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Spiritual Authority Class Notes

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These are part of my class notes from a class at our church on The Pre-eminance of the Doctrine of Spiritual Authority, that Rev. H. Weaver  has allowed me to share. Please click here for the notes in their entirety. He addresses husbands and wives here. This is a fantastic foundation for us all to understand how God designed marriage to work – and other areas of our lives, as well.

THE PURPOSE OF SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

God uses authorities in our lives for several reasons. Many times He uses them to give us guidance and direction and to communicate His will and purpose for our lives. Therefore, the various levels of authority are placed in our lives for our good, not for our oppression even though some actions taken by those authorities can be corrective at certain times.

However, how can we tell if a human authority is speaking for the Lord or for himself? The answer is to always test the instruction or message given by the authority against the absolute truth of God’s Word.

If one in authority over you speaks in specific violation of God’s Word, you are released from your obligation to obey those instructions. But what about authorities who are not even saved? The commands in Scripture to submit to those in authority over us are not dependent upon them being Christians because God can and does speak through them also.

It is important to understand the difference between two words relating to authority:

Submission and obedience.

  • Submission is absolute.
  • Obedience is relative.

Submission is a matter of attitude. Obedience is a matter of conduct. We should always have a submissive attitude toward all those in authority even when we might have to disobey their instructions if they clearly violate God’s Word. Examples would be Peter and John in Acts 4 and 5 and Daniel and his friends.

There is another very important issue about choosing to disobey the instructions of an authority. And that is, you must also be willing to accept the consequences for disobedience. Consequences might not be avoided even when you are on Biblically solid grounds for disobeying.

THE STRUCTURE OF SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

At all levels of spiritual authority there is form, order, and structure. There is direct or divine authority as represented in the Trinity and delegated authority which God has assigned to mankind.

Direct, Divine Authority: The Trinity

We believe in a triune God; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are three in One. They are equal in terms of merit, nature, character and value, but they are not equal in terms of authority.

Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are One,” meaning One in divine nature, character, value, and purpose.

But He also said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given unto me in heaven and in earth.” God the Father gave Him that authority.

Also Paul said in I Corinthians 11:3, “The head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is the man and the head of Christ is God.”

Delegated Authority (in the home – husbands and parents- in the church, in the work place and in the government):

There are at least three requirements for an individual to properly operate as a delegated authority.

1. He must remember that all authority comes from God. They are therefore only a representative of God.

2. As God’s representative, the person must deny himself.

3. The person must constantly keep in fellowship and communion with God.

We should always remember that since we are only representing God and not ourselves, that all individuals in authority will be held to a higher standard of accountability for the proper conduct of their responsibilities in leading others.

The most comprehensive statement defining the basis of the levels of authority is stated in the I Corinthians 11:3 passage quoted above. This is a principle of Scripture that transcends time and culture. This delegated authority by God is based on His sovereignty, His glory, and for our good. It is not based on the value or merit of any individual over another individual or one gender over the other.

Romans 2:11, “For there is no respect of persons with God”

Delegated Authority in the Home
The instructions in Ephesians 5:22-31 for the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and for the wife to submit to her husband as unto the Lord are not conditional unto each other. Also, one is not more important than the other but I do believe that the command to the husband is preeminent in order of compliance since he is the spiritual head of his family.

Also in the home we see that God uses the authoritative structure of the relationship between parents and children to teach the child the importance of obedience and how they should relate to authorities in their lives when they are adults. Proverbs 6:20-23.

I believe there are two types of delegated authority:

1. positional authority

2. influence authority

The home is a good place to illustrate these dual roles but they exist in all areas of delegated authority and are fulfilled by both men and women. Without an understanding of both roles, an imbalanced perception of authority can result. Influence authority, like positional authority, can be used for good such as Esther did, or for evil as Eve did.

– Scripture teaches that we have freedom when we are under authority.

– Satan says that being under authority is oppressive.

The difference is explained by the Biblical definition of freedom.

– Satan says that freedom is the right to do what you want to do.

– God says that freedom is the POWER to do what you ought to do.

If one in authority over you makes a decision with which you disagree, rather than resist the person’s decision or their right to make such a decision, learn how to make an appeal. This is a process which can be used with men and women and in all authoritative environments (including a wife to her husband). Unfortunately, this process has essentially become a lost art in today’s world, even for Christians.

