Submission To Human Institutions | 1 Peter 2:12-17 | Dr. David Harrell
Submission To Human Institutions
1 Peter 2:12-17
Dr. David Harrell | Bio
October, 22 2006
Submission To Human Institutions
Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
God has made it clear in His Word that our priority as Christians, our duty in Christian living, is to make it our priority to humble ourselves before the teaching and preaching of His Word. Therefore it is our great joy to be able to do that once again as we take our Bibles and turn to 1 Peter 2:13-17. We’ve been going verse by verse in this book. Now we reach a text that addresses the issue of being submissive to human institutions. Before we examine the text, may I remind you of what Peter has been saying to the suffering, persecuted saints in the first century, and certainly to all of us in our day and age. He’s first encouraged them by reminding them of the glorious nature of their salvation. Folks, this should be something that we do every week, where we go back and reflect on all of the marvelous things that God has done for us in our salvation. Then he has also reminded them of their rightful obligations to “keep their behavior excellent among the Gentiles.” That is important because good and godly behavior silences the opposition as well as helps us in our witness as we endeavor to tell other people about the transforming power of Christ. Certainly it would be a mockery for us to share with people the transforming power of Christ when we ourselves are living lives of disobedience, lives that would bring reproach upon Him.
Now Peter addresses another fascinating issue, one that might seem a bit out of place given the context that I’ve just described to you. After all, the people of that day could be saying, “We are victims of persecution. We’re being treated unfairly. We as Christians are being discriminated against. My personal rights have been violated. There is a double-standard in our land. What about my minority rights? Where is the ACLU when you need them? We demand justice! This is unfair.” So therefore we might expect Peter to, as many are doing in our land today, rally the conservative base, to get all the Christians fired up to elect the right people into office, to call people to political and social activism. Maybe you would expect him at this point to say, “We need to form a committee and we need to have a giant demonstration and march on Rome. We need to demand an audience with Caesar to express our grievances. We need to stage demonstrations. We need to protest this decadent, evil empire. We need to fight for our rights, maybe even overthrow our government, and put Christians in power. Can I hear an amen?” I’m glad I didn’t hear one.
Instead of calling the people to political activism and to civil disobedience, he called them to submission. But what about my rights? Dear Christian, you gave up your rights when you gave your life to Christ. Your citizenship is in heaven, not here. Yes, but what about my happiness? Your joy is found in being obedient to Christ. Ultimately your joy will be realized in heaven someday. But what about justice? Be thankful that God gave you mercy, not justice. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Trust the Lord in His own time. But our leaders are ungodly and our society is so wicked! Of course they are. They don’t know Christ. They’re in bondage to their sin. They live in the kingdom of darkness. They’ve been blinded by Satan and I’ve called you to love them, to serve them and honor them. To pray for them, to preach the gospel to them. And yes, I’ve even called you to submit to them. Your life is all about Me, not you. It’s not about your needs, it’s about My glory, God says.
So I’ve asked you to be a living sacrifice. Indeed, “I will supply all of your needs according to my riches in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, he says in verse 13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”
Again, remember the context. The Gentile world of that day hated Christians. Even the Jews hated the Christians and slandered them, called them evildoers. It’s no different today. In fact, in verse 12 they were told to live an exemplary life of godliness that would silence the opposition as well as be more effective in Christian witness to the unsaved world. Now he’s going to build upon those admonitions in the sections that follow by commanding us to be submissive. Here in this text it’s being submissive to human institutions, to civil authorities, to government. Later on he’s going to expand upon that and ask us to be submissive to our employers, to our superiors for whom we work and serve. He’s going to get even more personal and ask wives to be submissive to their husbands. And he’s going to ask every Christian to be submissive to God. This is a very important section of Scripture. Often these types of passages are kind of gone over, left aside, because one might think, Who would want to preach a sermon on this? Of course I think the appropriate way to preach and teach Scripture is expositorially, so therefore the very next passage that comes up is what you’re going to hear and study.
