|If we let passion take the place of judgment, and self-will reign instead of Scriptural authority, we shall fight the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons, and if we cut our own fingers we must not be surprised.|
—charles haddon spurgeon
God wants his children to live as children of the King with Kingdom Authority. The whole matter is this: In order to live exercising authority over the world, the flesh, and the devil, we must first submit to the authority that God has set over us.
We will learn more of this principle later, but the problem of rebellion is very much a part of today’s world. People don’t like the idea of authority—Kingdom Authority or any other kind.
The word authority is an ugly word for many in today’s society. It resonates with restriction, regulation, and control. Just the mention of the word can cause brows to narrow and scowls to form.
Resisting authority comes naturally to us because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden. And it intensifies with fervor today. A swell began to rise up in the ocean of ideas and philosophies in the 1960s.
We find ourselves reliving the 1930’s with all that might bring.
The generations of the 1970s and 1980s rode the tide of the 1960s and the wave crested for the generation of the 1990s. The young people who grew up in these years will be remembered for many things—but in regard to man’s rebellion, there can be no greater example than those who sought fame and recognition through killing sprees in the public school system. One of these murderous young men said, “My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law…. I feel no remorse, no sense of shame.”
Churning into a bona fide tidal wave of rebellion, this revolution hit the shores of every home in America. And the shock waves are still washing over the lives of every family in America today.
The revolution of the 1960s was to liberate the traditional family. Women were supposed to be set free from their husbands, their homes, and their children. The husband was to be set free from responsibility and liberated from authority. Even the children were granted liberation from limits.
Now they wish to destroy traditional society and will settle for no less.
Everyone was set free from time-honored standards of morals and ethics. The alluring song of free love was heard across the land. And what did we get with all the freedom we espoused? Abandoned restraint and a loosening of family values. With the seeds we sowed in the 1960s, we now have a harvest of fatherless children, vile venereal diseases, runaway divorce rates, and a generation of jaded, unloved, and undisciplined kids.
Our high schools hand out condoms to students, and fifteen-year-old mothers wrestle with the idea of birth control implants to keep them from getting pregnant again. The sexual revolution has come full cycle. People talk about sex openly, all right. In fact, it’s about all some people think about. Sex has become a sport—like an aerobic workout.
The time has passed when young men and women save themselves for marriage as a matter of honor. Junior high virgins may even tell the lie that they are promiscuous, because to be a virgin is to be a misfit. It’s a mark of shame for a fifteen-year-old to never have “gone all the way.”
Indeed, God knew all along the result of the evil that rampaged through the morals of our society. His Word tells us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).
The cry for freedom of expression is really a form of rebellion that mocks beauty, truth, and culture. In the name of art, men and women are producing works that defame the deity of Christ, belittle the Christian institution of the family, and degrade the beauty of God’s creation. Instead of music that is edifying and uplifting, many of today’s music performers are writing lyrics saturated with violence, obscenity, vulgarity, and outright blasphemy. Too much of today’s music is basically pornography set to music.
The theme underlying it all is anti-authority. Instead of portraying police as the protectors of our community, they are portrayed as freeloaders at doughnut shops. Instead of fathers who lovingly care for and support their families, we have television programs that make a mockery of fatherhood, and of parenthood and healthy marital relationships as well.
What is the end result of a generation that cuts its teeth on anti-authority rhetoric? Rebels and revolutionaries at worst. “Closet rebels” at best. It’s very difficult to be a part of today’s society and not be affected. I am afraid there is a little rebel in each of us.
We are in a crisis of monumental proportions—it is an authority crisis. Jesus prophesied that the last days will be marked by a spirit of lawlessness (Matt. 24:1-12). Indeed, our generation has seen the fulfillment of that ominous prophecy.
Our only hope is in discovering the Kingdom Authority that Jesus offers his children. I’m not talking about mere power, but authority. Many Christians today talk about having the power to overcome evil. That’s not enough. Don’t confuse authority with power.
Jesus made the distinction in Luke 9:1 when he gave the disciples power and authority over the satanic forces of wickedness. As in the passage we saw earlier from Luke 10, the Greek word here for “power” is dunamis, which means ability and strength, and the Greek word for “authority” is exousia, which means the official right. Authority is conferred; power is innate.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day boasted of their position in the kingdom of God and questioned what Jesus meant by the freedom we have as believers: “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:33-36).
With Kingdom Authority comes freedom, not bondage. These Pharisees who were vassals of Rome and slaves to sin were boasting about freedom. They were not free but slaves. The rebel is free to do what he wants within limits, but he is never free to do what he ought without Kingdom Authority operating in him. He is free to choose as he wishes, but he is not free to choose the consequences of that choice. He may show his freedom to choose by stepping out of a window of a skyscraper. At that point, however, he is not free to choose the consequences of that choice. The choice then chooses for him.
The paradoxical truth is that the freedom and authority we have in Jesus is because we are under authority. Let me illustrate. The train that runs with incredible speed on ribbons of steel is far freer to be what it was made to be than a so-called free train that may choose an excursion through the meadow. It is only free to wreck. A train is made to run on tracks, not in the green glades along the tracks.
When we wrap our arms around this truth, we will be set free and filled with joy as the psalmist who said, “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (Ps. 119:54). The law of God is a song in our life. The late, great Dr. Vance Havner had this to say:
One does not ordinarily associate law books with songbooks, mandates with music. But here’s a man to whom the law of the Lord is no burdensome thing, a pattern of hard lines. Here’s a radiant believer to whom law is liberty and service like unto a happy song.
One may be good in such a bad way. Some of us have punctiliously kept the statutes but have failed to sing the songs. We have whiteness but no light. The Christian life does have its stern, unyielding requirements; but every law has a song written on the back and between the requirements runs the refrain. Duty turns to delight and mandates become melodies.
There must be a law if there is to be liberty. Try to play a piano and you will run into laws as fixed as the decrees of the Medes and Persians. But through those statutes you reach the songs, drudgery leads to delight. The law of Christ brings the liberty of Christ. Keep His statutes, and they become songs. The other side of commandment is conquest. What seems restraint to the outsider means release to you.
“Ye shall know the truth”—there are the statutes. “The truth shall make you free”—there is the song. But to know the truth is to know Him, otherwise it is legalism. If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. His law book becomes a song book!