Updated: Sep 12, 2020
People live under authority every day of their lives. If we drive along the highway there will be speed limit signs informing us as to how fast we are to drive, stop signs instructing us to halt at certain intersections, and traffic lights indicating either stop, go or proceed with caution. If we are caught driving too fast, running through a stop sign or failing to halt at a red light we will be ticked for our infraction. We are under authority when we enter certain buildings in that we are made to pass through security and to wear badges indicating where we can and can’t go. Children are under the authority of their parents as younger children have specific bedtimes and older children curfews.
All of the above scenarios are examples of physical authority, but the fact of the matter is we are likewise subject to spiritual authority. The Holy Bible contains the stipulations by which Almighty God expects us to live on a daily basis. Scripture doesn’t merely give suggestions as to how we are to conduct ourselves; instead, God gives commandments (see Leviticus 22:31), laws (Deuteronomy 28:58–59), statutes (see Leviticus 20:8) and judgments (see Psalm 105:7) that He expects His people to obey. In this article, we will examine three reasons why Scripture holds authority over our lives.
First, we are to yield to the authority of Scripture because it is inspired. In his second epistle to Timothy, the apostle Paul declares “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). The word inspired literally means “God-breathed” and indicates the truth that the words of Scripture originate with the Almighty. In other words, the individuals who penned the books of the Bible did so as Jehovah God directed their very thoughts. The actual style in which the books are written may be that of the various authors, but the words are those of God himself.
The apostle Peter likewise gives us insight into the inspiration of the Bible as he writes, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (1 Peter 1:20–21). The phrase moved by the Holy Ghost means those who wrote the Bible were borne or carried by the Holy Spirit. As a sailboat moves across the water due to the fact that the wind fills its sails and pushes it forward, so were the authors of Scripture driven by the hand of the Divine.
A second reason why we are to yield to the authority of the Word of God is because it is established or settled doctrine. The Psalmist says “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89), the prophet Isaiah declares “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8) and the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims “…Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). The Bible has always had its critics as many have attempted to both undermine and dilute its words, but it has stood the test of time. No other book in the history of the world has been maligned to the extent God’s Word has, and yet it has weathered every assault and withstood every attack.
Because the Bible is settled doctrine, it is a complete or finished revelation. This means nothing is to be either added to or taken away from it. We are warned on numerous occasions in Scripture to refrain from attempting to alter its words, but there are two that are most compelling. Through Moses Almighty God declares “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). In the concluding chapters of Scripture, is given the warning “…If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18–19). While it is tempting to either misquote or modify Scripture to suit our preferences, the fact of the matter is we are treading on dangerous ground when we do so. We need to let God’s Word speak for itself, and once we comprehend it’s meaning; we are to adjust our lifestyle so that it might line up with its teaching.
The final reason for our yielding to the authority of the Bible is because of the benefit it brings to our lives. In the Scripture quoted above from Paul, he informs Timothy that the inspired Word of God is “…profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Doctrine simply means teaching or instruction, and reproof means conviction of wrongdoing. Correction has to do with improvement of our wayward condition, and instruction in righteousness is another way of saying “insight into godly living.” In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches us that there is a straight and narrow road that leads to life; therefore, we are to avoid the wide and broad way that leads to destruction as we follow the way He has laid out for us.
As the children of Israel are about to cross the River Jordan and enter into the Promised Land, Joshua gives them several instructions. Among them is the statement “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shat have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Joshua says first of all that God’s Word is to be in our mouth and that we are to meditate upon it day and night. There is great power in speaking the Word of God, for by doing so Satan is defeated (see Matthew 4:1-11), enemies are dispatched (see Joshua 23:10), the plans of the ungodly against us come to naught (see Isaiah 8:10) and the power of death is conquered (see Ezekiel 37:4–10). Likewise, as we meditate upon God’s Word, we will find that it is able to bring comfort to our troubled soul (see Philippians 4:8). The Bible is food for our soul (see Psalm 119:103), light for our pathway (see Psalm 119:105, 130) and the means whereby our lives might be pure (see Psalm 119:9; 1 Peter 1:22).
Joshua informs the children of Israel that they are to observe to do according to all that is written therein. In other words, they are to fully and faithfully obey God’s Word. On several occasions God instructs His people to turn neither to the right hand nor the left hand when it comes to obeying His Word (see Deuteronomy 5:33; Joshua 23:6; Proverb 4:27), and this means they are to walk in accordance to His divine instructions. When King Saul disobeys God, he loses the kingdom (see 1 Samuel 15:27–28); when Jonah disobeys God, he winds up in the belly of a great fish (see Jonah 1:17); and when a wayward prophet disobeys God, he loses his life (see 1 Kings 13:20–24).
Thirdly, Joshua tells the children of Israel that by meditating on God’s Word and obeying its precepts thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Practically everyone wants to prosper in the things they attempt to do. No farmer plants crops in the spring with the expectation that they will fail in the field; instead, the crops are planted with the hope of reaping a bountiful harvest. Likewise, a person preparing a meal doesn’t do so believing the meat will be burnt, the gravy will be lumpy, the vegetables will be undercooked and the desert will be runny; instead, a meal is prepared under the anticipation of being both delicious and filling.
When it comes to our Christian lives we should likewise strive for success, and one of the key elements of that success is submission to the authority of the Word of God. As we speak God’s Word, meditate upon its truths and put it into practice in our everyday lives we will discover God’s divine favor being bestowed upon us most miraculously. This isn’t to say that we won’t have difficulties or that troubles won’t come our way; but it is to say that when these things do occur, we have sufficient, sustaining grace to endure these and all other obstacles we may encounter.
In conclusion, our lives are lived under authority daily. The laws of the land govern our actions, and transgression against these laws will result in severe consequences. This is true in our temporal (physical) walk, and it is also true in our spiritual walk. Almighty God has given us His Word in order that we might conduct ourselves following His divine will. The apostle John informs us that God’s “…commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3), which means they are for our benefit. By obeying God we will discover that our pathway is peaceful, our soul is content and our outlook is brighter.