The term “submitting to another” is very difficult for most people to understand in today’s society of self-centeredness. The term “fear of God” is equally misunderstood. To do both as Paul suggests in Ephesians 5:21 is seldom done due to a complete lack of understanding. However there is great freedom in doing both.
Ephesians 5:21, Submitting to one another in the fear of God,
I chose to focus just on this one verse as it has caused much turmoil in the lives of many Christians. Where people get confused is in their understanding of the word submitting. The following verse in Ephesians, “Wives submit to your own husbands”, is also a problem and this too has caused much grief in many Christian circles due to its misunderstanding. Everyone understands one of the definitions of submitting to be “To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another”, as found in the American Heritage Dictionary. What we seldom realize is there are additional definitions and just like many words that have different definitions you not only have to read it in the context of the sentence, but in this case it must be read in the context of the chapter and even more so in the spirit of the new covenant we call the New Testament. There is only “one” true Shepherd the Man Christ Jesus. If we chose to be a follower of Christ, He is the only person we should submit to in the definition I just mentioned above. He is the one that paid the price of the cross for us and when we put the will of a man between us and Jesus, we are actually participating in idolatry. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say to submit to a man over Jesus. We are not called to surrender ourselves over to the will of another person, making them Lord over our lives, but we should allow ourselves to hear from another person if they have a deeper understanding in the Lord. This does not mean that a pastor’s word is the final word and must be followed no matter what. They too are clay vessels and capable of misunderstanding the word. We must take the preached word and search the scriptures for ourselves. By doing so we will either make the preached word our own, or the Holy Spirit can lead us into the truth, that’s His job. Christ Jesus must be the ultimate authority in our lives, not any man. Neither are we called to be separate from each other having only our own relationship with the Lord. The word tells us that we individually, we in a church, and we as all the churches, are the temple of the God. He lives in each of us and in all of us.
Unity is the key that when mixed with faith unlocks the heavens; either our being in unity with the word of God regarding our personal walk with Jesus, or jointly in unity with one another and together agreeing upon the word of God. When we allow division among believers, or division of ourselves from the word of God, we become easy prey for Satan. “Submitting to one another in the fear of God”, is simply sharing your heart’s desires with a believing brother or sister so that they can pray with you, whether it is for help in overcoming a sin in your life or even a change for the better, such as a better job. In Genesis when God is calling Abram out from his people to a walk with Him, God establishes a principle where something is established as truth at the voice of two or more witnesses. Jesus confirms this in Matthew 18:16 when He says, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established”. In this verse Jesus is referencing the act of judgment of a sin worthy of death as found in Deuteronomy 17:6 regarding punishment under the Law of Moses. Jesus takes this same concept of unity between two or more and brings it into our daily walk of unity among Christians in Matthew 18:18-20, when He is telling us, the church, of our authority here on earth and where the greatest power lies. 18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." In James 5:16 when we are told to “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”, this concept is not just for healing, but rather a principle of unity and exercise in faith. Jesus is the one that paid for our healing by the stripes on His back, healing does not come just because of the unity of prayer. This principle in James 5:16 is referring back to the agreement and unity of two or more by faith in the word of God. Whether your battle is for healing, overcoming sin or a bad habit, or for an answer in any direction for your life, there is great authority in the heavenly places when you submit your heart to a believing brother or sister and ask them to pray with and for you.
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