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Protection Under God’s Authority
By Tom Brown

           I remember as a child how safe I felt when there was a storm raging and yet I was at home protected under a sturdy roof. This is the picture that David gives us in Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

            Do you remember what you used to do as a youngster when you were in bed and heard scary noises? If you were like most kids, you pulled the covers over your head. This is a natural response to fear and shows our craving for protection. Psalm 91:4 expresses this hunger, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge…” This is a picture of a baby chick frighten, so she find shelter under momma’s wings.

            God has a plan of protection when the storms of life come against you. The Palmist mentions protection from war, diseases, calamities, and the like. There is a condition however: “If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the LORD, who is my refuge” (Psalm 91:9). If is a small word with big consequences. This is a stipulation. You must make the Most High your dwelling. How do you do that?

            Notice that God is called the Most High. The Psalmist is trying to point out the most obvious truth about God—that he is the Sovereign God who has authority over our lives. We often mistakenly expect God’s protection when we are in rebellion to His will for our lives. We can’t expect God to protect us when we do not submit to Him.

God’s Shadow

            One of the things that had puzzled me for years about this passage was the statement: will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I know that God is light and in Him there is no darkness and God is the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows (see 1 John 1:5 and James 1:17J). How could God cast a shadow? He is light. Then it hit me. God’s authority extends past His direct Sovereign authority to his indirect, delegated authorities in the earth.

            Paul mentions this in Romans 13:1-2:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Paul makes it clear that the delegated authorities which are the government, church, family and social departments are established by God. They are not a product of societal evolution but institutions that God made to protect us from harm.

People complain, “But there are so many crooked leaders, so how could God delegate His authority to them?” The truth is: all authorities are in some way imperfect with flawed and sometimes, down right, dishonest people ruling them. These are the shadows of God’s protecting arm. God is perfect but governing institutions are not. They are shadows while God is light, but they are extensions of God’s authority.

            I am aware that the concept of submission is not very popular. It never has been, because the spirit of anti-Christ has been ruling the world from the beginning of the fall. The anti-Christ is called the “man of lawlessness.” His objective is to create rebellion against God’s sovereign and delegated authority. Look at the devil’s sin: he rebelled against the authority of God by declaring: “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (ISA 14:14). He rebelled against God’s authority.

            Think also about man’s first sin. The original couple ate the fruit that God commanded them not to eat of.  Try not to overly diagnose the sin. Look at what is obvious.  Don’t spiritualize or conceptualize the meaning of the fruit. It doesn’t matter. The point is the couple disobeyed God’s command. That was their sin! Their sin was disobedience. If God had told them not to chop down the cherry tree, then to do that would have been a sin. The sin was in disobeying God. This is what Paul taught: “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Adam’s transgression was disobedience.

            Think about what this means. Sin is always disobedience. Disobedience can only exist when someone is under authority. For example, I cannot disobey my wife, children or church members because they do not have authority over me.  The worse I can do is disappoint them, but I cannot disobey them. On the other hand, they can disobey me because they are under my authority. Of course I can disobey God’s direct authority and other authorities that I am under. I still have authorities that I am submitted to.

Again, as an employee, your boss can disappoint you but he cannot disobey you, because you cannot give orders to him. When we really dig deep into what real sin is we cannot come to any other conclusion but that it is disobedience either to God or to His authorities.

You see people make excuses for not following orders. A teenager might say, after breaking their curfew, “But Dad, I know I am late in coming home, but I didn’t do anything wrong staying out late.” They think because they did not do some immoral thing—like sex or drugs—that they have not sinned. Little do they know that disobeying their parent’s instruction was sin.

You cannot justify disobedience because you supposedly did not do anything wrong—instead you believed you did right. This is often why people disobey. They think they have the right to alter the instructions of those in authority because they believe the leader is wrong in their instruction. Even if they are wrong, you are wrong in disobeying their directive. God will deal with the leaders directly or will use other leaders over them to bring them discipline, but it is not for those in submission to take it upon themselves to disobey.

