in general and mankind in you and me. Personally, we have some things that we might like to do with authority. But what is God’s intended purpose of it? Is His intended purpose good? Is it so-so? Okay? Necessary evil? It is one of those things we probably ought to do? Or is it downright bad? Or is it great? Let’s take a look today at authority for edification, which is the title of the sermon. That phrase is lifted from a scripture that we are going to be reading. God intends there to be leadership.
Leadership is defined by some as motivating or affecting the behavior of others. Now, as you know, there are different types of leaders and different types of authority. Therefore the behavior they will affect will be done so in different ways. But God of course is about righteousness, about loving, serving, humility, growing, helping. The end result is the greatest state that anyone can achieve: sonship in His kingdom. When God talks about leaders in the New Testament church, He calls them diakonos, or servants. He indicates they should not only serve but even be slaves to those they have authority over. G1249 διάκονος diakonos dee-ak'-on-os Probably from διάκω diakō (obsolete, to run on errands; compare G1377); an attendant, that is, (generally) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); specifically a Christian teacher and pastor (technically a deacon or deaconess): - deacon, minister, servant.
Thayer Definition: 1) one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, attendant, minister 1a) the servant of a king 1b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use 1c) a waiter, one who serves food and drink Part of Speech: noun masculine or feminine Leaders were for loving others, serving others, helping others, encouraging, enriching the lives of others. In every way, building them up so their life would be with than without an authority. If you stop and think about what proper authority does, you will find that its intent is to provide an individual something they could not have on their own. Think for a moment about a two year old child. Let’s take that child away from any authority or influence. Let’s put it in the house, close the doors, and leave it; we’ll come back later. Will that child’s life be better without the authority of parents telling them what to do? About the same? Or be worse? What do you think? You might think that is kind of silly and dumb. But actually, I saw a literal representation because somebody did that to their child. They came back with the video camera and walked in the front door. This was on TV the other night. There were some brown smears. The camera followed the brown smears. They went in the kitchen up over the cabinets – the cupboard faces – just the floor! A mess of brown stuff. Over on the counter was a can of brown chocolate gooey stuff laying on its side.
Here is a two year old sitting on the counter covered in brown with this can, eating chocolate gooey stuff. It was all in his hair. With a big smile. That, in the mind of a two year old, was better than when the parents were home. But is that what was best for the child? If the child lived on without the parents, would that child have reached what he could reach? When the ball rolled out in the street and the parents weren’t there to say don’t chase it? If the child said I’m not doing school; I’m just going to do whatever I want to do, would that child step into adulthood in as good a condition or a better condition than having parents? No. We can see that. You say, that is a silly example. Of course, authority for the child is there for the child’s benefit. A child could never achieve in its life without authority what it can achieve with two loving parents. There are parents who abuse children. Yes. However, God’s intended purpose for authority is that it enriches the lives of others. I’ll speak for myself. As a young man, I had pretty exciting teenage years. Because of my family, thankfully, I was heading off for a career in television production. I had the guy things. I had hunting, fishing, a car, a job, I had money coming in. For me, I was all set. Just run that out to age 60 where I am now. My car would have worn out a time or two. My guns, who knows. I would have had a lot of ducks in the freezer. If I did not come under the authority of a covenant with a mate, would my life be better or worse? I have actually submitted to not doing a lot of those things I used to do, focusing all my time on myself and doing a bunch of guy things. I’ve submitted to loving my wife, trying to do it like Christ loved the Church.
I’ve submitted my finances to helping us have children. I’ve submitted our house and so much of what we do to a mate; to children; to grandchildren. Now look at a life that has family and extensions of family and all these relationships compared to what I would have been. Is submission to authority good? Did it enrich my life? Or has it been worse off for me? I tell you I would run from the life I used to have. I did run from it, actually. There is nothing quite like what can happen to an individual if you submit to authority and come under something that is better for you. My wife might tell you that her life has been better being under an authority that has been looking out for her maximum fulfillment in life as opposed to what it might have been by herself. Authority isn’t necessarily awful; in fact, it can be pretty good. Over in East Africa where we go, and hope that you will be able to come sometime and meet with the members, when we drive out into the middle of the bush and there aren’t even roads and we are just driving on trails that people or animals make. There is no water; there is no electricity. The people have to get their drinking water out of little puddles. The food depends on the rainfall. They don’t have any plows. They don’t have any animals to plow with. It is just human labor. Why? Because they don’t have authority that cares. When it we drove here today, wasn’t it nice to have streets? How many of you paved your street to get here? I’ve never paved a street in my life.
