By Brooke Holt
“Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.” - 1 Corinthians 14:36-40
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Paul also has taught the Corinthians that their spiritual gifts come from God. They have not earned them or deserved them; they are gifts—gifts to be used under God’s authority and for his glory. Unfortunately, the exercise of spiritual gifts was puffing up the Corinthians. They were more and more excited about themselves as opposed to God as they were seeking experiences and power as opposed to God’s glory.
Like a stern father, Paul called them to humility and recognition of who they were. They were children of the most high king, and they had been brought from darkness into God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). As such, they were people who were to be submitting their lives, every aspect of their lives, to the lordship of Christ. This meant their time, their money, their work, their free time, and their spiritual gifts. Everything must be done for God and under God.
Paul would go so far as to say that an unsubmitted Christian would not be recognized in the church. Hear this: the Corinthians did not get to make their own rules! That was for God to do. They were people under authority. If they would not submit to God’s authority within the corporate body of Christ, then Paul would have them put out of the body, deemed unfit for corporate worship. In the church, it was God’s way.
How desperately our world today needs to hear and understand the authority of Jesus Christ! We are people who think we get to decide what is right or wrong, and it is all circumstantial. Meanwhile, God’s Word is absolute and always true! As God’s child, you are a person under authority. It may be a hard pill to swallow until you remember that God’s ways are higher than yours just as God’s thoughts are higher than yours (Isaiah 55:8-9). The Lord is infinite in his understanding while he is also omniscient—he knows everything.
Does that help you submit to his authority? It seems a good reason to me, yet there is even more. God’s way towards you is perfect, steadfast love. He knows you, loves you, and wants to see you thrive in this world and the world to come. Will you trust him and recognize the joy of living as one under authority?
Are there places in your life that the Lord is calling you to surrender to him? The Lord is not afraid of your questions or doubts. Bring those to him as well as any hesitations, then ask him again if there are areas of your life that are not fully submitted to him. As you ponder these questions, remember that you are perfectly known and perfectly loved by him! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Why is trust so difficult? Unlike all the broken promises of this world, God’s redeeming promises are absolute, trustworthy, and true. The covenants of God afford us with abundant reasons to trust God with his plan for our lives. Trusting God: Redeeming Promises of the Word small group Bible study explores the six major redeeming promises of God found in his Word. Learn more about God’s commitment to his people, the nature of a covenant, and how you can find your security in being a child of God’s redeeming promises. Learn more about God’s promises today.
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