Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

Free The Church


Understanding Godly Submission

Submission is not obedience for obedience, but submerging of one's self under the flow of Christ's life wherever it flows.

Published on: Aug 1, 2008

For the last two weeks I have been wrestling with how to discuss this topic in this blog. I know Father wants me to lay this out for readers to understand. I broached the topic in one of the God Journey Forum discussions. But in the last two days, the Lord has given me the vision of how to put this down on electronic paper.

Before I can discuss submission, I have to lay some spiritual ground work for my points to be properly understood.

First, God is a Spirit. He has no beginning and no end. He was not made, nor will He be unmade. My point is that God is reality, not creation. Creation is real because it is sustained by Reality. In other words, the spirit is a greater reality than the material creation.

Life originates from the spirit. First from God, who is Spirit, who breathed His breath of life into Adam to form our human spirits. Our spirits, even though they are greater realities than our physical bodies, nonetheless are perceived only as a shadow to our conscious minds. According to Genesis 2:7, the interaction of the spirit made from His breath with the clay body fashioned from the soil, created our human souls. Our human spirits are the life of the souls, and the souls are the life of our bodies (Lev 17:11 – the life of the flesh is in the blood; whereas the Heb. word translated life, nephesh, is usually translated as “soul”.)

This illustrates a principal of life. Life is able to impart life to create a new kind of life. The breath of God is closest to the Reality, but the life imparted to the souls is different from the breath because it is fashioned from the material creation and the breath combined.

Jesus has not only given us individual life, but has created another life beyond us called a corporate life. We are called the body of Christ. We live individually, but we are joined to God and one another by the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). The body of Christ is a living being that has a life of its own in Christ. In other words, our individual lives which together composes the corporate body of Christ give life to the body as the human spirit gives life to our human souls and our souls have life in themselves.

The prayer of Jesus that we be one as He is one with Father, was answered at the resurrection. The church is confused in regard to unity. Unity already exists in the body in the Spirit.

Eph 4:3-6
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (KJV)

Versus 4-6 says that there is one… not trying to be one, but one… The endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (v. 3) refers to something else. The unity of the Spirit already exists. But there is another life beyond the body of Christ in the Spirit. And that is the body of Christ in the soul. It is the unity of our souls that has not been united by Jesus prayer. The collective souls that comprise the body of Christ is the Bride of Christ, the new creature.

This is where most confusion lies in believers. The work of Jesus Christ is a finished work already in our spirits, but the work in our souls is where our discipleship lies. It is noteworthy that Jesus did not come to save lost spirits, but lost souls. James said,

James 1:21
…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (KJV)

Souls are able to join together.

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Sam 18:1 KJV)

This is not a figure of speech. This is a spiritual reality. The pain we feel when a loved one dies is because a part of our souls have been torn away in the living creature called friendship or family.

Unity amongst friends, family, spouses, congregations, employment or any other corporate joining of people is a spiritual unity with various degrees of strength or weakness. Casual acquaintances are weak unions and marriages are stronger. We are all aware how women who meet frequently have their cycles synchronize. That is an example of unity of soul ties.

The point of this background information on life is to underscore that new life is created by the joining of lives together.

When Jesus sent His Spirit into our hearts, we became new creatures in Christ Jesus. We are not ourselves alone anymore, but are ourselves joined to God. This life of God joined to us is separate from God’s own life and our own life. This is the new creation. Just as His breath creates our human spirits which creates the new life of our souls, so, too, His very life joined to our human spirits makes a new life that impacts our souls.

Marriage is a spiritual law, not an institution. It is a spiritual law as much as gravity is a physical law. The two shall become one flesh (Gen 2:24, Matt. 19:5 & 6, Mark 10:8, 1 Cor. 6:16 and Eph 5:31).

The life of the husband remains his own life, just as the life of the wife remains her own life. Christ may dwell in the heart of the husband, and still dwell in the wife. Marriage has nothing to do with the individual’s ability to have a personal relationship with God. But the two becoming one flesh has created a new creature. That new living being is called the marriage. The marriage has a life separate from the lives of the individuals that are the spouses. The marriage draws its life from the spouses just as the soul draws its life from the spirit, but has a life of its own, nonetheless.

It is with this understanding of corporate life that we best understand what godly submission means. In this light consider what this passage in Corinthians means.

1 Cor 11:3
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. (KJV)

Paul is giving an order that shows the flow of life. God is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of man [husband]; and man is the head of woman [wife]. We should never look at the Bible with a humanist world view. This is not talking about bosses. That is worldly thinking, not spiritual. It is talking about the flow of God’s life which is manifested in the following verses of the chapter in regards to prayer and prophecy (vs. 4 &5 ). God gave life to Jesus Christ .

