The Bible, on a casual look, seems to suggest to us that we should submit to everybody (Eph 5:21). However, if you read closely, you would notice it gives a condition, it said submit… “in the fear God.”
Don’t forget, if you fear God, you will honor his word.
So if you’re going to have to submit to one who doesn’t fear God, ask yourself, “does this instruction oppose the will (word) of God? You’re required to submit to everybody, whether they fear God or not, only if their instruction doesn’t go against the will (word) of God.
Having said that, it’s also important to note that submission and obedience aren’t the same.
You can’t be forced to submit but you can be forced to obey. For example, if a 4-year-old boy is holding a gun in his hand and he says, “sit on the floor,” no doubt, you would obey. However, that doesn’t mean you would naturally obey him if you had a choice to act as you desired. And that connotes a lack of submission.
Submission is a voluntary action; no one coerces you, otherwise it’s not submission.
Again, because we ought not to be in a fight with everyone—refusing to submit to them because they don’t fear God—we can choose to obey them if it doesn’t go against the will of God.
For example, if you’re offended, don’t be mad; it’s the will of God that you be offended, especially when it’s because you’re not doing bad things or following/pleasing the people of the world (1Peter 3:17). The key to not being offended is to look for the God dimension/God’s word in every situation. It even makes you happy when you find it.
Those who killed Jesus didn’t fear God, yet Jesus didn’t fight them. He let them take him and kill him. That doesn’t mean he submitted to them; no. He simply obeyed them because he was submitted to God; it was God’s will that he died, not man’s, hence his obedience to man. Don’t forget that he disobeyed man many times before. That’s because, on those occasions, it was not under the will of God.
Otherwise, he would’ve been submitting to people who don’t fear God, and consequently, unable to submit to and fear God.
You know whomever you submit to is your master. That’s why Jesus didn’t do what Satan instructed (Matt. 4:3). Not because it was a sin to turn stone to bread, but because the instructor was trying to oppose what God had said before.
So submission to one who doesn’t fear God isn’t necessarily wrong. Unless what he tells you to do is against the will of God.