The Holy Spirit in the Church Today – Submission – Part IXC – A Study in the Book of Ephesians

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.             Ephesians 5:21

The first three or four characteristics of a Spirit filled believer given in verses 19 & 20 of Ephesians 5 are fairly simple to understand.  However, the characteristic of submitting to one another raises a question or two.

How does a husband, who is designated by God to be the spiritual leader in the home, submit to his wife?  How does a father submit to his children?  How does a boss submit to his employees?  The answers are dealt with in the remainder of chapter five and into chapter six of Ephesians.  We will examine these in the order that Scripture presents them.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (vs 22).

Submit in this context is from the Greek word hupeikoHupo means under and eiko means to yield.  To subject or the word subjection is from hupotasso, a military term – hupo meaning under and tasso meaning to rank under, to arrange.  The word picture heard most often as an illustration of this is that of a knight kneeling before the king with his weapons arranged before him signifying his allegiance and dedication to the king.

The Spirit filled believer listed first in this passage of explanation is the wife.  This does not indicate that she is being singled out for ill treatment or that she is inferior to her husband.  Submission being one of the characteristics of a Spirit filled believer applies to believers in whatever role they find themselves, whether child, parent, husband, employer, etc.   Being mentioned first may simply mean that the wife’s submission is the most important.  Leadership is meaningless without followers.

Submitting to another does not mean that the one submitting is inferior to the other.  The culture takes offence because that is what the culture thinks it means, but Christians are to think biblically.  I Corinthians 11:3 says; But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.  The head of Christ is God.  Does that mean that Christ is inferior to God?  Of course not!  Jesus Christ is God.  The Son is simply carrying out the will of the Father.  That is His role.

What does submission look like in a Spirit filled Christian wife?   Submit yourselves in the middle or passive voice means to subject oneself, to obey, to be subject to.  This is a willing submission.  It is not forced or demanded by the Spirit filled husband.  It is voluntary.

The culture with its mouth agape will pretend that the wife’s role of submission is shocking.  Look around you.  Every day you and I are required to submit, to subject ourselves, to obey.  If you disagree, try telling your boss what you will do and not do tomorrow.  Try driving to work in half the time it normally takes.  Try telling the traffic cop that you make your own rules.  Without submission, yielding and obedience, our society would be in complete chaos.  Where there is no order and/or respect for roles and authority there is chaos.  The Holy Spirit is not the author of confusion.

By the way, this role for wives is the remedy for the conflict resulting from the fall of man (man’s disobedience in the Garden).  One of the results of the fall is the struggle for control between the husband and wife.  God’s solution, the Spirit filled solution, is for the man to assume the leadership role and to take the responsibility that goes with it.  The wife should support him in that role.

Subject yourselves unto your own husbands.  This submission is limited.  Somewhere, sometime, somehow, either the culture or “Christian” men not walking in the Spirit, fomented the idea that  the woman’s role is that of submission to all men because women are inferior.  The Bible doesn’t teach that women are inferior.  They are different from men, but not inferior.  The Bible says specifically in verse 22 that this Spirit filled role of submission is to her own husband.

The attitude of this submission is as unto the Lord.  The unbelieving wife is incapable of this type of submission because it is made possible only by the Holy Spirit who indwells believers.  A Christian wife should meditate on the characteristics of her submission unto the Lord.  Thought should be given on how to make these characteristics true of her relationship with her own husband.

Definitions are taken from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Note:  In light of this teaching on submission, Christian women who are considering marriage should note the seriousness of marrying according to God’s will.  An unbeliever cannot be Spirit filled.  This submission is produced by the Holy Spirit who indwells believers only.

If the husband asks the wife to violate a clear command of Scripture, she should respectfully obey God rather than man.  If the “Christian” husband breaks the law she should call the police.  Covering for him for sake of testimony is simply enabling him.

Spirit filled submission does not mean the wife should follow the husband into doctrinal heresy.  She should stand firm in a respectful way.

If the husband is involved in activities that bring reproach upon the cause of Christ, the husband should be dealt with according to Matthew 18.  He should be held accountable regardless of what position he may occupy in the church, even if he is the pastor.   

I Peter 3:7 KJV instructs the husband to give honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel.  The word for weaker does not mean inferior.  It is used in a comparative sense to the husband who, as a general rule, is physically stronger and able to provide the protection and security that she deserves.

…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…

I’m Not Responsible!