When you disobey, you bring judgment on yourself. You lose the protection of Psalm 91. You have rejected God’s shadow.

Vaccine Shot

            This teaching may feel as good to you as a vaccine shot. I remember as a little boy ready for kindergarten that my grandmother took me to the health clinic to get my vaccine shot. I was not aware of what that meant. So I got in line and proceeded as a “sheep to the slaughter”. When I finally got to the end of the line I realized what was happening. A doctor wore a mask holding a huge needle. Back in those days the needles were attached to a gun looking apparatus. My eyes bulged. Then tears began to stream down my little chubby cheeks. I screamed for my life. I tried to run but the authorities grabbed me with my grandmother’s help. They tried to hush me but finally realized it was useless. They just grabbed me and pinned me to the table and gave me my shot.

            Afterward I felt so disappointed in my grandmother. I felt that she did not love me. How could she allow and even aid those people in shooting me?! Of course we know they did that for my good.

            This teaching may cause you to scream, cry, whimper and complain that no one understands the intolerable situation you are under. Perhaps you think you have a horrible husband, or idiotic parents, or a stingy, angry boss, or an uncaring, selfish pastor. I know that many people feel this way, but God has put them in authority over your life for a reason. Satan even made Adam and Eve question God’s motives. “Why doesn’t God want you to be wise?” was Satan’s argument. And when they finally ate the fruit, they did grow wise, but they realized they lost their covering of protection. The sewed fig leaves to cover their nakedness.

Rebellion is the sin of Witchcraft

            There is a tragic story in the Bible that powerfully illustrates rebellion and the awful consequences of it. King Saul was told by God through the prophet Samuel to make war against the enemies and to slaughter every one of them—people and animals alike. (This instruction belonged only to a special dispensation, but is now replaced with the law of love.)

            Saul partially obeyed. He defeated the enemies but allowed the men to keep the best animals. Samuel confronted him:

Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?" (1 Sam 15:19)

Saul countered:

"But I did obey the LORD," Saul said. "I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” (1 Sam 15:20-21)

Saul honestly believed that he had obeyed. He felt that partial obedience was still obedience. But it is not! It is still disobedience. Don’t rationalize your disobedience.

            “Well, I did most of what my pastor told me to do!”

            “Okay, I know my husband told me not to buy anything, but there was a big sale on!”

            “I felt I knew a better way to do it than my boss.”

            Saul gave his reason for keeping the sheep. He felt it was smarter financially to keep them than to destroy them. But the prophet explains:

  "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Sam 15:22)

God does not need the money. He would rather you obey than earn Him cash. The most powerful statement is yet to come:

For rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. (1 Sam 15:23) 

What! Rebellion is like divination and witchcraft. You cannot mention a worse sin than witchcraft. Yet you don’t need to look for a woman flying a broom. She may just be in the church sweeping the floor. Don’t look for a witch stirring a cauldron; she may be in her own kitchen cooking for her husband. A witch is not one who vanishes in thin air; but one who promises to help the pastor but disappears from his sight.

            Witchcraft also opens doors to evil spirits. It should not surprise us to find King Saul being attacked by evil spirits after this bout with disobedience.

            Many who are reading this article cannot explain the attack of evil spirits upon their lives. They are depressed, fearful, filled with anxiety. Demons have come and now they want the demons to leave. They won’t leave until you submit to authority.

            Ever since God launched my ministry of deliverance on a national scale, I have received many calls from people asking for deliverance. They often have serious mental and emotional problems. I have learned to ask one question: “Are you submitted to a pastor?” I would guess about eighty percent of the people answer, “No.” Then they give their excuses.

 “My pastor doesn’t understand me.”

“There are no pastors that drive out demons.”

“I have been asked to leave the church because they say I won’t obey.”

They are hoping that I could drive out the demons from their lives even when they are in disobedience. I can pray a long prayer for deliverance over them, but the demons will not leave until they submit to authority. James says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). You cannot successful resist the devil until you first submit to God. To submit is to joyfully obey God’s sovereign and delegated authorities. When you do, then you are under God’s covering of protection.

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