Who Will Rule Over You?
Something believers need to strongly consider these days is the issue of authority, and more specifically, God’s authority. A fundamental question every human being must answer has to do with whether or not they will submit their lives to God’s rule and reign. Sometimes it seems that believers act shocked when the world does not respect the standards or the commandments of God, but should that really be a surprise? Romans 8:7 (AMP) says, “…the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot.” In Colossians 1:21, Paul says that before we were reconciled to God, we were, “… alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works.”
The determination of some to reject the authority of God is very pronounced. David wrote of this in Psalm 2:2-3: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” The NLT renders verse three as, “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” Isn’t that something that people could be so deceived as to think that submission to the will of God and that yielding themselves to His influence is tantamount to slavery? How deceived to think that the dominion of Satan and sin would somehow be more fulfilling and beneficial to them than having a life-giving, liberating relationship with the God of the Universe.
Jesus described those who rejected God’s authority in a parable he shared in Luke 19:12-14 (NLT). Jesus said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’ But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’” Jesus was illustrating what had happened so much (and continues to happen) throughout human history—people rejecting divine authority. Likewise, the Apostle Peter referred to “proud and arrogant” people who “despise authority” (2 Peter 2:10, NLT).
In the days of the Judges, we read of a man named Micah (not the later OT prophet) who, “…had a shrine, and made an ephod and household idols; and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:5-6). Somehow, I think Micah would fit very well into modern society. How many people today want to create a “god” in their own image, to their own liking, and on their own terms? How many want a god who endorses all of their own preferences and who never calls them to repentance or rebukes their sin? The Message version of Judges 17:6 says that in that day, when divine authority was rejected in exchange for self-rule, “People did whatever they felt like doing.”
Proverbs gives us a picture of what happens when people reject divine authority:
- “The stupid ridicule right and wrong, but a moral life is a favored life” (14:9, MSG).
- “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (14:12).
- “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful” (28:19, NLT).
We understand that an unregenerate person is not going to be submitted to the will and the commandments of God, but what about believers? What happens when people who consider themselves to be Christians still feel like they can call the shots, establish their own standards, and allow their own whims and feelings to govern their lives? It is imperative that believers understand that coming to Jesus is not simply a matter of receiving salvation, but God desires that we receive Jesus’ lordship as well.
Are there people who claim to have received Jesus (forgiveness, salvation, etc.), but have never really submitted themselves to the Lordship of Christ? Consider Paul’s sobering admonition to the church in Philippi: “I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth” (Philippians 3:18-19, NLT).
James was even more stern in his warning. “You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that ‘he’s a fiercely jealous lover’” (James 4:4-5, MSG).
A Christianity that says you can receive Jesus as Savior and reject Him as Lord is foreign to the New Testament. Jesus Himself said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). I agree with Abraham Kuyper who said, “There is not an inch of any sphere of life over which Jesus Christ does not say, ‘Mine.’” So which areas of my life am I entitled to make my own rules and disregard God’s influence? Which portions of my life do I get to call the shots and ignore what God has to say? Can I accept Jesus as my Savior, but then tell Him I don’t want His influence or governance in my finances? In my morality? In my ethics? In my conduct? In my treatment of others?
We would do well to listen to some of the wisdom and insights given to Christian leaders from the past:
“God will not accept a divided heart. He must be absolute monarch. There is not room in your heart for two thrones. You cannot mix the worship of the true God with the worship of any other god more than you can mix oil and water. It cannot be done. There is not room for any other throne in the heart if Christ is there. If worldliness should come in, godliness would go out.”
– D.L. Moody
“It is time for us to seek again the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Man’s lordship has cost us too much…”
– W. Tozer
“Christianity is not a cafeteria line where you say, ‘I’ll have a little salvation, but no Lordship right now.’”
– Adrian Rogers
“Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, His lordship.”
– Elisabeth Elliot
“The Lordship of Jesus Christ is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of religious emotion. Or if it is taught as a theory in the classroom it is rarely applied to practical living. The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute final authority over the whole church and over its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.”
– A.W. Tozer
“The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration. A saint is not a man without faults, but a man who has given himself without reserve to God.”
– W.T. Richardson
“Jesus Christ has bought us with His blood, but, alas, He has not had His money’s worth! He paid for ALL, and He has had but a fragment of our energy, time and earnings. By an act of consecration, let us ask Him to forgive the robbery of the past, and let us profess our desire to be henceforth utterly and only for Him – His slaves, owning no master other than Himself.”
– F.B. Meyer
Having said all these things, let’s remember that God leads us through love into accepting His reign and his lordship in our lives. He doesn’t assault us with force; He beckons us through His love. A young Christian may make an all-out consecration of his or her life to the Lord, but that consecration will probably be re-visited at various times throughout their spiritual journey as their surrender to the Lordship of Christ in various areas is realized more profoundly and reinforced more thoroughly.
Consecration and surrender to the Lordship of Christ must be something that believers need to be reminded of and perhaps do a periodic check-up concerning. I like the way the Apostle John ends his first epistle: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)—[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be)” (1 John 5:21, AMP)
Isaac Watts wrote a famous hymn in 1707 entitled, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” He concluded this song with the words, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” Watts saw that to which every Christian should awaken: God wants us to love Him with all of our lives and all of our hearts, and He desires that we surrender every aspect of our being to Him.
Even the Lord’s prayer, which I prayed ritualistically and mindlessly for years, contains a plea for the Lordship of Christ to be realized. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). I prayed that for years without really realizing what I was saying. When I said, “Your kingdom come,” I was really asking that Christ’s reign, rule, and dominion be established and realized, and where does that have to start? It must start in the heart of the one praying that prayer. As Tommy Tenney said, “We cannot sincerely pray, ‘Thy kingdom come’ until we have legitimately prayed, ‘My kingdom go.’”
May God help us realize the fullness of His plan for our lives, and may we find our greatest fulfillment in trusting God completely as we consecrate, surrender, and yield our lives totally unto Him.