I believe there’s another reason why this particular passage is neglected in our study, and it’s because the very word “submission” tends to cause many Christians to bristle, to feel a sense of, “I don’t like that word. I don’t like that concept.” You might want to ask yourself, before we embark upon this study, to whom do you willingly submit? To what authority do you willingly submit? Government? Employers? Wives to your husbands? Husbands to God? I have, for example, been asked on several occasions, to do a wedding where the couple, especially the wife, have asked me not to mention this whole idea of submission in the wedding vows or ceremony. Whenever I’ve been asked to do that I immediately reply that they need to find another pastor, because that would violate the Word of God. Then I would also quickly share with them that I believe that their marriage will never fully honor God without understanding those glorious concepts.
So we see submission in Scripture with respect to marriage, and with respect to leadership in the Church in Hebrews 13:17 where we read, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Is that something that you willingly adhere to in your heart, or do you find yourself bristling at the thought of the leadership in the church ever confronting you on an issue, a spiritual issue? And you meet that confrontation with resentment and ridicule. Very often I have encountered people that I’ve confronted, and it is met with resentment and ridicule and an attitude of, “Who are you to tell me how to live?” And of course I have to say that I am your pastor. I have been called and gifted to be a teaching shepherd, a very unique and specific office of leadership within the church, distinct even from the other elders, even though the other elders have the same spiritual authority. I’ve been called to keep watch and I even have to give an account over how I shepherd you. That’s who I am. I have been called, for example, in 1 Peter 5:2, to “take up the task of shepherding the flock of God…exercising oversight.”
The point is, many times people bristle at any kind of authority, especially in our, “me first, nobody’s going to tell me what to do” society. The Holy Spirit knows that submission to authority is contrary to our sinful nature. Frankly, the very thought of it opposes our pride and our relentless pursuit of self-gratification and self-determination. It’s for this reason that Jesus, when He calls people to Himself, begins by saying, “If anyone is to follow after Me, you must deny yourself.” Submission requires humility. Submission requires a confident faith in the goodness of a sovereign God who sometimes allows us to be placed under leadership that is good and sometimes leadership that is bad. So submission requires a willingness to even suffer mistreatment, knowing that God has made that particular scenario part of His plan for your life and you must learn to trust Him with that.
It’s for this reason that later on in 1 Peter 5:5-7 Peter says, “…be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,” and by the way he was referring specifically to the hand of persecution that God was allowing them to endure, “that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” So as we approach this text we see the inspired apostle addressing three crucial elements of submission with respect to human authority. We are going to see the priority, the purpose, and the purview of submission. I pray that each of us will examine our heart as we meditate on these very practical, and yet often resented, spiritual concepts.
First of all, the priority of submission is found in the first phrase of verse 13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake.” Herein is the priority, this is the driving force. This is the supreme motivation for the command. We submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake. We do it because it honors the Lord. How so? you might ask. Whenever we’re obedient to the Lord we honor Him and bring blessing into our life. Obedience demonstrates our love for God. In fact, the Lord Jesus Himself refused to be exempted from civil authority. He commanded in Matthew 22:21 that we render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.