A well known pastor/teacher said the following:

I’m not responsible for who gets saved, and neither are you.  I refuse that responsibility.  Then who is responsible?  “No man comes to Me,” Jesus said, “except the Father draw him.”  God has that responsibility, not us.*

What then is the Christian’s responsibility?  The Christian’s responsibility is to sow the seed.  The seed is the Word of God.  It is all good seed.  As we sow the seed, we should be asking God to let it fall on good ground.  Good ground is ground that has been prepared by the Holy Spirit.  Seed that falls on good ground brings forth fruit.

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Matthew 13:23

The question, therefore, is not: how many souls have you won, but have you been sowing seed?

Here are some personal observations concerning sowing seed:

If you do not want to sow seed, then you probably shouldn’t.  If you do not want to sow seed, it will likely be obvious to the recipients of your efforts.

If you are to sow seed, it must be deliberate and intentional but not forced.  Write out your testimony of salvation and begin to share it in conversation as God gives the opportunity.   Ask God for opportunities to sow seed and ask Him to help you recognize the opportunity when it comes.

There will be many opportunities to share the gospel but personally, I would be hesitant to share my testimony verbally with a cashier and a long line of shoppers behind me.  Use instead a gospel tract or  a business type card with a blog address or short message on it.

Witnessing to a police officer who has pulled you over for speeding or reckless driving is probably not a good opportunity.  If you habitually break traffic laws, you should probably remove the Christian bumper stickers from your car. 

Witnessing to someone to whom you owe an unpaid bill is probably not a good idea either.   Paying a tithe while not paying your bills is in my view hypocrisy.

If a person is not interested in spiritual things then respect their wishes.  Respecting their wishes may get you another opportunity to witness later.  Not respecting their wishes will most likely get the door shut on you permanently and possibly anyone else that comes behind you.

Whenever I present My Testimony to someone,  I tell them that I would like to share how God worked in my life to bring me into a relationship with Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Whether I share My Testimony in person,  by letter, or emaiI; I usually say that it contains religious material and if they think they would be offended by it, they should not take it, and/or read it.  However, if sharing by mail, I may ask them to keep it around in the event that one day they should change their mind.  I also try to tell them in person that I will not be offended if they do not care to read it.  

You may be wondering why I would include these things from the preceding paragraph because they almost seem to be discouraging the individual from reading the message.  The reason I try to include these statements is to make the presentation of the gospel manipulation free.  The presentation of the gospel is not a sales call.

If you are traveling, plan ahead.  Take some gospel tracts or your written testimony along to sprinkle along the way.  Personally, I would not pick up a tract left in a public restroom.   Be discreet and don’t litter!

 Giving a generous tip when leaving a tract for a waitress or hotel maids is a good idea.  If a tip is expected, never leave a tract without a tip.

Remember, sowing seed is not about you or your success or failure at sowing.  Sowing seed is about obeying God.  The results belong to Him.

Note: The personal advice above is just that, my personal views.  It is how I do it.  Feel free to disagree as long as it is my opinion and not a biblical command that you are disagreeing with.  Do not accept anyone’s opinion unless you are personally convinced or persuaded of it in your own mind.

*John MacArthur – Hard to Believe (workbook) pg. 160

Romans 4

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.  How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?  Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.  Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he (God) had promised, he was able also to perform.  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…

Some Things to Think About


Who Is God?
He Is the Eternal One, Our Creator.

Who Is Jesus?
He Is God.

Who Are We?
Created Beings Separated from Our Creator by Our Sin.

What Is Sin?
Sin Is the Failure of Man to Obey God. Sin Brings Death.

What Is Death?
Death Is the Result of Sin.
Physical Death Is Separation from the Body.
Spiritual Death Is Separation from God.

Why Did God Send His Son?

To Pay Our Sin Debt in Order to Reconcile Us to Himself, so that We May Have Forgiveness and Life More Abundantly.

How May We Have Eternal Life?
Repentance is a Changing of the Mind Which Leads Us to
Trust in the Work and Merit of Christ Alone and to
Rest in the Work of Salvation that He Has Finished.
We are Saved from the Penalty of Sin by Grace through Faith.

                                                          What Is Grace?                                                            God’s Enabling

                                                            What is Faith?                                                                         Faith Is a Firm Persuasion or Conviction Brought About by                                                        Hearing the Word of God.*

*W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words

…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…