Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


Numbers 30:13 tells us how God upholds His appointed deputy authority. It says that a husband can establish the vow his wife vows, or make it void. On the one hand, God tells the wife to submit to the husband. On the other hand, He upholds the authority of the husband. Even if the husband voids both the vow and the oath of the wife, she has to submit, and it is not reckoned to her as a sin if she breaks them. If the husband voids the vow of the wife, he will have to bear his wife’s iniquity. We who are deputy authorities may propose something. Those who are under us should submit to authority. They may be wrong, but the sin is not reckoned upon them. However, we who make the proposal will have to bear their iniquity. Therefore, we should never propose or suggest anything rashly, because we will have to bear the consequence of it. The most dangerous thing is to be a counselor of the church and to propose something lightly. We can find no clearer picture of man’s requirement to submit to deputy authority in the Bible than in Numbers 30. There we see God asking man to submit to deputy authority unconditionally. In the same way, there is no clearer picture of the serious responsibility that an authority bears before God than in Numbers 30. The more proposals a deputy authority makes, the more trouble he is asking for himself, and the more he will invite God’s judgment.

We have to learn to not control others’ lives presumptuously. We should not subject others to our own ideas. Before we have the full assurance, we should not take the burden of others upon ourselves. Only a broken and pliable man will be free from iniquity before God. A hard and opinionated man will bear much iniquity before God. The Body life is the basis of guidance in the church. We have to live in the Body life, to fellowship with the Lord, and to fellowship with the brothers and sisters. We should not be individualistic in our decisions, and we should not be so self-assured. The more we present our decision to the church and the more we fellowship with the members, the more assurance we will have. We should never bear the name of the Body while occupying ourselves with activities of the flesh. If we do, we should expect nothing except the bearing of our own iniquity. We should wait before the Lord, understand His will, and be open to others. We should not speak before we are taught or relate things to others before we see them ourselves. If we do, we will lay up iniquity for ourselves. A deputy authority must be meek and humble. This will save him from getting into trouble. Otherwise, God will have strong words for him because he will bear the iniquity of others. This is a sober matter.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 20, by Watchman Nee)