So not only do we demonstrate our love for God and honor Him when we are obedient, especially in our submission, but secondly, whenever we humble ourselves under the authority that God has placed over us, we are in effect manifesting our trust in His sovereign care for our life. We are saying, “God, this is a very difficult situation that I’m now being asked to endure. But I know that in Your great mercy and grace and in Your sovereign plan for my life, You have placed me here for my good and Your glory. Therefore I am going to be obedient and I’m going to submit to the authority You have placed over me, as long as that authority does not contradict something that You have asked me to do. I will submit to those whom You have placed, knowing that You have ordained this scenario, again, for my good and Your glory.” In verse 21 Christ Jesus is our supreme example to follow. We see that He submitted to the will of the Father in humble obedience even though it took Him to a cross. When we think of that, when Jesus submitted to the authority that He had been placed under by the Father’s will, there was no protest. There was no rebellion, no fighting. In verse 23 we read, “and while being reviled, he did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
I might underscore the concept of entrusting. It’s a wonderful word, a word that we need to hold dear to our heart. Entrusting is the secret to submission. “Yes, God, I will entrust myself to Your sovereign plan for my life.” And when we entrust ourselves to God’s marvelous plan for our life, in so doing we become instruments of righteousness. We must understand that He uses us to accomplish His saving purposes in the lives of others, a mystery far beyond our ability to comprehend, and certainly beyond our right to know. The secret things belong to God. So he says to submit, hupotasso in the original language. It’s a military term that means to rank yourself under an authority, especially a commanding officer. It means to fall in line under, or arrange yourself under a commanding officer. In this context we are commanded to submit to human institutions of government. But the priority is to do this for the Lord’s sake.
As I meditated upon that phrase, I could almost hear the Lord in a voice saying to me, “Will you do this for Me?” Think about that for a second. Here the Lord is literally saying, “I’m going to ask you to do something for Me.” And of course in our hearts we know all that He has done for us. And now He’s simply saying, “Will you do this for Me? Will you do this for My sake? Will you do this to demonstrate your love for Me? Will you place your faith and trust in My perfect plan for your life? Will you do that for Me? I’m ultimately in control, even of all the civil authorities that rebel against Me. I’m very aware of their wickedness. I even know how they mistreat you. Indeed, they mistreated Me. But will you submit to them for My sake?”
I’m reminded of the passage in Psalm 22:28 where we read, “For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and I rule over the nations.” Don’t think for one second that somehow the Lord lacks information, that He’s being unfair or unkind. He knows all that’s going on. In Psalm 47:8 we read, “I reign over the nations, I sit on My holy throne.” As we look through the Old Testament and the New, we see that someday He will make the crooked straight. He simply says, “Trust Me. Do this for Me. No need to be preoccupied with political reform and getting involved in the political process and protesting and reacting in civil disobedience. Instead, will you do what I did, and with humility and love and without compromise for the truth or the gospel, will you submit to those that I have placed over you?”
There is a similar admonition that Paul gives us in Philippians 2:14-16 where we’re told to “do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.” I understand most all of our leaders know nothing of Christ. They are hostile to His Word and hostile to us. They demonstrate contempt for the exclusivity for the gospel of Christ. Many of them hold positions that are radically unbiblical. The things of God are foolishness to them. They do not know Him. But we must understand that for reasons that we are not privy to, for reasons that will ultimately glorify God, God has placed them in authority over us. He’s working a plan. We’re called to merely submit to it. So don’t waste your time with political battles, social battles. Jesus never made that His agenda. He never rallied the conservative Christian base and marched on Rome. But rather we are to follow His example. I might even add, I’d rather follow the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles than the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
In fact, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” There’s the long and the short of it. You must understand that our real enemy is not the ungodly authority we have over us. The real enemy is not all of the social problems that we have. So often Christians can get distracted, and I believe Satan would love to do this, to get you distracted onto a social agenda. As soon as you get caught up in all of that, you lose sight of the mandate that God has given us to go out and make disciples of all the world. You lose sight of the priority of proclaiming and protecting the truth. Our real battle is deception. It is heresy, it is error. We must do battle against both satanic and human lies. I think of Paul reminding us of the “doctrines of demons” taught by hypocritical liars, whose consciences are seared, in 1 Timothy 4:2. There’s the battle: false teachers that rise up, sometimes even from within the church. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, those that dress up like a shepherd, but in fact they’re not.
