Sola Scriptura: Authority Lost (Part 1 of 3)

This is a series that is focusing on the question, “Am I willing to take God fully at His Word, especially in what He has revealed in Scripture?”

I would like to take some time to focus on our concept of authority. This will take several posts to plumb the depths. I hope it’s not too deep, and I hope it’s worth sticking it out to the end! As always, your feedback is welcome!

Part 1: God gave dominion of the earth to man, and man surrendered it.

Even before He created man, God’s plan was to create someone in His own image to rule over all the creatures of the earth. He acted on this desire before He created woman, when He put Adam in the Garden of Eden and commanded him to work it and care for it. By doing this, He was placing Adam in authority over the garden. (See Gen 1:26, 1:28, 2:15.)

When Adam was tempted, He was confronted with a choice. God had told him not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Eve had given ear to the serpent and told Adam to eat of the fruit. Scripture makes it clear that Adam’s choice was not only a choice of obedience. It was a choice between two kingdoms. Adam’s choice would surrender his domain to the devil’s power.

For much of my life, I saw the fall as sin and death entering the world, and only recently have been realizing that sin and death reigned in the world. Sin and death and more than mere ideas to explain human psychology; they are part of the devil’s kingdom and rulership. Because of Adam’s choice, the devil was given a place of authority in the world.

I see this confirmed in several places.

First of all, when Satan tempts Jesus with the kingdoms of the world, he says, “I will give you all their authority and splendor [referring to the kingdoms of the world]; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.” We know that Satan is the father of lies, and somehow I had assumed he was lying when he made this statement. However, based on what I read elsewhere in Scripture, I now believe Satan was speaking the truth, that indeed Adam had surrendered the kingdoms of the world to the devil. (Of course, there’s more going on here, but that comes next week!)

Second, when Paul talks about Adam’s sin in Romans 5, he mentions death having been given authority, or reigning. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” He reinforces this concept later in the chapter when he says that just as death once reigned, so we would reign in life. (Yes, more on that later!)

Third, Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 6:12 that we are wrestling against spiritual authorities. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

To summarize, one of my core beliefs on authority is this:

  1. God gave authority to man.
  2. Man surrendered his authority to the devil.
  3. The devil was given authority on the earth.

Join me next week as we explore God’s solution and our response! Meanwhile, have a refreshing weekend!

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