By what authority?


Have you ever been in the position where someone asks you a question but they aren’t really interested in your response? In fact, they’ve already formed their response and are eager to challenge you. And all of a sudden, you are in a battle of who’s right and whose authority will prevail.


Authority means to have power or control. It is defined as “the power to determine or settle issues or disputes; the right to control or command.” Jesus was teaching and preaching in the temple when the religious leaders interrupted him. How typical of the the enemy’s tactic to distract us and throw us off guard. He questions God’s authority and tempts us to act in our own authority and power. He knows that whenever we act in our own power, we will forget God in the pursuit of our own ambitions.


“Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”” Luke 20:2


It was a test to see if they could trap the teacher. They weren’t really interested in knowing the answer; their interest was entrapment, not understanding.  But Jesus didn’t fall for the trap. Instead, he asked them if John’s baptism was from heaven or from men. The leaders wouldn’t answer because if they said, “by heaven” Jesus would ask why they didn’t they believe him; if they said, “by men” they would earn the wrath of the people who considered John a prophet. Not finding a politically correct solution to their dilemma, they copped out and refused to answer.


It brings me to wonder, by what authority do we form our opinions and by whose authority do we make and act on decisions? If our answer is by the authority of God, we need to be prepared to reconcile how that claim lines up with God’s Word. If our answer is by our own authority, we’re setting up an authority that stands in opposition to God.


It’s tempting to think that we are our own boss, the captain of our own destiny. Without an understanding of the full gospel, we come to God asking him to bless the decisions we have already made and to defend the opinions we’ve already formed in our minds. But the bible says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God…” 1 Corinthians 19-20


If we were our own, then we would have authority to do whatever we want. We could say a mindless prayer and live life any way that pleases us. However, God’s Word has a different claim on our lives: “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4


Our victory over “those” people, the ones who offend and persecute us, comes from the authority of God’s Spirit who lives in us. Think about it: when Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in Heaven and in the earth,” (Matthew 28:18), he was delegating that same authority – his authority – to us. His next sentence began with, “Go therefore and make disciples…” It wasn’t “Go and make a living” or “Go and pursue your dreams.” He didn’t say go make a plan in our own minds and worry when it didn’t work. He said to dedicate our lives to following and serving him fully, in his authority and power.


We aren’t called to make it up as we go or to follow our emotional irrationality or the vain philosophies of man. We aren’t called to live by opinions. We’re called to live by faith that the full authority of God has power and victory over every situation we confront. Isn’t that how you want to live? You can claim the authority of God in your life. Learn to wield it with wisdom and skill by understanding the power of God’s Word alive in you. We are not God, but he gives us his authority to live victoriously. “Go therefore,” and live a victorious life according to his purpose and calling!


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