Submission in the Spirit
A Sermon on Ephesians 5:21
21and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.
21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
The life of the Christian is Spirit-filled and Spirit-guided. In this sermon on Ephesians 5:21 titled “Submission in the Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exhorts the believer not to live like the world because the inward transformation gives new desires and new dispositions. This means that all Christians are to relate to one another as a new people who have been transformed and brought together in the gospel to make a new community of like-minded individuals. No Christian is to seek their own good first as one who is self-centered and worldly, but all are to seek the good of their brothers and sisters in Christ above their own. When Christians see themselves in this new kind of community, they begin to see relationships differently. For Christians, this is the new way of understanding how they are to interact with one another and how relationships are to be viewed. Christians relate to believers in a spiritual way as fellow heirs of the gospel and salvation. They are to love one another as God loved them in Christ, and they are to submit to one another in love and respect.
- The sermon text is Ephesians 5:21 which states "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
- The sermon begins by explaining the context and connection of verse 21 to the surrounding verses and chapter. Verse 21 is linked to verse 18 which states "be filled with the Spirit."
- Submitting to one another means voluntarily behaving like soldiers in a regiment under an officer. It means giving up some individual rights and following orders.
- Negatively, submitting does not mean being thoughtless, selfish, self-centered, individualistic, opinionated, dictatorial, or self-seeking.
- Positively, submitting means having the "eyes of your understanding enlightened" to the truth which leads to realizing our own sinfulness and need for grace. It means seeing ourselves as members of the body of Christ and considering the good of the whole body.
- Submitting means being willing to forego our rights, listen to others, learn from others, and suffer injustice for the sake of truth and the body of Christ.
- The only people who can truly submit to one another are those filled with the Spirit, showing the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- Examples are given of prophets in 1 Corinthians 14:29-33 and the disagreement between Paul and Peter in Galatians 2 to show that submitting does not mean compromising truth or refusing to correct false doctrine. We must stand for truth, but do so with humility, patience, and love.
- The sermon concludes by again emphasizing the importance of understanding verse 21 in its context. We must stand for fundamental Christian truths, but submit to one another in "the realm of your possession of knowledge and the use you make of it and the way you react to it yourself and your attitude to others."
The Book of Ephesians
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.