Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011 … Spirit-filled Submission

Passage of the Day: Ephesians 5: 21 [see underlined/bold below] … 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

My Journal for Today:
As John MacArthur reminds us in his Strength for Today devotional on this date, the concept of “submission” is not one which is esteemed in our western, post-modern culture. For the world at large, “submission” usually denotes weakness or being out of control. And yet, this is the attitude sought after by God’s Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, in his exhortation to the Ephesians, the church, and all Christians in today’s passage.

Our natural tendency, which of course comes from our sin nature, is to desire control over situations and others. However, according to our model of Christlikeness, Jesus Himself, we must, as His disciples, try to be like Him, especially in our attitude (see Phil. 2: 5); and Jesus was the model of surrender and submission. He even used surrender terms to describe Himself. In the only two self-descriptive terms ever quoted from Jesus, he called himself “humble” and “meek,” (see Matt. 11: 29) both of which speak of Christ being willing to surrender His glory to humbly serve others, rather than to take on the majesty which was rightly His (see Phil. 2: 5 – 11). During his three year ministry, Jesus continually referred to doing nothing but submitting His all to the will of His Father.

In today’s verse, the term “hupotasso” is used as the Greek concept for “submit;” and this term is derived from a word picture of a soldier surrendering his will – voluntarily – to his officers. And for the Christian the outcome of mutual submission is aptly described by Paul in Phil. 2: 3 – 4 [another of the verses that I hope you have memorized] where the Apostle teaches individual surrender to our Lord Jesus in the context of Christian fellowship. It reads as follows; “3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Remember, … from Scripture (again specifically from Phil. 2: 5), Christians are exhorted to have the attitude of Christ; and in today’s devotional we read that the ultimate attitude for Christians, in the context of the fellowship of man, is to elevate the needs of others over the desires of self; and this becomes the expression of our desire to model how Christ lived His life. And surrendering self to the Holy Spirit, i.e., allowing Him to take the lead in our lives, should be the first expression of our mutual submission in the context of the church. And what would this look like in our lives, especially our church lives? Well, one such action of surrender to God would be to submit [“hupotasso”] to the leaders or elders of our church (see Hebrews 13: 17 and 1st Peter 5: 5). For as long as there is evidence that the leaders of any church are following God and His word (see this in the life of Paul in 1st Cor. 11: 1), our surrender to their authority and lead is what this devotional emphasizes in our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

But do we? Do we as Christians find that we overcome our selfish nature and our desire to control others, submitting our will, first to the leaders of our church, and then in mutual surrender to one another? I think not! Because if we did exhibit Christlike surrender, there would not be the degree of strife that we see in today’s churches. How often do we see churches splitting because the will of a few, who desire control? Too often, I’m afraid, we see splinter groups buffeted against the will of the designated or recognized leaders of the church or the Pastor. And how often do we see people gossiping or angry because of their unwillingness to submit to others, especially the leaders of the church? Yes, all too often.

The point here is that mutual surrender or submission, being humanly unnatural, is a definite sign, when it occurs, that an individual Christian has allowed God’s Spirit to take control of his/her spirit so that the love of God can become expressed in Christian surrender to the needs of others. And when this happens in a body of believers, Christ, being lived out in His disciples, becomes evident to a lost and dying world (see also John 1: 7 or 13: 34).

My Prayer Today: Lord, I surrender all! Ame

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