By Larry Ray Hafley
“Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isa. 8:13). “And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him” (Lk. 12:4,5).
When a man becomes engaged to be married, he sanctifies a lady; he sets her apart. She is the object of his love, the devotion of his heart, the substance of his future. Others are given no consideration, for she is sanctified for his love and loyalty.
So, we are to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15). He is to be set apart, sanctified, as the sole subject of our spiritual service. He is to be our dread, our fear, in that we hear him alone. Our allegiance is to him and his word, “and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:6).
Our faith and worship is neither to please men nor to be seen of them, “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). No man, no husband, no elder, no preacher, is my ultimate dread and fear. No paper, no editor, no bookstore, no college, no professor is my conscience or the author of my faith. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
However, my independence and freedom is not personal anarchy. It is not license to deny or ignore responsibilities that are a part of relationships established by the Lord in his word. Yes, I serve God alone, but I have duties and obligations as a husband, father, son, daughter, wife, mother, employer, employee. Yes, I answer to God; he is sanctified, but I have ordered, structured relationships and, hence, responsibilities to men in those arrangements (I Thess. 5:11-14; 1 Cor. 14:23-40; 1 Pet. 3:1-11; 5:2-5).
Some talk and clamor for Christ as Lord is a mere cover for self-enthronement. Some who cry for the authority of Christ are the first to deny that very authority in the God ordained relationships to life. Suppose a wife said, “Sorry, dear, I can no longer submit to you. Christ is my Lord, and I cannot divide allegiance between him and you. It is Christ alone that I must hear and fear. Get your own supper.” Suppose a preacher said, “Wives, are you tired of being your husband’s door mat? You are free in Christ. The Lord alone is your head, not your husband. Do not be enslaved to a man who is called, ‘husband.’ You are a bond servant of Jesus, anyway; so, walk from that so called ‘divine institution’ called marriage and join our Truth and Freedom Marriages Ministry, Inc.”
With all its feigned appeal to Christ as Lord, the above words are in reality a denial of the leadership and lordship of Jesus. My devotion and service to my family is evidence of submission to Christ. When a man serves as head of his wife, he is not seeking to usurp Christ’s office as Head (Eph. 5:22-29). A wife’s subjection to her husband does not mean she had two lords, two masters, to serve. She is submitting to Christ as Lord when she submits to her husband (Eph. 5:22-30; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).
Elders who pastor flocks among them and flocks who submit unto them are expressing loyalty to the Lord (1 Pet. 5:2-5; Heb. 13:7,17; 1 Tim. 5:17). They are exhibits of sanctifying Christ as Lord. They are not examples of demeaning that Lordship.
Yes, there may be abusive husbands who are cruel, demanding tyrants, but that does not destroy the relationship as God ordained it. There may be abusive, dictatorial elders who violate the charge of 1 Peter 5:2,3 but that does not destroy the office or work as God ordered it.
When a man submits to his employer, he is “doing service, as to the Lord” (Eph. 6:5-8). When a woman submits to her husband, she may manifest “a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pet. 3:1-6). If any man teaches otherwise, and does not consent to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is proud, knowing nothing and causes jealousy, quarrels, slanders and evil surmisings (1 Tim. 6:14).
Likewise, when brethren humbly esteem and lovingly honor those whom the Holy Spirit has made overseers, they are “doing service as to the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:12-14; 1 Tim. 5:17; Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7,17; 1 Pet. 5:1-5). And if any man teaches to the contrary, he breeds jealousy, quarrels and factions and is not obedient to sound doctrine, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 6:1-5; Rom. 16:17,18).
The man who rails against God’s arrangements, God’s structures, designs and orders, as set forth in the New Testament, is not a promoter of the power and authority of Jesus the Christ. When he denies the work and oversight of elders, he denies sound doctrine. If he were to deny the headship of man and the submission-of wives, he would deny the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. If not, why not?
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 16, pp. 490-491
August 16, 1990