We can read later on in 2 Peter 2, as well as in Jude, about false teachers that have all these phony claims they make, intending to deceive naïve followers into believing they have supernatural powers. They claim special revelation. In Jude 8 they’re called “dreamers,” a very fascinating term in the original language that would describe one with an overactive imagination and/or even a person who has demonically-inspired visions. There’s the real battle. If you want to rally the base, rally them on this issue. Every founder of every cult or false religion has claimed some special relationship with some angelic messenger. Do you realize that? Mohammed had an angel, literally a demon, appear and allegedly reveal 114 chapters of the Holy Qur’an. Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith had a special relationship with an angel, and I’m sure it was a demon, named Moroni. There’s been a pandemic of apostates like Benny Hinn and many others on the fringes of Pentecostalism and charismaticism that claim these types of things. The Seventh Day Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White claimed the same types of things.
This is where you can get exercised, and you can go to battle, when it comes to proclaiming and protecting the truth. But don’t get distracted with all of the social and political problems that are out there. Turn on the television and you see false teachers claiming supernatural revelation to attract naïve people. We see this everywhere. As we read the Word of God, we see that because of their immorality and their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ—they blaspheme even the holy angels who serve the triune God as guardians of the Law—they reject the Word of God, disregard His holy standard in Scripture and through their imaginations and even in their demonically inspired visions they replace the Word of God with doctrines of demons. You add to that all the phony, goofy, silly philosophies of men, and there’s the real battle. Beloved, here is where we must rise up and be warriors of the truth. We pick up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. We go to battle and destroy, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “…fortresses (strongholds of deception). We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” But we are not called to do battle with civil authorities, but rather to do battle with the godless deceptions that have enslaved them.
So the priority of submission is anchored in the twin virtues of our love and our faith in a sovereign God. We “submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake.” Unto what? Verses 13-15 tell us we submit “…to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Here we have the purpose of submission to human institutions. It’s “the will of God, that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” I have to laugh. I often hear people say, “Oh, if only I knew the will of God. If I could somehow discern the will of God.” Here’s one of the things God would will you to do. I would submit to you that you will find many, many more in the Scripture that is very clearly delineated and revealed to us. There should be no confusion here. There should be no subtle, twisted logic that would say, “I don’t have to pay my taxes because I’m not really part of this world. I don’t have to obey the civil authorities.”
In fact, you might have heard of some Christians—and we saw this a lot when we lived in California, and I know of a lot of this out West—it’s the sovereign citizen movement. It’s a loosely organized collection of individuals and groups that have a right-wing anarchist ideology. It was originated by the theories of the group called the Posse Comitatus in the 1970’s. The adherence of that position would hold that the existing form of government that we have in the United States is illegitimate and we must restore an idealized and minimalist government, really one that never even existed, and you will see them using tactics of intimidation and vigilante courts and schools of common law, paper terrorism, frivolous lawsuits, etc. You may remember the Oklahoma City bombing. That came out of all of that with Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh. In 1996 we had the Montana Freedman standoff. There’s a lot of this going on. Sadly, there are people who name the name of Christ who get caught up in all of this. You might say those are some rather extreme examples. Yes, that may be the case, but think of the damage that Christians have done for the cause of Christ when they engage in these vitriolic, hostile demonstrations against abortion clinics, bombing an abortion clinic, or going out and shouting down the homosexuals on the streets. That does nothing to glorify God. It merely fuels the fires of hatred.
The apostle Paul wrote, concerning this very issue, in Romans 13:1-4 he says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”
You see, from this text in Romans 13 as well as our text from today in 1 Peter 2, we see a description of the three purposes of government, an institution that God has ordained. You can summarize them very easily. The government is to protect, to provide, and to punish. The government is to protect us from wicked people both within and without our country. It is also to provide for the populace in times of need as well as to punish evildoers. And you ask, how do you know that God has ordained government? The answer is here in what I just read in Romans 13:1 where it says that all authority is established by God. Also, if we look at the text here in 1 Peter 2:13, the term “institution” is derived from a Greek word, ktisis which means “creation or foundation.” It’s a term that is used throughout the New Testament in connection with something that God has created. Indeed, God has therefore created the institution of government. He’s also created other institutions: family, the Church, work, there’s a variety of things.
