Principles of Life 10 Introduction

Authority And Responsibility

In the next few lessons we will be spending time studying........

  • The Purposes and Structures of Authority
    The Consequences of Rejecting Authority
    Steps to Translate God's Direction Through Authority

We will also show how we can achieve great faith through applying the principles given in these lessons. Remember this....

"The size of our God is greatly determined by our ability to see how He is able to work through those in authority over us."


We live in a time when people have a difficult time with the idea of authority, but we must understand that it's an institution of God. Authority means "the right to command and enforce obedience," and according to the Apostle Paul, all authority originates with God who has delegated it to mankind to maintain order in the world. Holy Scripture says, "Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation." (Rom. 13:1-2).

Authority is something that must be understood by every Christian, since it is the entire basis of our relationship with Christ. God has ordained at least three categories of authority that we must submit to:

(1) Christ and the Church — When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and are baptized into the Church, this means that He and the Church becomes our "boss" and highest authority over our whole life (Rom. 10:9, Luke 6:46, Matt. 28:18). Christians are to submit to the headship of Christ, implemented through

  • (a) authority of Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
  • (b) the authority of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16)
  • © the authorities of the Magistrates (Matt. 18:17-20, 1 Cor. 5:4-5, Heb. 13:7,17)

(2) The Family — Children are to obey their parents (Eph. 6:10). The wife is to submit to her husband, which is the head of the family (Eph. 5:22-24, 1 Tim. 2:12), and the husband is to submit himself to Christ and love his wife as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:23,25). God has established these as the "delegated" extensions of His authority. If we resist cooperation, we are in effect, resisting God's own authority and Lordship. This is why Paul even told wives to submit to the authority of their husbands "as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22).

(3) The State — We are to cooperate with those authority figures and obey the local and federal laws of the land (within the boundaries of God's laws). According to Holy Scripture, secular authority is intended to be a "minister to thee, for good." (Rom. 13:1-4), and serves God's purpose of keeping law and order on the earth (1 Pet. 2:14-15).

Again, Paul wrote, "Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God' s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling; Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good:" (1 Pet. 2:13-14 ).

Just as all authority is related to other authority, all rebellion is also interrelated. It does not regard any class of authority.

Rebellion is "the unwillingness to be ruled by any source other than self" — it is an indiscriminate contempt toward all authority.

Our attitude toward Christ as our Lord, is directly associated with our attitude toward other authority, such as our bishops and Priests, our parents, or even civil authorities. Jesus Christ cannot be fully "Lord" over the person who harbors rebellion toward authority figures. The Bible says: "...he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.." (Rom. 13:2).

Just as God is the source of all authority, Satan is author of all rebellion.

We may recall that the Devil (Lucifer), a former archangel, was originally cast out of Heaven because he led an insurrection against God (Isa. 14:12-15). Rebellion is the very spirit of Satan's attitude (Eph. 2:2), and if we permit it to dominate us it will infect and taint our attitude toward all authority, including God, His word, and his Church. The prophet Samuel said that "it is like the sin of witchcraft" (1 Sam. 15:23). The Apostle Peter said that those who are corrupt despise authority (2 Pet. 2:10).

In the absence of Godly and moral values, sometimes there are abuses of authority and perversions in government. Such was the case when Peter and John were forbidden to preach the Gospel by the Jewish Sanhedrin. They replied, "If it be just in the sight of God, to hear you rather than God, judge ye." (Acts 4:19). The only circumstance that disobedience to authority is ever justifiable by scripture, is if it conflicts with the laws of God.

Paul tells us to pray for all those in authority (1 Tim. 2:2). God can use our prayers to either change their heart or remove them from power entirely. God reserves the right of administering discipline and reproof to those who represent His authority (Rom. 14:4, Psa. 105:4-5, 1 Paralipomenon 16:21-22).

Principles of Life 10 Introduction
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