Discipline of Submission {Book Club Thursdays}


We’re jumping into Barbara Hughes’, Disciplines of a Godly Woman (affil. link).
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I hope you’re ready for the ride, because it’s going to be filled with encouragement, insight, and God-inspired wisdom.

Chapter 3: Discipline of Submission, The Posture of Godliness

There’s something about this week’s chapter title that helps to smooth the edges around that difficult word of submission… The Discipline of Submission: The Posture of Godliness. In today’s culture, we’re taught to be strong, independent, free-thinkers. It’s all about “self”, doing what “you want”, living in the moment. We think we’re strong and mighty if we get things our way. We think we’re powerful if others fulfill our wishes, demands, and expectations. Yet, God’s word teaches us a different way. Submission. The way of the gospel, really. The work of Jesus Christ is the perfect example of submission walked out perfectly. And though we’ll never reach perfection, we’d do well to look to the One who is perfect and is perfecting us continuously. So where do we begin? How about looking at submission through the lens of God’s loving rule.

Submission to God’s Loving Rule

“All believers, men and women, are called to willingly and cheerfully submit to what we know and trust about God… That life of blessing is found in submitting to God’s loving rule and God’s order in this world. So submission is a path to blessing,” (p. 34). 

The author defines submission as yielding to the authority of another. A simple look-up of the word submission or submit nods in agreement. It’s simply obeying another. Yielding to the authority of someone else. The problem becomes: Whose authority are we yielding to?

Scripture helps us with this.

  • Philippians 2:8-11: And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
  • Ephesians 1:9-10: “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”
  • Acts 2:36: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

The theme is repeated over and over: Jesus is Lord!

“The message of the Bible is clear: Jesus is Lord… bringing our lives into submission to His will in everything is the key to being a godly woman. It is also the path to joy,” (p.35). 

A quick glance at John 13:3-5 reveals the posture of submission Jesus took, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”

“Jesus had no identity crisis. He knew exactly who He was. He knew that all power belonged to Him. He knew where He came from and where He was going, and He knew His purpose on earth. His humility on that day and throughout His life was born of this confidence. 

The Gospel gives us this same confidence. As children of God, we also know from where we have come and where we are going,” (p.36). 

Not only is Jesus Lord, but He served and humbled himself under the authority of God the Father. We do the same, when like Jesus, we are clear on our identity in Christ. We search out Scripture for God’s order. Then, we walk those instructions out.

But, how exactly do we know what God’s order is?

Submitting To God’s Order

Again, let’s look at some Scripture:

  • James 4:7-10: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
  • Hebrews 12:9: Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
  • John 8:27-30: They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.”
  • Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

So what do we learn? (Because space and time limit us here, I’ll simply lay out a quick list below.)

  • We’re all called to submit to God.
  • God demands submission within relationships.
  • Jesus is the perfect example of this. He lived life as a man.
  • Submission is something that is learned, we don’t automatically know or desire how to submit.
  • Parents who teach their children obedience are laying the groundwork for that child to learn to obey and submit to God’s will when they get older.

How To Submit to God

I love what Barbara writes regarding the “How To” of submission to God.

“Submission applies to every area of our lives, and we begin by restoring the Gospel to its rightful place at the center of our thoughts and deeds in everyday life,” (p.39)

C.S. Lewis shares a similar sentiment in his book, The Problem With Pain. He shares that the work of Christ on the cross is how we walk back what Adam set into motion in the garden. Since the Fall of man, we’ve walked in rebellion to God. Submission to God, as we receive Christ’s Lordship through the gospel, is in complete contrast and rebellion to rebellion itself. Obedience means we go against the wicked and evil desires of our lustful selves. We walk back to the way God intended our relationship to be from the beginning.

I love the way C.S. Lewis portrays this very thing in his book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. When the White Witch kills Aslan, Lucy and Susan are left in shock, disbelief, and grieving over his body. He looks dead…but then they turn around and there He is, alive.

“Oh Aslan!”

“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy.

“Do I look it?” he said.

“Oh, you’re real, you’re real! Oh, Aslan” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses. 

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

I think this is a beautiful picture of the posture of submission Barbara is talking about. We begin to restore God’s order in our everyday lives by restoring the gospel to its proper place in our lives. In Christ, the veil was torn and death lost its grip. Hell no longer has a hold on us. Christ is victor. And those who believe in Him and confess He is Lord are victors as well. In His authority we begin to walk back the rebellion Adam began. Obedience, submission’s posture, grants us the power, in Christ, to do so!

Look To Jesus

Oh, friend, when I read those words spoken by Aslan, “Death itself would start working backward…” my heart filled to the brim. Because this is the walk Jesus is inviting us to. It’s not one He’s foreign to. He doesn’t ask us to do something He hasn’t done already. He isn’t asking us to face that which He didn’t first dare to face. Rather, He sets the pace. He sets the example. He marks the pathway.

  • Hebrews 5:7: “who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear,”
  • Matthew 26:39: “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
  • Luke 9:24: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

Submitting to God’s will requires fervent prayer. Just look at Jesus. And it will also require giving up our rights and desires and doing the will of the Father. Again, just look at Jesus.

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The Discipline of the Submission  helps us to posture our lives in such a way that Christ’s Lordship is center. Without the discipline of submission, we might think we’re advancing in life, however in the end we’ll find we were far from the goal: Christ-likeness.

I encourage you to go through the Scriptures shared here (and in this chapter). Allow God to teach you how to posture your heart that His perfect will would be done in your life. Then meet me here next week when we’ll talk about the Discipline of Prayer.

{Thoughts to Ponder}

Q1: What does it mean to you personally to have accepted Jesus as Lord?

Q2: How can Jesus’ example of submission serve as a role model for submitting to God’s authority?

Q3: Jesus  found that obeying God’s will required fervent prayer. Have you considered prayer to be a key ingredient in your walk towards submission? How does this change things for you?

**Some discussion questions taken from Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. All quotes by Barbara Hughes unless otherwise noted. 

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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest

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