Authority is an important concept within most realms of life. In most nations, there are founding documents that serve as a standard. In work places, there are usually policies and procedures that govern performance. Police officers have a level of authority on streets and neighborhoods, and school principals have the right to make important decisions.
Authority is important in the spiritual realm as well. According to the New Testament, Jesus is endued with the privilege of setting the tone for what’s true (Mark 2:10 and 6:7). Unfortunately, some don’t see things this way. They live by the opinion that faith should be a free-for-all endeavor in which everyone gets to live by their own desired creed. To make Jesus our sole authority, we need to first make sure we aren’t allowing second-rate forms of authority dictate our thinking. Consider four misguided forms of authority.
In John 5:45, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees by saying, “Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope.” Our Lord did not mean to discount the significance of Moses’ writings. The man was used to pen the first five books of our Bible, and his writings were inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus was concerned with the Pharisees’ misinterpretation of Moses. Through their extra-biblical holy books, they expected devout Jews to follow certain historical traditions. Some are guilty of something similar today. There are some Christian-based religions that teach church history is a standard of truth that carries just as much weight as the Bible. Leaders in such movements often have the ability to supplant the plain teaching of Scripture with historical decrees. We must make sure our faith is fixed on the firm foundation of the Bible!
Some set themselves up as their own god. They are driven by their sensual lusts, materialistic desires, and ego-driven agendas. God’s Word doesn’t really call the shots. Truth is determined by what the flesh wants. The Bible speaks of people who, “according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). Be careful that Scripture, not self, is what drives your belief and behavior.
of others There are some people who can’t take a stand until they have first taken a poll. Popular opinion sets the tone. When the winds of culture blow a certain way, their belief system follows suit. Such individuals are slaves to the fear of man. We must be on guard of letting the opinion of others be our standard for truth and error. The Bible says, “The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected” (Proverbs 29:25).
Since the time of Jesus, there have been those who let government tell them how to think about spiritual matters. The first century Jews murdered our Lord because they were driven by their special interests in relation to Rome (John 11:50 and 19:15). Though governmental authorities are a gift from God (Romans 13:1), and though we ought to respect and pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-2), may we never let them trump our reverence for Christ!