Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Chain of Command

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

In the fifth commandment, we are given God’s ordained chain of command. No one can object to the idea of submitting to God’s absolute authority, because we know that He cannot do wrong and anything He tells us to do is for good. When it comes to submitting to other people, however, we can find excuses to disobey and rebel. Other people, after all, are not God. As sinners they make mistakes and we have learned not to fully trust them.

The Bible tells us that while God has all authority, He has delegated the exercise of that authority to certain people. Parents are the first people appointed to exercise God’s authority. We all start out as children and our first encounter with authority is our parents. The pattern of obedience we are to render to other authorities throughout life is first learned in the home.

Parents do not automatically have authority over their children because they gave birth to them. Rather, the authority possessed by parents is delegated by God. Similarly, children are not to submit to their parents because of physical relationship, but because that is God’s command. When we honor our parents we honor God; conversely, when we dishonor them we profane God.

The same thing is true in other areas of life. The Bible says wives are to submit to husbands, employees to employers, citizens to rulers, and church members to elders (Ephesians 5–6, Romans 13, Hebrews 13). Submission in such chains of command is the visible and practical expression of our submission to God. Such submission is also limited by the fact that those in authority over us may not command us to sin, nor are they to make demands outside their delegated spheres of authority (for instance, the civil ruler may not assume the duties of the father).

Liberal theologians often pit a “religion of the spirit” against a “religion of authority.” This is unbiblical nonsense. The true religion of the Holy Spirit is a religion of authority because the Spirit wrote the absolutely authoritative Bible and the Spirit has set up the God-ordained chains of command we encounter in our daily lives.

One test of our submission to God is in our submission to other people. Take a few minutes now to examine your attitude toward those in authority: husband, elders, government, employer, etc. Are you submitting “in the Lord”?