Living Under God's Authority
As Christians, we answer to authority. Just as when we were children we answered to the authority of our parents, as Believers in the Christian faith, we are part of the family of man but we answer, ultimately, to the authority of God, our Creator. How do we know for certain that we are under God’s authority? Because the Bible tells us so.
Because we accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God, it is the blueprint for our lives--our “instruction manual” for living. We don’t get to pick and choose from the manual what part or parts of God’s word we will obey, and we are not allowed to use God’s word deceitfully. In other words, we are on earth for God to use us, for His purpose--not so that we can use God for our purposes.
Is Our Heavenly Father Angry With Us?
Sometimes, the word of God can seem to be "harsh" in the way it is presented to us. But, once you consider the seriousness in which the words are offered, it is much easier to understand the loving nature of the offering and the sternness that is used in presenting it. For example, in Deuteronomy 29:18, the Bible warns us about misuse of God’s word. This scripture tells us:
"Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.”
The language of the passage might seem harsh or stern, but it gets the message across, clearly. And it's not God’s anger against us that I hear. Rather, I feel God’s love for us speaking. He is simply telling us to serve Him, and not the world. He is asking us to pay heed to the sinful nature of our flesh, because it is deceitful. He is warning us of the consequences of disobedience to Him while ordering us to do the right things, and while placing emphasis on the consequences of doing the wrong things. Any good parent who wants his/her child to obey will emphasize to that child the consequences of disobedience in an effort to spare the child from having to face those consequences.
God knows that sinful desires dwell in our imagination, and that they hide in our misguided minds and hearts urging us to to desire drunkenness for thirst. The inspired words of the Bible are clear: When we fail to heed God’s warnings about what will happen when we turn toward the world and away from Him, we are unleashing cursed consequences upon ourselves, just as it is written in the Bible. Ultimately, if we continue to disobey and remain away from God, He will turn away from us, and He will not know us.
Is It Okay for Earthly Parents to Turn Away?
God gives us the freedom to make decisions about what we do. Just as He gave Adam and Eve the freedom of choice, and they chose to listen to the serpent and not to God, He gives us the same freedom. We can choose to obey or not.
Even though I'm not a parent, I've seen how the consequences of a child's disobedience can wreak havoc in the lives of families. I've seen within my own family how a mother's heavy, prayer-filled heart, burdened for decades with the task of trying to help a child gone astray, finally, had to let go. The child, no longer a child or even a young adult, understood fully the consequences of sinful living and of being disobedient, of using drugs and living on the street, of turning to prostitution as a way of life, of not honoring the wisdom and the authority of a loving parent. The parent, left physically weak and broken from more than 20 years of living with unceasing worry and deeply felt fear for the child's life, developed life-threatening health concerns. Still, the parent struggled to help the child, until there was nothing left to do but to let go; to realize that the time had come to turn away from the child.
As children, we are naturally prone to be disobedient. Led by our flesh-focused minds, our naturally rebellious nature tempts us to defy authority. Our parents' instructions, cautions, warnings and directives are often met by a strong-willed and defiant spirit that feels almost compelled to disobey. When we disobey God, just as when we disobey our earthly parents, we bring trouble into our lives and into the lives of our parents. We set ourselves up to suffer immediate and long-term consequences of not heeding the warnings of authority. And, the very act of being disobedient toward parental authority helps to fuel within us a disobedient spirit, one that will continue to find it easier and easier to rebuke the loving cautions and warnings of parental authority inside the home, and legal authority outside of the home.
God's Parameters for Adult Christians
Our Heavenly Father, in His infinite wisdom, gives us the freedom to live our lives, to pursue and to experience joy in everything that He created, but cautions us to live under His authority, accepting His wisdom as our guidance. This is God’s way of telling us He wants nothing but the best for us as we live our lives. He wants us to know that living beyond the parameters of His way for us is dangerous, indeed. He wants us to know that danger, or sin, is always there waiting for us, tempting and tantalizing us to desire our way instead of God’s way. It was present in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve desired to go their own way, instead of God’s way. It was present when Cain became jealous of Abel’s ability to please God with his work. God warned Cain, in Genesis 4:7, saying “. . . if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” God knew Cain’s jealous heart, and He knew that if Cain followed the desires of his heart, He would surely sin. Throughout the Old and the New Testament, we can find many examples of the consequences of choosing our way instead of God's way.
The bottom line is that God gives us free will, and with that free will comes choices. Choices become alternatives, and with alternatives come consequences. God didn’t create us to be robots. Instead, he created us as sentient beings, equipped with intellect, powers of discernment, intuition, and will. Because He loves us, He created us to experience only love and goodness in life. But mankind, the created, disobeyed God and opened the world up to sin. By not submitting to God's authority, by choosing disobedience over obedience, mankind sinned. And now sin—which operates under the power of Satan—rules the earth.
God still desires, however, that mankind have a way to transcend the ultimate power of sin—which is death. Because Jesus lived, there is a way for us to transcend death, and to enjoy everlasting life. But to get there, we have to accept God's authority, and with that comes the desire to live our lives for God.
© 2013 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD