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Spiritual Authority Part 4 Case Studies In Spiritual Authority 6.4.07



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Spiritual Authority

Part 4. Case Studies In Spiritual Authority


June 4, 2007

Ron and Karen Schwartz

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Case Study #1: The First Family Unit


Genesis 3:1-6 KJV

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.


What does this scripture say about spiritual authority and the family?  As defined in an earlier part of this series, spiritual authority is the authority of the Spirit of God in our lives.  Our goal should not be to replace the authority of the Spirit in our families but to help enable it.  Only then are we successful parents and spouses.  The spiritual authority in this passage came from God who instructed Adam about the consequence of death for disobedience, and the promise of life for obedience.


The family unit is not a hierarchy of spiritual authority but of natural authority.  Paul tells us that “the head of the woman is the man (1 Corinthians 11:3).”  This is a “physical” hierarchy.


Matthew 19:5-6 KJV

5 And [Jesus] said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.


The family must be viewed as a single “physical” body, not two individual bodies.  As a result, it is able to function well and adapt in our physical universe.  Most wives intuitively understand the natural order of the family.  And because this hierarchy pertains to the natural order, she is able to have her own unique fulfilling spiritual relationship with God.


What happened with Adam and Eve is very common.  Like most wives, Eve’s opinion of Adam was colored by his natural authority over her.  She saw him not as a spiritual being but as the “physical” man that he was.  The Serpent approached Eve not from a position of natural authority but as a spiritual authority.  There was no way that Adam could compete with that.  Even though he knew the mind of God on the issue, Eve had more respect for someone coming from a position of spiritual authority than one coming from a position of natural authority.  Adam lost out because of his natural authority.  Consider the series of events that took place to bring about the fall of mankind.


1)     A foreign authority replaced Adam as the head. 


God didn’t tell Eve not to eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).”  He told Adam just before He made Eve.  It was Adam’s responsibility to protect his home by keeping his family away from this tree.  The Serpent knew that Adam would not disobey God, so he approached the wife.  Eve listened to the Serpent with great interest.  The Serpent challenged Adam and made him question whether he heard from God and understood God correctly.  Up to this point, there is no indication that Eve was unhappy or unsatisfied with her husband until the Serpent planted the seed.


Eve found herself between two men.  One was simply her husband, a person who exercised natural authority.  But the other was obviously a wise spiritual leader (“the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field).  He was obviously a spiritual authority.  Why shouldn’t Eve listen to the Serpent?  He talked with impressive wisdom and authority, and her husband was obviously spiritually inferior.  The serpent spoke as though he knew what God wanted and intended.  Perhaps her husband was jealous and just wanted to hold her back.


Eve became dissatisfied with Adam’s leadership and lost respect for him when someone else injected himself into the family as a spiritual authority.  The new spiritual authority implied that Adam’s leadership kept Eve from becoming like God.  Adam was limiting her spiritual development.  Adam was clearly holding her back.  Therefore, when the Serpent promised to fulfill her spiritual aspirations, she promptly spiritually divorced her husband and took the headship of the Serpent.  When Eve accepted the spiritual authority of the Serpent, she divorced herself from the spiritual authority of God and the natural authority of her husband.


Just like Eve, many women are unsatisfied with their husbands.  They see their husbands for the natural authority they have that God gave them, and they want them to be spiritual authorities like their pastors.  For most men, this will never be the case.  Nor was it meant to be.  Most pastors inadvertently take the position of the Serpent by superceding the natural authority of the man and assuming the spiritual authority meant for God.


Like Eve, most wives have pastors who seem wiser and more spiritual than their husbands.  Most wives regard their pastors in much the same way Eve did the Serpent.  And, like Eve, they lose respect for their husbands because of their pastors.  Even knowing the esteem and admiration that women have for them, most pastors have little concern that many women have replaced them as their “head.”  Most pastors enjoy it.  This unholy union is nothing short of spiritual adultery.


