Provocative Bible Verses: When Submission is a Bad Thing

Posted: April 29, 2009 in Provocative Bible Verses, submission, suffering, Uncategorized
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A recent post on the topic of submission in the Bible has received a fair amount of response in the way of readers and comments. A couple of those readers pointed out a missing piece in what I said. Put simply the question would be, is there ever a time when a Christian should refuse to submit? Is there a situation when submission to those in authority would be a bad thing? The answer is clearly yes. There are times when a Christian should refuse to submit to a human authority, but those times are few and specific and we must be prepared to face the consequences for our rebellion.

Shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter and John where arrested for preaching the name of Jesus and taken before the religious rulers. They were commanded to stop preaching in the name of Jesus and stop trying to convert people to him.  But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19 & 20

The decision was between obeying God or obeying man. Peter and John had received a clear and specific command from Jesus, “Go and preach the Gospel to all the world”. The religious leaders gave them a clear and specific command to not preach the gospel. The choice was clear, they had to obey God rather than man. So they continued to preach. The result was that they were arrested and beaten and the Apostle James was executed.

A similar event takes place in the Old Testament. The prophet Daniel was forbidden to pray to anyone accept King Darius. God had made it clear that only He was to be the object of our pray life and that we should never pray to a false god. Daniel had no choice but to continue to pray as he had always done. As a result he is arrested and thrown into the Lion’s Den. God in His mercy rescued Daniel from the lions.

In both cases there was a clear command from God about what we are to do. When those in authority tried to require God’s people to violate God’s command, the only choice was to rebel against the human authority and obey God. But it must not be forgotten that refusing to obey the human authority and follow God does not come with a guarantee that you will not suffer for your rebellion. Daniel was thrown to the lions and God saved him, but James was beheaded for insisting on preaching the name of Jesus. We make a grave mistake when we think that obeying God rather than men should result in things being wonderful for us. Often that is not the case. If your boss wants you to do something illegal or unethical and you rightly refuse, he may still fire you. In that case the Bible would actually have us rejoice in the blessing of suffering for doing good. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 1 Peter 2:20.

Comments
  1. Carol says:

    Good followup, Dan, and definitely more “food for thought”. We as Christians MUST listen for God’s quiet voice…….

  2. Ryan says:

    this is really hard when the people that seem to be going against God are Christians themselves. it is hard when you are trying to follow God and so are they. how do you deal with this “stickiness”?

  3. Dan Lacich says:

    Ryan,
    Remember the religious leaders in Acts where also supposed to be on God’s side, but they still got it wrong. I think the humble yet firm stance of Peter and John and their commitment to the clear words of Jesus is the model for all of us. Of course it doesn’t hurt to get some council from other trusted believers before we do anything that would be in rebellion to authority
    Dan

  4. Praise the Lord for your post! I believe we have been called as Christians to respect our authority given that it’s God who placed them in their positions. We do this to be a blessing to them and for God to be glorified. When things come that they make us do something that doesn’t glorify God, then we do what glorifies GOD: we refused and rebel. At the end of the day, it’s a question of whthere God is glorifed or not.

  5. By the way I have posted about Testimonies for the glory of God. encourage you to Leave your testimony for the glory of the Lord. As a reward, you will receive a back link from my humble site.
    Testimony

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