Summary: Learning to relate in the right way toward God ordained authority is an important part of spiritual maturity. In fact, you cannot walk in the anointing of God, Who is the head of all and from Whom the oil of anointing flows, if you are not submitted...
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11)
Learning to relate in the right way toward God ordained authority is an important part of spiritual maturity. In fact, you cannot walk in the anointing of God, Who is the head of all and from Whom the oil of anointing flows, if you are not submitted to God and His ordained authority. Because of our sinful, rebellious nature, we do not automatically know how to relate properly to authority. It is something we must be trained in and something for which we will experience much discipline from the Lord throughout our lives.
From the Old Testament we learn that Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because Moses married a non-Israelite. They challenged Moses’ legitimacy as God’s appointed leader and spokesperson. "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn’t he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this.” (See Num. 12:1-15)
God was angry and suddenly Miriam became leprous. Upon seeing this, Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.” We are never to talk against God’s appointed leadership. It brings His judgment and discipline (see also Numbers 16:1-50). God does not take lightly those who align themselves with others in rebellion against His leadership. God deals severely with this type offense.
People often argue over minor disagreements, leaving the real issue untouched. Such was the case when Miriam and Aaron came to Moses with a complaint. They represented the priests and the prophets, the two most powerful groups next to Moses. The real issue was their growing jealousy of Moses’ position and influence. Since they could not find fault with the way Moses was leading the people, they chose to criticize his wife. Rather than face the problem squarely by dealing with their envy and pride – their rebellious attitude toward those placed into authority by God - they chose to create a diversion from the real issue.
Discipline means “to exercise.” When a muscle is not utilized, it atrophies or becomes slack and without strength. A disciple or “disciplined one” is one who is teachable, who willfully chooses to sit at the feet of another exchanging their right to another. As you grow in the Lord and put into practice what you have learned, your capacity to understand will also grow. Similarly, if we find ourselves not able to receive from those in leadership, often times it is because we are harboring some unresolved bitterness. Many times this will come out in statements like, “Well, I’m just not getting fed.” What we should realize is that if the Bible is being taught, there is always more to learn and to apply in our lives. The problem may not rest with leadership, but could it be from within ourselves. Our capacity to feast on the deeper knowledge of God ("solid food") is determined by our spiritual growth and willingness to submit to godly authority. Too often we want God’s banquet before we are spiritually capable of digesting it.
Four Responses To Discipline & Authority
1. We can accept it with resignation.
2. We can accept it with self-pity, thinking we really don’t deserve it.
3. We can be angry and resentful toward God.
4. We can accept it gratefully, as the appropriate response we owe a loving Father.
When you are in a disagreement, stop and ask yourself if you are arguing over the real issue or if you have introduced a smoke screen by attacking someone’s character. If you are unjustly criticized, remember that your critics may be afraid to face the real problem. Don’t take this type of criticism personally. Ask God to help you identify the real issue and deal with it.
Submitting To God-Ordained Authority
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:22)
“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Heb. 13:17)
The will of God regarding authority is that all believers submit to one another by choice - wives to husbands and also husbands to wives; slaves to masters and also masters to slaves; children to parents and also parents to children; church members and church leadership. This kind of mutual submission preserves order and harmony in the family while it increases love and respect among family members.
Although some people have distorted the Bible’s teaching on submission by giving unlimited authority to husbands, we cannot get around it - the Bible tells us that wives are to submit to their husbands. According to the Bible, the man is the spiritual head of the family, and his wife should acknowledge his leadership. But real spiritual leadership involves service. No man, in Christ or not, can walk in true authority until they have assumed real responsibility. Just as Christ served the disciples, even to the point of washing their feet, so the husband is to serve his wife. No woman in the world would have a problem following and submitting to that kind of service. A wise and Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of his leadership role, and a wise and Christ-honoring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership. Either approach causes disunity and friction in marriage.