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Submission in the Workplace, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2024 4:00 am

Submission in the Workplace, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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June 21, 2024 4:00 am

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Grace To You
John MacArthur

Our fallenness makes us want to fight back, want to demand our rights, to strike against authorities, to protest, to complain, to be insubordinate, to be unsubmissive, but that is sin. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. If your boss hasn't given you a raise in years or promotes someone else less qualified than you, what is the biblical response?

Should you demand certain rights and a certain amount of respect from your employers? Whether you love your job or dread going to work, whether you work for a fair and honest boss or you don't, make sure you stay here as John MacArthur shows you what the Bible says about the work you do and the bosses you interact with. Today's lesson is part of John's current study called, Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land. So take your Bible now and follow along in 1 Peter chapter 2 as John begins the lesson. Let's open our Bibles as we come together for the study of God's Word to 1 Peter chapter 2. 1 Peter chapter 2. We are so blessed to be sitting at the feet of Peter, that beloved apostle of Christ. Peter, although he is a central figure in the Gospels, did not write that much, just these two very brief epistles. There is none of us who have walked with the Lord for any length of time and studied the Bible at all who don't have a special affection for Peter.

I don't want us to forget who it is that is our teacher as we look together to this text. 1 Peter chapter 2 and verses 18 through 21. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable, for this finds favor. If for the sake of conscience toward God, a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. Now as we introduce this particular portion of Scripture, we come to very practical insights into the society in which we live. In general, as I have tried to assess the culture that is ours today, and we do that all the time, I have come to the conclusion that the only real sacred value in our society, the only real pervasive moral obligation is equal rights. That's basically our only morality. We don't have any sexual morality. We don't really have any ethical morality. We certainly don't have any spiritual standards. We know very little today of family values, of true friendship values. We don't understand the meaning of love. We really don't understand relationships, and we don't feed into those relationships a carefully thought out sense of values and morals. All we have left in this culture would be the pervasive sort of moral, ethical statement of equal rights.

That's the biggie in our society. That is, I suppose, the new morality, the morality of equal rights. Everybody has rights in our society.

Nobody talks about sacrifice. Nobody talks about privileges. Everybody talks about rights. Everybody is into rights. We have women's rights. We have children's rights. We have homosexuals' rights.

We even have the rights of those who have AIDS, the first disease with rights. We have ethnic rights. We have illegal immigrants' rights. We have students' rights. We have criminals' rights. And then we have employees' rights. We even have the rights of the homeless and the rights of the unemployed, abortion rights, and on and on and on and on. Everybody is into rights. And if you don't get what you think is due, then you take it out on the society or whatever authority is over you. Strikes, protests, insurrections, rebellions against governments, against companies, walkouts, all kinds of common occurrences when people rebel against those over them who aren't giving them what they think they have a right to.

And the underlying mentality is this. Everybody is equal. I have a right to everything. And if you don't give me what I have a right to, I will rebel. I will fight back. I will lead a mutiny against you. And I will harass you every way possible to get my rights. I will protest. I will strike.

I will do whatever it takes. Everybody wants to get what they think they're due. And so in the workplace, we have the potential of protests, sit-ins, walkouts, and strikes. Sometimes those kinds of things do affect an increase in income or benefits or whatever it is that employees are seeking. Sometimes they lead to a compromise which can benefit, I suppose, in the long run both sides. Sometimes they utterly fail and all the protesters lose their jobs. Some win.

Some compromise and gain a little ground on both sides and some lose. But rebellion, mutiny, protest, and strike is simply a part of our society. It is a means for gaining gratification for those who demand their rights in the social structure. We are thus a society conditioned to rebellion, to selfishness, whether passive or active. Now the question that comes up for a Christian is, what should be my response to this? What should be my response to a protest, a protest rally against a company, against society in one form or another, a strike, a sit-in, a protest march, et cetera, et cetera?

