Obscurity: Authority

Introduction:

The third temptation of Jesus concerns the subject of authority. (Matthew 4:8–10). It seems that Satan is offering Jesus a quick route to the Messiahship, bypassing the ministry and crucifixion for which He had originally come. The devil was ready to give everything to Christ in return for His allegiance. Satan is saying “the world will bow to your authority, if you will bow to my authority.” Jesus replies sharply, “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” (Deuteronomy 6:13). We can learn from Jesus’ example when we are dealing with the temptation of authority.

Bottom Line: Everybody bows to authority. 

Something To Talk About:

We think we have authority but we don’t. It’s like electricity. The power company generates the power and delivers it to your house. Does this mean you are the power source? Of course not. You can put a light bulb in your mouth, and it will never come on. The source of all power and authority is God. Look at the final phrase of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:13 MSG): ”Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.”  Could it be any simpler? God is in charge. Yet we decide by our actions and by the sin in our lives whether God is in charge or Satan. Let’s look at the three ways Jesus dealt with the third temptation:   

  1. Strength to detect a lie: The lie is that we think we are the source of our authority and that our authority is permanent. We are not the source of the authority and the authority is temporary. We are a conduit for the authority of God, and we are a temporary conduit at that. The Bible is pretty clear who is in authority over all things. Mathew 28:18 says, “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” Ephesians 1:21 adds, “Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.” And finally 1 Corinthians 8:6 says, “But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.” Authority, approval and applause like material things have little spiritual significance because they are only temporary. We play into Satan’s hands when we seek temporary things rather than God.
  2. Strength to stand on truth: Jesus recognized that our authority is temporary. “Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above….” (John 19:11) Most of us can’t imagine that we’d ever reject God. But the sad truth is many of us are doing exactly that without realizing it. We can put not only people, work and possessions on the throne of our hearts, but also approval, applause, and authority,  And when we do that, we reject God. It does matter who we choose to bow down to day in day out. Every day we make a decision about what is most important in our lives. Every day we choose who sits on the throne of our hearts. All this matters because what’s on the throne of our hearts rule our lives. By choosing sin we choose Satan. When we choose God, we can live in His strength. 
  3. Strength to conquer temptation: Every temptation is a trade. Satan wants us to trade something in the here and now for something greater in the future. In the third temptation, Satan would have liked for Jesus to believe that after bowing down before him, He would be finished with him. Jesus understood that the symbolic act of bowing down and worshiping the devil would also carry with it a continuing obligation. The same is true of us. When we sin, we have an obligation to Satan. And that is an obligation that we don’t want. Every temptation is a decision to bow before Satan or God. When we choose God, we will still have temptations, but we will have the strength and grace of god to deal with them. When we bow to God we can find the strength to resist the temptations of Satan. 

Questions:

  1. Think of the people in your life who have some authority over you. How do you feel about them? 
  2. Read Proverbs 3:5-8. What are the commands given in this text? How does this passage help us in the dealing with our authority? How do we benefit from acknowledging our limitations before God?
  3. Is it difficult for you to believe that, through Jesus, you have the power to leave your sin behind you? Why or why not?
  4. Think about the sin in your life. What stands in the way of you deciding to leave that sin behind?
  5. What stands out to you in this message?
  6. What are some personal action steps you can take this week based on this message? 

Take One Thing Home with You:

There are people out there that seem to think that if they are born again and commit sin they will be automatically forgiven if they commit sin. There are also people who believe that once they are born again, they now have a license to sin. This could not be further from the truth. “So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.” (1 John 1:6)  Psalms 5:4 says, “O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.”

Sin cannot be managed. We cannot sin with impunity. We cannot sin without consequence. Sin is destructive. It is Satan’s best tool.  But here is the good news. Do you really think God would make it so hard to live a life that pleases him? What if we didn’t have to work so hard? What if our sin doesn’t affect how close we are to God? What if God meant it when he said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”?‘ What if God, knowing that we don’t have the power to address our sin, could walk around our sin and right up to us? What if he could put his arm around us and enjoy us right now-no matter how much unresolved sin we have in our life? What if we truly believed we were without condemnation? What if God’s love was that strong? 

Welcome to grace. Amazingly, the more we depend upon Jesus and his full ability to heal the effects of our sin, the less we sin and the more we live in God’s strength.