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A list of signs of true submission

Signs of true submissionSubmission to authority is a disposition of the heart, and not only a behavior. There are several unmistakable signs that indicate whether a person is submissive to authority or not. Here is a list of some of these behavioral

Those who possess a submissive heart seek out and respond favorably to authority wherever they find it. Those who possess a submissive heart

Those who understand authority don’t isolate themselves because they know that the covering of authority is a protection for their life. Whoever is genuinely submissive seeks to be submissive from the heart not only because it is an obligation. Such a person seeks the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to know to whom he or she must submit.

Those who possess a submissive heart grow in meekness and dependence on God

This happens because they fear making serious mistakes, since they know that their lives are not isolated and that they are part of a team, the body of Christ. They also know that everything a member does affects the entire body. Disciples must be treatable, and must have the revelation of authority in the body as a whole, not acting only toward their own advantage and desires.

Those who possess a submissive heart have a proper understanding of authority and are not overly anxious to have it

The submissive person takes no pleasure in prevailing over the opinions of others or controlling others. Whoever knows what authority is, fears having to exercise it, because he knows that God will judge him more severely. In the Bible, we see that God seems to take pleasure in calling those who are not seeking out positions of leadership. This was the case when he called Moses, Aaron, Abraham, David, the apostles and many others; all of these were called by the Lord while minding their own business and not seeking out fame.

Those who possess a submissive heart are slow to speak and keep their mouths shut

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; (James 1:19)

Some people take pleasure in the mistakes of others, especially when the others are leaders. However, we must not rush to make judgments. Only God has the authority as judge (Matthew 7:1-5). It is better to pray and abstain from giving your own opinion because we have no authority to judge our brother.

Those who possess a submissive heart are very sensitive to rebellion because they know how rebellion contaminates

A person that is submissive to God knows just how terrible the iniquity and abomination of rebellion is, as well as how contaminating it is to people and the atmosphere. Therefore, whoever is truly submissive flees these things.

Those who possess a submissive heart are able to lead others into submission

Jesus spoke with authority, not as the scribes and Pharisees spoke because He lived what He preached. We can know how submissive a person is by whom they associate themselves with and by whom their disciples are. John said that if someone says that they love God and love not his brother, he is lying (1 John 4:20). In the same way, if someone claims to be submissive to God but does not submit to delegated authority, he is lying. An overcomer has learned to be submissive because he understands that authority comes from the throne of God.


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Three spheres of authority established by God


God is the basis of all authority in the universe. He establishes all human authority and all human authority is representative of His authority. God has established three spheres of authority:

In the world (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13, 14; Exodus 22:28)

As it is written in Romans, there is no authority that does not proceed from God, and the authorities that exist were instituted by Him. Therefore, whoever submits to them will never be dishonored. The story of David, recorded in 1Samuel, is an example of this. In spite of constant persecution, he was completely submissive and faithful to Saul, always honoring him. He acted in this way because he did not look at the man Saul, but recognized the authority of God upon him. When we reject delegated authority, we reject God himself.

In the church (1Thess. 5:12, 13; 1Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 5:5; 1Corinthians 16:15, 16)

God commanded that the church membership submit to the elders of each local church – Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit determined that elders and bishops oversee the house of God, or in other words, that they have the responsibility to teach the Word, minister to the Saints, and that they should be honored through the submission of the membership. If a leader fails, God will deal directly with him, but submission to him by the church will be remembered before God.

Pre-eminence depends on physical age – there are however indications that spiritual age is more important than physical age (1Corinthians 16:15, 16).

Can women govern or oversee a church? According to the Bible, the answer is no (1Corinthians 11:3). Women can and must serve in a variety of ways through their spiritual gifts, but the man must give direction and carry the pressure that bears on the governing leadership over the church. God has ordained this order and His Word has no expiration date; it is applicable at any time in history.

According to Jude, those who do not submit themselves to authority are dreamers that defile the flesh, reject authority and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the Archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “the Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:8). Among the angels, there is also authority and Jude shows the contrast between the attitude of Michael and rebellious men.

