Defying Authority

The solution to abusive authority is not to question the concept of authority but to reject authority which defies God.

Today’s reading: Daniel 11-12; 3 John 1

36 “And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.           Daniel 11:36

9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.                                                                3 John 1:9-11

As we see in today’s readings, the problem of defying authority is prevalent down through history and in all areas of life, political and ecclesiastical.

Daniel had a vision about a self-exalting king who lifted himself up above every other god and spoke against the true God of Israel. He would seem to be invincible for a time conquering kingdoms and amassing wealth, but in the end he would fall with no one to help (11:45).

In John’s time there was a man named Diotrephes who had a similar defiant attitude. He disregarded the apostle and spoke against him. He was inhospitable and excommunicated those in the church who attempted to be hospitable. He was a picture of selfishness and pride. No wonder John tells his readers not to imitate evil but to imitate good. A person like Diotrephes can influence many to follow his wicked example.

“Question authority” may be a popular bumper sticker but the solution to abusive authority is not to question the concept of authority. We need to submit to God’s authority and to duly instituted authority in the civil sector. Beware of defying authority (Romans 13:1-7; Hebrews 13:7,17).

Being Certain of Eternal Life

Today’s reading:1 John 3:11-3 John 15

My selection: I John 5:11-12

11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

My reflections: Death is the great universal problem of mankind.  No one escapes death, although most people long for life that is unending, full of love, peace, and joy (Romans 5:12).

But there is one way out, through Jesus Christ, the Word of God Who became flesh, dwelt among us, and in Whom is life (John 1:1-4,14-18).  The New Testament describes this salvation from death through Christ as being in Christ (Romans 8:1; I Corinthians 1:30; 15:22)  or, as John terms it here, having Christ. He is essential to salvation.

So we may say, the saved, those who have eternal life, are in Christ or have Christ.  These are not the only metaphors used to describe this relationship, but the conclusion is always that the relationship with Christ saves and without Him there is no salvation.

My challenge: Do you trust in Christ for your salvation?  Do you rejoice in the certainty of eternal life that is promised to you in Him?  Resist the temptation to rely on any other thing, such as your accomplishments, your church affiliation, your theological knowledge, for your certainty of eternal life.  As Augustus Toplady’s great hymn, “Rock of Ages”, says it:

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to Thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress;

Helpless, look to Thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Tomorrow’s reading:  Jude 1-Revelation 3:13

A Truly Merry Christmas

Today’s reading: 2 Peter 2:1-1 John 3:10

My selection:  I John 1:7-9

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

My reflections: As we celebrate the birth of the Light of the World, Jesus, (John 8:12) notice some of the benefits of “walking in the light.”

1.  Nearness to God.  God is in the light (vs. 5) so walking in the light results, first of all, in living close to Him.

2.  Cleansing from all sin.  As light reveals sin, so it facilitates confession of sin which results in forgiveness and cleansing from sin.

3.  Fellowship with others. There is no fellowship to compare with the fellowship of those who are walking in the light. Nothing is hidden in the light, including our sin. Yet this makes for relationships which are open and honest, without hypocrisy or facades.

My challenge: As you celebrate the birth of Jesus today, remember He came to save His people from their sin (Matthew 1:21).  If you believe in Him, you will want to live a life that reflects what He has done for you in taking your punishment on the cross and freeing you from the guilt of sin.  Make a conscious effort to walk in the light, because, naturally, we love darkness rather than light (John 3: 19-21).  Walk in the light today, though your flesh resists it.  Hear God’s word. Trust Him. Obey Him.  Confess sin.  Be cleansed by Him.  Enjoy Him and all those who walk with you in the light. May your Christmas be truly merry as you walk in the light and grow nearer to Christ.

Tomorrow’s reading:  1 John 3:11-III John 15