Matthew 7; Moral Authority

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:  For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.  Matthew 7:28-29

 

 

This verse makes it clear, that while the scribes were all full of themselves because of their supposedly exalted positions, that in reality they had no authority or influence over the people. Why? Because, while an organization had given them a title of authority, they still had no moral authority. I like the way The Message Bible translates this verse. “When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.”

 

 

I remember growing up as a teen, wanting to follow Jesus, that there were older people that I looked up to and had spiritual relationships with, not because they had a title or position in the community, but because I sensed they truly walked with God. I also remember I chose them as my mentors, they did not choose me. I was not alone. A few years ago, I went to a youth leadership workshop. I am sorry I don’t remember the name of the man giving the workshop, but he confirmed that even today, children choose their own mentors. A child may belong to a church with three pastors and a youth director, but may feel more comfortable sharing their burdens with the church janitor. Chances are the janitor has an intimate relationship with God that the youth want to find. The janitor has moral authority when his or her life is harmony with God’s Word.

 

Last week I was in a youth evangelism council meeting, where a video by Andy Stanley was shown, where he talked about moral authority. He put a label on a concept that the Holy Spirit had been revealing to me for some time. Stanley calls it “moral authority.” I had never thought of that label before. Authority does not come from a title or position, it comes from character. In heaven, Lucifer wanted God’s authority but did not want His character. Problem is, the authority comes from the character. While Lucifer, like the rest of us can never be God nor should we seek to be God, we should be seeking His character instead of his power. Where there is no morality there is no authority. Your authority is limited to your morality, regardless of any position or title you may or may not have. In other words there are people with influence that have no position, and there are people with positions that have no influence. This is why many of them seek to use force and manipulation when they can’t lead naturally. Meanwhile there are others who lead, while using no titles, positions, force or manipulation, but are quite successful, because, they have moral authority.

 

Position does not give holiness of character. It is by honoring God and obeying His commands that a man is made truly great.  {Conflict and Courage, p. 189} 

Acts of the Apostles-The Gift of The Spirit

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 5

Here are some of my favorite passages of this chapter, reminding us how the Holy Spirit empowers us to be like Christ so that we can win souls for Christ.

 What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost parts of the inhabited world. As the disciples proclaimed the message of redeeming grace, hearts yielded to the power of this message. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with believers in seeking the pearl of great price. Some who had been the bitterest opponents of the gospel became its champions. The prophecy was fulfilled, “He that is feeble . . . shall be as David; and the house of David . . . as the angel of the Lord.” Zechariah 12:8. Every Christian saw in his brother a revelation of divine love and benevolence. One interest prevailed; one subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ’s character and to labor for the enlargement of His kingdom.  {AA 48.1}

The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any race. Christ declared that the divine influence of His Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. From the Day of Pentecost to the present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded themselves fully to the Lord and to His service. To all who have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness. The more closely believers have walked with God, the more clearly and powerfully have they testified of their Redeemer’s love and of His saving grace. The men and women who through the long centuries of persecution and trial enjoyed a large measure of the presence of the Spirit in their lives, have stood as signs and wonders in the world. Before angels and men they have revealed the transforming power of redeeming love.  {AA 49.2} 

Under the Holy Spirit’s working even the weakest, by exercising faith in God, learned to improve their entrusted powers and to become sanctified, refined, and ennobled. As in humility they submitted to the molding influence of the Holy Spirit, they received of the fullness of the Godhead and were fashioned in the likeness of the divine.  {AA 49.3} 

 It is not a conclusive evidence that a man is a Christian because he manifests spiritual ecstasy under extraordinary circumstances. Holiness is not rapture: it is an entire surrender of the will to God; it is living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father; it is trusting God in trial, in darkness as well as in the light; it is walking by faith and not by sight; it is relying on God with unquestioning confidence, and resting in His love.  {AA 51.2} 

 Having brought conviction of sin, and presented before the mind the standard of righteousness, the Holy Spirit 
 withdraws the affections from the things of this earth and fills the soul with a desire for holiness. {AA 52.4}

  Every worker who follows the example of Christ will be prepared to receive and use the power that God has promised to His church for the ripening of earth’s harvest. Morning by morning, as the heralds of the gospel kneel before the Lord and renew their vows of consecration to Him, He will grant them the presence of His Spirit, with its reviving, sanctifying power. As they go forth to the day’s duties, they have the assurance that the unseen agency of the Holy Spirit enables them to be “laborers together with God.”  {AA 56.2} 

This calls to mind one of my favorite passages, Ephesians 3:14-21: “

 14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross