The world of man has both wisdom and knowledge, both of which God calls foolishness. Yet the world has an expression called 'using common sense', we who are in Christ must also use common sense, however not as the world, but discernment that comes from the Lord. This is called spiritual discernment, from this enabling additional knowledge as commanded, that we also be as wise as the serpent. In the end days the Bible tells us even the elect will be led astray, if possible. Diligently then we must pray for spiritual discernment to understand fully what the Word teaches. The Prince of this world will lead those astray who may be deceived into error. Before Christ returns for final judgment, Satan in spiritual form will deceive as he is able. The Word gives full warning that Satan released from the abyss will come first masquerading as Christ, and even today the servants of Satan masquerade as servants of righteousness.
Then in these end times it is important we have a clear understanding and knowledge regarding the difference between 'Honoring Authority', and 'Submitting to Authority'. We should understand because the Prince of this world is establishing his authority. It is a wise man that submits to Gods authority; it is also wise to submit to the authorities God has established. Yet do we know the meaning of and difference between how we submit ourselves to that which is worthy and good, and how we submit ourselves to that which is neither worthy or good.
Among the authorities spoken of in the New Testament, these although in a number still fell within one of two basic categories, those who filled a Godly and those who filled an ungodly purpose. Often the ungodly were called Rulers, often the Godly were called a servant, such servants were as the Elder whose source for service was God. Christ taught in same manner, that to be a leader one must serve thus being a servant of God, this meaning they were vessel's which God could use. The Godly servant is evident in how he serves, his service evidence of the God he serves, for our God has said what do you have that I have not given you.
Christ taught of the ungodly Ruler or authority, being those who Lord it over others yet call themselves benefactors, Christ warning that we were not to be as these. For those obedient Christ gave assurance regarding His authority and power to serve, yet for the wicked a warning from the Old Testament concerning an evil spirit God sent between a wicked people and their Ruler. When a nation or people such as the later denies God and enters wicked ways, even the obedient experience the evil that results, but are protected by Gods love.
It is easy to understand the teaching of honoring that which is worthy and good, but how does the Word teach us to honor and submit to that which is in error or evil. In this world we are to love our brother, to love (honor) both our neighbor and our enemy, yet there is a difference that must be understood. Consider that the Lord does not instruct us to further those ways that are in error, nor injure through actions of error while doing what we think is good. An example would be to honor (in error) an alcoholic or drug addict; here even the world understands that it is possible to enable continued error by doing what would seem good. Instead true wisdom directs that in such a case it is best to use what is termed tough love that we know as Agape, often not appreciated by giver or receiver, yet enabling (honoring, valuing, recognizing) correction of error.
(All scripture verse is from NIV)
Christ teaches us to 'submit to governing authority', however the Bible in its entirety does not teach; in the obvious sense, honoring without spiritual discernment that which does not deserve honor as we give God. Remember Christ said in Matt 28:18 "...All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me." Again in Eph 1:21 "..our Lord is above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come." What Christ taught was made clear in Rom 13:7 "Give everyone what you owe him, if you owe taxes, then pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue, if respect, then respect, if honor, then honor." This scripture covers two important points, owing a debt, and the not as obvious being to what we become indebted.
There are many ways to become indebted, this can be done by commission or omission. An example was when the Apostles were brought before the Religious leaders who commanded they no longer talk of Christ; they did the less obvious sense of submitting to authority, in replying "shall we obey you or God." So to whom do we submit, what is this authority to whom we submit, and how will we submit to this authority? Are we in rebellion when submitting to God, or in rebellion when submitting to false gods in a way that causes the innocent to stumble or fall?
Genesis tells us of God creating all that now exists. After God had finished creation He said it was "very good." After this it was man within Gods creation that took what was very good, and did evil, for before was only the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Our God may be a jealous God, yet He is not a God of evil, but instead a Just God of love and peace to those who serve Him. All that God has created belongs to God, Satan and evil have no power or authority unless temporarily allowed under controlled conditions by God. It is this power of God we must understand, along with His will and purpose, that we do not in error serve false gods or false servants.
We know Gods Word is a double edged sword, that in us He has set boundaries of his will, established works for his purpose, and with sovereign authority commands those whom he has chosen to be prepared. In this there is no doubt, Rom 8:28-31 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
We also know that Jesus has been given all authority as in Matt 28:18 "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Again as in Col 1:16 "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." Those serving the Lord must serve in the Spirit, as in John 7:18 "He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." At the same time being warned about being deceived into submitting to false principles, as in Col 2:20 "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules."
Truly the Word leaves no doubt about the authority of our Lord, as in Eph 1:21, "...our Lord is above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." Still, for all Offices and positions the Lord establishes, he commands we show 'proper' respect as in I Peter 2:17 "Show proper respect to everyone...honor the king." Understand that in submitting out of respect requires spiritual discernment, for there is depth of understanding needed to show 'proper' respect.
Here is what we are told about authority in Rom 13:3-5 "Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.". Remember there are different authorities, and by some we may suffer, as in 1Pe 1:5-7 "Though through faith your shielded by God's power...you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials...that your faith may be proved genuine..." Still we need not worry or be defeated as in 2 Cor 4:8-11 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body."
So then read carefully what God has said in Rom 13:1 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Yet do not be deceived into giving to false gods that which does not belong to them, as in Col 2:8 "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Instead we are told God has given us authority, as in Luke 10:19-20 "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Gods Authority is meant to build up as in Heb 13:17 "...authority that watches over us who must give account, so their work will be joy, not burden." Yet also warns of authority by rule of corrupt strong men Matt 20:24-28 'But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." From this we may know that there is divisive-authority of men and creative-authority of God.
Saul was dedicated to the authority of the Chief Priests and his religious beliefs, yet on the road to Damascus Christ said to Saul "why do you persecute me." Saul had authority of the Chief Priests, the Pharaoh had the authority of Rome, and the Beast has authority from Satan. Only our Lord Jesus has supreme authority over all. So again we are to submit and give honor to that which deserves honor according to God, Rom 13:7 "Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." We should not fear to submit as in 1 Pet 2:19-20 "For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God."
Then what are we to submit to,Eph 5:11-14 "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them...", yet in spiritual obedience to God having the proper respect as in 1 Peter 2:13-17 "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." In this we are given authority by Christ, Luke 10:19-20 "...given you authority....to overcome all the power of the enemy", for the Word says Matt 12:50 "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
Be aware that Honor given in Submitting may not be what Authority seeks; John the Baptist honored and submitted to Herod, yet he repeatedly rebuked the sin of Herod. Did John the Baptist honor authority, did he submit to authority; surely he did, for as surely it fulfilled the responsibility as given the sentry upon the wall. The apostles when brought before the Sanhedrin were flogged and told not to speak of Jesus, after release they never stopped teaching about Jesus. Moses according to decree was to die with all new infants his age, was it submitting that his mother hid him, or submitting that midwives told authority the children were born before they arrived. Were the apostles submitting when brought before authority, and in response to orders denying them to speak of Christ replied, "shall we obey you or God." Was it discernment and judgment by Christ to call religious leaders who misused authority as "you brood of vipers!"? Will honoring and submitting to authority result in peace, according to Matt 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."
The Lord makes no small case for the power and authority of his servants. Be aware that we are no longer talking about the 'old man of flesh' with worldly wisdom and knowledge, the servants of God in the will of God are the 'new man of spirit' with the mind of the Lord. Christ has commanded that we will do all that he has done and more, as in the spirit we make judgments over many things, but are subject to no mans judgment. What we bind on earth being bound in heaven, what we loose one earth being loosed in heaven, proclaimed in the name of our Lord Jesus. We may wonder if the works of the flesh can be good in the eyes of the Lord, we do know that the word says that the flesh is bent toward sin.
The Bible gives us knowledge from two lessons in scripture, these being Eph 6:11-12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." This tells us our struggle is not against flesh and blood, saying that our enemy is not what God created for himself, our struggle is against evil forces at work on this dark world, being all who come between God and those He desires. The second is 2 Cor 10:2-4 "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." Here we are told we who have Christ as Lord and Savior are to serve God. Having not only our own struggle, but also a war out in the world to reclaim that which belongs to God. Here again we do not war with weapons of the world as do men of this dark world, but in light with weapons having divine power to demolish strongholds of every kind.
