Overcoming Sin through Christ: Insubmission

Overcoming Sin through Christ

A Comprehensive List of Sins

(Alphabetically Arranged) Insubmission

The plan of this study is simple.  We will look at a large number of sins, one by one, alphabetically.  We will define the sin, describe it, and comment on it, along with noticing Scripture references on the particular entry.  Some illustrations will be offered along with the description.


Throughout history, people have been reluctant or even resistant to submit themselves to others.  This is especially true since the 1960s that has been called “the decade of rebellion.”  In that degenerate period of time the door was opened to a new generation’s rebellion against properly instituted authority.  There was a rebellion against the civil government, a rebellion against moral standards, a rebellion against sobriety, a rebellion against modesty, and rebellion against authority of the father in the home and the husband in the marriage, and especially a rebellion against God Himself.  Many factors contributed to this rebellion–including Evis Presley, the Beatles, and other singers.

Submission means “an act or instance of submitting,” submissive means “inclined or ready to submit; unresisting or humbly obedient,” and submit means “to give over or yield to the power or authority of another.”[1] Scripture is clear that submission is very important for the faithful and obedient follower of Jesus.  James wrote, “Submit therefore to God” (4:7a).  In fact, the only way to “resist the devil” (4:7) is to be in submission to God.  We also read, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6).

We must recognize that God has absolute and universal authority, by right of creation and redemption.  Paul said that God is “over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).  Further, Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).  Therefore, Christ is “head over all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10).  The absolute and universal authority of God and Christ Jesus is basic to all other authority-submission relationships.

Besides God’s absolute authority, He has given authority to various functionaries and positions on earth.  We are to be in submission to human civil authorities: “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” (Romans 13:1-2).  Therefore, we are to “be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient” (Titus 3:1; cf. 1 Peter 2:13-14).  Although many men and women of our generation may react to this order of subordination, it is one that God Himself has established.

We also are to be submissive to our employer or manager.  Paul writes, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh” (Ephesians 6:5ff; cf. Colossians 3:22ff; 1 Timothy 6:1-2).  He plainly said, “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything” (Titus 2:9-10; cf. 1 Peter 2:18-19). This would surely disallow labor unions which defiantly resist the employer’s authority.

Believers are also to be submissive to the overseers or shepherds (or elders) over the flock of God.  Paul says, “Appreciate [or know] those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:12).  We are instructed, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls. . .” (Hebrews 13:17a).  They are to “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising the oversight” (1 Peter 5:2a; cf. Acts 20:28).

Further, wives are to be submissive to their husbands.  Husbands are called to have authority in the marriage and the wife is to graciously respect his position and submit to him.  Paul writes, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24; cf. v. 33; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Peter 3:1-6).  Even unmarried women are to “quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” (1 Timothy 2:11-12) for “the man is the head of a woman” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Finally, children are to be submissive to their parents.  Paul commanded, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1; cf. Colossians 3:20).

If these authority-submission relationships do rightly exist and are established by God (and they do), then when one violates this God-designed authority, he or she sins against God.  When one is insubmissive to the government, he has “opposed the ordinance of God” (Romans 13:2).  When one refuses to be submissive to his manager or boss, “he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he as done” (Colossians 3:25).  When believers are rebellious against the shepherds of the flock, they sin against the Lord. When a wife insists on having her own authority and rebels against her husband’s authority by refusing to submit to him, she also sins against the Lord. When children are “disobedient to parents,” they sin and are “worthy of death” (Romans 1:30, 32; cf. 2 Timothy 3:2).  Samuel said to Saul, “Rebellion is as  the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23). Insubmissiveness is a sin more serious than most of us realize.

We know that this proper submission does have limitations.  Since God has all authority and He exercises this through Christ (Matthew 28:18), any human authority that would violate God’s authority expressed in Scripture must be disobeyed.  When there is any conflict between what God requires and what the government, the supervisor, the overseers, the husband, or the parents should require, we must always choose God!  In such a case, we must answer with Peter, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  Therefore, we must see insubmission is being a sin against God–unless submitting to the human authority would be disobedience to God.  In such a case, submission itself would be sinful!


[1] Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.


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