What should we do? And I believe Peter gives us the answer here. The instruction that comes to us in this portion of Scripture then is very practical.

More practical to us maybe than in many other cultures where these kinds of things do not happen as frequently. Now what Peter basically says is summed up in verse 18. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect. Again, isn't it amazing how God authoritatively can take an immensely complex social system and reduce the proper conduct to one simple sentence?

Which is exactly what he does. Certainly the issue of insurrection, of rebellion, of protest, of sit-ins and walk-outs and strikes has been debated ad infinitum ad nauseum. There have been panels, discussions, books, and yet it can all be reduced to one statement. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect.

Now that runs frankly cross grain opposite to the world. But it is consistent with what we have already learned in the text. Back in verse 13, Peter said, submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether the king is one in authority or governor sent by him for the punishment of evil doers and the praise of those who do right, for such is the will of God. We are called, you remember, to submit to the government. Here we are called to submit to those who are over us, those who are our bosses, those for whom we work.

Now you'll remember that back in verses 11 and 12, Peter identified Christians as aliens, aliens. We are strangers, he says, and we are aliens in this culture. We're different. We really don't belong. We live at another level.

We are in the heavenlies. But even though we are aliens and we belong to another society and another world and are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, we still must function as long as we're in the flesh as citizens. So into verse 13, he discusses this matter of citizens. You remember what he said, we are to submit to every human institution. And now he takes it a step further and moves from citizens to employees.

The word servants has to do with employees. As citizens, we are to submit to the government that is over us, designed by God for man's safety and protection. We are to submit for the Lord's sake. Notice verse 15, this is the key verse to the whole passage. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. When we live the way we ought to live in a society, we silence those who criticize Christianity. We silence those who criticize the Lord. We silence those who criticize our faith. Because we live such good, noble, quality kind of lives in the society that they have nothing which to criticize us for.

So to silence the critics of the faith so that the gospel may go forth, and to even be convincing to the critics, we are to live a very particular kind of life. And in that life, there's no place for rebellion against the government or against our employer. No place for asserting our rights. Okay?

That's what he's saying. It's not our concern to have rights in this world. It is our concern to be obedient and be submissive in this world.

We will inherit all of our privileges in the world to come. No place for rebellion in the life of a Christian. Now I want to illustrate this to you in perhaps a special way by having you turn in the Old Testament, and I want to talk a little bit about David, because David provides for us a fairly graphic illustration of the right kind of attitude. And I think you'll find this fascinating as we examine David's life. Now what has happened is David is anointed, David has a right to reign, David is the new king, and Saul has been set aside. This doesn't set too well with Saul, obviously. He is angry over this. Look at verse 55 of chapter 17.

Follow the story a little bit. Chapter 17, verse 55, when Saul saw David going out against the Philistines, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, Abner, whose son is this young man? And Abner said, By your life, O king, I do not know. And the king said, You inquire whose son the youth is. So when David returned from killing the Philistine, and that was an incredible victory, as you well know, the Philistine's name was Goliath. When David returned, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine's head in his hand.

Here he comes in there holding his head. And Saul said to him, Whose son are you, young man? And David answered, I am the son of your servant, Jesse the Bethlehemite. Now it came about, verse 1 of chapter 18, when he had finished speaking to Saul that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. And Saul took him that day and didn't let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.

This is very important. David is a powerful warrior. Saul is beginning to resent and hate David. Jonathan becomes the tool of God to protect David from the murderous intentions of Saul. Look at verse 6. It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul with tambourines, with joy, with musical instruments. And the women sang as they played and said, Saul is the king of the Philistines, as they played and said, Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. Now that didn't go over real big with Saul. And Saul became very angry for this saying displeased him, and he said, they have ascribed to David ten thousand, but to me they have ascribed thousands.

Now the paranoia sets in. Now what more can he have but the kingdom? He has all the looks, he has all the power, he has all the ability as a warrior, he has defeated Goliath, he has defeated the Philistines, and now all the women are singing his songs.

