obedience to whom?

Posted: October 5th, 2010 | Filed under: life | 9 Comments »


I’ve read in the Bible that God instructs us to have regard for the authority put over us. My question is to what extent should this be relevant in a believer’s life? It’s a hard thing to question. While I don’t agree with everything my earthly spiritual authority discourage (ex. watching secular TV is sinful, don’t wear tank tops because they tempt men), I see that they do live their lives in godly ways. [Something that happened at church] didn’t sit right with me. When I said so, my spiritual leaders told me that I shouldn’t avoid messengers of God’s truth and that my sinful nature is in opposition of their rebuke.

I have no doubt in my mind that I am a sinner saved by God’s unending mercy alone… but I’m not sure what to
make of this. If my mindset is completely wrong here, I’d like to be corrected of that, too (painful as it may be).

I’m afraid then that if I don’t follow what they teach, then I am rejecting God and not man since they do teach from a biblical base. I think it’s hard for me to figure out if God should be obeyed through the church…where do you stand on church authority?

-A Reader”

Hebrews 13 talks about church authority and how you are to appreciate them and listen to their guidance. God gives us leadership for a reason. If you are in a church that teaches anything other than what is in the Bible, then don’t go to that church. It always concerns me when a church teaches ways to appear a certain way because they’re Christians. When Hebrews 13 is telling you to respect church authority, it’s referring to churches that don’t lead you away from a grace based life. False teachers do exist and you should know what to look for. If a church is doing it right, people would conform to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not to a particular brand of Christianity.

Grace is the litmus test for false teachers. False teachers alienate and divide people according to their brand of religion. They require conformity for inclusion.

Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life.Hebrews 13:9

It goes back to Matthew 23 where Jesus is reaming the religion scholars for teaching legalism. They live their lives where they look and act like a sparkling dish, but the inside is dirty. They cover their yards in beautiful flowers, but death is rotting underneath them.

Here is what Jesus says:

“Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.” -Jesus, Matthew 23:4-10

Here is what Jesus says to the legalistic leaders:

I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.” -Matthew 23:13-15

in another place in scripture, talking to the same crowd, He says:

He said, “Yes, and I can be even more explicit. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help. -Jesus, Luke 11:46

Paul is talking to a group of leaders who were teaching legalism when he said this:

“So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don’t we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us…?” -Acts 15:10-11

This problem has been around since the beginning of Christianity. The proof of a false teacher is found in the results of his teaching. Divisions, dissociations and guilt are not from God. A false teacher leads people away from the Cross…away from GRACE. It’s especially confusing because legalism looks ‘godly’.

Never let someone play the role of the Holy Spirit for you. They cannot possibly do what He can do. It’s the blind leading the blind. Leaders are supposed to equip you to travel on your own two feet. Not load you down so that you can’t walk without them.

If you don’t follow their rules and if you question their teaching, what will they say about you? Would they say that you’re not a Christian or that something is wrong with your relationship with God? Then, they are false. They do not have authority over your eternal life. Only God does.

Jesus didn’t come so that we can still live in fear of not following the rules. God knows you can’t. That’s why He sent His Son. Rules provide extra ways to trip you up. Jesus came to make a way for you to walk through without them. There are common sense things and I shouldn’t have to go into that area. God says that He has written ‘right and wrong’ in our hearts.

When you became a Christian, did the Holy Spirit talk to you about tank tops? If you were to wear a tank top, who would you fear? When your religious leaders told you not to question their authority and that it’s your own sinful nature causing the questions, did that make you want to speak up in the future or stay quiet? It’s unthinkable for someone ‘the Son set free’ to turn and be trapped and silenced by a self-proclaimed ‘religious leader’. You weren’t ‘reborn’ to be suffocated by your caregivers. God gave you the Holy Spirit so that you could know the Truth and avoid the lies.

Here is what Jesus says about those things:

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.”Jesus, Matthew 10:28

also here:

“Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies.” -Jesus, Luke 12:4

God wants you to walk through the gate and enter the vast freedom that He made possible. You are His and only His. He loves you and wants you to be free. Don’t let a man or woman make you feel like you need their approval to be okay with God. Don’t let them make you feel insecure and afraid of what they think of you. Save that for God.