In the family (Ephesians 5:22-24; 6:1-3; Colossians 3:18; 20, 22; 1 Corinthians 11:3)

God has established a chain of authority in the family beginning with the father, afterwards the mother and finally the children, among them the oldest having the preeminence. Parents must fear the authority that God has given them because they represent the Lord. Husbands must love their wives, who in turn, must be submissive to their husbands; the children must honor their parents, and servants as well as their owners or employers.

Whoever receives much, much will be required of them. We must learn to submit ourselves to and exercise authority. We must use authority to serve; and exercise it with love, lovingly delivering our own lives as did Jesus, our greatest model of authority.


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limits of authoritySubmission is a matter of the attitude of the heart, but obedience is a matter of conduct. Obedience addresses behavior but submission deals with the state of the heart. Disobedience inappropriately touches the holiness of God while rebellion inappropriately touches the throne and the authority of God.

We must always submit ourselves to various levels of human authority, but we don’t always have to obey them. Only God is the object of unlimited obedience. Obedience to men is always limited. If the representative authority gives a clear command against God’s commands, we must not obey it. That is why Jesus said that He came to bring a sword, and that whoever loves his father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:34-37). For we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). In order to do this, sometimes we must displease men.

God has established a hierarchy of authority that is organized in the following order:

•     The sovereign authority of God

•     The authority of the Bible

•     The authority of our conscience

•     Delegated authority

Any delegated authority must be submissive to the three higher levels of authority, besides being limited to its own area of responsibility. Whether it is in the family, in the church, in the government or at work, we must not obey any authority that commands us to sin against God, the Bible or our conscience. We must also observe the following points:

All delegated authority has its limits

An employer can only give orders within the sphere of work. Pastors, leaders or any other authority are limited to the sphere for which they were delegated. No human authority can decide with whom I should marry or interfere in my professional or domestic life.

Not all authority is permanent

Some authorities are temporary and we need only submit to them for a limited amount of time depending on the circumstances.

Traditions and customs imply some real authority

Within the parameters of the Word of God, we must submit ourselves to the customs and traditions of society or the church wherever we are.

Some types of authority are basically functional

•   Authority based on natural aptitude

•   Authority based on instruction

•   Authority based on experience

•   Authority based on the anointing of God


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Adam and Eve’s fall

(Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:1-6; Romans 5:19)

This was the first account of rebellion against God. God had warned Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However when he and Eve resolved to eat of the forbidden fruit, they rebelled against Him. What can we learn from this situation? To rebel against the representative authority of God is to rebel against God himself.

Everything we do should be in submission to God and under His direction. We should do nothing through our own initiative. The first lesson of a worker is submission to authority. Authority exists in all areas: in the family, in school, at work, in society etc. Many see submission as a punishment because God told Eve that she had to submit to Adam after the fall, but the relationship between authority and submission already existed before sin. When God created Adam, he was supposed to submit himself to the Lord; God commanded them not to eat of the fruit. Therefore submission is not punishment, it is blessing.

Rebellion of Ham

The second example of rebellion against God was that of Ham, one of Noah’s sons, that exposed his father’s nakedness (Genesis 9:20-27).

The leader’s failure is a test of submission for the followers. In God’s plan, the father is the authority in the family, but there is no perfect delegated authority. We can say that God established Noah as the authority in the family and his failure became a test for his sons.

Ham exposed his leader’s nakedness – to expose is to speak against, denigrate and spread bad news. This is a sign of rebellion: taking pleasure in sharing the weaknesses of the leader. The attitude of Shem and Japheth was to cover their father’s nakedness. Ham’s attitude was to expose it. Some people expose, others cover up.

Noah, even though he was wrong, zealously positioned himself in line with the principle of authority. Noah was wrong, but not to the point of losing his position. David never exposed Saul even though he recognized his weaknesses. Once a leader makes a mistake; he must confess and repent of it, but even if he doesn’t, this does not take away his authority. The sin of the leader does not justify the error of his followers.

The consequence of rebellion is a curse – even though he was wrong, Noah cursed his son and the curse was fulfilled because of the authority of his words. This occurred because he was the authority and Ham’s attitude was a sign of rebellion. The consequence of rebellion is always a curse. If there is rebellion, the leader should pray and cry for mercy to God over the person that has rebelled; after all, we now live in the age of grace.