What more can he have but the kingdom? And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on. Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand as usual. And a spear was in Saul's hand, and Saul hurled the spear, for he thought out, Pin David to the wall.

But David escaped from his presence twice. Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul. And thus we are introduced to the first attempt of Saul to murder David.

It wasn't just once, it wasn't just twice, as indicated here, it was three times. To make matters worse, down in verse 28, it says, Michael, Saul's daughter, loved him. Then Saul was even more afraid of David. Now not only is David in a deep friendship with Jonathan, the son of Saul, but he is now loved by Michael, the daughter of Saul. What opportunity will Saul have now, with both of his children warning David of his evil intents? And as you perhaps are aware, David even married Michael.

Go to chapter 19. Saul told Jonathan, his son, and all his servants, to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul's son, greatly delighted in David. So Jonathan told David, saying, Saul, my father, is seeking to put you to death.

Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place, and hide yourself. And you remember there's a wonderful story about how Jonathan warned David. There is even a wonderful occasion that Michael allowed David to escape, you remember, and put up a false body in the bed to spare David. So the children of Saul did all they could to save David. Again in verse 9, there was an evil spirit from the Lord on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. David was playing the harp with his hand, and Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul's presence. He must have been an acrobat, so that he struck the spear into the wall, and David fled and escaped that night.

Now keep in mind something, will you? David has been an anointed king. David has the right to rule the nation.

Saul, this wicked dispossessed man, who has been given an evil spirit, is trying to take his life. Now you would assume that at some point in time, David would start to cry for his rights. From this point on, chapter 19, where he has to escape the third time, David becomes a fugitive.

We pick up the story in chapter 23, most interesting. David is a fugitive. How long? A year and a half.

A year and a half, he's wandering. Verse 15, David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David at Horesh and encouraged him in God. Thus he said to him, do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father shall not find you, and you will be king over Israel, and I will be next to you, and Saul my father knows that also.

So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord, and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house. Saul is after him. Saul wants to kill him, but he is hiding.

Go down to chapter 24. Now Saul comes after him. It came about when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines. He was told saying, behold David is in the wilderness of En-Gedi, down by the Dead Sea. Then Saul took 3,000 chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rock of the Wild Goats. And he came to the sheepfolds on the way where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself.

David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. Now Saul's running around the wilderness of En-Gedi trying to find David. He decides to go relieve himself, and so he walks into a cave to do that, and he walks into the cave where David and all his men are hiding.

Talk about vulnerable. And the men of David said to him, behold this is the day of which the Lord said to you, behold I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you. David's men are saying, can you believe this? Here is the man trying to kill you.

Here is the man whose throne you are to take. And the whole idea was, let's kill him. Here he is in a very compromising situation. Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul's robe secretly. And it came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe.

Now that is a conscience, folks. It bothered him that he had done that. So he said to his men, far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my Lord, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord's anointed.

Oh my goodness, he is that conscientious? How could I ever cut a piece off the robe of the Lord's anointed? And David persuaded his men with these words and didn't allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul, this is all going on while Saul is still there, and Saul arose, left the cave and went on his way, never knew what happened. And David felt bad that he'd even cut his robe.

That's how close he could get to him. Afterward, verse 8, David arose, went out of the cave and called after Saul saying, my Lord, the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself.

He gave honor to the king. And David said to Saul, why do you listen to the words of men saying, behold, David seeks to harm you? Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord has given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you. And I said, I will not stretch out my hand against my Lord, for he is the Lord's anointed. Now, my father, see, indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand, for in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, no one perceived that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. I won't exercise my right. Verse 12, verse 12, may the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you, but my hand shall not be against you. You understand? Chapter 26, verse 6.

Unbelievable. David answered and said to Ahimelech, to Hittite, and to Abishai, the son of Zeroy, Joab's brother, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp? And Abishai said, I'll go down with you. So David and Abishai came to the people by night, and behold, Saul lay sleeping inside the circle of the camp. They were up on the top, and they looked down, saw Saul and his army there.

