Authority is a tremendous thing in the universe -- nothing overshadows it. According to Webster, authority is the power or right to act, order, or make the ultimate and overruling decisions. Scripture states that this supreme right belongs to God, that He alone is the authority in all things. His supremacy stems from the fact that He is the author, the originator, and the creator of all that exists.
Human beings are not born with an innate sense of "who is in charge." Our parents are our first glimpse of authority. They let us know at an early age that we have boundaries -- physical, emotional, and social. Behavior that attempts to set aside those orders usually results in some form of punishment. As we move out into the world we meet authority everywhere -- in school, in our community, even in our peer groups. We promise ourselves that one day we will be in charge of our lives; that we will make the decisions, determine our own destiny. We equate self-rule with adulthood. It is important to our self-image.
Soon we learn that our culture values people in authority. Authoritative positions in the educational, social, religious, business, and political worlds are prized highly. We begin to feel there is something unworthy and degrading about allowing ourselves to be in a position of submission. Soon we have joined the world in its game of "one up". We compete for the places of power in the classroom, on the playground, at Bible School, on the athletic teams, and on and on into the adult world. We strive to be among the rule-makers, those who call the shots. It makes us feel important and successful. Submission makes us feel like a "nothing".
The controversy of the universe is centered on who shall have authority. And as long as humans breathe, this ageless battle will continue with everyone involved in the struggle eventually losing. What mankind fails to realize is that the question of who is in charge has already been decided. Right up to the moment when Jesus returns people and nations will play "King of the Mountain", never guessing that it is a silly game.
Christians, however, unless they want to be condemned with the world, must move out of this race to be top dog and learn what authority is all about. "It is imperative for those who desire to serve God to know the authority of God. For in touching God's authority we touch God Himself." (Watchman Nee) In ignoring it or rejecting it we are in danger of hell's fire.
"God alone is authority in all things. The will of God is the absolute thing, for will represents authority. Therefore to know God's will and to obey it is to be subject to authority. To refuse to obey is to overthrow God's authority and thus to overthrow God. Obedience is a fundamental principle. If this matter of authority remains unsolved, nothing can be solved. As faith is the principle by which we obtain life, so obedience is the principle by which that life is lived out. For the greatest of God's demands on man is not for him to bear the cross, to serve, make offerings, or deny himself; the greatest demand is for him to obey." (Watchman Nee)
How do we begin to understand the authority of God? Let's go back to the beginning. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." He spoke and it was done. Scripture tells us specifically in Romans 13 that there is no power but of God. It also tells us what our response is to be. "Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers for he that resists the power withstands the ordinance of God and shall receive to himself judgment."
Then who questioned God's right to rule? Scripture tells us that it was a spiritual being. He caused a mutiny in the heavens. He competed with God, attempting to set up his throne above the throne of God. His name was Satan. He rebelled against his Creator. Now there are two principles in the universe -- the principle of God's authority and the principle of Satan's rebellion.
It did not take man long to become involved in the controversy. Let us review the story of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis:
"After God had created Adam, He gave him a few charges; among these was the order to not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The crux of this charge was more than the forbiddance to eat a certain fruit; rather it was that God was putting Adam under authority that he might learn obedience. On the one hand God placed all the created things on the earth under the authority of Adam and Eve that they might have dominion over them; but on the other hand God had placed them under His authority that they might obey. Thus authority was the basic issue in the Garden of Eden. Instead of obeying, Eve made her own decision upon seeing that the fruit was good and pleasant to the eyes. Her eating the fruit did not come out of subjection but out of her own will. She not only violated God's authority but led Adam into temptation. She who was to have been his help-meet became his seducer. (Sound familiar?) She rebelled against God and fell. Any act of disobedience is rebellion, the principle of Satan." (Watchman Nee) Satan deceived Eve into joining him in his mutiny against God. Eve enticed Adam. All mankind now stands condemned beside this rebellious angelic deceiver, unless...
UNLESS there is a way for man to be restored to the original righteousness. And praise God, it has been done through Jesus Christ, who was obedient to His Father even to death, taking the punishment for our disobedience on Himself and becoming the way back for us. Through Him we can be reconciled to God and delivered from the power of Satan and his kingdom of darkness and rebellion. Thus there are two important matters in the universe, trusting in God's salvation and obeying His authority.
"Trust and obey, for there is no other way."
"IT IS IMPERATIVE FOR US WHO DESIRE TO SERVE GOD TO KNOW THE AUTHORITY OF GOD. If you have not come to grips with the knowledge of this, ask God to teach you. Anyone who has once experienced an electric shock knows thereafter that he cannot be careless with electricity. Likewise, a person who has once been smitten by God's authority from then on has his eyes opened to the serious nature of disobedience." (Watchman Nee)
Obedience is faith in action. Obedience is faith in God activated and energized by our love for Him plus a smattering of holy fear.