Identity, Authority & Motives (part 2)
The word authority gets thrown around a lot among Christian circles, especially in the Charismatic/Apostolic-Prophetic movement. During the last 20 years I have heard the word authority used so many times. Some in a right context, but unfortunately many times it has been used in a wrong way. I’ve seen authority abused and misused. I’ve seen authority hurt and damage many people. I believe in authority and the proper submitting to authority. I believe that God wants us to use authority in the proper context. We must learn what true authority is and how it is to be used within our lives. Jesus sets the perfect example of how not to misuse authority. That is, we should never use our authority to prove our identity.
In my last post I referenced Jesus three wilderness temptations. We looked at identity as the first temptation. In the second temptation we can see the issue of authority. At the end of Matthew 3 we see that Jesus was baptized. God the Father spoke from heaven and said that Jesus was His beloved Son, that He was pleased with Him and that people should listen to Him. From this statement we can see that God affirmed, validated and identified Jesus as His Son. Immediately after this, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for three temptations by the devil. Here is the second temptation.
Matthew 4:5-7 (NIV) Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ “Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Here we see that the devil wanted Jesus to prove His authority by throwing Himself down and having the angels protect Him. If He truly was the Son of God then the angels would protect Him in His humanity. The devil even used scripture to tempt Jesus. In the first temptation Jesus’ identity was questioned. Even here His identity is questioned but now it’s about proving His identity through His authority. If you are the Son of God then prove it by using your authority over the angels. Jesus replied that to operate in this manner would be putting God to the test. Why? Because Jesus realized that His authority came from His identity as the Son of God not by what He could prove or do.
As born-again Christians, God has invested authority within us. When you have true authority you don’t have to go around showboating it. You just walk in it. You don’t have to tell others how much authority you have. Yet, I have seen so many leaders showboating their authority. I’ve seen them make sure they let others know that they are in authority. I’ve seen leaders use their authority to control and manipulate people. It’s as if they have to prove that they are the leader or that they are anointed but having people submit to their authority. This was the temptation Jesus faced. He was being tempted to have the angels submit to His being the Son of God.
Thankfully Jesus was secure in who He was and in what the Father had said about Him. He didn’t have to act out His authority to prove that He was the son of God. He just believed and walked in that identity.
As followers of Jesus and as children of God we should walk humbly before people, realizing that we don’t have to prove anything to others. Jesus didn’t need to prove His authority, He simply walked in it. One time Jesus was asked by what authority He did the miracles that He did. Here’s the story:
Matthew 21:22-28 (NIV) Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”“I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
Jesus didn’t bow down to the pressure of proving His authority to the priests and elders. He knew who He was and what His mission was. He simply lived out of that. When we begin to prove ourselves to others we are going to have serious issues. We will end up in a performance based lifestyle always trying to prove who we are by what we can accomplish or get others to accomplish. We must learn to live out of our hearts knowing who we are in Christ. That should be enough! Beyond that, we get ourselves into trouble.
Jesus didn’t give into the devil’s temptation to prove His identity by exercising the authority He had. We should follow His example and resist the temptation to prove our identity by using our authority in a wrong manner.
So, are you trying to prove your identity or authority? Are you trying to prove what you know to others? Let’s learn how to simply live out of our hearts realizing that our authority comes from our identity, and our identity comes from what God says about us. We are His beloved children!
So, what do you think?