Those Who Despise and Reject Authority

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Gen. 3:7 π Gen. 4:2-8 π Num. 16:1-3 π Num. 16:31-33 π Num. 22:4-6 π Num. 24:10 π Num. 31:9 π Num. 31:15-16 π Jdgs. 21:25 π Jer. 23:22 π Mt. 7:21-23 π Mt. 12:36 π Mt. 18:20 π Mt. 23:13 π Mt. 24:5 π Lk. 8:46 π Lk. 9:47 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 13:3-5 π Jn. 15:12-13 π Jn. 17:23 π Acts 2:46-47 π Acts 15:22 π Acts 20:17 π Acts 20:28 π Acts 20:30 2nd π Rom. 12:1-2 π 2 Cor. 3:5-6 π 2 Cor. 5:17 π 2 Cor. 6:17 π Eph. 4:3 π Eph. 4:11-12 π Eph. 4:22-24 π Eph. 5:3 π Col. 2:8 π 1 Ths. 5:21 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Tit. 3:8 π Heb. 8:2 π Heb. 8:10-11 π 2 Pet. 2:1-2 π 2 Pet. 2:10 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π Jude 8 π Jude 10 π Jude 11 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 14:4 π Rev. 17:5 π Rev. 18:4

Both Peter and Jude, in their prophetic descriptions of false and apostate teachers, refers to the coming teachers’ attitude toward authority. Peter says they will “despise authority” ( 2 Pet. 2:10 ) and Jude says they will “reject authority.” ( Jude 8; top ) Though the accusation of rebelling against authority has often been used against God’s New Testament prophets and against any and all who dare to question the present-day religious status-quo power structure and its various doctrines and practices, this is only a misrepresentation of the real meanings in these prophecies.

First – and the most inescapable and obvious – is that this whole prophetic section is aimed at false teachers. Peter specifically warned, “There will be false teachers among you, who will stealthily introduce destructive divisions, even denying the Lord who bought them… And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” ( 2 Pet. 2:1-2 - emphasis added) Teachers who promote their own denomination, who fail to practice the Headship of Christ, who draw many followers after themselves, and who cause the way of following Christ to be ridiculed and dismissed are the subjects of these prophecies. (also see 2 Tim. 4:3-4 , Mt. 24:5 , Acts 20:30 ) Prophets who call the people to forsake all their evil ways ( Jer. 23:22 ) and seekers of truth who obediently question all things ( 1 Ths. 5:21; top ) are not the precisely-named subjects of Peter and Jude’s prophecies - teachers are.

Second, when we recognize that the focus of these prophecies is popular, so-called “mainstream” teachers – whether that be some “Senior Pastor” of a mega-“church” or some talking-head TV preacher, “evangelist” or “apostle” – we must look for the subtle say in which they fulfill these prophecies. Let’s face it, if the way these teachers despise and reject authority was obvious and blatant, they would not have a popular “ministry” capable of ensnaring the attention of sheep who think they’re hearing both the genuine words of as well as the whole counsel of God.

It is not the obvious authority of men that these teachers reject. Indeed, their whole power structure is based upon and geared toward obedience to some man, some rule, some ethic, some authoritative structure. Even the man at the top of these pyramid power schemes give lip service to “accountability” and point to some “board of elders” or a “spiritual father” who supposedly helps keep them in line – in practice, however, these “boards” and “fathers” are quite often only carefully chosen sycophants (yes-men) that approve of whatever this “great man of God” wants to do. This pet doctrine of “accountability” (which in the New Testament we are only accountable to God alone – Mt. 12:36 , etc.; top) is well-touted in many “church” circles, but somehow those “in authority” often seem to find some way to practice and excuse their own sins with impunity. It is also true that if we are willing to do some hidden, sinful thing when only God is watching, we are not likely to change our behaviors just because we have to later tell some man what we did! So much for “accountability”!

Thus we can see that it is obedience to God that is despised and rejected. Many “pastors” do not want an outpouring of God’s Spirit in their “church” because it would undo all those years of laboring to build up a good tithe and offering base. Virtually none of these teachers will ever put forward the basic foundational truths of God’s new covenant that all will know God for themselves and none will need to continually and routinely teach others to know God because God will be their teacher. ( Heb. 8:10-11 , 1 Jn. 2:27; top ) Teaching that would be bad for “church” business!

Jude points to three Old Testament figures to provide us with further insight into these false teachers ( Jude 11; top ):

Jude warned that these teachers would “speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.” ( Jude 10 ) What is it these teachers do not know? They do not know the way of hearing the Lord for themselves and following Him wherever He leads. ( Jn. 10:27 , Rev. 14:4; top ) They do not know the spiritual truths behind the “Christianese” words they use and misuse. As a result, confusion over what the truth really is reigns and the people who claim to follow Christ are divided into literally thousands of sects (denominations) and sub-sects of all kinds and varieties.

What is it that these teachers “know naturally”? They know the philosophies and reasonings and “higher criticisms” of men. They know the basic principles of the world and they use these things to imitate or approximate the way of following Christ. But they do not recognize that these works of the flesh are only empty deceit ( Col. 2:8; top ) that are used by the devil and the demonic to ensnare those who will listen to such men. In these things, they themselves are corrupted.

