Submit to Authorities

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.
–Hebrews 13:17

Who speaks for God? One group of people we ought to listen to is the authority figures God has placed over us. Whether these authorities are Christians or non-Christians, God can use them to communicate His will for our lives.

The Bible mentions several human authorities we are to listen to. In Ephesians 5:22, Paul talked about the relationship between husbands and wives: “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” The Greek word for “be subject to” is a military term. Paul was saying there has to be a clear chain of command in the household, and the wife is to place herself under the authority of her husband–just as Jesus Christ placed Himself under the authority of the Father when He came to die on the cross. God gives spiritual direction to wives through their husbands.

God also directs employees through their employers. Look at Ephesians 6:5: “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, . . . as to Christ.” When we obey our employers, it is as if we’re obeying Jesus Christ.

God communicates His will through governing authorities. Romans 13:1 says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Do you know who the ruler of Rome was when Paul wrote those words? Nero, the evil emperor who persecuted Christians. Yet Paul said we’re to obey governing authorities because God placed them in power for His purpose.

Finally, God directs Christians through the spiritual authorities He has placed over the local church. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.” A pastor is to shepherd his congregation, and the congregation is to follow the pastor’s leading.

Now, we’re never to follow any commands that go against God’s Word. But otherwise, we’re to look to the authority figures in our lives for God’s direction. Doing so teaches us the quality of obedience. After all, if we can’t obey visible authority figures, how will we ever learn to obey the invisible authority of God? One reason God places us under somebody’s authority is so we can learn to obey even when we don’t feel like obeying.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Who Speaks for God?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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