We are not free agents

As Christians we are not free agents. If we claim the blood of Christ and a regenerated heart, we are under certain authorities. You and I are not a free agent.

We cannot make personal decisions without considering the authority we are under. And when we sin, we hurt those with whom we have relationships, known AND unknown. We are not independent.

1. We are under authority of Jesus Christ.
for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

Barnes' Notes says of the verse:
as the Christian is thus purchased, ransomed, redeemed, he is bound to devote himself to God only, and to keep his commands, and to flee from a licentious life.
2. If you're married, you are under authority of your husband.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:18

The verse is a fact, we are to submit to the husband’s authority. This is an absolute truth whether the husband is a belligerent oaf or the most Godly man in the world. The biblical command to submit does not change depending on the character or the behavior of the husband. The Lord gave spouses one legitimate out from a marriage, adultery. You are a wife under authority of the husband. You are not a free agent. (Note John MacArthur's biblical answer to physical abuse here)

3. You are a member of a church. Therefore you are under authority of your pastor.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17).

Gill’s Exposition says of the verse:
These the apostle exhorts them to "obey": by constantly tending upon the word preached by them, and hearkening to it; by receiving it with faith and love, as it appears agreeable to the Scriptures; for a contrary behaviour is pernicious to souls, and highly resented by God.
4. You are one with the brethren. What you do affects us all.
so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

You are not a free agent. Certain behavior is expected of you.

Just as when one member is honored, we are all honored, the implicit adverse is that when one member DIShonors, all are dishonored. All the brethren whether collected in one local congregation or all over the world, are connected. What one does, affects all.

4. You are under authority to the elder women who are teaching you, if you are being discipled.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:3-5).

Sometimes when in the throes of a heated decision we're making, one might forget the authorities to whom we are submitted. Our decisions, actions, and even sins affect one and all. We are one body. 2 Peter 2:2 says that  int he last days false teachers' teachings will incite some to bring the truth into disrepute by their behavior.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2:1-2).

2 Peter 2:18, Jude 1:4 also speak of some of the faithful whose decisions bring disrepute onto Jesus. Please be mindful that we are not free agents in this world. We need to remember that both our sins and our good works affect all of us. Our bond-servanthood to Jesus and our life and labors under authority of various people are not a hardship though. Rest easy my sisters, because Jesus declared,

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)


  1. I read your link to Mr. MacArthur’s view of spousal abuse, and I have to say that many clergy appear more concerned with the marriage rather than the people in the marriage – specifically the wife being beaten. If your husband is approaching you to hit you, if you think you are going to defuse the situation by speaking calmly I disagree. This can escalate his anger at you further – don’t talk, run, get out and call the police--if this isn't available at that time, wait for an opportunity. Find a place to be safe. File charges. I view domestic violence as contemptible and equal to a physical assault in a filthy dark alleyway by a stranger -- in other words, it's a crime. Females were not designed to be physically assaulted by men – they simply do not have the same bodies. And, there is no guarantee that if a wife goes back to that marriage, even after time spent apart, that the abuse will not be repeated. There are guidelines in the bible for how Christians are to treat one another – marriage should not be exempt. In the matter of submitting to authority, that works fine when the authority has even a passing care about the people they govern, or in a church where the shepherd leads a flock. However, today, as current events are playing out, this is no longer true. Get ready, and soon, for decrees from our government that we cannot submit to as Christians. Many churches have become abusive, allow wolves to feed the sheep, allow the occult in, etc. Many Christians have trouble finding a decent place to worship and fellowship. In this day, spiritual discernment should be a requirement. Submission to God through Jesus Christ should be the norm, because in the end, all souls belong to God. God provided guidelines for order and to prevent confusion in His Church – not to create self-serving tyrants and bullies or foolish, undiscerning clergy/people-worshipping sheep.

    1. Hi Robin,

      I'm glad you read the link! Thank you!

      I disagree that MacArthur is more concerned with marriage than the people in the marriage. He said this about abuse,

      "Yet that "submission" does not necessarily include voluntarily suffering at the hands of an abusive government. Our Lord said, "Whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next" (Matthew 10:23)—certainly giving the persecuted warrant to flee the persecution of wicked governments if a way of escape is open. So the "submission" God calls us to does not include automatic acquiescence to sheer physical brutality."

      He is biblical about how people in marriages should be treated, as you pointed out, the Bible does outline for us the proper way to be treated. he said this:

      There is no excuse whatsoever for a man to use physical violence against his wife; in fact, that is the most blatant kind of disobedience to the command given husbands in Ephesians 5:25.

      So with that quote and the others in the piece, no, he is clear that marriage is not exempt from standards of behavior. I'm sorry you took the wrong impression from the essay on that regard.

      I agree with you that laws are coming where we will have to make decisions about how to submit to abuses the government is dishing out. I was just asked today where the point of demarcation is where a Christian should rebel and when he should stay submitted. I was going to look it up for her. I don't believe there is one particular point that the Bible declares that after which it is OK for Christians to not submit to government, but principles are outlined.

      You said, "Submission to God through Jesus Christ should be the norm" and I agree. However we're not so foolish to believe that it will happen before Jesus punishes the wicked during the Tribulation and stops the final rebellion at the end of the Millennium Kingdom, and eternity begins. People will rebel, and those rebels include people calling themselves Christians. "self-serving tyrants and bullies or foolish, undiscerning clergy/people-worshipping sheep" are allpart of the package until He comes.


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