Nadab and Abiram

Another case of rebellion against God occurred with the two sons of Aaron, the high priest when they offered strange fire to the Lord (Leviticus 10:1, 2). God does not accept strange fire, or in other words, that which has its origin in human presumption. As priests they could work within the tabernacle, even with fire on the altar; however, they decided to bring strange fire, which God had not commanded.

There are two types of sin related to submission: presumption and disobedience. Disobedience is when God commands us to do something that we fail to do; presumption is when God did not command us to do something and we do it anyway.

The work must be coordinated by authority – God had established Aaron as the high priest and his sons were under his leadership (Leviticus 8:9). When Aaron’s sons decided to offer sacrifices outside of their father’s direction, these became strange fire.

The work originates in God – the principle of strange fire is to do what God has not commanded. Jesus said, “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh; whatever is born of the spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). In order to be born of the spirit, whatever is born of the flesh must die. The new birth comes by the Holy Spirit. It does not bring physical death, but it makes the death of the ego and human initiative possible.

Strange fire produces death – the immediate consequence of rebellion is death. Whoever serves God without discerning authority may be offering strange fire and be rejected by God. Cain and Abel gave their offerings, but God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected that of Cain (Genesis 4:1-8).

Aaron and Miriam

Aaron and Miriam were older than Moses who took an Ethiopian woman as his wife; this displeased his brother and sister (Numbers 12:1-15). In matters of family, Moses should have submitted to them, but in the work of God, he was the head. It would have been correct to deal with the matter in the realm of the family, but they erred when they touched God’s authority.

God gives authority to whomever He chooses. God chose Moses, and God himself defended him (verse 8).

Rebellion produces leprosy – immediately after questioning the spiritual authority of Moses, Miriam became leprous (verse 10). Leprosy produces isolation and loss of communion.

Rebellion stops the move of God – the pillar of cloud that hovered over the door of the tent did not move until the matter of rebellion was resolved (verse 10). “So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again” (Verse 15).

Dathan, Korah and Abiram

Korah’s group was made up of Levites, men chosen by God to work in the service of the tabernacle (Numbers 16). Korah represents the religious. Dathan and Abiram’s group were from the tribe of Reuben the firstborn of Jacob and held positions of leadership. They represent leaders. Together with these 250 leaders rose up against Moses (verse 2). It is one thing for the people to rebel, it’s another thing when leaders rebel.

Rebellion against God comes from hell – “the ground split apart underneath them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.” (Verses 31-33) In the original, the word that was translated as pit is hell, Hades. God had tolerated doubt and complaining, but would not tolerate rebellion. Moses did not defend himself since no one person needs to defend his position of authority. If in fact we receive authority from God, He himself will honour us. Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18).

Rebellion against God is contagious; in Numbers 16 we have two rebellions: that of the leaders (verses 1-40) and that of the people (verses 41-50). The spirit of rebellion is contagious. After they saw what God had done to Korah, Dathan and Abiram, they did not repent or change their attitude, but started another rebellion. Rebellion must be treated so that it doesn’t contaminate and spread among the congregation.


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spiritual-authorityOnly those who submit to authority can exercise it. Unbiblical practices of authority and submission taught by some people and abuses practiced by others cause many wounds among the people of God. Biblical truths can be taken to extremes and when this happens, lives can be destroyed. God did not call leaders to manipulate the sheep or control their lives. Jesus, our model and ultimate authority never controlled or manipulated anyone. He served, He gave, and He was gracious and generous. We need to exercise authority with love and within the limits establish by God. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to understand the existing levels of authority. The Word of God mentions seven levels of authority. The first three levels are exclusively God’s prerogatives; His ministers can operate in the other four levels.

Sovereign authority

The highest level of authority is sovereign authority. This level must never be questioned or challenged, it is absolute and infallible. This authority belongs only to God and never can be exercised by any man. To assume authority that is not meant for man is rebelliousness. Sovereign authority belongs exclusively to God.

Christ received sovereign authority. This was Lucifer’s ambition (Isaiah 14:12-14), but it was Jesus who received it (Ephesians 1:16-22).