THE STEPS OF MAKING AN APPEAL TO SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY OVER YOU:

1. Be sure that you are in right standing with God and man.

2. You must have the right motives and attitudes. That is, be more concerned about the reputation of the person in authority to whom you are appealing than your own because you realize how God desires to use them for good in your life.

3. You must appeal at the right time. Timing is critical for success.

4. You must give accurate information and use the proper words. Don’t withhold necessary information to try to influence them in deciding your way.

5. Very importantly, you must demonstrate the right response if your appeal is rejected.

6. If your appeal is not accepted, you must be willing to accept the consequences of disobedience even when your basis for disobedience is Biblical.

CONCLUSIONS:

Rebellion is the underlying basis of sin because it rejects God’s right to define truth and expresses an individual’s desire to live outside of God’s authority. Therefore, rebellion is more significant than any individual sin because it comes from a spirit that rejects God Himself and His right to rule over His own creation.

I Samuel 15:23a “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” One of the attributes of witchcraft is that it represents an attempt to create a supernatural experience like that of God. And stubbornness or the insistence of self-will, is sin and it represents the worshiping of an idol; in this case SELF.

In I Samuel 15:22, Saul felt that the importance of the prevailing circumstances overrode the principle that God had established through the position of priest as His delegated authority. But Samuel told him that to obey is better than to sacrifice.

Obedience is the highest expression of God’s will for our lives.
When an individual has a comprehensive understanding of the nature, purpose, structure and importance of spiritual authority in their lives, then they are in a position to be able to look beyond an individual decision or ruling made by a delegated authority themselves, and look for a deeper message that God might intend by seeking the underlying intent on which that decision was made. Then in the cases where the decision might violate God’s Word, the individual is free to offer an alternative suggestion that might accomplish the intent of the authority without violating God’s Word as Daniel did in regard to eating the king’s food.

One of the benefits and blessings from being obedient to God through a delegated authority is that it helps make them successful in carrying out their responsibilities of leadership. In addition to helping them, it also strengthens you in your relationship to the Lord and to the authority.

(Please read the original post for information on Delegated Authority in the church, workplace and government.)

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PS (From Peacefulwife) – in situations where there are SERIOUS issues – physical abuse, a husband is actively addicted to drugs/alcohol or has an uncontrolled mental condition and is not in his right mind – I asked Rev. H. Weaver what a wife is to do in such a case…

He said that if a husband is clearly not in his right mind due to substance abuse, is physically violent or is extremely controlling (and the wife is not safe) – that a wife may have a responsibility and duty to leave and not obey her husband. She can have a spirit of submissiveness and wanting to honor his position as leader – but she may have to disobey his orders in such situations and get help. He said that he believes a wife is released from obeying her husband in an extremely abusive situation.

He and I do not take a wife respectfully going against a husband’s leadership lightly. This is something a wife must be VERY sure about before taking action. I would want to seek God with much prayer and fasting if at all possible and seek godly counsel. I don’t want to see anyone ever hurt or killed. If you are truly not safe, please find help and get to a safe place if you can!

God doesn’t call women to submit to husbands asking them to blatantly sin. Please see above in the notes. Husbands have great responsibility and accountability before God to be gentle, to not be harsh with their wives (I Peter 3:7), to love their wives in a godly way and to nurture, protect and provide for their wives (Ephesians 5:22-33).

You DO still have a voice as a wife, and you have the responsibility and privilege of sharing your heart, your needs, your ideas, your perspective, your desires. Biblical submission is not about a wife having no “right” to speak or not being allowed to have her own opinions, thoughts, ideas and emotions. A godly husband cares about his wife, her needs, her feelings, her concerns and her desires.

RELATED:
A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage – the husband has positional authority the wife has influence authority

16 thoughts on “Spiritual Authority Class Notes

  1. Reblogged this on Peaceful Single Girl and commented:

    If you haven’t read the notes from the class Greg and I took at our church 2 years ago on spiritual authority, you have GOT to read them! This is the foundation for the structure of authority in marriage. This is what we build marriage upon based on God’s Word. You can read the entire class notes (there is a link) that also includes information about the authorities over us in government, in the church and at work, as well – and how God uses them to provide for, lead, direct, bless and protect his people.
    Authority is an incredibly important topic in scripture. God calls us to have respect for those in authority over us and to have respect for the authority of His Word and for God, Himself.

