Submitting to God’s Authority

I think we misunderstand true freedom. Freedom that satisfies your heart is never found in setting yourself up as your own authority. True freedom is not found in doing whatever you want. True freedom is not found in resisting the call to submit to any authority but your own. True freedom is never found in writing your own moral code. True freedom is not the result of finally deciding on your own identity. When you attempt to do these things, you never enjoy freedom; you only end up in another form of captivity.

Why is this true? Because you and I were born into a world of authority. First, there is the overarching authority of God. Nothing exists that does not sit under his sovereign and unshakable rule. If God created this world (and he did), and if he owns what he created (and he does), then you and I do not have independence from his rule. This means that as his creatures, we were created to live in willing submission to his will for us. Here’s the point: freedom is never found in spinning free of his authority. No, freedom is found in the willing submission of our hearts to his authority. Then, second, there are all the levels of human authority that God put on earth to make his invisible authority visible. This means that personal freedom is not found in resisting human authority either. Freedom and authority are not enemies.

The bottom line is that you and I always exist under some kind of authority. Yet none of us is wise enough, strong enough, or good enough to rule ourselves well. We are no more hardwired to rule our own lives than a beagle is hardwired to live in a water-filled aquarium. Self-rule never leads anywhere good. God doesn’t give you grace so you can live how you want. His agenda for grace is to transform you into a person who humbly recognizes your need for authority. Grace leads you to celebrate the holy, loving, and benevolent authority of God.

This article is adapted from New Morning Mercies for Teens: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp.


Paul David Tripp

Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, an award-winning author, and an international conference speaker. He has written numerous books, including Lead; Parenting; and the bestselling devotional New Morning Mercies. His not-for-profit ministry exists to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. Tripp lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Luella, and they have four grown children.


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