Summary: Those called of God are to use their spiritual authority to build people up & not to tear down. Those who have been granted authority in Christ have within them the ability to call forth the true exercise of authority.
2 CORINTHIANS 10: 7-11 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
A DEFENSE OF GOD GIVEN AUTHORITY
As I read these words, I am appalled at the attacks that were leveled at Paul and the pain he must have felt. What spiritual battles he must have fought yet he still maintained the meekness and gentleness of Christ (10:1).
Satan thrives in anarchy therefore his great warfare is to destroy legitimate authority. He himself rebelled against God's authority and is presently usurping God's authority, for all legitimate authority is from God. God has given authority to governments and rulers and so Satan mocks them for he mocks people in legitimate authority who oppose his chaos, be they a president, politician, military commander, administrator, police officer, teacher, parent, husband or pastor. [Could it be that some para-church groups which attempt to do the work of the church outside of the local church show the enormous spill-over effect of rebellion against the authority of the local church?]
God gives His called-out servants authority to carry out His will. But those in Christian leadership who possess God given authority are not to "lord it over" others and, in a know-it all manner, impose their will on others (Mk. 10:35-45). How then are they to defend their authority? Paul here gives a worthy example of how those with God given authority within the church are to defend themselves and substantiate their legitimate authority.
Those called of God are to use their spiritual authority to build people up and not to tear down (CIM). It is far easier to tear down. Just as it is far easier to be impressive with personality and speech [or imposing with demeanor and attitude] than with a spiritual walk of kindness and meekness. Yet those that have been granted authority in Christ have within them the ability to call forth the true exercise of that authority.
I. AUTHORITY IS DELEGATED BY CHRIST, 7-8.
II. AUTHORITY IS DENOUNCED/CRITICIZED BY THE PROUD, 9-10.
III. AUTHORITY IS DEMONSTRATED IN DEEDS, 11.
Paul states in verse 7 that his leadership is fully justified because his authority has been delegated to Him by God’s call and leadership. “You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's let him consider this again within himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we.”
A major contributing factor to the Corinthian dilemma concerning authority was their superficiality and shallowness. They were concerned with the surface [superficial] or how things are or appear “outwardly.” They looked at personal appearance, mannerisms, personality, and orator or preaching skills. [Some Corinthians continued to judge Paul and his ministry according to the standards of the time; they evaluated him according to his rhetoric, logic, and his reception by various leaders.] They were still focused on externalities and worldly wisdom (1 Cor. 3:1). As a result the misleading teachers and legalists found them easy game.
How do you know you are Christ’s? Is it because of outward ability? Is it the beautiful, dominant, eloquent people that are Christ’s? Is it the dynamic TV personalities, music and movie stars that symbolize what Christian leaders should be? Or is it the powerful CEO types that represents what ministers should be? Paul tells the Corinthians that they are looking at things in a thoroughly superficial manner. If they would but look into their spiritual being and acknowledge their spiritual birth they would be forced to see that Paul was in truth their own genuine apostle God had sent to them.
How do you know you are in Christ? You know because Christ lives in you by the person of the Spirit of God. This same revelation of the Spirit who reveals to our spirit that we are children of God would reveal not only that Paul was in Christ but also the truthfulness of Paul’s ministry. Just because a person is Christ’s doesn’t give him the right to rebel against, oppose, or usurp God delegated authority.
Verse 8 indicates that since Paul’s authority comes directly from God he can build up Christians in the faith. “For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you. I will not be put to shame.”
In order to vindicate and establish his apostolic authority and personal integrity, Paul will engage in what he found repugnant -boasting or self commendation. His boasting is not hollow or self-centered for its substance is what God did through him for the cause of Christ. He boasts in his authority, for it is not human authority but the Lord's. The fundamental reason for his confidence was that the Lord delegated his authority to him. It was not an authority he had usurped or took upon himself (Acts 26:16).