I didn’t pour the sidewalks; I didn’t put up the traffic lights that I understand cost $100,000 - $200,000 per intersection. And that was years ago. It is probably up higher than that. All of the infrastructure, the lights we have, the town systems – I didn’t make any of this. I don’t know about you, but there are civic authorities that regulate things, and it is a much nicer life with the government of this country than it would be with every man for himself, like we see in parts of Africa. Every man for himself means there is no authority over you, but your life never amounts to that much. You never get to experience riding in a car. Driving a car. Having anything electric. Seeing a TV. Hearing a radio. Just enjoying things that city governments can bring you like turning on a tap or flushing a toilet, or taking a shower, or feeling warm water. Cooking over some sort of appliance. Government can be a very helpful authority. That is what its purpose is for. We can have better lives than we could on our own if there are authorities over us that are proper. Government can give us a better life. Is it a good thing or a bad thing to come under a master? Would you be better off on your own?
John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
American King James Version×Those that do not come under His authority are limited to what they can do without God. They can do a lot without God. Drive around town; you can see what it leads to. In the end you have what you have and when you die, there is nothing you can do for yourself. Yet if you come under the government of Jesus Christ, He comes to enrich your life – real life. I don’t know where I would be and where my wife would be if we had not come under the laws of God. We have a wonderful life – and we are just not that smart. Jesus said He came so we could have a good life and more abundantly. The inference is eternally. Ratchet it up to an angel, to an archangel, to the 24 elders, to co-heir with Christ. To that level. We cannot embellish our lives eternally without Him. What future would you have without the Lord, the soon coming King? We have to look at our lives and not be a forgetful hearer. This is difficult. I don’t like this path. I have my own ideas. We are all in this together, but separately. We are of like spirit but we are all tested individually. James 4:6-7 James 4:6-7  But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
American King James Version×God is a gracious God. He gives us so much rope. He waits. He is long suffering. It is only when we are a hard head and are going to spoil it for others that He spanks. When I look at the civil authorities, I see you are not measuring up. I’ll give you an example. There is a stretch of highway near my house that has a 30 mph speed limit. There was construction there a year ago and it dropped to 20 mph.
Everyone does 50 through there. Do I rationalize breaking that law? God gives grace to the humble. Humble means that you know you are not that gifted; that you are not that smart. There are individuals in the world that are so much more talented than me. There is no place for us to look at the President or civic leaders and say that they don’t know what they are doing. That would be pride and arrogance. We don’t have to agree with them or follow them. God has a different way of dealing with those that are not doing things properly. Vs. 7 – Submit to God. Therefore, I don’t have to submit to any man. You are an authority that others have to submit to. What kind of authority are you? Here is pride and humility and submission to God and the devil. We reason through it. We end up like Eve. We must resist the devil. 1 Peter 5:5 1 Peter 5:5Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.
American King James Version×Younger people who are smarter, brighter are to submit to older people that only have dial up. They don’t even know what a Blackberry is. How does that fit? The younger person has to stop and think about what the older person says. They say, young person, your life would be better if you did this. Younger people, your life will be embellished if you listen to older people. “All of you be submissive.” I was introduced as the pastor of different places. Sometimes, I submit to my deaconesses. Sometimes I submit to children. When my wife says come eat while it is hot, I submit. I’m a busy person. I have to respect the work she has done. Should I not submit to, “Honey, it is time for dinner"? When my deaconess says we are going to start the pot luck, would you ask the blessing? I say, yes ma'am.
When people in the congregation suggest a social and we run it by the social committee, it is not always my favorite activity. I say, not my will, but your will. Yes, let’s do it on this date. I’ll move my activity. There are times when a child comes and says, not that, papa, come do this. I have to submit to a child. Do I have to submit to a little kid at church? Sometimes, yes. There are many times when we submit to one another. If your wife is like mine, she thinks deeper. I have a great idea, but there are scheduling conflicts and such. My idea has to submit to her idea. It was a busy weekend. The swimming pool is growing mold. Maybe you put that off and go take care of the pool. You go do what needs to be done. Guess what? You have more harmony. You don’t have people thinking you don’t think about your family. It is important that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Mr. Armstrong once summarized salvation in one point. Take the whole Bible and all the human and physical realm. It all comes down to submission to authority. Are you going to submit to what God says and do His will, or will you rebel like Lucifer and say no I won’t do that. God wants to make you into a God-being. The ability to create and multiply on a really high level. This isn’t just an angel gone bad; this is one’s equal. God can’t let that happen. God must know if we will submit to authority. God must have it His way. How many times in the Bible did individuals rebel when they thought their own way was best?