In both of these above verses, in our own struggle and our war for others, we have a common enemy and a common goal. These verses and other teaching of God tell me that evil will manifest itself in many ways (upon this dark world), being cloaked in deceit, yet being evident in suffering and enslavement. These verses refer to ‘flesh and blood' man (and) the evil kingdom of the air (or) evil in heavenly realms. Our (struggle) and (war) then is to have victory or take back that which belongs to the Lord, and in this with power and authority. In this struggle (and) war we will be more than conquerors against spiritual forces (in the heavenly realms). We are also victorious over (rulers, authorities, and powers) of this dark world... for not all have faith. In this we are given power and authority to tear down (every) stronghold. And this 'stronghold' will include people of iniquity who serve another god, those who have rejected the Living God and are possessed by spiritual forces or kingdom of the air.
We have Gods word that we are not rebels who serve the Lord in spirit, no the Lord has said that he who works for the Lord is a man of truth, and there is no fault in him. Justly so it is the obedient that follow these commands, Mark 4:22 "For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open." Luke 12:4-5 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more." 1Cor 4:5 "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts..." Matt 11:12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." John 12:31 "Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out." Rom 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Eph 3:10 "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms...." Romans 13:2-8 "...he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted..."
Yet never forget 2Cor 11:14-15 "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness." Unrighteous and worldly authority must be recognized for what it is. If not righteously watching over Gods obedient servants, then is an authority in contention to the righteousness of God. Just as an evil spirit entered Judas, so God may send an evil spirit between people and their authority. Understand, all authority shall serve the purpose of the just God, yet not all authority serves righteously the just God. Just as Satan tempted Jesus taking him to a place overlooking all the kingdoms of earth, saying with deception he had been given authority over all these kingdoms. The authority of God is over all creation being absolute and unending, no other supreme authority has been given other than to Christ. Christ did not need to argue the truth of Satans temptation, but instead responded with Gods truth Luke 4:8 "It is written 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." Just as Christ was tempted, so also will we be confronted by the deceiver whose only authority is deception, remember even death holds no power over the spiritual man who is prepared.
Be prepared for the Spiritual war, Eph 6:11-17 "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Remember that even in submitting, Luke 21:12-15 "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict."
Take heart and remember this promise John 14:11-12 "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." The promise and a command Titus 2:15 "These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you." Take warning not to be as some, who misinterpret the Word to teach God commits or causes evil, confusing words of causation with permission, for God will permit the evil that man causes or seeks for a time.
Though we do not fight as does earthly combatants with brute force, our war is in the ethereal place on this earth. There is a war of the flesh to destroy, and the war of Spirit for peace. So though we do not war as does the world, we do war spiritually in the world revealing goodness in light and wickedness that hides in darkness. Do not be mistaken, our spiritual war is both upon this visible world, and in the invisible spiritual world, as we are told in Col 1:15-16 "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities..." In flesh we can do no good thing, in spirit we shall do the work God has prepared for us. Even the things done by the zealous servant are permitted, if the purpose is good, for even the servant may take on some of the nature of his master. We are to be Peacemakers, in this we will fight a spiritual war.
Honor is a thing of value, much as the pearl that is not to be cast before swine. To whom do we honor, do we honor out of fear or love, to honor out of fear is to dishonor love. Just as there is sin that does not bring death and sin that leads to death, sin not confronted shall grow to become the master. Our God has told us of the sinful end-days to come; nowhere does He tell us to enter into these ways. If we are not to be its friend, surely we are to be its enemy. Did the Lord say that our spiritual war would only be within and of ourselves, then why did He send us out into the world. If in the world we are brought before the authorities, how then will our witness for the Lord be accepted as submitting to and honoring? Are we prepared, and do we understand what the Lord has commanded of us?
Some point out that Jesus has already defeated Satan, as thought saying our work is done. Christ has appointed a work for each; in this we will be opposed to the point of spiritual war, possibly to death of the mortal body. Yet in our relationship with Christ, and by Christ, through the Power of the Lord this work will be accomplished. We will provide for that which we honor. There is a warning about how and what we choose to honor as in Judges 9:23 "God sent an evil spirit..." Surely God does not ask of us that which we do not have, yet he commands in Matt 10:16 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." However as when Satan led Christ to tempt him in the high place showing all the kingdoms saying Luke 4:6-7 "...I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want", Jesus answered Luke 4:8 "It is written 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." Justly so, remember neither do we rebel against authority but submit to it, yet we also serve the Lord only.
It is justice that those in the world argue the importance of a cup half full or half empty. The man of God will have discernment of this cup, and more importantly what it contains, and what its purpose. Matt 10:25, Eph 1:18-23.
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