Col. 2:15 "And having spoiled
principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over
them in it."
1 Cor. 15:24 "Then cometh the
end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;
when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power."
CIVIL, SERVANT, AND "SPIRITUAL"
Scripture makes a distinction between
civil and a new type of authority, servant authority, and often contrasts
the two - allowing civil authority to continue in this world until the
end of the age, but forbidding it in the church.
We know how the kingdom of this world
works: power, the "pecking order", money, dominion, class distinctions,
titles, status, etc. Should such practices be permitted in the Kingdom
of God? What is the destiny of those who "exercise authority", "lord it
over", and "want to be first"?
The question is important today because
many Christian sects have adopted the world's practices and teachings of
power structure, calling it "spiritual authority". What does Jesus think
of this? Is this teaching Scriptural? Does it sow to the flesh or Spirit?
Which do we prefer?
FIRST: HOW IS THE CHRISTIAN TO
INTERACT WITH CIVIL AUTHORITY?
Rom. 13:1-6 "Let every soul be
subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers
that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth
the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves
damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou
shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for
good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not
the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute
wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not
only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye
tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon
this very thing."
1 Pet. 2:13-14 "Submit yourselves
to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king,
as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the
punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."
TEMPORARY, PRACTICAL SUBMISSION
TO WORLDLY AUTHORITY VS ETERNAL SUBMISSION TO GOD
Luke 20:20-25 "And they watched
him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that
they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto
the power and authority of the governor. And they asked him, saying, Master,
we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the
person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to
give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But he perceived their craftiness, and
said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription
hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render
therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things
which be God's."
WHEN NOT TO OBEY THE AUTHORITIES
OF THIS WORLD
Acts 4:19 "But Peter and John
answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to
hearken unto you more thanunto God, judge ye."
Acts 5:28 "Saying, Did not we
straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold,
ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's
blood upon us."
THE SIMPLE AUTHORITY STRUCTURE
OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Matt. 28:18 "And Jesus came and
spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
1 Tim. 2:5-6 "For there is one
God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave
himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
Eph. 1:21 "Far above all principality,
and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only
in this world,but also in that which is to come:"
Phil. 2:10-11 "That at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth,
and things under the earth;And that every tongue should confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
1 Cor. 8:6-7 "But to us there
is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and
one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there
is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol
unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience
being weak is defiled."
GOD'S "SERVANT AUTHORITY" IS NOT
OF THIS WORLD
Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord
is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;
he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them
that are bruised,"
Luke 9:1-2 "Then he called his
twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils,
and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and
to heal the sick."
AUTHORITY OVER WHAT?
Luke 10:17, 19-20 "And the seventy
returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto
us through thy name. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents
and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by
any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits
are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written
Richard Halverson: "Evangelicals
seem to want power only so they can accomplish their agenda, which is not
a Kingdom of God agenda. They want a spiritual revival so they can be more
materialistic. . . But the surest way for this to be a better world is
for people to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The
model for Christian leadership in America today is not the entrepreneur,
not the CEO - it is the suffering servant, Jesus Christ."
A COMPLETELY NEW KIND OF AUTHORITY
John 13:3-8 "Jesus knowing that
the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from
God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments;
and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into
a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the
towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter
saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto
him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter
saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I
wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."
Richard Foster: "Whenever there is
trouble over who is the greatest, there is trouble over who is the least.
That is the crux of the matter for us, isn't it? Most of us know we will
never be the greatest; just don't let us be the least. Gathered at the
Passover feast, the disciples were keenly aware that someone needed to
wash the others' feet. The problem was that the only people who washed
feet were the least. So there they sat, feet caked with dirt. It was such
a sore point that they were not even going to talk about it. No one wanted
to be considered the least. Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined
NOW YOU KNOW . . .
John 13:12-17 "So after he had
washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again,
he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and
Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have
washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have
given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily,
verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither
he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things,
happy are ye if ye do them."
Spiritual authority is authority
to serve, authority to put yourself last, authority to say no to the world's
ideas of self-promotion. Christ has told us His secret . . . and we are
authorized to imitate Him. To obey Christ means putting yourself at the
whim of the needs of others, to give up your rights and humble yourself,
leaving the promotion and control up to God.
HOW DOES THIS BUILD ON THE PREVIOUS
TEACHING AND EMPHASIS OF JESUS?
Luke 22:24-27 "And there was also
a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And
he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them;
and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But
ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the
younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater,
he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at
meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."
Mark 10:42-45 "But Jesus called
them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted
to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great
ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but
whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever
of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son
of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his
life a ransom for many."
Do not miss the clear teaching of
Jesus concerning those who wish to "lord over" in His kingdom.
Matt. 20:25-28 "But Jesus called
them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise
dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you,
let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him
be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,
but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
LET'S IMITATE THE WORLD!
1 Sam. 8:4-20 "Then all the elders
of Israel .... said unto him, .... now make us a king to judge us like
all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give
us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said
unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say
unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me ....
