Saturday, 6 December 2014

Biblical Authority and Sin

God has given us authority figures. Now before you decide I’m going to try to tell you to shut up and do whatever you are told regardless of what it is and consider me a legalistic pharisee, hold on. I’m not going to tell you that.

In every organization there is a chain of command. The same is true of both the local church and the home. Starting off in the home we've established that the husband and father is the head of the home, leading and guiding his wife and children primarily by example out of love for the precious gifts God has given him of a wife and children. God is quite clear:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:25,28 NASB).

Likewise with regards to children:

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

Clearly the duties given are a two way street. Wives and children must subject themselves to the head of the house but that head should quake with fear at even thinking about mistreating God’s children. Hebrews 10:31 drives it home. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. (NASB). Don’t you dare!

As to the matter of a Christian's duty to secular government. Romans 13:1-7 (go read it if you've forgotten) has the answer. Not only are Christians supposed to subject themselves to the governing authorities, if you do not you are actually opposing God! He allowed that authority the privilege of being an authority. Jesus Himself submitted to the Romans and as Ambassadors for His kingdom we must likewise be in submission.
There is one and only one caveat. If, and it will and does happen, you find yourself faced with a choice of obeying man or God, then God must be obeyed. This applies across the spectrum whether it be children, wives, or husbands. You cannot be made to disobey God law. This would force you to misrepresent Him and thus defeat your very purpose for life.
Look for a moment in Acts 4. Peter and John were ordered not to preach in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, yet they knew they had a higher law which must be obeyed. In the very next chapter we see evidence they continued and were again brought before the Sanhedrin and were asked if they had been told not to preach in the name of Jesus. They replied:

Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20 NIV)

The Apostles continued to fulfill the Great commission given to them by Jesus, which by the way, is not a suggestion, it is a command. In the very next chapter we see the consequences and the reaction to those consequences. Peter and John reiterated that they were required to obey God rather than men if there was a conflict (5:29). This resulted in being flogged (vs. 40), then look -

So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41 NIV).

Look at the parallels. Peter and John suffered for Christ’s sake because He suffered for us. No matter what the cost, no matter what the consequences of our obedience to Him we must be the Ambassadors He has called us to be. Unless of course we are ashamed to know and represent Him?
God is clearly a God of order, and yes, has ordained a clear chain of command with regards to gender roles as well as authority. He knows, however, we are sinful human beings and did not leave us helpless to deal with a person who is sinning, even when that person is in a position of authority.
Firstly, we must remember we are to do everything out of love and for the glorification of God. Revenge is always sin. Secondly, the response must be in proportion. Some sins are “faults”—indiscretions—as opposed to doctrinal, theological, or moral failures. You don’t need a hammer to remove a splinter. An indiscretion requires discipline, whereas a moral failure may require disqualification. Third, Matthew 18 has the principle regarding a person who is sinning. Go to that person and talk to them, remembering that yes, this person is in authority. If the response is positive, ‘you have won your brother’. If, however, it is negative, the process is then escalated to taking others along. At this stage we need to remember 1 Timothy 5:1:

Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers,  the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity. (NASB)

The reason for this is twofold. One, the person being spoken to realizes it is not one person who has a bone to pick. Two, it is to allow you to verify if the fault is actually a fault at all. We are human. We make mistakes. If we have made a mistake then yes. it will be difficult, but the faster that is acknowledged, the better it will be.  At this stage 1 Timothy 5:20 comes into play which says:

As for those who are guilty and persist in sin, rebuke and admonish them in the presence of all, so that the rest may be warned and stand in wholesome awe and fear. (AMP)

Of course you may be ordered to be quiet and stop stirring up strife. Of course this is a command that is immediately nullified, just as the command to Peter and John was. To obey such a command would be to disobey God. On the contrary you must tell it to the church. If after repeated confrontations there is still no sign of repentance then the sin must be publicly exposed and let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:17)
It is highly likely, within the realms of the church such a person will stop attending after being removed from his position. If he remains, however, he is to be treated with the kindness,love and respect due to all people Christian or not. Even after all of this, the greatest two commandments are still in force and always will be.

Finally, in order to obey the two greatest commandments it may be necessary to expose them as widely as possible. Wolves cannot be allowed to devour innocent and unsuspecting sheep. If false teaching is being propagated and you know people are being harmed it would be gross negligence to turn a blind eye and let the enemy poison innocent people. You are Ambassadors of Christ. It is difficult to see how one can be obedient to that cause and remain silent

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