Posts Tagged ‘Authority’

2 Corinthians 10:5-8

In 2 Corinthians 10:5-8 Paul is clear that he and his team were going to protect the gospel. They weren’t just going to dispute it – he’s going to destroy any argument or opinion that is contrary to God’s truth. He’s going to knock down every wrong thought or perceptions, contradicting the true knowledge of God and the nature of God. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” So taking action against the negative was only part of the answer.

Paul goes on to teach us that we have to take every thought captive. To defeat this carnal way of thinking and doing, our thoughts must be brought captive and made obedient to Jesus. He alone has to be the center of what and how we think. We must stop our thoughts, take control of them in Jesus, and not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Paul was ready to do battle and punish disobedience. But he sees no point in coming to confront disobedience until those who have obeyed Jesus have made up their mind to do so. That’s when our obedience to Christ is complete – when we confront disobedience and the attacks on God’s truth.

Paul challenges the church to open their eyes and see what was in front of them. They are looking only at the outward appearances, and by outward appearances, Paul was weak and unimpressive. “Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” Paul is saying, “If you claim to belong to Jesus, look at yourself. You may not be mighty in outward appearance, yet you belong to Jesus. Well, we are Christ’s as well.” Our outward appearance is not important when it comes to being a Christ Follower. It is our relationship that makes us His.

Paul is a humble man who doesn’t like to write about his place of authority. He wants there to be no chance that people would look at him as some super powerful authority. “For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.” Paul realizes how much better it would be if the Corinthian Christians would just recognize his authority so that he wouldn’t have to exercise his position but rather simply fulfill it. Authority is not given to tear down, but to build up and that is why Paul had the position he did. God’s intent was to build up the Corinthian church through his authority, not to destroy it in any way. But Paul is not timid about calling out what needs to be changed either.

Romans 13:1-3a

In Romans 13:1-3a Paul shifts gears and talks about a believers obligation to government and authority. He makes it very clear right up front that there is an authority that every one of us is subject to: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” He doesn’t leave any room for exceptions. Every person means exactly that. Paul simply says that we should be subject to the governing authorities. There is no qualifier like ‘if they are smart of doing what you like or leading with integrity’. He simply says we need to be subject to them. This was in contrast to groups of zealous Jews in that day who recognized no king but God and paid taxes to no one but God.

So why should we submit to authority? We subject ourselves to governing authorities because they are appointed by God and serve a purpose in His plan. “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” God uses leaders to accomplish His plan. God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people or to ripen the nation for judgment. Remember what Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and certainly no friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.

We are not to resist authority. If we do, that is resisting what God has appointed. “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of sin. We seem to have lost sight of this in America. We treat leaders with little respect and certainly don’t view them as authorities that God has put in place for such a time as this to address what needs to be dealt with. We need to realize that God uses leaders to change things and if we resist, we’ll have to answer for it before Him.

People in places of authority are there for a purpose. Our response should be to submit to their leadership and authority. Does that mean we need to obey everything they say? Unless it violates a higher law – God’s law – the answer is probably yes. Paul didn’t say to be subject to leaders if we agree or like what they do. Their purpose is to guide the world to living rightly. And as such, we need to fall under their authority and understand that they are imperfect humans but put where they are by a God who has a plan. “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?”

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