Take Korah. Korah was a leader. All Korah wanted to do was come up to and not submit to authority. God’s response was to swallow him up. Israel would not submit. So, he let some go to Assyria and some to Babylon. God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. Submission to authority is fundamental. Let’s look at authority relative to the family. Is it bad or good? Ephesians 5:21-24 Ephesians 5:21-24  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
 Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
American King James Version×Vs. 21 – We are to submit to each other. It is like the UCG. The Council appoints the President. There are times when the COE has authority over the GCE. We are all in the ministry under ministerial services. My wife is told to submit to me. That is a challenge to her. When she does so, she does it willing. Same for me. God expects us to submit to one another. God never comes down and forces you to submit. The sun sets on the Sabbath, and you think you have to vacuum one more room. Does God send an angel to prevent you from working on the Sabbath? No. You can blow right into the holy time of the Sabbath. But God tells us we need to submit. Vs. 22 – That can sound very heavy handed. It can sound authoritarian until you think about what he said. Submit to the man that married you. He is fulfilling the vow to love and provide for you. Like you submit to the Lord who gave you life and loves you. You need to submit to that love. The husband is the servant of the wife, just as Jesus serves the church. He will help you reach that state, if he loves you like the Lord loves the Church. Vs. 23 – He is the savior of the body. He has saved us from the misery of sin, and He is in the process of saving us from eternal death. Vs. 24 –This one that is out to do us only good and loves us so much and lives inside us and will never leave us or forsake us – who will be with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death – we are to be subject to Him. And the husbands who love their wives are like this. Husbands are to have agape – outgoing, concerned love – for their wives. Is that not a wonderful environment to be submissive?
Ephesians 6:1-4 Ephesians 6:1-4  Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
 Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
 That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.
 And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
American King James Version×Parents have to correct children, and do if they love them. Parents try to better the lives of their children by giving them this experience or that experience. Vs. 4 – Don’t be one of those careless men that are focused somewhere else. Bring them up in the nature of the Lord. Authority is very enriching when it is responded to in a godly fashion. On the other hand, submission that is demanded is given begrudgingly. It is like when the husband says, wife, submit. God says you have to. Submission will be given in a limited form at best. What we have is a desire to submit. Christ knows where I should walk. I, myself, do not. I never want to stray from him. 1 Peter 2:13-14 1 Peter 2:13-14  Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;  Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
American King James Version×We are told to submit to many levels authority. They are for the enhancement of our physical lives. Vs. 13 – If it didn’t have “for the Lord’s sake”, that would be just a good suggestion. But you are in a different class from those around you. You are not using human logic. You are obeying the speed limit for God. Vs. 14 – The police aren’t out there to do you harm. They are there to help. Years ago, they switched the traffic lights off in Nairobi. They weren’t used anyway. It was a game of chicken and grid lock. The police came out a year ago and turned the lights back on. They started writing traffic tickets. Interesting. The traffic flows now. People have fewer crunches. In my first trip, I wanted to go to the site of the American Embassy that was bombed in 1998. A hand came into the window with a hand covered in excrement. He said he would grind it into my face and mouth if I didn’t give him a dollar. The police said, no, you guys that are doing this will go to jail. Things are a lot better there now. When we submit, we submit to things God has allows man to put in place.
Over all, God supports human leaders. Are there abuses? Oh, yes. Idi Amin. Go to Kenya. There are burned out buildings. Some of the governments gave the weapons to do the atrocities. In general, if you break the law, you will receive the penalty. Do all follow the law? No. 65% of all that incarcerated in the world are incarcerated in the US. 2% of our population is in prison or on parole. That is far higher than any other nation. 67% of those that get out of prison will go back in. They will not submit to the laws. I was talking to the warden at a prison in Arizona. He said that 95% of his inmates come back. They are incorrigible, he said. They don’t want to be rehabilitated. We know how Lucifer rebelled against God. A perfect government with God the Father running it. And 1/3 of the angels rebelled. Moses did not submit to God’s authority, and God killed him. Lack of submission is not allowable. Numbers 12:1-2 Numbers 12:1-2  And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
 And they said, Has the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? has he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.