Saul was sleeping inside the circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground by his head, and Abner and the people were lying around him. And Abishai said to David, Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand. Now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.

Just let me hit him once, just once. But David said to Abishai, Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord's anointed and be without guilt? David also said, As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord's anointed, but now please take the spear that is at his head and the jug of water and let's go. So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saul's head. They went away, but no one saw or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a sound sleep from the Lord had fallen on them.

Isn't that amazing? Now, with that in mind, you can go back to 1 Peter. What's the point of all of that 10-minute excursion? This. Here is a man who is mistreated, David. Here is a man whose life was continually threatened. Here is a man, not because of any crime he committed, in complete injustice, inequity, and unfairness, who is being pursued by a wicked man who occupies a throne which he does not deserve and a throne which that man does deserve.

Here is a man for a year and a half, a fugitive in the wilderness, who has the right to be king of the nation. But here is a man who will not rebel, who will not take things into his own hands, but who waits patiently for the Lord to work, who says, The Lord will avenge me. The Lord will take care of Saul. I will not take that into my own hands. I will respect his position. I will respect his authority. I will bow my knee to him. I will not rebel.

What a model. Talk about rights. He had the greatest right of all. Talk about rights. He had the greatest right of all, to be king.

Our fallenness makes us want to fight back, want to demand our rights, to strike against authorities, to protest, to complain, to be insubordinate, to be unsubmissive. But that is sin. And the proper response would be the response of David, the response of simply committing oneself to the Lord for the care of the Lord. That's John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary.

Today on Grace to You, John continued his study, Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land. Well, it's one thing when your boss or a legislator or a president says or does things you know aren't right, aren't biblical, but it's another thing to know what to do about it or whether there's really anything you can do about it. John, I'm sure a lot of our listeners have that struggle.

What would you say is the best approach? Well, I think there are things that we need to do about it. When things are said or done that we believe are against the word of God, we need to be able to articulate that. Now, if it's your boss, there's got to be a way in which you handle that, a gracious way in which you handle that, or you're liable to be out on your ear. But the starting point is this. You can't just give opinions.

People will see that as insubordination. What you can do is say, let me share with you the historic biblical Christian view on this issue, whether it's environmentalism, immigration, birth control, surrogacy, euthanasia, suicide, homosexual marriage. There is a biblical answer to that. In fact, not just those things that I mentioned, but that many more and even more beyond that are all contained in one book that the pastoral staff of Grace Community Church has put together, the book titled Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. It's a worldview book. Now, if you're going to make a difference and you're going to confront these issues, you need to know what the Bible says. This thing is broken down into 20-plus chapters dealing with specific issues, giving you a specific biblical viewpoint that you can articulate to anyone.

You need to get a copy of this. You will use this all your lifelong, right thinking in a world gone wrong. You can order it from Grace to you.

That's right, friend. You will see how to understand what the Bible says about politics and social concerns, and even how to use those issues as a bridge to the gospel. The title again, Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. Order your copy today. Call 800-55-GRACE or visit

The cost is $11.25 for Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong, and shipping is free. Again, if there's a cultural issue you're concerned about, John and other pastors from Grace Community Church probably address it in this book. Order Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong when you call us at 800-55-GRACE or when you visit And friend, if you've been listening for a while but you've never contacted us before, do that today and start receiving John's monthly letter. That's John's opportunity to update you on what's happening at Grace to you, and you'll also get a free offer for one of John's books or other resources every month. So email us today and ask to start receiving John's monthly letter. Write to letters at, or to use regular mail write to us at Grace to you, Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. Or you can call us at 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Watch Grace to You television this Sunday, that's DirecTV channel 378, and then be back Monday as John looks at how you can honor God by honoring your boss. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-21 05:42:16 / 2024-06-21 05:52:33 / 10

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