Lesson 5: Obeying God’s Delegated Authorities
In our last lesson, we learned that there are two ways by which people live their lives— (1) the way of rebellion and (2) the way of obedience.
The way of rebellion
This is Satan’s way. When a person says in his heart, “I don’t care what God says; I will do what I want to do,” he is living his life by the way of rebellion.
The way of obedience
This is Christ’s way. When a person says in his heart, “I want to do what God wants me to do,” he is living his life by the way of obedience.
God’s Delegated Authorities
We know that God has all authority. He has the right to rule and He has the right to be obeyed. One way God directs us is by the people He puts over us.
When God puts someone over us, that person is called God’s delegated authority. This means that this person represents God’s authority. Since this person represents God’s authority, he or she must be obeyed.
Some examples of people who are God’s delegated authorities are Parents, School Teachers, School Principals, Police Officers.
We must not only obey God, but we must also obey God’s delegated authorities—the people God puts over us. The Bible says, “Obey those who have the rule over you.”(Hebrews 13:17)
If we are not obeying the people God puts over us, we are not obeying God. To disobey someone who represents God’s authority is like disobeying God Himself. To be disrespectful to someone who represents God’s authority is like being disrespectful to God Himself.
Let us consider some examples of God’s delegated authorities.
God’s Delegated Authority in the Home
God’s plan for the family is that the father is the head of the family under God. The father is responsible to God for his family and he is to be under God’s authority at all times. The wife is to be under the authority of her husband. The Bible says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)
This means that wives are to obey their own husbands just as they would obey God Himself because the husband is God’s delegated authority in the home.
Children are to be under the authority of both parents. The father and mother represent God’s authority in the home, and it is right that the children should obey them. To disobey your parents is like disobeying God. To be disrespectful to your parents is like being disrespectful to God Himself. The Bible says, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”(Colossians 3:20)
When your parents set limits on you and tell you not to do something, it is because they love you. It is spelt C-A-R-I-N-G.
Sometimes a child goes to one parent and asks to do something. When that parent says, “No,” the child then goes to the other parent and asks the same thing. This is wrong. A child should not try to set one parent against the other.
The relationship between children and their parents is so important that God made it the subject of the Fifth Commandment. In this commandment, God promises a good life and a long life to children who honour their parents. The Bible says,
“Honour your father and your mother; that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12
The word “honour” means to respect and obey. Children are to respect and obey their parents. The Bible says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.”
Many times children and young people do not want to obey their parents. They would like to change God’s Word to excuse their disobedience. They would like the verse to say,
“Children, obey your parents…
If you think they are right.
If it is what you want to do.
If they ask you nicely in a way that pleases you.”
But God’s Word does not say this. It says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.”
If you really want to obey God, you will not use any of these excuses. Instead, you will say, “I will obey my parents because God says that it is right for me to obey them.”
NOTE: There are certain situations in which a family member or relative may tell a child to do something that is against God’s commandments, such as lying or stealing or engaging in some sexual act. If this happens, the child should not obey the person but say, “I am sorry but God does not want me to do that.” As quickly as possible, the child should talk to an adult whom he or she can trust and tell them about this.
God’s delegated authorities in school
In your school, God’s delegated authority is the principal. Since the principal represents God’s authority in the school, he or she is to be respected and obeyed.
In the classroom, the teacher represents God’s authority. Because this is true, the teacher is to be respected and obeyed. To disobey your teacher is like disobeying God. To be disrespectful to your teacher is like being disrespectful to God.
You may say, “But suppose I don’t like my teacher. Do I still have to obey her?”
Yes, you do. Your teacher is in a position of authority over you and you must obey your teacher, whether or not you like that teacher. The Bible says, “Obey those who have the rule over you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
This means that we are to obey the people God places over us. You may or may not like a certain teacher, but that does not affect that teacher’s position as God’s delegated authority over you. You cannot say, “My teacher told me to do something, but I didn’t do it because I don’t like her.”
In the classroom, the teacher is God’s delegated authority.
If you really want to please the Lord, you will study hard, and try to do your best in your schoolwork. The Lord Jesus wants you to do your work as though He Himself were your teacher! The Bible says, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23)
Other delegated authorities
We are to obey police officers because they represent God’s authority. The Bible says,“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey magistrates (police officers)…”Titus 3:1 (KJV)
Later, you will have a job and your “boss” will represent God’s authority in the place where you work.
Since he represents God’s authority, you are to obey your boss and do your work well.
Remember, there is one situation in which you are not to obey the person who is over you. That situation is one in which someone tells you to do something wrong—something that is against God’s commandments.
For example, if someone over you tells you to lie or to steal, you should not do it because these things are against God’s commandments. Anytime anyone tells you to do something that is against God’s commandments, you should not do it.
God wants us to learn to obey
It is very important that you learn to obey the people whom God puts over you. These people represent God’s authority. The way you treat them is the way you treat God.