Be careful with those who try to take Christ’s place. Any person who places his anointing on an unquestionable and infallible level is assuming the position of antichrist. To be an antichrist does not mean being against Christ but to try to take His place (Matthew 24:5). In this manner, such leaders constrain people to obey them without questioning, making them think that if they question the leader they will be confronting the Lord Himself and rebelling against Him. Asking God or any person for an explanation is not an act of rebellion. No authority exists in the church to which Christians must submit an unquestionable obedience other than that of God. Humility before God and His leaders is an essential characteristic of the Christian leader.

The authority of the truth

The authority of the truth is that authority which concerns everything that is as true, absolute and unquestionable as God himself (2Corinthians 13:8).

God himself is truth (John 14:6; 1:17; 5:6) – God is truth, the Son is the truth and the Spirit also is the truth. There are not three gods, just one.

The truth is everything that God says (2 Thessalonians 2:12; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 89:34) God Himself is the truth just as His words and His promises are true.

The Bible is the truth (2 Timothy 3:16; Galatians 1:8) – the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and therefore is the absolute and infallible truth.

The authority of conscience

We call the conscience the capacity that every man has to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. Even unbelievers are able to make such a distinction, applying a basic principle: we should not do to others that which we would not want them to do to us.

We must not violate the conscience of others (1 Corinthians 8:12; Romans 14:23) – no man has the right to demand anything from any other man that violates his conscience.

We must submit to it (Romans 14:5, 6; 13) – the Word of God says that we sin when we act contrary to our conscience, since it is the testimony of the truth within us.

From these three types of authority we can conclude that no man whether from the church or the state has the right to force anyone to disobey God, the Bible and his own conscience. Only God may exercise these first three levels of authority. The next four can be exercised by man.

Delegated authority

Wherever the kingdom of God has been established (His government and authority), there is justice, peace and joy in the spirit (Romans 14:17). In other words, when delegated authority is exercised correctly, these are the results that are obtained.

The leaders of the church possess delegated authority – Church leaders merely exercise the authority that Christ delegated to them (2 Corinthians 5:20). However, it is important to remember that such authority belongs to God and He delegated it to us to aid in the governing of the church. We must not exercise this authority by dominating the flock, but with the attitude of Christ: to give our life for the sheep (John 10:11; 1 Peter 5:2, 3).

Delegated authority proceeds from responsibility. Whoever has responsibility and exercises it gains authority. Therefore, I cannot exercise authority over people for whom I am not responsible.

Delegated authority never goes beyond responsibility; the limit of authority is therefore responsibility. Never go beyond responsibility. The opposite is also true: whenever we cease to assume responsibility, we lose authority.

Functional authority

Functional authority is often the basis upon which we establish delegated authority. It comes from ability, competence, experience and training. There is no problem at all in a delegated authority submitting to functional authority.

Customary authority

The authority of customs and traditions is established when these have proved themselves over the years as providing a consensus of well-being for everyone concerned. Some customs and traditions are good, even though they have no Biblical basis. The use of a veil is one of them. Paul appealed to the authority of customs when he spoke about the matter of the veil in the church of Corinth, where using a veil was a sign of submission to God (1 Corinthians 11:16). No church or leadership can ignore local or community customs if such customs do not contradict the Bible.

Contractual authority

Contractual authority implies the authority of the law. This authority governs a society and rules in legal contracts and agreements. Although it is something natural, its origin is divine. Paul said that this authority also was constituted by God and proceeds from Him (Romans 13:1-6).


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Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1, 2)

There is only one authority in the entire universe: that which proceeds from God Himself and His throne. In Hebrews, we read that the Lord holds up “all things by the power of His Word” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, the Word of God is His authority. We are not dealing with authority as a position here but with authority as a governing power.

The principle of Lucifer

The principle of Lucifer is self-exaltation. If we analyze the fall of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:13-17), we can understand the motivation that led him to rebel against God. Mankind can only choose between two paths: the path of Lucifer and the path of Jesus. Both are related to the throne of God. However, one will result in humiliation and the other in exaltation. One (Lucifer) sought glory for himself and the other (Christ) emptied himself to the point of dying on a cross. Those who submit themselves to the throne will be exalted; those who want to be where God has not placed them will be humiliated.