What should women do?  First, eliminate your husband’s competition.  Your husband is to be your only natural authority, and God is to be your only spiritual authority.  Men know that they cannot compete with pastors, so they don’t try.  They give up as they see you embrace another.  Stop going to an institutional church where your husband is replaced as your head.  Find a home group or start one of your own where your family can grow and where your husband can be the head of your family as he is meant to be.


2)     The Serpent enticed Eve by promising that if she listened to him instead of her husband she would become godlike.


This is a common event in most churches.  Women perceive spiritual growth from submitting to their pastors.  They conclude that their husbands are not spiritual and do not know God – at least not like their pastor.  This eventually causes them to complain to their pastor about their husbands, which causes yet further division.  Instead of being directed back to the headship of their husband they are consoled.


The damage done here affects not only their husbands but God as well.  When a woman submits to the authority of a pastor, she breaks free of both the authority of her husband and of God.  It is comparable to weeds growing in a garden sucking the nutrients from the vegetables.  As you and your pastor grow together, you steal from your husband that which he needs to grow: his leadership.  You essentially sacrifice his spiritual life for your own.


Women who do this live off the spiritual life of the pastor, not the Holy Spirit.  Their spiritual growth takes place when they are around him and other spiritual leaders they have selected to follow.  Eve was looking for the fast track to her spiritual development and understood that this is what the Serpent offered.  She truly believed that she had the answer.  So “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her.”  As a result, they both died.  You may believe that you have the answer for your family’s spiritual development, but if it is submitting to the spiritual authority of a man, thereby sacrificing the leadership of your husband or his spiritual development, you are as deceived as Eve.  Healthy spiritual development never divides the family.


3)     Adam did not assert himself as the guardian and head of his family but allowed a foreign influence to govern his home.


Adam was also at fault.  He could have challenged the Serpent’s influence with the Word of God.  This is what Jesus did when He was tempted.  Adam could have fought for his family.


Did you ever wonder why Eve was at this tree in the first place?  Eve was tempted because she was somewhere that she should not have been.  If Adam believed God that the tree would bring about her death, why didn’t he take Eve away from the tree?  Adam could have prevented the temptation, but he didn’t.  Instead, he assumed the submissive role of the female, like his wife Eve, and listened to the Serpent.


This is exactly what happens in institutional churches and many house churches that have simply recreated the institutional church in the home.  Men are made feminine.  They become another wife and submit themselves to the system.  They allow their wives to go to churches where they will be tempted to take on the headship of someone other than her husband.  Most men are simply confused by the system.  The current church system that elevates pastors/priests has been around for centuries.  Most men don’t question the authority of the pastor.  There are vast numbers of men who would like to be the pastors of their homes but are either told they are not qualified or they do not know how to go about it.  So they sit idly by as the Serpent moves in, assumes the headship over their wives, convinces the wives to disregard their husbands’ instructions, and breaks down the family unit.


Men must understand that they, not their pastors, have been called by God to be the heads of their homes.  Institutional churches are designed to replace the husband and thereby gain control of the family.  Just like the Serpent, they do it through the wife.  Christian men must stop acting like submissive wives when it comes to providing leadership for the family and assume the role God designed them to fulfill.  They must take their families away from the spiritual influences that would

1)     replace them as the heads of their families and

2)     replace God as their spiritual authority. 



Case Study #2: The First Church


There is a predisposition among Christian teachers to presume that most Christians want to grow in their relationship with God.  This is simply not the case.  Most evangelism is done utilizing the tools of fear and trepidation to compel sinners to repent.  How does this translate into spiritual aspirations?  It doesn’t.  Their salvation experience is enough to satisfy their fears of eternal torment and thereby breeds apathy and compromise.


John 9:28-29 KJV

28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.

29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.