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said,
Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the
THE DESIRE OF THE FLESH FOR THE
AUTHORITY OF THIS WORLD
Jer. 5:26-29 "For among my people
are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set
a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses
full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are
waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they
judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and
the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things?
saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"
Jer. 5:30-31 "A wonderful and
horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it
so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
GOD'S PEOPLE CAN EMBRACE THE AUTHORITY
OF THIS WORLD AND CALL IT "SPIRITUAL"
Jer. 23:10 "For the land is full
of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant
places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their
force is not right."
Ezek. 34:4 "The diseased have
ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither
have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that
which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but
with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them."
Gal. 2:2, 6 "And I went up by
revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among
the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any
means I should run, or had run, in vain. But of these who seemed to be
somewhat,(whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth
no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat inconference added
nothing to me:"
Mark 12:38-40 "And he said unto
them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing,
and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues,
and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for
a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."
THE CARNAL MIND WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND
Matt. 21:23-27 "And when he was
come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came
unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these
things? and who gave thee this authority? .... And he said unto them, Neither
tell I you by what authority I do these things."
John 19:10-11 "Then saith Pilate
unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power
to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest
have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:
therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."
ARE WE NOT CARNAL?
To justify our disobedience to Scripture
- often the following verse is trotted out by those among us who oppose
repentance to God's perspective:
2 Pet. 2:10 "But chiefly them
that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.
Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, ...."
But the authority being despised
here is the authority of God by those who are self-willed, carnal, and
unrighteous. God has stated clearly that He is the only spiritual authority,
and thinking otherwise is a forbidden sell-out to His Lordship. And we
should know better. . .
1 Cor. 3:1-4 "And I, brethren,
could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as
unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for
hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For
ye are yet carnal: forwhereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am
of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"
The carnal, stiff-necked rebellion
in us refuses to recognize true authority and prefers to boast in men.
This tendency God would skewer with His Word and Truth, but the flesh "don't
like it". Real, servant authority makes the true "rebellious" (those who
would rather not experience self-sacrifice, and who would rather 'lord
it over') among us extremely angry, for it exposes their sin in sharp relief.
2 Pet. 2:10 "But chiefly them
that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.
Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of
Richard Foster: "The authority of
which Jesus spoke is not the authority of the "pecking order". We must
clearly understand the radical nature of Jesus teaching on this matter.
He was not just reversing the "pecking order" as many suppose. He was abolishing
it. The authority of which he spoke was not an authority to manipulate
and control. It was an authority of function, not of status. . . The spiritual
authority of Jesus is an authority not found in position or title, but
in a towel.
ADVICE TO FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
ABOUT HOW TO PRACTICE AND RECOGNIZE REAL AUTHORITY
Matt. 23:10-12 "Neither be ye
called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest
among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall
be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
1 Pet. 5:3 "Neither as being lords
over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."
AUTHORITY TO DO WHAT?
Heb. 13:17 "Obey them that have
the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls,
as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with
grief: for that is unprofitable for you."
SERVANT AUTHORITY: TO HELP/FEED/HEAL,
NOT TO "LORD"/ORDER/CONTROL
2 Cor. 1:24 "Not for that we have
dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye
2 Cor. 13:9-10 "For we are glad,
when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should
use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me toedification,
and not to destruction."
Mark 9:35 "And he sat down, and
called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first,
the same shall be last of all,and servant of all."
John 21:17 ".... Jesus saith unto
him, Feed my sheep."
We have been authorized to imitate
Christ, authorized to serve, to meet the needs of others. Often this means
assuming a position in the eyes of men, but we are not to revel in this.
If we find ourselves in a position of man-made authority, we should do
everything with the intent to serve, even if that means making decisions
for others. We are to imitate the Chief Shepherd, who will return shortly
to have a word with some unfaithful stewards who have exploited, philandered,
and "lorded over" the flock.
1 Pet. 5:2-4 "Feed the flock of
God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint,
but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being
lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the
chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth
Shepherds serve the sheep, wolves
clothe themselves with so-called "spiritual authority" and serve themselves.
Acts 20: 28-31 "Take heed therefore
unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath
made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased
with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous
wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves
shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after
them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I
ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
AND PAUL'S WARNING CAME TRUE
2 Corinth. 11:13-15 For such are
false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles
of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel
of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed
as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their
AND HE REBUKED THE WILLING VICTIMS
2 Cor. 11: 19-20 For ye suffer
fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring
you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt
himself, if a man smite you on the face.
WE CAN HONOR THE LORD WITH RIGHT
JUDGMENT AND THE APPROVAL OF THINGS EXCELLENT
Phil. 4:13 I can do all
things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Phil. 6:1 Being confident
of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform
it until the day of Jesus Christ... And this I pray, that your love may
abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may
approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence
till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness,
which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
GLORY TO GOD, AND TO THE LAMB
Rev. 5:13 And every creature
which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as
are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and
honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
This was modified
and adapted with some edits and additions, from a teaching originally found
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