September 13, 1998

Authority to Govern

I. Basis of Authority, Self-Government

The Lord clearly established the guidelines for governing authority, whether the authority is family, religious or civil. The authority to govern others is always from the ability to govern self, SELF-GOVERNMENT:
Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
Deuteronomy 1:13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. 14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. 15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. 16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. 17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
Luke 19:17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

II. Self-Government

Moral authority to govern comes from self-government in:


And freedom from covetousness --- that is, free from the strong desire for worldly things. Covetousness can be defined as a strong enough desire for something that people are willing to compromise godly responsibilities to gain thing. (For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Tim. 6:10.)

Paul and I met a man yesterday on visitation who was "fed up" with churches. He said that from his experience, churches are more business than anything else. His parents preached the good Christian life as he grew up, but when the choice came between money and the family, his dad chose the money. The moral authority of that man to govern his family was gone. The only way he could have any governing authority in his family now is by force.

1 Samuel 18:6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. 7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. 8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? 9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
Notice King Saul was angry at David, and blamed David for the people following him. However, the fault was with King Saul, not with David. Saul failed to do what was expected of him in the office God had given him. He thus yielded his moral authority to exercise his godly rule. He still had the power, but he did not have the respect he needed to have the people willingly follow him.

2 Samuel 23:1 Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

If the one in authority does not fear the higher authority, God, then he will be an evil ruler. He will set himself above the law. He will not rule by law, but by his own fiat law.

III.New Testament

The law of moral authority is carried over into the New Testament Church:
Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
The first church carried over Moses' instructions in the law to be applied to anyone who was to be placed in any kind of religious governing authority. They had to be Godly, honest men, well reported of by those who knew them.
Acts 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Before he was saved, Paul (Saul) persecuted Christians. The natural result was that when he was converted, the Christians continued to fear him, and they called into question Paul's moral authority to proclaim the gospel of Christ. Paul's moral authority to proclaim the gospel and to say the hard things he said came from his willingness to risk his life for the gospel after he was converted.

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul points to the many times he had laid his life on the line for Christ for his moral authority to preach the straight and clear messages he preached to those at Corinth. (11:24.)

Acts 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul's moral authority to govern the churches and preach the strong messages he preached came from his willingness to lay his life down for the gospel of Christ.

IV. Pastor's authority to govern in his church

The pastor's moral authority to govern in his church is clearly his self-government:
1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (Also Titus 1:6-9)
Righteous judgment comes from having a clear conscience.

A pastor's authority to govern a church comes from his willingness to consistently follow the word of God, in his home, in his private life and in his public ministry.

1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
We are in a warfare, and the victory must be given by the Lord, or there will be no victory. God has supplied us with the proper weapons to win that war, and the weapons he has provided are faith in Christ and the word of God and a good conscience. Without that good conscience, our message will not be effective. We will not have the boldness to speak out on issues if we have a guilty conscience.

Hebrews 9:14, the good conscience must be based in the atoning blood of Christ. Because we are sinners, we must be assured that our sins are forgiven in Christ, or our conscience will be violated.

V. The individual's moral authority

Jeannette was telling me the other day while she was in helping with the mailing, that she is coming to the conclusion that the most important thing for a Christian is to be consistent -- that is, self-governed.
1 Pet 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. (Conversation, manner of life, conduct, behaviour, deportment.)
The wife's moral authority to "preach" to her husband comes from her self-government, her consistent stand for Christ.
Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. 21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
The husband's, father's, moral authority to govern his home comes from self-government, loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, and controlling himself. Any other rule in the home will have to be done by force.

All these verses we have looked at revolved around a good conscience. Without that good conscience, the one in authority has yielded his right to speak for justice and to enforce JUSTICE in those under him. Without the moral base to rule inside or outside the home, the authority can only be forced.

In all the references above, you will see that the people were able to continue in their calling because they had the self-government, the moral authority to do so.

Wives -- Peter tells us that the wife has the moral authority to "preach" to her husband, but the preaching is done by her actions.

Husbands/fathers -- If they will have proper leadership in his home, it must be based in his moral authority, his self-government.

Pastors -- No matter how good the message or pleasing to the ear or Biblically sound, the message will be no more than empty words if he has not the self-government, the moral authority to present that message.

Civil Authority -- Even the world knows that authority is from a moral base. Even the media is crying out that Clinton has lost his moral authority to govern with his lies. His problem is that he got caught, for there have been extremely few leaders in America with the moral authority to govern, if the truth were known.

Obviously, the authority for any Christian to witness to others is from his self-government, his moral authority -- does he or she live what is being witnessed to? If not, he or she has no moral authority to say anything about the Lord and Christianity.

Added note:

The problem is found in

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

Ezekiel 33:31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

Isa 30:8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: 9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD 10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. 12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: 13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.