Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Duty of the Christian: Subjection — Learning Submission (Part 2)

Pastor Babij continues his teaching on submission from 1 Peter 2:18-25, focusing on the Christian’s duty to submit to the authority of the employer. Pastor explains several Biblical principles for submitting to employers; Pastor Babij exhorts believers to respect employers and to joyfully submit as saints to even the most difficult ones in order to fully glorify God. In closing, Pastor instructs Christians to walk as Jesus walked while here on earth.

Full Transcript:

On this Lord’s day, we will turn to 1 Peter 2:18-25. Let’s pray:

Father, as we approach Your word, we want to humble ourselves under it. We want to be submissive to the things that you teach us, so we can be people who understand the truth, who can evaluate ourselves with the truth, who are able to think through the truth, and speak the truth. Enable us to do that, Lord, so the way we live our lives would be evangelistic and draw attention because we want to bring glory to Your name. Make us different, Lord, so we can have opportunities to speak on Your behalf. I pray this, Lord, even in the most difficult situations of life, and I pray this, in Your name, Amen.

Once we become believers and have learned anew how to understand and deal with ourselves and live with others in this world, which has been twisted and complicated by sin, we have been called to be citizens of another kingdom. As aliens and strangers on the earth, our mandate is to live in accordance to a higher standard.

As we look at our Scripture, we are going to continue to unpack this section, which deals with the subject of submission. We are to learn how to properly submit to others, and today, that’s kind of a “bad” word. People don’t want to submit to anything. We want to be independent and rebellious. We don’t want to submit to any kind of authority because we are the authority.

Remember, I gave you a definition of the word submission, which implies putting oneself under the authority of another or to take a subordinate place, and to do that willingly. The principle of submission is applied within the context of interaction of believers with non-believers in the areas of varied social relationships. The behavior Christians are to have is to be maintained.

First, we are to have inward loyalty to a certain behavior that pleases the Lord. Of course, that would lead to an outward submission to the structures that we are going to meet as human beings.

The first application of a Christian’s responsible behavior is how they ought to relate to governing authorities. The second application of a Christian’s responsible behavior is how they ought to relate to their masters. For modern day language, a worker to their bosses or employer. In 1 Peter 2:18 it says:

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.

Before we unpack this portion of Scripture, I would like to mention: if there is not a growing presence of submission in our hearts as believers, then that absence of submission will be filled with something else, which is strife and disunity. When we think of submission, it is function that is important. When you wear winter gloves, they are functional to keep your hands warm. Likewise, the function of our willingly submission to God and His structure is to keep the unity, so that the work of God is not hindered.

We are to submit to a course of conduct so that we, as followers of Christ, can demonstrate an alien lifestyle with the goal to proclaim the Gospel to win others to Christ so that they will become citizens of the kingdom of God. On the day of judgement, they may give glory to God. For God’s children, adorning the Gospel with a holy lifestyle and verbal communication of the Gospel will cause them to give glory to God for this person, who lived before them the Gospel and told them the Gospel. Thus, unity is enhanced through submission. James 4:7:

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Some basic points when we consider this: submission is through God through His word. It says in Exodus 15:26:

And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, …”

This submission was taught in the Old Testament to listen to the word of God and to put yourself under the word of God, so that you may do what is right and please God. Then, submission to God’s will, which is in 1 Peter 2:15:

For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

It is the will of God for us to submit. Even the Psalmist said in Psalm 143:10:

Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Then, submission is to God through His authority. We are going to find in Peter that we are going to run into people that are over us such as governmental authorities. Today, we will look at bosses and employers and how we are to respond to them. Of course, husbands and wives will come up. In Hebrews 13, elders and pastors are to be submitted to, and in 1 Peter 2:18 and 1 Peter 5:5, servants or young men are to submit to elders. In 1 Peter 5:5 it says:

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

I heard one person say:

You are never more like the devil than when you refuse to submit to the authority that God has placed over you.

If a person decides not to submit at all, that is anarchy. Before we look at this passage again, I want to look back at some historical background. We need to grasp what our text says so that we could apply it today. When Peter was writing to the scattered aliens and sojourners in the land, there was a problem in the church, which was that some of the slaves became Christians, and some of the masters or bosses became Christians.

In the most advance civilization in the world, slavery was accepted and approved. It is the most crooked and twisted institution of man. Yet, because of sin, mankind is selfish and self-centered, so these institutions exist. In Peters day, slavery was universal, and many Christians were literally slaves.

However, ancient slavery was not like modern slavery. It is not like the slavery that we hear about or that was experience in England and in the birth of our country. Meaning, slavery in the new world was different than in the ancient world, in which Peter writes.