Here we are told to be submissive to this institution of the civil authorities of the government that God has placed over us because God has ordained it. He has created it. And God, by the way, has told us very clearly that He will judge the nations for their wickedness someday. In Genesis 18:25 we read, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Of course the answer is yes, He will, in His own time. In Psalm 2 we read how God sits in heaven and He laughs at their insolence. He scoffs at the pride of the nations. We read how there will be a time when He will speak to them in His anger and He will terrify them with His fury. In that final day when His wrath has been fully kindled He will break them with a rod of iron and He will shatter them like earthenware. Friends, we must learn that vengeance is the Lord’s. We have absolutely no business taking the sword of divine justice and the sword of divine wrath out of His hand and wielding it on our own. There’s no place for revenge for us. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. Even in our society there’s no place for vigilantes. I know there are times you feel like loading up your gun and going someplace and taking matters into your own hands. We all know that feeling. But that’s not what God has called us to do.
In fact, in 1 Peter 2:14 he tells us that “governors,” in other words those officials that serve the king or serve others in authority, the governors are the ones responsible for the punishment of evildoers, as well as those who are responsible to reward exemplary citizenship. So Peter tells us that our submission to human institutions “is the will of God, that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Our humble obedience to the laws and the rulers of our land, regardless of how unfair, how ungodly and how stupid they might be, and boy we’ve got some stupid things that our politicians have put into law, but when we humble ourselves under their authority, we help prevent Christian-bashing and Christ-hating.
It’s interesting, in verse 15 he says that it will “silence the ignorance of foolish men.” The word “silence” literally means “to gag” in the original language, or to muzzle, to put to silence. Put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Ignorance here is a term denoting something far beyond merely a lack of education, far beyond a deficiency of knowledge about a certain issue, but rather a term that describes a culpable ignorance. A willful, wicked, conscious resentment to reject the truth. In 1 Corinthians 15:34 it’s used to say, “…those who have no knowledge of God.” It’s the same type of concept. In other words, all they have is their own perverted presuppositions about Him. People that define God in their culpable ignorance, in their willful, conscious rejection of the truth, they define God in a way to justify their own sin, to justify their own lifestyle: the worst kind of idolatry.
But He also calls them foolish, an adjective commonly used in Scripture to describe an obstinate sinner; one who is irrational, one who is senseless, one whose ideas are ridiculous, one who adheres to outrageous beliefs rooted in malice and contempt for Christians. This is so common today. Christians who agree, for example, with God’s assessment of homosexuality as being an abomination to God, as being a vile and wicked form of immorality that defies the moral as well as the physical order of the universe, people who believe that are considered to be homophobic. That is the ignorance of foolish men. Worse yet, they’re believed to be hate-mongers and bigots.
If you believe in creation, if you believe in a young earth, if you believe in a sovereign God, if you believe in the second coming of Christ, you’re called a dangerous fanatic and often we are likened to the Taliban. We are likened to the Islamic fundamentalists that threaten civilization. When people have those types of positions, they have no knowledge of God. They are ignorant. They are foolish. So what do you do? You live a life of integrity. You live a life of virtue, and thus you raise the probability that you will silence them. We must be people who are above reproach. We must be people who have an unimpeachable testimony, humble, submissive, kind, gentle, loving, righteous, good citizens, yet bold for the gospel, committed to proclaiming and protecting the truth, come what may. “…that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (verse 15)
Peter goes on to expand upon the purpose of submission to human institutions. In verse 16 he says, “Act as free men.” “We know the truth and the truth has set us free,” as it says in John 8:32. We have been freed from the penalty of the law. We have been freed from the power of sin and Satan and death. Our freedom is in Christ. Therefore, knowing that we are free, we can come along and we can choose to be submissive to human institutions. It is His Law that we love and obey. We are subject to Him and to Him alone. Because of this, we will willingly choose to submit to civil authorities that He has placed over us. We know that ultimately our submission brings glory to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ. So we are free to submit. That’s the point.