Paul, when speaking to a group of men he referred to as both “elders” and “overseers” (traditionally, “bishops” – Acts 20:17 , 28 ), said, “From among yourselves men will rise up, speaking corrupted things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” ( Acts 20:30 ) Historically, this is precisely what occurred. The bishop arose from the ranks of the elders and took a place of pre-eminence and power over the assembly of the saints. They drew followers after themselves and church history is little more than the squabbling back and forth of various “church” leaders as they opted for a “visible form of unity” – the Catholic (“universal”) Church (in reality, merely a fig leaf – see Gen. 3:7; top ) - to cover over the fact that in reality they were deeply divided and experiencing a diminishing of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their assemblies.

It is not enough to call for some form of ecumenical uniting of the denominations. This will not produce the unity of the Spirit. ( Eph. 4:3 ) The denominations (and all the sects and sub-sects patterned after them) are simply the prostitute (religion for profit) daughters of the mother of abominations (the Catholic “church” – Rev. 17:5; top ) and they cannot be incorporated into the holy assembly, the genuine ekklesia. Nor is it enough to recognize that there is supposed to be a “kingdom of God” and then get busy rounding up those who think like we do and erect yet another man-made religious power structure – the devil will be very thrilled and highly motivated to help us do just that! It is not enough to continue to use the tools of the “church” that come from pagan roots – oratory, rhetoric, eloquence, sophistry, etc. – and hope to be co-laboring with Christ to build His temple, the people of Christ. Something more must be tapped into.

That “something more” is the Spirit and Person of Christ. And having said that, we can say little more. We must stop bringing people to sit at our feet to have them learn from and follow us. We must stop looking at the “ministry” as a lucrative career for professional speakers. We, the saints, the people of Christ, are the ones supposed to be doing the ministering – the leaders, those who are genuinely more mature and have gone further in Christ than the others, are there only to make sure that we, the people, have what we need to do our job! ( Eph. 4:11-12 ) Any genuine leader must make sure his work truly produces other people who go and do the good works of Christ ( Tit. 3:8; top ) – and not just look to a token few “poster child” exceptions – or else his place as a true leader in Christ is called into question.

We cannot replace the Spirit and Person of Christ – He who is the Administer of His sanctuary ( Heb. 8:2; top ) – with some “liturgy” or “order of service” or “bylaws” or “constitutions” and hope to experience His presence and power in our midst. That some have experienced His presence and power in spite of having these things around us only testifies to the transcendence of God! When we return to having God and nothing else as our God, then we will experience the fullness of His presence and power.

When we seek to describe what it will “look like” when we are truly following Christ, we are faced with several difficulties. First, we must know the will of God for the individuals involved. Is God taking an individual or a couple off into “the wilderness” to teach them things that can only be learned in relative isolation and under the pressure of trials and testings? To seek to draw such people into the “regular meeting” format of the “church” is to work against God’s purpose in their life. Or is God wanting an individual to become more involved in the lives of his neighbors or co-workers or some other nearby group? To lure such a man to gather with anyone else is again to work against God’s purpose in that man’s life. Knowing the will of God for each person involved must be the highest priority for any true leader in the body of Christ.

Second, we must be prepared to “look like” Jesus. This requires a flexibility that shatters almost all of the man-made boxes of the “church” paradigm. We need to be able to bounce babies on our knee ( Lk. 9:47 ), refute and even rebuke those who would pervert the truths of Christ ( Mt. 23:13 , etc.), “wash the feet” of the brothers and sisters around us (particularly those we disciple – Jn. 13:3-5 ), allow the power of God to flow through us when He wishes to heal ( Lk. 8:46 , etc.) and truly love those God has put in our lives. ( Jn. 15:12-13 ) Seem overwhelming and impossible? Good! It is overwhelming and impossible apart from Christ! Yet these things remain as our basic “job description.” As Paul said, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers [servants, administers] of the new covenant…” ( 2 Cor. 3:5-6; top )

Finally, we must stop allowing men’s ideas of how it should be to govern us, first individually and then corporately. We must stop confusing the “mixed multitude” (a group comprised of believers, non-believers, mis-believers and pseudo-believers) as being genuine ekklesia (traditionally, “church”). We must stop expecting the mixed multitude to be able to attend to and accomplish the agendas of Christ’s kingdom of light. That does not mean that we should never be in a mixed multitude. It only means that the real business of Christ’s kingdom – which will involve very precise questions about specific individuals – can only be attended to by genuine believers who have been tasked by God to address these questions. (Don’t be surprised when genuine kingdom transactions occur most only a very few people are involved! – see Mt. 18:20 ) Then we must look to the unanimity of all true believers impacted by the decision to be the confirmation that God is truly in our midst and that we are genuinely following Him. ( Jn. 17:23 , Acts 2:46-47 , 15:22 , etc.; top)

If these things are not a central part of our life – and these things are virtually excluded, even mocked, ridiculed and condemned at “church” – then we are deceived if we think we have known the way of following Christ. A whole new way of thinking and living is required for those who would truly be a new creation in Christ. ( 2 Cor. 5:17 , Rom. 12:1-2 , Eph. 4:22-24 ) Anything less is a mere deception, a counterfeit of the true way of following Christ, concocted by the devil to lure men away from Christ and the eternal life He gives to those who follow Him. In a word, anything less than persevering and pressing on after Him is mere “church,” the place where, in “His name” and with “blessed assurances” from other men, we can easily, readily and comfortably neglect and ignore Him while we obey whatever is right and good in our own eyes – what the New Testament calls lawlessness. ( Mt. 7:21-23 , also see Jdgs. 21:25; top ) Yes, the devil has great reason to exult in the work he has accomplished in the “church” and the true believer is right to run and not walk to the nearest exit.

Let he who has ears hear the call to “Come out and be separate unto God.” ( 2 Cor. 6:17 , Rev. 18:4; top )

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