For example, if you look at 1 Peter 2:18, the first word there is servants, and that is for good reason. The other Greek word for slave is doulos, which he doesn’t use here. In fact, he uses a Greek term that means houseslave.

In the Roman culture, slaves were considered valuable because they were skilled and educated. Often, they were called household servants. Most household servants were not free, so they lacked certain rights and privileges of citizenship. However, they had other freedoms. I quote a person, who was in authority and writing about this time of slavery, and he said:

For first century slaves, education was greatly encouraged. Some slaves were better educated than their owners and enhanced a slave’s value. Many slaves carried out sensitive and highly responsible social function. Slaves could own property and even own other slaves. Their religious and cultural traditions were the same as those of the freeborn. No laws prohibited public assembly of slaves, and perhaps, above all, most urban and domestic slaves could legitimately anticipate being emancipated by age thirty.

This is completely different than what happened in the United States and in England. Even though we don’t have slavery like they had in the Roman Empire or today, we can take what Peter says and apply it to employers and employees.

In free market capitalism and socialism, employment is difficult to compare to first century household servants. However, there are principals here that are universal and can be used in any situation where someone has authority over you.

Last time we were in the Scriptures, there was a basic structure that is always true all the time, which is found in 1 Peter 2:17. We are to have respect for all people, which is the outside group. Then, there is the inside group, which is to love the brotherhood and be loyal to them. Also, on the inside group, we are to fear God. Christians are insiders with God because of Christ’s work on the Cross; however, God is above us. Lastly, on the outside is a person who is above us, which is the king, the president, government, or whatever governmental structure you are under.

In this case, we are to honor and respect the king or those who are in authority over us. From Scripture, kings should fear the sovereign Lord since it will show that they have a sense of responsibility to a higher authority than themselves, which is the God who created the heaven and earth. In saying that, we can look at our passage and see the principal of Christians submitting as servants.

In some sense, an employer has a legal right to direct, to command, and to control the activities of other persons. The first principal is found in 1 Peter 2:18, and your employer is due respect. Whatever lot given to you providentially by the Lord, servants or masters are to regulate their conduct by Christian standards and are to act in accord with Christian principals.

Believers are in different families, with a different father and a new Father. They live before the Lord’s eyes every moment of every day. Children of God are in the king’s service here on earth no matter what they are doing. This is not only in 1 Peter, but also in Ephesians 6:5-8:

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

In that Ephesians passage, it is in the context of being controlled by the Holy Spirit. In saying this: it is impossible to do this without the spirit of God. Another passage is Colossians 3:22-25:

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

Colossians is in the context of being controlled by the word of God. Those who are controlled by the Spirit and by the word of God will be able to take these exhortations and put them into practice.

Scripture, then, is concerned about the behavior, the conduct, and reaction of Christian people who are in any position of subservience to others. Christians, who are employed in any service, are to live by this principal, and this is not any easy principal. In 1 Peter 2:18, it is expected of those who belong to Christ to submit in respectful service to masters who are crooked, unfair, unreasonable, and even nasty. It is easy to submit to those who are fair and good hearted.

Sometimes when people go to the doctors and get examined, the doctor will say that they have scoliosis, which is a crooked spine. Well, that is the Greek word here, and it means crooked. That is the Greek word for employers that are unreasonable. They want you to lie for them, they want you to cook the books, and they even abuse people because they have authority. Don’t get me wrong, they are responsible too. In Ephesians, it mentions the masters and their responsibility.

Here, it is not talking about master, but servants, or employees. Once a person has authority over others, who are free, there can be many kinds of abuses. The abuses and abominations escalate to an nth degree when a person is not a free person, but is under the control of another person, whether literally or theoretically.

What is amazing in this passage of Scripture is that Christ’s followers are not told to organize social revolt. They are not told to take up weapons and arm themselves. They are not even told to retaliate in any way at all, or even to be disloyal or take their rights in the law into their own hands. They are not even told to bring slavery into an immediate end. No, that is not the way a Christian undermines the institution of slavery.

It seems the flesh would want to come up with some way to revolt when someone is abusive, crooked, unreasonable, and there is no way to reason with them. The Christian is an earthly slave, but at the same time he is Christ’s freeman. All Christians should view slavery in a different way, which is a platform for evangelism.

We are to display Christ-like behavior right in the conditions that we are in even if we cannot get out of those conditions or with unreasonable employers. We are to do this for evangelism, and to display before them a behavior and a message that they may not get from someone else because we may be the only believer there to give it.

On the other hand, the only way for the institution such as slavery to be undermined is by advocating and implementing the Biblical principles of Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ not only emancipates from the slavery of sin and Satan’s slavish grip, but, as believers who live under the lordship of Christ controlled by the Holy Spirit and lead by the word of God, the evils and abuses of slavery must disappear. When you have master and slave both being Christian, there cannot be slavery. It must finally disappear.

