We say we love the Lord with all our hearts (Mark 12:30-31). We say we trust the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6). We pray to Him (1 Thess. 5:16-18). We say He is Lord of our life. But is that really true? How we live our lives will answer the question as to if what we say is the truth.
We do not make Jesus Lord. Jesus is Lord. What we are supposed to do is submit to His lordship, which is to yield to the will and control of Jesus Christ. This means that when Scripture commands believers to love one another (John 15:17) and forgive as the Lord forgave us (Col. 3:13), that is what is to be done. It means that when Scripture says we are not to commit adultery or steal (Exodus 20:14-15), these things are not to be done.
In order to be obedient, we must rely on the power provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). This in itself is an act of obedience, for we are commanded in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit. This doesn’t mean that a believer gets more of the Spirit, but rather that the Spirit gets more of the believer—which is the whole idea of submission. Being filled with the Spirit is yielding to the Spirit’s control.
To be filled with the Spirit, it’s necessary for us to spend time in God’s Word, in prayer, and to be still before God. We have to tune out the noise of the world so we can hear His Word to us. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Yielding to the Spirit’s control is acting upon the instruction. “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
Contrary to what we thought adult life would be like when we were kids, we are all under authority: From God, our jobs, our towns, state, country, and our church. God’s Word says: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Rom. 13:1-2) It doesn’t say if you voted for the person in authority; if you agree with their authority… No, the Bible explicitly states that all authorities have been established by God, and we are, therefore, to submit to all authority He has established.
You may not be a fan of the president, governor, mayor, city council, or your boss. That’s not a requirement. We are called to love (whether or not we personally “like” someone) and that is how we will be known as Christ’s disciples–by our love (John 13:35). And more than that, we are called to pray for all people: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). And “all people” includes those in authority: “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:2).
We are to: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Pet 2:13-17) Submitting ourselves as the Lord commands in His Word is a sign that we truly are trusting in Him “with all [our] heart and lean[ing] not on [our] own understanding”, otherwise we are trusting more in ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but the Holy Spirit is definitely whispering a little loudly in my ears of another area in my life that needs to be addressed. For instance, I easily justify driving 10+ miles over the speed limit, which is definitely not submitting to the authority that God has established. And His Word says, “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” We can’t pick and choose what authority to which we will submit, just like we can’t pick and choose part of God’s Word to follow and ignore other parts. God’s Word isn’t Walmart! If I call Jesus my Lord and Savior, then I must submit to the authority He has put in place, or He truly isn’t Lord of my life. Ouch!