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Spiritual Authority

Five ways authorities use to control others

1) By manipulation

Man has learned and perfected the way of manipulation. Many flow in it better then they flow in anything else. The basis of manipulation is fear of loss, intimidation, or pity. While the following four are probably variations of manipulation, it is important to understand how these individually affect us.

People experience loss many times through their lives and try and avoid it whenever possible. Whenever someone in spiritual authority needs our submission (when we do not want to submit) it is usually secured through fear of loss. Whether it is loss of a job, position, or status it will be on the line if we refuse to surrender. While the first time we resist we may not be confronted by loss but it will usually be an issue the next time. This is used frequently in keeping people in jobs that they have long grown out of. An example of this is: We have a better position for you but you need to stay here just a little longer. (What they are not saying is, if you refuse to stay you will never advance)

Intimidation usually accompanies the previous example. One's authority and power to cause harm is pushed forward and  stressed. It may manifest as a threat to tell some other authority of our noncompliance. Those who are on the receiving end feel trapped and many times respond in a violent reaction. The problem here is that there is not a relationship between them but just a master slave mentality. There is no place for this kind of spirit in the Christian Church.

Those who do not want to stoop to the lowest forms of manipulation (those listed above) will usually settle for the pity course. Here people are manipulated by flattery and then left with a feeling of abandoning the one in need. A fuss of "how are we going to do this without you" may ensue, causing a sense of guilt. While most people are more than glad to help out occasionally (when the need arises), the problem here is that the person is being taken advantage of. Those in authority must be keenly aware of the amount of responsibility others are carrying and offer compensation.

2) Shutting down others by manipulating their spirit

Those who do this are playing a very dangerous game. They have matured to the point where they can recognize their own spirit. They have learned that they have the ability to exercise their spirit which can be used to shut people down. During worship services they may suppress prophetic words or even spiritual worship. While this ability is useful in casting out demons it can be abused. We should never think that we have the right to control others. Demons think that they have the right to control people and often do. If you are involved in this you have an opportunity to repent from it. If you refuse to repent, God will deal with you in ways that you do not want.

You must be aware of your own spirit in order to recognize those who abuse others in this way. Confrontation is a good course of action for they may repent. Those that do such things are usually bound by a spirit of arrogance which prevents them from seeing their error.

3) Straightening out others by verbal rebuke

This is a very touchy issue for there are times when a verbal rebuke is needed. As a rule of thumb we should never rebuke someone in public unless we have rebuked them privately and then with a few other brothers. A rebuke should not be based on some religious tradition or failure in some non scriptural act. A good example of this would be those Christians who smoke cigarettes. We all know that smoking is a very unhealthy habit. Nowhere in the scriptures does it say that we should not smoke nor that doing such will defile us. Scripture does state that, MAR 7:15 there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. Before we try and bring discipline to anyone we should understand what the scriptures teach on the subject and follow it to the letter.

The problem we want to address is not in the correct way to discipline but the use of verbal rebukes to humiliate and humble those who may be abrasive to us. Verbal rebukes become the consequence for stepping out of line or not submitting to our authority, which crushes the persons spirit. This is very harmful and stops us from rightly discerning the body of Christ. Rather than loving and nurturing we become hateful and abusive.

Instead we should over look such offenses and address them privately. If we really care for people we will attempt to strengthen our relationship with them (or start a relationship). If we choose to love others, even when it is hard, we will not easily fall into the trap of verbal abuse.

4) Isolating others by bad mouthing them.

Some use this to discipline those who are not submitted to them. This spirit of control is so strong in some people they just cannot stand when others refuse to bow themselves under their authority. Those who refuse are labeled rebellious and all the submitted people stay clear of them. They are treated as a pariah but they are really in the most secure place. Only God deserves our undivided obedience and surrender. This controlling person's followers do not have the ability to keep him in check because all have surrendered their will to the leader and accepts everything as fact. This is why Jesus did not establish one apostle over the others and why it is written; EPH 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. It is possible that the one who is doing the bad mouthing has an ultimate goal of driving such people (those who refuse to submit) from the group. The fact is the group really needs these people to bring balance and protection.

5) Prophesying doom over those who will not do what we want.

This is another dangerous game that is played. While prophesies of destruction and doom can be authentic, they are  invalid if they are spoken to manipulate the movement of another. Ex: movement that is not wrong, such as leaving a geographical area. The unfortunate part of this is, those who are on the receiving end may believe such curses and end up being destroyed because of it. Those who would falsely speak such lies are deceived prophets and should fear the retaliation of God. We are never on solid ground if we are using spiritual gifts for our own selfish desires (see the life of Balaam).


Are we to push our authority forward?

Those who possess spiritual authority have no need to push neither themselves nor their authority forward. Those who have ears to hear and hearts to understand will know if what we say is from God or ourselves. We must learn to allow others to hear God for themselves and follow Him not us. This is not to say that no one will follow us, but our goal should be that they follow Jesus. Even the apostle Paul only wanted people to imitate him if he was accurately imitating Christ. 1CO 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

Last words on Spiritual Authority

We must come to the realization that if we resemble the Sadducees and Pharisees we are not living as we should. If we teach and preach the gospel and lead others into a understanding of God and have no power we are not a spiritual authority. It doesn't matter if we have a million people who follow us and declare us an authority. We may even be respected by political officials or possess a doctorate and teach at the most influential college but we will be falling short of knowing God if we possess no supernatural power. We need to change our lives if we only have an outward form of godliness without the inward reality. 2TI 3:5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.



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