Choosing God’s Authority – His will vs. my will
Sunday School, MBC, October 13, 2013
Do you like to be the leader or the follower?
All of us grow up and live under someone else’s authority. In the same way that we had to learn to accept a parent’s authority, we need to also accept God’s authority in our lives. Only then do we have freedom.
Freedom does not mean the absence of constraints or moral absolutes. Suppose a skydiver at 10,000 feet announces to the rest of the group, “I’m not using a parachute this time. I want freedom!” The fact is that a skydiver is constrained by a greater law–the law of gravity. But when the skydiver chooses the “constraint” of the parachute, she is free to enjoy the exhilaration. God’s moral laws act the same way: they restrain, but they are absolutely necessary to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.
– Colin Campbell in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker)
WHO ARE SOME GREAT COACHES? Joe Paterno, Tom Landry, etc.
WHY ARE THEY CONSIDERED GREAT? Their players “bought into” the coach’s character, plans and personality. It is difficult for players to give their best effort when they don’t trust the person in charge and his plans for the team. The same is true of leadership. Great leaders must earn trust and respect.
IS THE SAME FOR CHRISTIANS? YES! Until we “buy into” and really get to know the heart of God, we will resist the rules that He sets down for us to follow.
God wants us to seek Him first and put His will on the top of our priority list. As we seek Him, placing ourselves under His authority is a delight.
READ Psalm 119:44-48
READ Jeremiah 15:16
Once we get a glimpse of the heart of God, His commands become a joy because we know and trust the One giving them. You see, there is great value in placing our lives under God’s authority. We learn that maximum FREEDOM comes from SUBMITTING to God’s rule in our lives.
When you stand beside a 747 jet on the runway, its massive weight and size makes it seem incapable of breaking the holds of gravity. But when the power of its engines combines with the laws of aerodynamics, the plane is able to lift itself to 35,000 feet and travel at 600 miles per hour. Gravity is still pulling on the plane, but as long as it obeys the laws of aerodynamics, it can break free from the bonds of earth.
“Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).
When we try to exert our own authority instead of subjecting ourselves to the authority of God, we have a problem. Consider this illustration:
The lion was proud of his mastery of the animal kingdom. One day he decided to make sure all the other animals knew he was the king of the jungle. He was so confident that he bypassed the smaller animals and went straight to the bear. “Who is the king of the jungle?” he asked. The bear replied, “Why, you are, of course.” The lion gave a mighty roar of approval. Next, he asked the tiger, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The tiger quickly responded, “Everyone knows that you are mighty lion.” Next on the list was the elephant. The lion faced the elephant and addressed his question: “Who is the king of the jungle?” The elephant immediately grabbed the lion with his trunk, whirled him around in the air five or six times, and slammed him into a tree. Then he pounded the lion on the ground several times, dunked him under water in a nearby lake, and finally threw him on the shore. The lion – beaten, bruised and battered – struggled to his feet. He looked at the elephant through sad and bloody eyes and said, “Look, just because you don’t know the answer is no reason for you to get mean about it!”
Authority has been a problem for man from the very beginning. Consider an all too familiar account in the Garden of Eden:
READ Genesis 2:15-17 – that is the rule from God
READ Genesis 3:1-6 – there we go, bucking the rule!
As we grew into our teenage years, we typically longed for more freedom in our decision making. The last thing many of us wanted to hear is our parent’s point of view. But as we continued to grow into an adult, we naturally stepped out from the umbrella of our parent’s authority. That model is not seen in the Christian life. We need to stay under God’s umbrella or we are going to get wet with the rain of bad choices and difficult circumstances. Some have felt that the older they got, the less they needed God. This is NOT a sign of maturity. Maturity for the Christian is to stay under God’s umbrella.
To applaud the will of God, to do the will of God, even to fight for the will of God is not difficult … until it comes at cross-purposes with our will. Then the lines are drawn.
Richard J. Foster, Christian Reader, Vol. 31.
Many Christians feel more comfortable with the idea that apart from Christ they can do nothing (John 15:5), than they do with the other side of that coin: that they can do all things through Him who strengthens them (Phil. 4:13). “I can do nothing” lets me off the hook; “I can do all things” makes me wonder why I’m not doing anything. It’s easier to piddle around wondering whether it’s God’s will that you buy this car or that one, than it is to face up to God’s ultimate will for you: that you become conformed to the image of His Son. (Rom. 8:29)
John Boykin in The Gospel of Coincidence. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 2.
The problem that many of us encounter is that we don’t like to be told what to do. As children, we didn’t like to be told to share our toys or do our chores. This resistance to authority remains a struggle for many throughout their lives. As a result, many choose a path they think will lead to more freedom in their lives. It is a trap which actually leads to the opposite. Instead of more freedom, they encounter less freedom and possibly bondage. The Bible has a concise way of looking at this:
READ Proverbs 14:12 – our own authority will lead to our own death
The prophet Isaiah laments Satan’s fall from grace because of his pride. Before the Devil rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven, he was created by God as Lucifer, and called the Morning Star, Son of the Dawn. But serving our loving God apparently wasn’t good enough for Lucifer. He came to believe he could rule better than God. So Lucifer rebelled against God’s authority and became known as Satan, the Devil, the Serpent.
Isaiah 14:12-15 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. NIV
Isaiah gives us a look into the heart of Satan – and humanity. The Devil wasn’t content to be governed by a loving and benevolent God. He wasn’t willing to live under God’s authority any longer. His heart was filled with pride and he decided he wanted to rule his own life and not be subject to the rule of God. Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like us?
In Genesis 2:15-17, we see the way God wanted the world to be. In God’s original design, man and woman would exist without interference from sin. Adam and Eve were living in a world very similar to the kind of world most of us would want – a world without a lot of rules. I can only find one rule God established in the garden – don’t mess with THAT tree! It seems that God’s original plan is that He likes the idea of freedom. As long as Adam functioned under God’s authority, everything would be fine. But that is not the way the story goes. Adam lost his freedom.
DID GOD TAKE HIS FREEDOM AWAY? No – sin took it away. It was the devil that successfully made Eve mistrust God and encouraged her to be disobedient. The devil’s line was that she could have NO RULES if she stepped out of God’s authority. In reality, instead of gaining freedom, Adam and Eve both LOST freedom. WHAT DID THEY LOSE? They lost the freedom to live in the garden, to have a life without pain, to live without disease, to be free of guilt, to relate to God without sin, to experience relationships without conflict and to live without sin. WHY DO WE NEED RULES? Because any time we are in a dangerous place, rules are established for our protection. God gave us rules (laws) not to restrict our freedom, but to protect it. God knew living outside the garden would be dangerous, but Adam and Eve chose not to stay under God’s care.
What about us? Are we living under God’s umbrella? It is a matter of trust.
DO YOU TRUST GOD? Some hesitate to submit to God’s leadership because they don’t trust Him. The problem is with the RELATIONSHIP! Rules apart from a relationship always lead to a lack of trust and, consequently, rebellion (Josh McDowell). We need to embrace a relationship with the “rule giver”, rather than the rules themselves. How we perceive God’s rules has everything to do with how we perceive God. Seeing God’s rules for what they are only comes when we see God for who He is. It is not until we strengthen our relationship with God do we see those fences as protection instead of restriction.
SO, HOW CAN WE APPLY THIS?
1. Today, decide to stay under God’s umbrella of authority – willingly.
2. Ask God to reveal those commands in Scripture you have trouble obeying. Ask “What is God trying to protect me from or what is he trying to provide?
Invest in THE RELATIONSHIP to encourage your trust in God’s hand. Get to know The Rule-Giver better.