Whose Authority?

“But the officer said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have You come into my home. Just say the word from where You are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.’” (Matthew 8:8-9 NLT)

It’s interesting to me that in the verses above the term “faith” isn’t mentioned, yet in the very next verse Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” What should that tell us? Faith, apart from which we’ll never see God, begins, and ends with authority. What does that mean?

The word translated “authority” in the above verses means: “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises.” Faith exists when we understand where we stand in the overall scheme of things. We neither think too much of ourselves nor too little of ourselves.

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The soldier recognized that his authority was given to him by those in authority over him. God is ultimately in authority over all creation. There’s no one, not even the man Jesus, who wasn’t under God the Father’s authority. That’s the essence of faith – recognizing and responding appropriately to the authority over us and the authority that we have been given out of which we serve.

So, how do we most effectively illustrate our faithfulness to God? By submitting to His authority over us. How, in practical terms, do we do that? We obey His commands. 1 John 2:5 says: “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him.” That’s why we can’t continue in habitual sin. Why not? Because Christ has given us authority over that which seeks to rule and control us.

To live in unrepentant sin is to deny Christ’s authority over our lives, illuminating the lie that causes us to believe we’re a Jesus follower. How do I know that? If sin is our master, Jesus isn’t! It’s as simple as that. Does that mean we’ll never sin? That’s not what the Scriptures teach. As long as we’re in this body of clay we have the capacity to sin. But the joyful declaration of regeneration in Christ Jesus is that we now have a choice. We can sin, but we don’t have to!

And to the extent we deliberately, by an act of our will, turn from sin to obedience to the Lord of our life, we give credence to the faith we profess. Jesus followers walk in victory, not defeat, because our victory is in Him to whom we’ve submitted the authority of our lives to rule us as He sees fit. And the irony is, the greater measure of authority we give, the greater measure we receive. Authority isn’t something we brag about, it’s something to which we humbly submit, realizing the only authority we have is given to us from the Lord.

Why is that so important to understand? Because to believe we can command anything without the Lord’s consent is to overstep our bounds. We’ll look at this more closely in tomorrow’s post, but we need to tread softly when it comes to demonic powers or even sickness that we believe should be healed.

As a rule, the Lord has given us far more authority than we exercise, but there’s sometimes a thin line between who gets the credit. We must search our motives before we “command” anything in Jesus’ name. Whose glory, recognition, and honor are we really seeking – His or ours?

Blessings, Ed 😊

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