As James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (1:22).
God created this world and has full authority over everything He created. God then delegated some of His authority to human beings.
In previous articles I showed that God has authority over everything and that His perfect nature demands that anything He says must be trustworthy. We also saw that Christ Himself obeyed the Father’s Word totally, fulfilling the Scriptures to the minutest detail, thus setting an example for us. And because God delegated some of His authority to various human beings, we get to see His authority active every day.
God delegates authority in marriage.
The Bible is very clear that male and female have true equality and worth before God because both are made in His image (“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” Genesis 1:27). Yet in the functioning of the home, there is a chain of command: the husband is accountable to God, the wife is submissive to her husband, and the children are to be obedient to their parents. Paul clearly describes the proper husband-and-wife relationship in Ephesians 5:23: “For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church.”
God delegates authority in the home.
Until children are grown and on their own, they are under their parents’ authority. This authority structure is so important to God that He included this “chain of command” in the Ten Commandments and repeated it in the New Testament: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). It is interesting that this command comes with a promise: “Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2–3).
God delegates authority in the church.
God gave church leaders the responsibility to shepherd our souls (Acts 20:28).
God delegates authority in the workplace.
God’s instructions to slaves in Ephesians 6:5 might also imply responsibility in the workplace. Certainly, as Christians, we should respect the authority of employers.
God delegates authority to civil government.
In Romans 13:1–4 Paul teaches that God set up all governments and they are ministers of righteousness. Jesus instructs us to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s (Matthew 22:21).
All through the Bible we have a record of God speaking and people disobeying. Think how often this is true, especially when you consider how often people disobey delegated authority.
When Lucifer rebelled against the Lord, it was a sin against the authority of God. He said no to God’s Word and to God’s will. Satan then convinced Eve and Adam to do the same, so their rebellion was a sin against the authority of God.
We can understand why God considers sin serious. God sees rebellion for what it is—attempted anarchy against His authority and lining up with Satan. When we reject God’s authority, we have been duped into thinking we are our own authority (humanism), but we really place ourselves under the authority of Satan.
Satan continues to attack God by trying to convince mankind to go against delegated authority. We see this attack in the form of unisex ideas in place of proper marriage. We see it in teen delinquency. We see it in the Christian apathy toward church. In the marketplace and government we see everyone doing what is right in his own eyes, even calling murder of the unborn a “choice.”
If, in contrast, we live as though God has full and final authority in our lives, then we will treat His delegated authorities with the respect they deserve.
God created this world and has full authority over everything He created. His own Son set the example, obeying His Father in His daily life. God gives us new freedom when we are saved in Christ, but this is not freedom to become our own authority. It is freedom from the slavery of sin, from the dominion of Satan, to be a slave of Christ and to humbly serve God’s delegated authorities.
So we go back to where we started. We must do more than talk about the authority of Scripture; we must live it!
“If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Study & Discussion Questions . . .
- Read Genesis 2–3 and summarize the development of the theme of God’s authority, Satan’s questioning of it, and mankind’s response to it.
- When Satan deceived Eve into taking the fruit and thinking she could be her own authority, was she really the authority? Whose authority was she under when she disobeyed God?
- Can you recall other passages in the Bible that confirm the “black and white” nature of who is supposed to be in authority?
- Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 2:20–23 makes a statement about human government. See if you can find it.
- How might parents encourage rebellion in their child by displaying a bad attitude or disobedience toward delegated authority?
- What was Christ referring to when He said not one word would pass away: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18)?
- Look up these verses that support the basic idea of only two possible “authorities”: the true God, who has all authority, or the rebel who wants to usurp God’s authority and present himself as “god” to mankind. See Romans 6:1–22; Matthew 12:30; John 8:34; Revelation 3:15–16.
- What place do you think God’s Word and authority will have in heaven?
- Why do you think it grieves God when we disobey the commands of His Word?
- How does God’s attribute of love affect His view of rebellion? (Hint: It might have a lot to do with obedience to the gospel!)
You can also print copies of these study questions to use for your family devotions, small group, or Sunday school.