The path of Lucifer

Lucifer wants to be equal to God and usurp His throne; therefore, God cast him down to the deepest pit. The result of his self-exaltation was humiliation.

The path of Jesus

Although Jesus is God He did not judge His divine attributes as something that He had to grasp, but He took on the form of a man and humbled himself unto death (Philippians 2:5-10). The result of His humiliation was exaltation.

Sometimes leaders with spurious intentions (artificial) who are on the path of Lucifer rather than on the path of Christ exercise authority. It is easy to exercise power. It is difficult to take up the cross. Jesus did not receive authority simply because He rose up and rebuked the devil. He cast out demons throughout His ministry but we only read that He overcame Lucifer after He went to the cross.


Disobedience is a sin against the holiness of God, but rebellion is a sin against His authority. The example of Saul and David reveals this difference very clearly. God ordered Saul to destroy the Amalekites in battle, but by obeying the principle of Lucifer, he decided to spare the best of the cattle to sacrifice to the Lord. He made sacrifices according to the instructions of God, but he assumed a contrary attitude toward the orders that he received and was rejected because he rebelled against God’s authority; this was a sin against the throne of God (1 Samuel 15:23).

David committed sins that most people consider more serious. David committed adultery with the wife of one of his soldiers while he was away at war and because of the resulting pregnancy, in order to hide his sin; he ordered that the husband be placed in a position where he would certainly die. However, God did not reject David, because his sin was disobedience, not rebellion. David disobeyed and transgressed God’s holiness but not His authority.


If we violate authority we will be walking in the principle of Lucifer. He questioned and violated the authority of God. He did not accept the possibility of submitting to God.

We can clearly perceive the same attitude in man’s behavior today, since as John said: “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1John 5:19), and the world has Lucifer’s mentality. However, some servants of God also act in this manner: they serve Jesus by obeying doctrines, but they are motivated by the principle of Lucifer. We can teach what is correct, but with the wrong attitude. The things that we say may be appropriate, but if our heart, what we are on the inside is wrong, God will reprove us.

What does it mean to preach the gospel? The preaching of the Gospel is leading people who are rebelling against God by obeying their own will, to submit to divine authority and learn how to obey the Lord’s will. How can we preach the Gospel so that people submit themselves to the God’s authority if we ourselves do not submit? Satan does not fear our word; he only fears our submission to God.

When Jesus offered what we call the “Lord’s Prayer”, He asked God to deliver us from temptation and from evil, which are tied to the work of Lucifer. However, at the end of the prayer we read, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory” (Matthew 6:9-13). This is the key to everything, since every man because of his sinful nature seeks after the kingdom, power and glory. The kingdom represents authority and government. Jesus said that these things belong to God and not to us. Only He is sovereign. Jesus taught us to pray exactly that which Satan questioned every day.

Some people are converted but they do not understand the authority of God. Paul is an interesting example. He persecuted the church until he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. He persecuted Christians thinking that he was being zealous for God, just as many Christians do today. However, he did it with a rebellious heart. Only after he met the Lord did he recognize who had true authority.

Paul was very important in his days; he was a religious authority with social status. However, he obeyed God by submitting to Ananias who was a simple and unknown man in order to receive healing and spiritual direction (Acts 9). Those who understand this principle do not confuse the person with the authority that he represents. Whoever understands what authority is, knows that it comes from God and that it uses people as mere instruments.

Our service to God is not a matter of sacrifice, neglecting our ego or accomplishing great works, but of submission to the Lord’s will. We do not have to do great things for God; we have to do only what He commanded. It is not a question of preference or of will, but of obedience. In the garden of Gethsemane, it wasn’t a matter of whether Jesus would do something for God or not, like going to the cross, but whether he would submit to God’s will or not even if it meant dying on the cross.

Many people do great works for God, but they are not submissive to His authority (Mat. 7:21-23). This is why we must teach the vision of the overcomer. Overcomers don’t merely receive salvation, but they have accepted God’s authority.