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?
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
“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.