As soldiers of Christ, we are to surrender to unbelievers at every level.
We are to surrender in public and in private, at the macro level and on the micro level, on a national scale and on a private scale. We are to surrender to every secular authority that is placed over us.
As the world becomes more and more secularized, the government will become one of the primary, if not the dominant, aggressors against Christianity. The question becomes, how do we battle against the government when it declares war against Christians and Judeo-Christian values?
Recently, there was a bill working its way through the California Assembly that would have declared illegal any Christian counseling that regarded homosexuality as a sin. How do we wage war against an institution that is making such bills?
Peters answers this question. He writes,
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as to 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. (1 Peter 2:13-15)
To Governing Authorities
As believers, we surrender to every governing authority over us.
The battle cry of every believer is, “I surrender. I submit to your authority.” I want you to notice the comprehensive nature of this command. Peter says to every human institution, and then he refers to the king – which speaks of national authority, and then he speaks of the governor – which refers to local authorities.
As the government rages against believers at every level, whether it be at the national level, the state level, the local level, or the municipal level, we are to surrender to every manifestation of institutional authority placed over us. Thus, we are to surrender, submit to, and honor President Trump, President Obama before him, President Bush before him, and President Clinton before him.
We are to honor Governor Jerry Brown the first time he was in office, and the second time he was in office. We are to submit to the Supreme Court’s rulings, whether they lean to the left or whether they lean to the right. We are to obey every law that is passed by the legislature, whether we like it or not. Thus, whatever the government’s attitude toward believers, the one thing that the government should be able to count on of all believers is our total submission and deep reverence toward their authority.
The only time we are free to disobey the institutional authorities is when they command us to disobey our Lord and Master, but short of that, we are to be exemplary citizens, submissive and reverential to the authorities over us. That’s because every authority has been placed there by God Himself. This is what Pastor MacArthur refers to as evangelistic citizenship.
But our surrender is not limited to the political level, it applies to the societal level as well.
To Societal Authorities
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God, a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. (1 Peter 2:18-20)
Paul is here speaking specifically of the master-to-slave relationship. We must remember that treatment of a slave at the hands of a secular master during this time often involved cruel beatings, severe treatment, and even death. The Christian slave was to submit to the authority of his master. He was to serve his master willingly, humbly, and reverentially, knowing that this found favor with God.
In that regard, it should be that the Christian employee is the most valuable employee to the employer.
Joseph, until he was falsely accused by Potiphar, was Potiphar’s most trusted slave. While in jail, the jailer entrusted all the inmates into Joseph’s care. In the end, Pharaoh handed the entire empire into the hands of Joseph.
What employer would not prize a hard-working, honest man who is kind toward his fellow employees, long-suffering in trying circumstances, filled with integrity and honor, and on top of that, submissive and reverential toward his employer?
If an employer decides to fire a Christian for his beliefs, there should be a sense in which that employer feels deep loss and regret, even as he proceeds to release him.
Remember the story of Daniel. He rises to the pinnacle of power under Darius. There were jealous government officials putting pressure on Darius to pass a foolish decree that demanded prayer to Darius alone. Daniel disobeys this edict. This is the first recorded account of Daniel’s disobedience.
Daniel’s enemies then placed political pressure on Darius to get rid of Daniel by feeding him to the lions. But notice the condition of Darius’ heart during this process:
Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him. Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den. When he had come near to the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me.” (Dan. 6:18-22)
King Darius did relieve Daniel from his post, but there was sheer agony on the part of the king. There was total regret and a huge sense of loss for Darius, even as he let Daniel go because of his beliefs. In the same way, a day may come when Christians are released from their jobs because of what they believe.
Just recently, we had LGBT training at the superior court where I work. They wanted the name of every judge who refused to attend. It is no secret that private companies oftentimes are monitoring employees’ social media posts to decide who they will hire or fire, who they will promote or not based on what the social view is of those individual employees.
The day may come when we are let go because of our beliefs. Even as our employers release us because of our faith, there should be, in the heart of our employer, a very tangible and palpable sense of loss, regret, and sorrow because of our integrity, our industry, our character, our submission, and our reverence toward our masters. We ought to be the most valuable, the most cherished, and the most prized employee that our masters have ever had.
Peter says that in this war, we are to surrender to the government in the civic arena and in the professional arena. But the surrender does not end there.
In the Home
The surrender to every secular authority was to be practiced even in the privacy of the home.
In the same way, you, wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives as they observed their chaste and respectful behavior. (1 Peter 3:1)
The phrase, “in the same way” provides the context. It is a reference to the believers’ call to submit to the government and to their masters for the sake of their promotion of the gospel. Peter says, just as you surrender to the secular authorities at the governmental level, and in your professional world, in the same way, wives, in the privacy of your homes, submit to your unbelieving husbands because they are the secular authority over you in the home.
Why? So that unbelieving, secular husbands might be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.
To become a believer as a woman under the Roman State was dangerous, because the husband exercised patria potestas. He had the power of life or death over everything under his control, including those within his household. If a husband disapproved of his wife’s faith, he could do just about anything he wanted to her with little or no repercussions.
The question becomes how, as a woman in the home, should she live in that battleground she faces every day of her life?
She is to submit to that authority.
The submission was not just for wives however, because Peter continues, “You husbands, in the same way,” again, a reference to the manner in which we are to submit to all authority, “in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life so that your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)
He says, “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding manner,” which is to say: be submissive, be considerate, be deferential, be tender to her needs and to her preferences. That type of servant leadership in the home was uncommon during Roman times, and it served as witness to Christ’s loving care for His bride.
Thus, in every aspect of life in the secular world, whether it be in the public sphere, at work, or in the home, the believer is to submit to every secular authority. That is how the believer conducts warfare against the secular world.
Reverential submission is sweet submission because we as believers know and trust that it is our way of evangelizing the surrounding world.