You are alive during one of the most challenging epochs of modern history. Dramatic clashes of authority can be seen everywhere. Just reading a headline produces anxiety. Dramatic clashes occur within our own families and marriages which leave us feeling anxious, alone and isolated. You need connection. I need connection. We are designed for it. But, there has never been a time when we've more divided. As if that wasn't enough, pile on more anxiety and add a little hopelessness as you search for any good news coming from Washington, D.C. or Ukraine or your local school board. Dramatic authority clashes are everywhere.
Why is authority such a problem?
Maybe it's not an authority issue. What if the problem went deeper? Consider what Jesus said to his disciples, "For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) Jesus identified the real issue--we have a heart problem. You see, Jesus is most interested in what is going on within you. Your heart is more than the physical organ designed to keep you alive. Your heart is also where your core beliefs are located. What you believe about authority it lodged in there pretty tightly.
Consider how Jesus explains his authority to his disciples in Matthew 9:2-8, “And behold, they were bringing to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "Take courage, My son, your sins are forgiven." And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? "For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, and walk'? "But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"-- then He said to the paralytic-- "Rise, take up your bed, and go home." And he rose, and went home. But when the multitudes saw this, they were filled with awe, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
Jesus' authority was given to Him by His Father in Heaven. As we dive deeper into a study on authority, keep the word given in the forefront of your mind.
The New Testament word in Hebrew for authority is samchut. We see this root again in 1TI 4:14, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift (of ordination) within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the elders.” In this case the laying on of hands has placed authority upon someone else and known in Hebrew as smicha. Both of the scriptures I’ve quoted so far have a common thread.
The common thread becomes more obvious as we discover what Jesus said, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:19-20.)
Authority is the subject of a complicated interaction between Pilate and Jesus, “Pilate therefore said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin." (John 19:10-11)
By now, you should have discovered the secret thread connection in these verses. Authority is given.
One more scripture can reveal with clarity the condition of our heart. “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” (Romans 13:1-3)
We do not have to like or even agree with the person who has positional authority like an elected official or a boss. We don't have to like or agree with someone who is in situational authority like the fourteen year old who is throwing a temper tantrum right now. But, scripture is clear that we must submit to the authority God has installed for us. Not that we agree with policy or with theology or anything else. Sometimes, in evangelical and charismatic circles, we banter around phrases, which are not necessarily Biblically based. In fact, they can be very misleading, as we attempt to fashion our lives and ministry by Jesus' example. We often hear that we can take authority over demons or sickness or a number of other matters like leadership. I would suggest that we cannot take anything from God. Absolutely everything we have is given to us from above.
Any authority God has given us should be used to further His kingdom. Godly authority is to be used wisely and with discretion, as opposed to selfishly and in order to autocratically control others. 1Timothy 5:21-22 states, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. Do not lay hands upon (give your authority) to anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.”
God certainly wants us to use his gifts well, as we see in Romans 12:6-8, “And since we have gifts (charismata) that differ according to the grace (charisma) given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
You've heard it said, “it is more blessed to give, than to receive." Imagine how blessed we all can be as God gives us gifts, authority, and wisdom, and sees us using them for His glory. Don’t fake or take what isn’t yours. Perform the tasks you are authorized to accomplish and rejoice that your name is written in Heaven.