Toward the end of Spring, I was sent the book Touching Godliness, by K.P. Yohannan, to read and review for Gospel For Asia. Summer arrived, life got ridiculously busy, and here I am, confessing that I haven’t yet finished reading it.
That said, this book is impacting and convicting me in unexpected ways. I have been taking notes while reading (not in the book, though there is a study guide included…I just cannot bring myself to write in any book but my Bible!) and decided I would share the bits of wisdom that I have gleaned so far.
“The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’ ” ~ Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 (NKJV)
I love what K.P. has to say about this on p. 32:
“You and I are still given the choice between these two trees. We can choose the tree of life–which says, ‘God, You are God, and my life is in You alone.’ Or we can choose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil–which says, ‘I will find my own way with my mind, will and emotions deciding how I should live.’ ”
And then K.P. wades into the subject of submission. As a wife, and as a child of God, it is so important for me to understand what submission truly means, according to God’s word.
(The following notes are from pp. 37-38, not word for word unless in quotations. And anything bracketed [ ] is my own thought.)
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities…” ~ Romans 13:1
(submit) Greek “hupotasso”, hupo– under, tasso– to arrange in orderly fashion. Present tense, denotes constancy, a way of life. Reflexive (middle voice), “this means it’s the person under authority who initiates the act of submission upon themselves for their own benefit… It is a choice…not a command for us to enforce on others.”
(authority) Greek “exousia”, right and might. …”Paul is saying here in Romans, ‘Everyone must orderly arrange themselves under those who have the right and the might to rule over them.’ ”
[You cannot, and should not try to, make someone submit. It is a personal choice to put yourself under someone’s authority, like troops submitting to their commanding officers in battle. And by the way, any authority placed over you is there because God allowed it.]
“Children, obey your parents.” ~ Ephesians 6:1
(obey) Greek “hupakouo”, hupo– under, akouo– to listen. “Listen under”, conforming to a command of authority. Active, command.
[Obedience is a command. Listen, submit.]
“Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” ~ Genesis 16:9
(submit) Hebrew “anah”, to afflict, oppress, humble or bow down. Hagar was to choose to humble herself, allow herself to be afflicted.
[After Abraham conceived a child with Hagar, Sarah treated her handmaiden terribly, and Hagar ran away. God told her to return, to accept the (mis)treatment humbly. He also promised blessings and provision!]
Meekness– strength under control
[I love that definition!]
From pp. 41-44:
Submission doesn’t mean the one submitting is inferior. Jesus isn’t inferior to God the Father. Sometimes the one submitting “is stronger, abler and more intelligent. Yet this individual chooses, for the sake of God’s design, to bend their knees before the throne of God.”
It is “a deliberate action we choose to place ourselves under a covering that will protect us.”
If we are truly submitted, we will “seek to understand the heart of our authority regarding whatever matter is at hand”. If we are only seeking to obey, we will “figure how we can fulfill their request and still do what we want”.
“Submission is a heart attitude toward authority, whereas obedience is an action… When we submit, we will be obedient. But just because we are obedient does not mean that we have truly submitted to authority.”
[And here we get to the heart of the matter. Submission truly is a “heart attitude”. Just because we choose to obey the authority placed over us by God Himself doesn’t mean we are submitting. “I’m doing it because you told me to, not because I want to!!” is not the right attitude to have!]
I will close with this, taken from p. 52. It has helped me to understand how submission, to my husband, and to my heavenly Father, is literally an umbrella of protection for me. When we follow God’s design, we are safe in His hands…
“When we step out from under the covering of our authority, we become like that wandering sheep. The grass may look delightfully green on the outside of the fold, and we can sigh, ‘I’m tired of all these rules and regulations. I know my own way. I know what to do.’ But we are wandering into the territory of demons who are looking for any who have walked away from the protection of their authority… If we are not on our guard, we will think we are justified in our thoughts and emotions and not even realize what is going on. We become independent and wander away from our covering. I’ve seen it happen. Although we may not realize it, when we rebel we choose to allow the demons to destroy us emotionally and physically.”