    Let me know if there are things you want to talk about! You may comment here or on the post at http://www.peacefulwife.com. May God richly bless your walk with Christ!

  2. See? The husband must have authority over the wife, and the wife must submit to the husband. But this isn’t happening in today’s society! That’s when divorces come along.
    I really thank you for taking the time to write this post. I believe you entire blog is a must-read for every Christian. Thank you!

    1. Victoria,

      I’m very thankful that Rev. Weaver allowed me to share the notes he gave us in class. I wish every believer could take a class about the importance of God’s authority, the authority of His Word and delegated authority. Especially in the world we live in where there is no respect for God-given authority.
      I’m so glad this was a blessing to you! 🙂

  3. “If one in authority over you makes a decision with which you disagree, rather than resist the person’s decision or their right to make such a decision, learn how to make an appeal. This is a process which can be used with men and women and in all authoritative environments (including a wife to her husband).”

    This is excellent! It puts the lie to the notion that a submissive wife is nothing but a brainless doormat.

    I would never want to be married to a brainless doormat. I would want my wife to share her take on things, her wisdom, her concerns. Not only are her thoughts and opinions of great value, but by completely hearing her out, the husband is fulfulling his responsibility to love and cherish his wife.

  4. I am almost in tears praising the sovereignty of God to lead you to post this at a time i have been crying out to Him for wisdom concerning this very issue. He sees me!!!!! I have begun this journey of “really” submitting to my husband and there have been tests as God has been refining me. My biggest test has been my husband wanting to leave our current church. I made an appeal but he still feels led to leave. When i spoke with my Pastor about his decision i was told that God said this was not His will, that our assignment in that church was not over and that though God does call us to submit to our husbands He doesnt want us to follow them into disobedience. I was also told that God said for me to think about the story of Korah and his rebellion and how God destroyed him and his entire household. This of course made me afraid. My Pastor then said that I should do whats in my heart and that they would never tell me to cause division in my home. This counsel left me really confused. With God given delegated authority who don you submit to when two authorirties are telling you the opposite. Your husband or your Pastor who says that God said … I feel as though either way id be in rebellion.

    1. Elly,

      My sweet sister!

      Do you have a covenant with your pastor?

      Check out I Corinthians 11:3. Do you know if that passage about your pastor or about your husband?

      3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

      Check out I Peter 3:1-6
      Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

      Who did Sarah listen to?

      Our primary authority in this life as wives are our husbands.

      I believe it was not at all appropriate of a pastor to tell you that God said what your husband wants to do is not God’s will. Changing churches is not the same thing as rebelling against the one man who represents God to the nation of Israel.

      Your allegiance must lie with your husband. You are one with him – not your pastor.

      Your husband is accountable to God for the decisions he makes in your marriage and family, not your pastor. The pastor is responsible and accountable for leading his church with godly wisdom and to please God in how he serves, instructs, teaches, preaches and manages his flock. But, in my view, it is not at all his business to tell you that you can’t leave that particular church.

      Much love!

      1. April,

        Thank you for your response after much prayer I realized that there are really unhealthy boundaries in my relationship with my Pastor. I can recognize it because the way I c controlled and manipulated my husband until God changed my heart is what I feel is being done to me. I need my mind renewed to see authority in a healthy way because I think I may have been submitting to man in a way that only Christ deserves, I was just so afraid of being rebellious that as long as I wasn’t asked to sin I obeyed everything I was asked even if I didn’t want to. I’m trying to find a healthy balance

        1. Elly,

          I’m glad that you are examining this closely. I am concerned that he is asking you to sin – if he expects you to obey him over your husband – when your husband is attempting to lead the family and is not asking you to sin.

          Praying for God’s wisdom and healing for you, my precious sister!

    2. Elly: In my view, if your husband wanted you to quit going to church altogether, or to join some cult, then you should find a way to attend church without his agreement. Perhaps a ladies Bible study during the time that your husband is at work.

      But if all he wants to do is attend a different CHRISTIAN church, then by all means, follow your husband.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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