So he says, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil.” In other words, do not use your freedom, your position, your power in Christ as a pretext, literally a covering, a mask, a veil to act wickedly against those who do not know Christ. Some might say, as I mentioned earlier, “Well, I’m a spiritual alien here. My citizenship is in heaven. I don’t have to be bound to the laws of this land, of this wicked world.” Friends, that’s the wrong attitude. That’s using your freedom as a covering for evil. We must all guard ourselves from our natural predisposition to spiritual pride and the abuse of grace. This idea, “I’m above all of this worldly stuff so the rules don’t apply to me,” that type of ungodly narcissism. Or to say that, “I can indulge my flesh because where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.” Therefore we end up exploiting the grace of God. What a hideous thing to do.
In Romans 6:2 the apostle Paul responded to that very issue by saying, “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” So beloved, our service to Christ is our ultimate joy. Joy is found in being submissive to Him and to those He has placed in authority over us. Peter goes on to say in verse 16, “use your freedom in Christ as bondslaves of God.” In other words, never use your liberation from sin and its consequences to serve the flesh but to serve God. We have been freed from the bondage of sin so that we can become slaves to righteousness, that’s the idea. A bondslave, a willing servant of Christ. Like the slaves of that day, those that served their masters, we don’t do it with contempt, we do it with joy.
And finally we see the purview of submission, the extent and the scope of it here in verse 17, a succinct summary of our social obligations. “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” Honor all people: what does it mean? It’s simple. There’s no place for hatred, discrimination based upon race or nationality or religion or social or economic status. I think of what the apostle Paul said in Colossians 4:1. It’s summarized so well there. “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” So you honor all people. We’re nothing special, we’re just sinners saved by grace, right? Our boast is in the Lord. We are to love all men because of their personal worth, not on the basis of their unique rank or status in the community or society.
He says love the brotherhood. In other words, other Christians. Love the rest of the family of God. This is always going to be the natural response of a submissive Christian. They’re going to naturally love their brothers and sisters in Christ, they’re going to want to spend time with them. They’re going to want to fellowship with them, and sing with them and pray with them and grow with them, and care for them, protect them and even at times confront them. How sad to see Christians who live in resentment of other Christians. Unbelievable. And Christians that live in isolation from other Christians—a clear demonstration of self-righteousness and pride. Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Peter also says that we’re to fear God, meaning that we are to reverence Him, to honor Him, to trust Him. Not so much fearing Him in terms of His divine chastening when we sin against Him, but a dread of dishonoring Him. To fear God is to have a resolute determination to love and to serve Him come what may. To know His Word, to live His Word, to defend His Word, to proclaim His Word, to be submissive to His will and not ours. In this political season with all of the reelections coming along, and all of the political mud-slinging we hear on the radio and television, when we see some of the people that may be put into positions of office, we say, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to have to do something here. This can’t happen!”
Well, my mind goes again to this text here and to the psalmist’s words in Psalm 37:1-4, “Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Friends, therein is the hope of the Christian. He is our Rock and our Refuge. He is the One that we fear, and in Him we trust. Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”
Finally he says to honor the king. The king, the president, whoever it might be, that’s the one that God has placed into leadership over us, for His eternal purposes. Sometimes they are good, many times they are not. You must always remember that God’s saving purposes are often concealed in calamity. May we all remember that our priority in submission is to be instruments of righteousness and do it for the Lord’s sake. Our purpose in submission is to “do the will of God…and silence the ignorance of foolish men.” And the purview of submission is very broad: “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” May this be the conviction of each of our hearts for our good and for His glory.