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (John 5:26 KJV)

And Christ gives us life.

As thou [God] hast given him [Jesus] power over all flesh, that he [Jesus] should give eternal life to as many as thou [God] hast given him [Jesus]. (John 17:2 KJV)

Life is pictured as flowing water (John 4:14). Headship in the biblical sense here means the source of the water as in the head of a river. Christ as our head is the source of the flow of God’s life flowing through us by His Spirit. Husbands as the head of the house means that he is the source of the life of Christ flowing into his wife and family as pertains to the new creature called the marriage and family. As I said earlier, the husband is not the source of life for the woman. Christ is. But how the life of the marriage and family goes is determined by the husband.

The head of the waters can be considered a valve. Valves turn water on or off. Valves can also direct the flow of water into different pipes. The responsibility of the husband is to learn how to maximize the flow of Christ through him to his wife and family for the greatest spiritual health in the life of this creature called marriage and family.

If the husband does not, there is a spiritual principle where the life of Christ flowing the wife can affect the husband according to 1 Peter 3:1-6, which loosens the husband’s valve.

Ultimately the flow of life circles back and forth, which is why Paul said that we are to submit one to another (Eph 5:21).

This is what submission is about. Not obedience in the worldly sense, but the means of opening the flow of life. If a husband realizes how he impacts the life of the marriage, he will monitor that flow for the benefit of all. Like women whose menstrual cycles synchronize, the spirituality of the husband directly affects the wife and kids. If the husband is legalistic in religion, there is no spiritual flow, but the increase of judgment and condemnation returned to him. If the husband flows in the grace and love of God towards his wife and kids, then love and grace flows back to him.This applies to all corporate life experiences. If you choose to participate in organized religion, or if it is your job, your submission to the life of the religious organization or business corporation, increases the life in all participants.

Bottom line in the issue of submission, is that we ultimately are submitting to God Himself throughout all the corporate life experiences He has us in.

Earlier in this blog I cited 1 Corinthians 11:3. It is noteworthy that this is in the context of Paul explaining body life. In verse 1 of that chapter Paul says:

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1 Cor 11:1 KJV)

Paul was not seeking a following. He was giving them a source of Christ’s life, himself as another headwaters, for them to follow Christ. The writer of Hebrews says something similar.

Heb 13:7-9
7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. (NIV)

Verse 8 is not sandwiched between 7 and 9 for no reason. Jesus does not change. Therefore if the leaders you follow are right, they will be like Jesus, or better, you will see Jesus through them. Since He does not change we have a measuring stick for recognizing “strange teachings”.

We submit our selves to God, and look for where God is flowing so that we may submit ourselves to God through those flows. But we are not to submit to “strange teachings”. We obey God through whomever we know God moves. And if we are in the corporate life where God is not flowing through their leaders, then we allow God to flow through us to affect those leaders. I had an experience like that in the 1980’s when I worked off shore on an oil rig. I lived my life in Christ simply before the men I worked with. I didn’t make Christ an issue with them, but they were well aware of my life in Christ by my behavior. By the end of the summer, the foreman was transformed by no intention on my part. He was a backslidden Christian living a dual life. The church life at home and the vulgar man on the job. The flow of Christ’s life through me caused him to repent and gain integrity with Christ himself on the job.

This is what godly submission is about.

Comments to Original Post

Amy
Submitted on 08/04/2008

Alex,
Excellent Blog. I like your illustrations, especially of the headwaters and flow.
~Amy 🙂

Editor
Submitted on 08/04/2008

I actually felt the blog needed more simplicity. I felt the foundation was too convoluted and the conclusion not clear. My conclusion is that we submit to Christ wherever His life is flowing, and to whomever He directs us.

john
Submitted on 08/05/2008

A fine demonstration of how organization of subjective material can contribute well to its assimilation.

I felt personally challenged enough( in a couple of non-spiritual foundational ‘thinkings’) to come back & review a 2nd time, leading to academic concurrence.

Editor
Submitted on 08/05/2008

John,
That was quite a mouthful. I am impressed that you reread the post to better understand it. As I told Amy above, I didn’t think I was clear in what I said. Being a new entity in a marriage covenant is something I don’t fully understand myself. I know it is a reality, and we speak metaphorically about in such expressions as “body life” for the Church, or corporate life in the business world. But it is something greater than just a metaphor, that I am convinced. But ultimately only God knows for sure.

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