9 Comments on “obedience to whom?”

  1. 1 Julie R. said at 4:37 am on October 5th, 2010:

    I would add that a spiritual head such as a minister or elder should NOT rebuke you for asking questions alone… If a person has need for clarity and asks questions, WHY is that wrong? It shouldn't be. In helping their people learn, ministers and elders should answer any and all questions with love and truth and NOT with "sit down, shut up, and don't rock the boat, good Christians do what they are told and don't ask questions." This type of leadership is dictatorial and subsequently dangerous.

  2. 2 Amos said at 4:59 am on October 5th, 2010:

    Serena/ A Reader:

    If we look at the message Jesus proclaimed, it was nothing but the Kingdom of God being established on Earth. It is established in our hearts and lived out in our daily lives. WE, every-day "common" people, are the Church. WE are the Bride being prepared for The Groom. WE are His prize.

    We MUST have those in authority to help guide and lead us to become a prepared Bride. Proverbs 27:17 says it is good for us to "sharpen" one another. But the role of "church leaders" is to build up & equip the saints. Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that the leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, & teachers) are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry & building up the body of Christ. WE are the ones who are supposed to be building up each other, "sharpening" each other. Any "leader" that is not working to equip us to do the work is missing the mark. There are some in churches today sitting on a "holy pedestal" telling others what they themselves are doing right and that their method is how others should be conducting themselves. But if their method is not that outlined in Ephesians 4, I say run. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day, and religious leaders were the ones responsible for the push to crusify Him. And while it was all part of God's plan, look at the ones responsible for the act. In the end, of you're looking to follow the heart & teaching of Jesus follow it. The cool thing is that He left us so that the Holy Spirit could then take over and lead His Bride into becoming prepared for His return. I'm pretty sure the Holy Spirit is going to lead us into the same direction Jesus started us out on.

  3. 3 Serena Woods said at 5:24 am on October 5th, 2010:

    A part of the letter that I didn't print was that the reader is a brand new Christian. He/She is already being nudged by the Holy Spirit, which is a testament to the power of that new life within. However, he/she is being misguided and opposed. For church leaders to label her response to the nudging of the Spirit as sinful is a tilt toward blasphemy. Don't cult leaders demand unquestioned obedience from their members?

    It makes me queasy to imagine being in that situation.

  4. 4 Ashley said at 5:40 am on October 5th, 2010:

    "Leaders are supposed to equip you to travel on your own two feet. Not load you down so that you can’t walk without them."

    Love it. When we are following "the man" and then "the man" lets us down or moves or isn't living in your house, how do you keep following him? It is good to listen to spiritual mentors, and then filter what they say through the Bible and your own expriences with God.

    In high school, I really think God convicted me not to listen to secular music. Then, sometime in college, He released me from that. Was it wrong for others to listen to something other than "Shout to the Lord"? Of course not! Would it have been wrong for me? I think so. I really feel like God did something in my heart through that time. Then, that work was complete and He started on something else. I do think that the Bible has some pretty clear cut "do this and don't do that." However, I also think God does such individual work in us, who are we to tell someone else what they should wear or drink or watch?

    So, listen to your leaders, and then use your own brain and allow the Holy Spirit to discern in you if what they are saying applies to you.

  5. 5 Serena Woods said at 5:59 am on October 5th, 2010:

    Love it, Ashley.

  6. 6 Sunny said at 7:21 pm on October 7th, 2010:

    A leader once told me that guilt is a good thing because it leads to repentance.

    But I've found that my heart is aligned with God's so much more when I'm chased down with love, not condemnation.

    Grace means "God's Riches At Christ's Expense".

    It's a done deal.

    Otherwise, who can stand before Him?

  7. 7 Julie R. said at 5:08 am on October 8th, 2010:

    SUNNY: I disagree with what your leader told you… "guilt" is a negative emotion and nothing good comes from it. Repentance is brought about by conviction which stem from true remorse. Remorse is different from guilt, because remorse is felt in yourself out of sympathy or empathy for those who have been wronged, guilt is doesn't bring conviction guilt triggers your "flight or fight" response… nothing good comes from guilt…

  8. 8 Sunny said at 9:33 am on October 8th, 2010:

    I like that, Julie.

    It's argued that the gospel is offensive because it points out that people are sinners. I think the gospel is incredibly offensive because the grace it gives is unfair. It's truth that sets you free.

  9. 9 Serena Woods said at 4:53 pm on October 8th, 2010:

    Julie: Yes!

    Sunny: You said it. Exactly.

    'the gospel is incredibly offensive because the grace it gives is unfair.'

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