American King James Version×, 5, 9-14 Let’s look at an example with Miriam. See the patience of God and the repentance that was involved. Vs. 2 – Because you made a mistake, we don’t have to follow you! Vs. 5, 9, 10 – That was a fatal disease. Your skin would rot off and you would eventually die. Aaron and Miriam realized what they had done. Vs. 11 Vs. 14 – This is going to be embarrassing. Israel had to keep moving. There were 10 million that had to eat and produce waste. They had to move, but Miriam was put out for seven days. There would have been a huge awareness of the problem. Titus 3:10 Titus 3:10A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject;
American King James Version×God is a god of healing. God uses it to refer to stitching together relationships. Jude 8 This is our nature. I look at God’s word and say, Elliot, you could stray off the path easily.
Jeremiah 17:23 Jeremiah 17:23But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.
American King James Version×– we do not know how to direct our steps. We are to get on our knees and say Your will be done. I think I know what to do, but it turns out that I need your food. Forgive me of transgressions. God is a God that wants us to submit for the betterment of ourselves. For the beauty of eternal life. 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 1 Corinthians 7:12-15  But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.  And the woman which has an husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.  But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace.
American King James Version×Let’s look at the other side. We are not to submit to anything that is ungodly or unholy. Vs. 12 – If you are married that is not in the Church. That means that you will be submitting to someone without God’s spirit. It doesn’t say that husbands have to submit to wives, but we have to submit to one another. Sometimes the wife has better logic than we do. Vs. 13 – Here is a carnal man without God’s spirit. If he is willing to live with her, she must submit. These two situations have the potential to be very wrong. If a husband is a lazy slob on the couch and your prime function is to bring him beer, but he is pleased to live there because it is working well for him, it that what it means? No. It means that the husband is fulfilling his roles as a husband. Or if the wife sits on the couch eating bon-bons and just lets you pay the rent and the food. No, she must be a wife. Submission is to what God said and to the institutions God allows, as long as they are not in conflict with His teachings. Submission goes beyond obedience. It involves the mind. It is not just rote obedience. It is something you have to desire to do. It is a challenge to grow. At any level, we have those above us. You children have pets. You have authority over them. And it has a better life than it would have if you put it out on its own. We all fall into this. Being in authority and falling under authority. It becomes a way of life we choose to adopt. When we choose this, it is like when Christ said I came to do Your will. Christ said, I would rather not die naked with a spear. But nevertheless, not My will, but yours. God needs to know how we will respond if He makes us a child in His family. 2 Corinthians 10:8 2 Corinthians 10:8For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord has given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:
American King James Version×The title of this sermon came from this verse.
Submission is a mindset of God. I don’t like the 25 mph speed limit. But it goes by a park. There are sometimes children there. The law is to let them have a long happy life. The only purpose for authority is edification. Just like God reaches out with the shepherd’s crook and pulls us back. It is for our protection as we walk by still waters on the way to the house of the Lord. 1 Timothy 5:17 1 Timothy 5:17Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.
American King James Version×Paul is speaking to a minister. You want to be a leader? You have to be giving. To serve. Don’t let it be like those in the world that lord it over them. To be the highest in the Church, be the slave. Nobody minds the servants that come into your house, polish the silver, and trim the yard. “That rule well” – Where is the criteria for “ruling well”? It is subjective. Someone has to make a judgment. We are all to strive to be like Christ at whatever level we are at. Children should think your parents rise and shine on the planet. Husbands should think life could not be so good without their wives. We must grow into the kingdom and the family of God. Sometimes, we are to protect. 1 Timothy 5:19-21 1 Timothy 5:19-21  Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.  Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.  I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
American King James Version×Vs. 19 – We are not to receive an accusation without 2 or 3 witnesses.
Not someone else who heard the rumor; witnesses. Those that were there and saw it. Vs. 20 – That is not the right way. People could get run over chasing into the street after the ball. Vs. 21 – This is not about groups and clubs and favorites. This is about you and me. Whatever authority you have, do it out of love and the enhancing for those you are serving. Then you will be the leader God intends. God is the ultimate authority. He is for your benefit. Without Him, we have failed miserably. We must be directed by authority even when we think it is dumb. It is for our good. Hebrews 12:9-11 Hebrews 12:9-11  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?
 For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.
American King James Version×Vs. 9 – We have human fathers. Were they perfect? No. Did we get away with murder? Yes. Did they do the best they could? Yes. Vs. 10 – Even though we choke and think it isn’t fair, it produces the fruit of righteousness. Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×I depend on God and I depend on submitting to others. Vs. 11 – I hope that you will take some time as I do together as begotten children in the family of God, challenged along the way, to take time to think about authority. How are you an authority? Authority is for the edification of others.