Yet, we must remember the primary business of the church is to expound the Scripture, explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and make disciples. In other words, to bring people the knowledge of God and to evangelize them. The primary business of the church is not to deal with the conditions of the world.

If the church spent all its time on the conditions of the world, the primary task would never get done. Here, the main emphasis is how the Christian is to function within their existing conditions, and with the way in which the Christian conducts and behaves themselves. Therefore, the only reason for submitting to unreasonable harsh masters or employers is because it pleases the Lord, which is the motive for the Christian to submit as servants.

Motive answers the question as to why we should submit like that. Your employer is due respect, but also to be respected without regard to their disposition, which is what the Scriptures say to us. We see that taking abuse should be coupled by keeping God in mind. In 1 Peter 2:19, they want to be obedient because they want to honor the Lord through obedience, not just to gain human approval.

This is done for the sake of conscience. The Christian has an enlightened conscience, which is mindful of God and judges their actions in connection of what pleases God. In other words, a Christian will walk out of the house every day knowing God sees all and knows all. Believe me, that is the best place to live, which is to live in the presence of God twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

Your conscience bares witness with the truth of the word of God, and that God is involved very intimately with the activities of your life. He knows your circumstance, your situation, where you work, what kind of boss you have, how you are treated, and how you respond in your heart.

For the sake of conscience towards God, we are to always be mindful and conscious that God is watching and knows exactly what is going on. He knows more than you do, and you may not know what He is going to do with you in a certain circumstance.

To bare under pain is commendable, especially if you are conscious of God and keep the Lord and what pleases Him always in mind. God sees all and will reward His children. The Lord is giving instruction to His disciples and says in Matthew 5:10-12:

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Notice, the persecution comes because of righteousness, and you may say, “how can I rejoice and be glad if people are slandering my name all over the place?” Think of this: not only does it please the Lord, but you are standing in a long line behind the prophets. The prophets went through this, so they understand it well. They understand what persecution is, and they understood what persecution was when it came to proclaim the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of God on how the nation was supposed to live. Because they were connected to God and His word, they were persecuted.

Thus, you take abuse by keeping God in mind to have favor. Also, you are taking abuse to have or to lose God’s favor. In 1 Peter 2:20, it is not easy to take wrongful abuse, and mistreated servants would be tempted to become slanderous or use their tongues to deceive in some way or fight back. However, it is saying in this passage, if a beating is deserved for sinful behavior, there is no glory in baring it, and there is no credit for enduring the pain for it is deserved.

God is not pleased when people act in a rebellious or sinful manner. By acting toward their employer with insubordination, they are acting outside of God’s will. Also, they are losing the opportunity to display holy conduct to adorn the Gospel. In other words, if they act like that, they are losing the opportunity to speak, evangelize, and give the Gospel to those who need it. Someone who is abusive is someone who needs the Gospel. Everyone needs the Gospel, but that person needs to receive the Gospel.

The point being, you may be the one to give it, so if you are acting out, then when you speak the Gospel, the boss will look at you and say, “you’re doing the same thing I’m doing, so why should I listen to you if you act like that?” If you don’t give an honest day’s work and respectful days work to your boss, then there is no credit there. You have lost opportunity, displeased God, and are outside of Gods will.

As I look at this passage of Scripture, I must admit that these things are not easy to practice in our life. We need divine help when it comes to these principals, but they are in Scripture. Also, there is suffering for when we don’t deserve it. In 1 Peter 2:20, if you are beat for doing good and endure it, then it is to your credit. You have pleased your real master, the Lord Jesus Christ. You did God’s will.

We must know that the most mundane obligations of life, when performed faithfully, Christ is being served honorably. The serving employee should serve their employers faithfully because such service is performing the will of God. God knows what you are doing. Even though working for someone might not often give you approval or disapproval, the Lord lets us know that He sees and will reward of what you are doing.

The Lord knows and sees the kind of service one offers up, but the one offering up good service should know that the Lord recognizes and rewards. One earthly master, or employer, might not always give credit where it is due. However, bitterness should never be the attitude. We serve a good master in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Brethren, the Lord above is mindful of all His servant’s labors. At the judgment seat of Christ, God will evaluate Christian conduct and labor, and, by His grace, reward His servants. There is always that reward that the Lord promises those who live in a way that honors Him and gives many opportunities for the open door of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, in 1 Peter 2:21, there is the purpose and pattern for the Christian to submit as saints. Brethren, God calls or summons us to suffering. Did you ever ponder that? This is the cost of the Christian life. You were called to suffer because you are a Christian. Philippians 1:29-30:

