Submission Matters – 1 Peter 2:11-17 (ESV), Colin Munroe Senior Pastor

Submission Matters
The Matters of Submission
1 Peter 2:11-17 (ESV)

1 Peter 2:11-17 (ESV)
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

The word “submission” comes from the Greek word hupotasso. Primarily a military term, this word means “to rank under” (hupo) and “to arrange” (tasso)

History supports that zealous Jews refused to submit to the rule of man. They believed God was the only authority to obey.

Peter instructed the church that God is the one who ultimately establishes all authority. When we submit to man’s righteous rule, we are obeying the authority set in place by God.

Romans 13:1-5 (ESV)
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. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 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, 4 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. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Biblical submission reflects the character of God.

While Peter encouraged believers to be law-abiding citizens, Scripture reveals examples where God’s commands were given priority over man’s laws. 

Exodus 1:15-20 – the Hebrew midwives

1 Kings 18:3-4 – Jezebel was killing prophets

Joshua 2 – Rahab protected the Israelite spies

Daniel 6 – Daniel defied King Darius’ decree

We must weigh civil disobedience wisely regarding God’s commands. Even if punishment is handed out, we are challenged to endure courageously.

1 Peter 2:20 (ESV)
For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

Our higher responsibility will always be to obey God’s divine decrees rather than mans.

Acts 5:29 (ESV)
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

Through God’s infinite wisdom, submission to authority is for His purposes and man’s good, but man’s rule must never negate a holy God who requires our submission to Him first.

Submission to authority is obviously NOT a popular approach in our day of violence in our streets and desire for individual satisfaction and success!

But obviously obedience to God’s Word often doesn’t win us any popularity contests, but it is always fruitful and faithful. We can’t say that about popular opinion or what is politically correct.

Big Idea: Submission doesn’t mean slavery but simply the recognition of God’s authority in our lives. 

There are 2 motives for submitting to authority and living dedicated and obedient lives as believers.

#1 The first motive is for the sake of the lost

1 Peter 2:11 (ESV)
Beloved, I urge (implore) you as sojourners (aliens and strangers)(this world is not you home, so don’t make yourself cozy in it) and exiles (in this world) to abstain from the passions of the flesh (sensual urges, evil desires), which wage war against your soul.

Our love for Jesus should be enough motivation for us to live godly lives in this ungodly world.

John 14:15 (ESV)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

There is something deeper than obedience because of duty and that is obedience because of devotion. 

John 14:23 (ESV)
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

If you have ever lived in a foreign land, you know that the citizens watch you and are prone to find things to criticize.

Our real battle is not with people around us, but with passions within us. 

D.L. Moody said, “I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than with any man I know.”

If we yield to these sinful appetites, then we will start living like the unsaved around us, and we will become fruitless witnesses. 

The word translated “war” carries the idea of “a military campaign.” We do not win one battle and the war is over. It is a constant warfare and we must be on our guard.

1 Peter 2:12 (ESV)
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable (righteous and proper) (live exemplary lives among the natives), so that when they speak against you (or slander you) as evildoers, they may see (or witness) your good deeds (so that your actions will refute their prejudices) and (come to) glorify God on the day of visitation.

If we are going to witness to the lost people around us, we must live “honorable” lives.

There should be nothing in our conduct that will give the unsaved ammunition to attack Christ and the Gospel.

Brenden Manning said – “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their life styles, this is what an unbelieving world find unbelievable”

“The day of visitation” could mean that day when Christ returns and every tongue will confess that He is Lord or the time when God visits lost sinners and saves them by His grace. When these people do trust Christ, they will glorify God and give thanks because we were faithful to witness to them even when they made life difficult for us.

1 Peter 2:13-17 (ESV)
Be subject (submissive) for the Lord’s sake to every human institution (and authority)(please the Lord by being an ideal example of law abiding), whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish (bring justice to) those who do evil and to praise (encourage) those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorance (ill-informed criticisms) of foolish people. (It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society) 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God (exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules). 17 Honor everyone (show respect for all men)(Treat everyone you meet with dignity). Love the brotherhood (your spiritual family). Fear (reverence or revere) God. Honor the emperor.

#2 The 2nd motive is for the Lord’s Sake

Peter was careful to point out that Christians in society are representatives of Jesus Christ. This is especially true when it comes to our relationship to government and people in authority.

As Christian, we should submit to the authority vested in human government.

When Daniel and his 3 friends refused to obey the king’s dietary regulations, they disobeyed the law; but the way that they did it proved that they honored the king and respected the authorities.

Peter and the other Apostles faced a similar challenge shortly after Pentecost. The Jewish council commanded them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John respectfully refused to obey.

It is important that we respect the office even though we might not respect the person in the office. As much as possible, we should seek to cooperate with the government and obey the law; but we must never allow the law to make us disobey God’s Word.

Peter did not criticize the Roman government or suggest that it be overthrown. God’s church has been able to live and grow in all kinds of political systems. 

The “governors” are those under the supreme authority who administer the laws and execute justice. 

We must remind ourselves to respect the office even if we have trouble respecting the officer.

When we do something in the will of God and as the servants of God, then we are doing it for the Lord’s sake. God has willed that we silence the critics by doing good, not by opposing the authority. 

A true Christian submits himself to authority because he is first of all submitted to Christ. 

We use our freedom as a tool to build with and not as a weapon to fight with.

If we are sincerely submitted to authority for the Lord’s sake, then we will show honor too. We may not agree with their politics or their practices, but we must respect their position.

One way we show love to the church is by submitting to the authority of the powers that be, for we are bound together with one another in our Christian witness.

Proverbs 24:21 (ESV)
My son, fear the LORD and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise

We must exercise discernment in our relationship to human government. There are times when the right thing is to set aside our own rights, and there are other times when using our citizenship is the right thing.

Big Idea

Submission doesn’t mean slavery but simply the recognition of God’s authority in our lives.

Closing Prayer