The Jews were “born” into their relationship with God, and for many that was enough.  This is not unlike contemporary Christians who are also “born again” into a relationship with God.  Many are content with simply being saved.  Additionally, the Jews measured their spiritual growth by their knowledge of the scripture, not in the depth of their actual spiritual development.  It was this knowledge that prevented them from seeing God when He came to them.  Once again, this is not unlike contemporary Christians who have come to know God through books, study aids, seminars, and teachers.  These manmade opinions and influences are enough to satisfy their conviction to grow spiritually without the need to actually grow.  They allow Christians to satisfy their innate need for spiritual development by inflating their minds while they continue to live in the darkness of sin.


Christians pursue God if they truly want to grow spiritually.  The light of God’s Spirit exposing the darkness in their lives does not make them uncomfortable.


None Dare Call It Idolatry


Exodus 19:16-18 KJV

16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.


In this passage, we find that when God descended before the people, they feared and trembled.  Who enjoys being afraid?  Who enjoys being terrified?  No one.


Exodus 20:18-20 KJV

18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.


The solution they found for their fear was to put someone between them and God so God would no longer be a threat to them.  By placing Moses in between God and them they essentially made Moses into an idol, and idolatry breeds more idolatry.


Exodus 32:1-4 KJV

1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.

4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.


Here the Hebrews built their idol at the foot of the mountain that burned with fire, that sounded with voices and trumpets, and where the ground shook.  They built their idol in the presence of God.  When Christians hide behind pastors or priests, they plant seeds of idolatry.  As that seed grows, they eventually find that, like the Hebrews, what they are worshipping is a substitute for God.  They are like the Hebrews who stood in the presence of God but lifted up a man and listened to him rather than God.


Many churches/Christians use the ideal of spiritual authority to justify having a pastor/priest stand between them and God just as the Hebrews did.  There is a problem with this.  When anyone stands between God and His people, God’s people don’t come to know whom God really is.  Consequently, they must use their imaginations to define and describe God.  As a result, they create God in their own image.  They stand in the presence of God while creating golden calves and assume the golden calves are God.


In the 3,500 years since the first golden calf was fashioned, God’s people – His church – have continued to set men between them and God.  As a result, they misunderstand who God is and mistake others for God.


Perhaps no other culture has ever embraced their religion more strongly than the ancient Jews.  For 1,500 years, their culture and government was symbiotically intertwined with their religion.  Their educational system blended religion and academics.  If any culture truly knew the God they worshipped, it would be them.  Yet when the God they worshipped came to meet them, they had no idea who he was.


John 1:10-11 KJV

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.


Many Christians want to revert back to the spiritual authority of the Old Testament.  They liked having men represent them to God as their priests.  If they don’t have to go to God, then their sin will not be exposed and their conscience will be clear.  Consequently, churches everywhere put men as their priests/pastors in a position between them and God.  These men insulate them from the prying eyes of the Holy Spirit.  It is easy to sit in a church and listen to someone preach, and it satisfies the need to submit to God even if little is actually accomplished.  The pastors/priests have no idea the lives that their congregations lead, and this is the way people like it.  But if God stood before them, there would be no hiding their sin. 


Hebrews 4:13 KJV

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.


Most people are under the delusion that they attend church to be in the presence of God, but that is not the case.  God is saying to most churches, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).”  Most churches have built walls (of men) not to surround themselves with the presence of God but to hide from Him.  Most churches serve to exalt men and shield the people from God.  It has been like that since the beginning:


Genesis 3:8 KJV

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.


Since the first family and the first church, God’s people have been setting men in positions as spiritual authority and then wondering where they went wrong.  You cannot put men between you and God and believe that you have a clear understanding of who God is and what He wants.  John wrote, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).”  The huddled masses in churches today hide in the shadow (darkness) of their pastors because they do not want to be seen of God.  Like Adam and Eve, they are hiding from the presence of God.  Most churchgoers do not want God.  They want their substitute.  They want their golden calf.  It is far less threatening.  They know their church is without God’s power.  They know their church is dead or dying. They know their church is just a façade of what the bible describes.  But that’s okay.  It is far better than the alternative: abiding in the presence of God.



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