I just recently started receiving TableTalk magazine from Ligonier Ministries and have so far really enjoyed the thought-provoking articles. The March 2009 issue centered on the topic of authority, specifically as it relates to the church, the family and the government. In his introductory article, Dr. Sproul states, “The act on one’s own authority against the authority of God is the essence of disobedience and of sin. When we grasp authority ourselves and do what is right in our own minds, we are attacking the very foundation of life.”
How true this is! Take any number of hot button issues in today’s culture, boil it down to its most basic premise and you will see that it’s a matter of pitting God’s authority against man’s contrived image of his own authority. But let’s not leave it at the big, nebulous, overarching level where blending into the masses and the faceless politics is way too easy. What about the sin in my life? When I willingly yield to the sin that tempts me, I’m basically saying that I don’t believe in God’s authority to tell me not to do that nor His authority to grant me victory over the sin nor His authority to bring about punishment. Instead, I follow what I think is best for me and thus try to make my own authority higher than God’s.
Where it gets muddier is when I realize that, as the head of my home, I have indeed been given authority, but only as it is from God. If I sin by not leading in a way that is honoring to Him, I am misrepresenting His authority. Notice that my family is still obligated to follow the authority given to me. I’m still leading, however poorly. Yet another hard lesson that I’m still learning is that to lead with this authority is not a popularity contest – leading only if I think someone will follow. This, too, is saying in essence that God’s authority is not enough for me to make a decision. For example, when it comes to family prayer time or praying with my wife, I am the one responsible for making the decision, and whether or not anyone will want to should not even factor into the decision making process. In the article on Family Authority, Denise Sproul states, “It is important to keep in mind that husbands, fathers and mothers who refuse to exercise appropriate authority in their homes are guilty before God for failing to submit to His authority. Their failure comes from not believing and acting on the Word of God, accepting the roles and responsibilities He has given them.”
And what is the result or goal of the authority given to parents, in particular? Denise later says, “Our children are given to us that we might return to Him godly seed, that we might help them learn to obey, that it would go well with them in the land.” Or stated another way, our goal is to train our children to want to love and honor God in everything. Not just to be good, moral, upstanding citizens. Not so that they’ll behave and make life easy for us as parents. But so they too will see the greatness of God and want to live in such a way that reflects back to him any and all praise.
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