THE SUBMISSION OF CHRIST TO GOD THE FATHER
“Not My will, but Yours be done!”
This is the essence of biblical submission. These were the words of Christ, Himself, within hours of His betrayal and then His crucifixion. If ANYONE in the universe had a reason for wanting to find another way for people to be made right with God – it was Jesus Christ. He asked God sincerely, urgently, with anguish – if this “cup” (of crucifixion) could pass from Him. But He chose to submit to God the Father for our benefit.
A COVENANT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PEOPLE AND CHRIST
It’s the Great Exchange. He exchanges our spiritual poverty for His spiritual riches, our death and punishment for His life and victory. He gave up ALL for us. And He desires us to be willing to give up ALL for Him – to submit to Him, to surrender to Him as Lord, to obey Him. He won’t force it on us. It has to be our free choice and gift to give our lives to Him. He died for us willingly, now it is up to us to live for Him willingly. Both sides of this holy covenant relationship are gifts, freely given to the other. Both commit their all.
As Christians, we are part of the bride of Christ. Marriage is to be a living parable of the intimate, one-spirit relationship between Christ and His beloved church – His people, those who know Him, love Him and serve Him as Lord.
He knows what it means to submit to the authority of God. He submitted to God FIRST, then He became the Head of all things, including His body of believers, His church. He is our example. THAT IS LOVE. That is what the love of a husband is meant to be for his wife.
THE SUBMISSION OF ALL BELIEVERS TO CHRIST
Usually, I only focus on the wife’s duties and responsibilities, but I think it is important for wives to understand that husbands are called to submit to God completely – just as wives are. Our primary relationship of submission/authority is between ourselves as believers and Christ – that is true for all believers.
The key here is - I cannot MAKE or FORCE my husband (or anyone) to submit to Christ – whether he already claims to be a believer or not. That is a free decision to be made by each individual. I cannot control him. I can influence my husband to want to obey God by my own willingness to obey God and my own humility. I can pray for him. But I cannot control or change him.
- A husband cannot force his wife to submit to him or respect him.
- A wife cannot force her husband to love her as Christ loves the church.
- A wife cannot force her husband to lead in marriage.
- God did not force Christ to die for us, He willingly submitted to God’s will.
- The church didn’t force Christ to lay down His life, He chose to willingly.
- The church didn’t force Christ to lead – He chose to be the ultimate loving, selfless leader on His own.
- Christ does not force me to accept His gift of life forever with Him in heaven – to live as His bride. He is a gentleman and allows me the freedom to choose or reject His offer.
I can only address my own obedience to God’s Word, not my husband’s. Christ-like love, submission, godly leadership, respect – the ingredients of a healthy, godly marriage are GIFTS that we give to our spouses out of reverence and obedience to Christ.
Husbands are called first to submit themselves to Christ . It is only when a man is under the authority of Christ and submits himself, his desires, his plans and his dreams to God’s desires, plans and dreams - that he can truly lead his wife in a godly way that honors Christ, brings glory to the gospel and benefits his wife and family. However, God can and does use even unbelieving husbands to lead believing wives.
A godly husband is willing to say to God, “Not my will, but Yours be done in my marriage, in my family, in every aspect of my life, Lord!”
HUSBANDS LIVE IN DUAL DIRECTIONS
Godly leadership, headship and authority is only properly, lovingly, selflessly used by a man who knows Jesus Christ as Lord of his life. He must submit himself to Christ and then he can turn toward his wife and family and imitate Christ. He must learn to be the bride of Christ before he can be a godly groom – in essence. It’s his primary responsibility to protect, love, lead, guide and serve his family and to demonstrate the example of the love of Christ to them.
GOD CAN USE A HUSBAND’S LOVE TO WIN A WIFE TO GOD AND HIMSELF
The miracle is that when a husband loves his wife with the love of Christ – even if she is disrespectful and controlling, or if she is a doormat and unplugged – she will begin to come to life as her husband’s love fills her heart. His love is POWERFUL. Husbands often have NO IDEA how powerful their selfless, Christlike love is for their wives. But if a husband wants to motivate his wife, his power is in his love, his servant’s heart, his kindness, tenderness, gentleness, words of love, acts of service and showing that he genuinely seeks the welfare of his wife above his own. THAT is how to motivate a wife to begin to follow a man’s leadership and to show respect.
THE SUBMISSION OF WIVES
Wives have parallel roles. I learn to submit to Christ, and I learn to submit to my husband. Ultimately, my submission is primarily to Christ, not my husband. The reason I follow the leadership of my husband (unless he asks me to condone or commit sin) is out of reverence, respect and submission of my life to my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Many people get upset about the concept of “submission.” And, sadly, this word has been used to describe so many derogatory situations, that it has almost completely lost its original implications on our culture. Submission has nothing to do with a person’s value, oppression or slavery. Jesus and God are equal, but Christ submitted to God out of love.
In the Bible, submission is similar to the concept of the Captain and the First Mate on a ship. It’s a military term that connotes ranking oneself under a higher authority. This doesn’t mean that one person is more valuable than the other, or that one doesn’t need to use his brain or do any work. No! They both have a long list of critical roles and responsibilities. But the Captain has ultimate responsibility and accountability for the decisions and consequences.
God is a God of order and when He places God-given authority over us – it is always for our protection as wives, for our provision, for our sanity and to give us peace and joy. Husbands are the ones who will stand accountable for the decisions and well-being of their families before God one day. God’s ways are higher than my ways! And the foolishness of God is higher than man’s wisdom. Obedience to God’s Word ALWAYS brings joy, life and peace.
A godly wife has the attitude toward Christ, “Not my will, but yours be done.” She desires God’s will above her own. Her intimacy and relationship with Christ and her husband are MUCH more valuable to her than getting her way about a certain decision.
She can and should express her feelings, desires, concerns and thoughts to God and her husband - these are both deeply intimate relationships of oneness. But once she has expressed herself, she trusts that her Lord Jesus is big and powerful enough to lead her through her sinful man. She doesn’t want to stand in the way of God’s leading in her husband’s life. She cooperates with God’s leading and is willing to say, ”Yes!” to God and to her husband. Ultimately, her faith is in Christ. But because she has great faith in Jesus, she is able to show great faith in her husband.
GOD CAN USE THE OBEDIENCE, RESPECT AND COOPERATION OF A WIFE TO WIN A HUSBAND OVER TO HER AND TO GOD
The amazing thing is that as her husband witnesses her joy and peace in Christ, and her faith in Christ – which also begins to be faith in him as a husband – he is empowered to become a more godly husband! Whether he is a tyrant or passive, his wife’s respect, admiration and willing cooperation with her husband’s leadership POWERFULLY motivate her husband to love her with the love of Christ and to begin to lay down his life for her with a servant’s heart.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BRINGING GLORY TO GOD!
God is SO good! When even just one spouse in a marriage is willing to obey Him and submit to His Word – miracles begin to happen. Marriages bloom and thrive, spouses are transformed. God is greatly glorified!
Show us Your beautiful design for marriage! Rebuild our understanding of marriage on the foundation of Christ and Your Word alone! Help us to be willing to die to ourselves, to crucify our own sinful nature and take up our cross daily and follow You, Jesus!