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

When you were saved, you were also called to suffer. As we go along, this subject will be dealt with more in 1 Peter. However, let me point out some reasons for suffering, which are mostly from 1 Peter. As believers, why would we suffer? Some people say, “well, Pastor, you don’t know my mother-in-law,” or, “my rebellious child,” and the list can go on. No, those are probably not the reasons why you and I will suffer as being believers. However, there are some reasons. 1 Peter 3:17:

For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

You suffer for what is right because we live in a world that, number one, are not necessarily desiring to do what is right, especially when it comes to what is right before God. What pleases God is not in the realm of thinking of the world, so we will receive persecution just for doing the right thing. Before God and for conscience sake, we are willing to do what is right because God sees. Secondly, in 1 Peter 4:19:

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

In other words, because we live in a sinful world, suffering according to God’s will is going to happen. 1 Peter 4:12-16 also tells us:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

You suffer for your testing and because you are a Christian, who is connected to Christ, and because there’s any enemy behind the system of the world that hates Christ. Of course, that enemy is Satan, and because you are now a believer, the world and its system is truly against you. 2 Timothy 3:12:

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

All who desire to live godly, in Christ Jesus, will suffer persecution. Meaning, in our list here, we will suffer for living a godly life. If you are a Christian, who is living a godly life in an ungodly world, you will suffer. Evangelism involves living a godly life in the face of an ungodly world. Now, you may be asking or someone maybe observing why you are not suffering.

Well, it could be that you are hiding in the forest and nobody sees your life. Nobody even knows you exist, let alone being a Christian. You need to come out of the forest. We are in the world, but we are not of the world, so get back into the world. I don’t mean for worldly thinking or any worldly amusement. I mean, get back in the world so you can be the light and salt God called you to be in these opportunities that God is giving us, and formulating for us to test us, grow us, and mature us.

Maybe you are not being persecuted because you are not living a godly life. You are just going along with the stream of things. Your behavior is just like everybody else’s behavior. There is no difference in what you say, do, or look, so why should anyone persecute you if you are not different? Remember, holiness is being different. It is being someone God wants you to be. If you are different, then you will suffer some insults.

Remember, most of the time, the persecution in 1 Peter were verbal. They were verbally insulting them for who they were, for their lifestyle, and for them being connected to Christ. Maybe you are not being persecuted because you are not living a holy and godly life, or maybe you are not being persecuted because you are not a believer at all.

As you become a believer and you are the first-generation believer to trust Christ, your family gladly receives you with joy and gladness, right? No, they start saying that you are in a cult, brainwashed, and the list goes on. Some have even said to their children, “you are out of my written will,” all because you have gone against the religion of your father and your father’s father. Persecution will come just by being a Christian, so what do you do with that persecution when it does come?

We must have these principals in our mind to respond the right way, which is the point of these passages before us. If we are going to live this way, then we will ultimately exemplify our greatest example, and our greatest example of suffering is Jesus Christ.

Next time, I will pick up on 1 Peter 2:21 and how Christ is our example. In fact, He is our outline and our copy. Christ leaves us a drawing that is to be placed underneath another sheet to be traced. We are to follow in the direction Christ is going, and patiently endure wrong treatment, especially since He is the example. No one suffered to the extent that our Lord suffered as a human being.

Are you in anyway, or have you been at all, persecuted or have suffered because you are a Christian from anyone anywhere such as family, employers, or neighbors? Have they insulted you? Have they ridiculed you? Have they, in some way, exposed you as a believer? All because you are living the Christian life and honoring God in how you live, speak, and act. Brethren, that is where we want to go because it pleases God. Let’s pray:

Lord, I pray as we think of these difficult passages of Scripture, that, Lord, You help us wrap our mind around it. Help us to understand how You view things, which is so different of what we are used to or how we used to think. Lord, transform our mind in this area. Lord, give us the strength of Your spirit and understanding from Your word to be able to live in the world. Lord, even if we do get ridiculed for our faith, we already know that it will happen. We already know, from Scripture, how to respond. The natural thing for us to do is to fight, to claim our rights, even to go to blows if we must, but Lord that is not Your way. That is not the way that brings opportunity to adorn the Gospel. That is not the way that we can get people’s attention to share the message of Jesus Christ, so they can have their souls rescued from hell. O, Lord, help us to submit to these principles, and think through them until they become part of us, our actions, our words, and our thinking. Lord, when that time comes, and, Lord, we know it will, I pray, Lord Jesus, that we would be able to put these principals into practice and that we would be able to stand firm in the truth. Trusting You, Lord, with the results. I pray, Lord, enable us to do that for the sake of the glory and honor of Your name. For the sake of the advancement of the Gospel, make us people like this, who are different, holy, and godly. I pray, in Christ’s name, Amen.