Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Authority - Part Three

I was thinking more about the necessity of knowing and receiving God’s Word. The military has a code through which every other message they receive is filtered. It is the standard against which all other messages are measured to determine their validity. The same is true for God’s Word. It is the standard by which we must measure all other messages that life sends our way so that we can determine their validity. External messages must be placed in the filter of God’s Word. If they don’t measure up to the standard of the Word, then they must be rejected. God’s Word is also our battle manual – it gives us our battle strategy, our battle plan. If we receive messages that go against the strategy laid out in the Word, then we do not entertain them. This is one of the ways we can ensure that we are hearing God’s voice and moving in the authority of His will.

In Matthew 8:8-9, the Roman centurion understood that if Jesus just gave the order his son would be healed because He understood how authority works – if someone in authority gives a command it will be done. Just as a soldier in the US Army is not allowed to question the orders he is given, it is not up to us to question God’s commands to us, only to follow them. Ecclesiastes 8:2-6 says, “Do what your king commands; you gave a sacred oath of obedience. Don't worryingly second-guess your orders or try to back out when the task is unpleasant. You're serving his pleasure, not yours. The king has the last word. Who dares say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ Carrying out orders won't hurt you a bit; the wise person obeys promptly and accurately” (MSG).

We say “God is in control.” Well, that’s true, especially in terms of the big picture. But He created us with free will. He is in control of our lives only so far as we allow God’s authority to be in control. We can hinder His authority by not trusting Him and not submitting to His will. When Jesus went to minister in Nazareth in Matthew 13:54-58, the people rejected His authority therefore hindering what He was able to do. Think of all the blessings they missed out on as a result.

Remember that in “Authority - Part One” I talked about the consequences of a US soldier in Iraq acting outside of his orders. When we question God’s orders and refuse to submit to His will for our lives, then any actions we take are no longer under the protection of His authority. In those circumstances we cease to act under His authority and we are acting under our own authority; the consequences are far-reaching, indeed. When we act in our own authority, God cannot protect us from the consequences of our actions. We will reap what we sow. We are left vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks and to the curse of sin. We miss out on the blessings God wants to give us when we are not submitted to His will.

When we act outside of God’s orders under our own authority, the people of the world still see us as representatives of God. That’s why it’s such big news when a well-known pastor is caught in sin. After something like this takes place the people of the world then assume that Christians are no different than other people and our God cannot really help them. The rest of us are left doing damage control. Of course, just because you become a Christian does not mean you suddenly stop struggling with sin. So it is imperative that we stay close to God’s heart so that we can walk in His strength and His authority and be then enabled to avoid sin.

Now, what would happen if a US citizen, a civilian, dressed in battle fatigues and carrying a big gun, were to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, kill him, and then proclaim that he did it in the name of freedom for the United States of America? Would his actions be overlooked just because he looked the part or because he accomplished his goal? No! Because his actions were not authorized by the United States government they are not sanctioned. He would be arrested, tried, and most likely convicted on several charges, including murder, and then sentenced. Even though we may attempt great feats for the Kingdom of God, and we may even be successful on some level, if we are acting outside of what God has said to do, then we are not protected by His authority. We cannot do things just because they seem like a good idea. Such things are futile, will be considered wood, hay, or stubble, and will be burned up in the day of Christ (I Corinthians 3:11-15). God cannot protect or reward us for any action which He did not authorize. It's imperative that we test everything against the standard of the Word. The enemy would love to trick us into wasting time on something that God has not authrized so that we are not actually participating in furthering God's Kingdom on the earth.

To be continued...

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