On Good Authority

Everybody needs a source of authority.

If you’re a Christian, you look to the Bible. And for many years a common Christian heritage undergirded Western civilization, offering an accepted moral framework even to those who rejected the supernatural teachings of the Scripture. No longer.

After describing the increasing intellectual bankruptcy of American university students, Scott Gibson contends, “They are unable to think for themselves. Yet, the prevailing culture has taught them to rely upon themselves as the source of judgment. The self has become the authority.” That trend is only increasing. Gibson wrote these words nearly 20 years ago.

Self-authority offers a frightening prospect. Proverbs 14:12 teaches, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” When left to our own devices, human beings do poorly. Narcissism, hedonism, materialism, and raw power seduce and destroy. “The heart is deceitful above all things.”

To the contrary, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches that the Bible is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In other words, the Scripture provides a profitable authority, able to correct and equip Christians for a life of God-honoring service.

Will you do that perfectly? No. Will you fail often? Yes. But over time, Romans 12:2 teaches that as you read the Bible with faith in Jesus you will “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” You will learn to think biblically, to discern the will of God, and increasingly to act faithfully upon it.

So do not lose heart.

Self offers no trustworthy authority. But the LORD is trustworthy eternally. Build your life on the authority of His Word.

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