Twisted into Rebellion
I apologize for not writing yet this week. The truth is my video stopped working, and since this is a video study, it is kind of hard to continue on when the main source of the study is not working. But all is well – I have an email in to Zondervan, the study’s publisher, to see how they can help, and I should be good to go shortly. In the mean time, I figure I can write a short summary of what the third week of the study is about, and when the video starts working again (or I get a new one), I can fill in the details.
In the previous two weeks of this study, we have discussed 3 major ideas:
- There is an invisible world that directly impacts our visible world. Like unseen germs that can attack our bodies and make us sick, this unseen world has the power to affect our lives in many different ways.
- The one who is attacking us from this unseen realm is Satan.
- The tool Satan uses to attack us is deception and twisting of the truth, and his main goal is murder and the destruction of all this is good in our lives.
For the remainder of the study, we are going to look at some of the most powerful schemes of the devil – some of the things he is the best at twisting so that he can ruin our lives. The first of these twists is the twisting of our reaction to authority.
Romans 13:1-7 says:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Paul tells us that our response to “governing authorities” is to be submission. The reason that we should submit to these authorities is that God is the one that established all authority – failing to submit to that authority is indirectly failing to submit to God. Doing this will bring nothing but judgment on yourself. It appears that this is by design – God places people in authority as a method of keeping order. These people have the authority to punish those who do wrong, therefore doing wrong is nothing more than placing yourself in a position to be punished. So, Paul says, to avoid trouble, avoid wrongdoing. On top of that, Paul says that we should submit as a matter of conscience – it isn’t enough to obey authorities just to stay out of trouble – you should do it because it is the right thing to do.
I found it interesting that Paul calls the person in authority “God’s servant.” He does so twice, as if to make a point. My study points out that God has a purpose for placing people in authority – “for our good.” But then it asks “Does this description apply to all human authorities?” That is a very good question. I couldn’t help but think of the interaction between Jesus and Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of John. In John 19, after having interviewed Jesus and having Him flogged, yet still not believing that Jesus was guilty of anything worth crucifixion, Pilate continues asking Him questions, to which Jesus refused to respond. Pilate then said ” ‘Do you refuse to speak to me?…Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above…’ ” (versus 10-11). Here, Jesus affirms that even Pilate was given a position of authority by God. So this begs the question – does Pilate fall under the umbrella of being “God’s servant?” I would have to say yes, although admittedly I am a little baffled by the thought of it.
Paul ends by using specific examples of submitting to authority – paying taxes, giving honor and respect to whom it is due. For us, I think there are many more we could add to this list – going the speed limit, not cheating on a test. The list could go on and on. I’ll end by asking you to share some thoughts about ways we can submit to authority in today’s world, as a way to avoid punishment, as well as keep a clear conscience. Once I get the video back up and working, we’ll continue talking about how Satan twists reality to get us to rebel against authority, and how that affects our lives.