For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).
Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work (KJV). It is interesting to note that in one verse of Scripture we find that we wrestle against principalities and powers, while another verse says that we are to be subject to them. “To be subject,” means to submit our self to, or to be subordinate. At the surface, it would appear that these verses are contradictory, but they are not. While one verse refers to evil authority, and the other refers to governmental authorities, they are still related. One of the ways we wrestle against evil principalities and powers is by submitting to God-given authority. A means to breaking rebellion is for us to walk in obedience, which requires submission. There is power in submission; in fact, if we are un-submissive, we will have no power or authority.
In order to have ultimate power and authority, we need to submit to the Ultimate Power and Authority. Our first allegiance is to God, period. Therefore, everything we do should be done on His terms. Often, doing things on His terms is counterintuitive to the way we would naturally do things. For example, many of us live in places such as America where we have freedom of speech. While we have “a right” to say what is on our mind according to the laws of the land, we do not have the right to speak evil of anyone according to the Word of God. This is evident when we read Titus 3:2, which clearly states, “To speak evil of no man.” This is especially true of those who are in authority, whether it is those of Church government, or a nation’s government. In America, if officials do something displeasing in the public eye, its citizens tend to voice their disapproval in a less than flattering way. It is one thing to discuss policy; it is quite another to make personal attacks. Speaking wickedly of those in authority is a form of rebellion, and is displeasing to God. A definition of ungodly men can be found in the book of Jude, and one of their characteristics is found in verse 8, “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities” (KJV). Those who are of the ungodly persuasion both despise those in authority and speak evil of them. It is easy to be caught up in conversations where people speak evil of others, but what spirit is that from? As believers, we need to guard our mouths. A way to war against that spirit is to speak well of others, change subject, or leave the conversation altogether.
So, what does submission look like? Let us end this lesson with 1Peter 2:13-25, which gives a clear picture. As you read it, you may find that some of it does go against the grain. Nonetheless, submission does things God’s way.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 1 Peter 2:13-25 (KJV)
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