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Anti-Authoritarian Age, Part 3

In our recent Pastor's Pens, we've probed into the culture's anti-authority attitude that's prevalent in today's society. This topic is particularly crucial because it has had an adverse impact on the church.
The Apostle Paul discusses the spirit of those in the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1-3, describing them as people who love themselves above all else. “For men will be lovers of self.”
This accurately describes our culture, where self-love is rampant. It sometimes appears as if God issued three commandments instead of two, with the third being "Love yourself above all else," instead of the traditional two, which are "Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength" and "Love your neighbor as yourself."
I do not need to diagnose this problem. We see it every day in our culture with the invention of the selfie and social media. Even the marketing world has grabbed this concept of self with the slogan, “Have it your way” in an attempt to sell your something as simple as a hamburger.

The Dangers of Self-Glorification and Self-Autonomy

Self-autonomy and self-glorification pose a significant threat to all forms of authority.
Listen, dear saint, you and I are not immune to this self-autocratic outlook. The New Testament Scriptures command believers to die to themselves. Jesus said it would take denial of self even to follow him. However, modern believers today seem to have forgotten that biblical Christianity is the crucifixion of self (Gal. 2:20).
Why is this so important to remember?
The answer to this question is twofold.
First, Christians were meant to live within a community of believers serving one another. Not in communes but rather in real life, together within the context of the local church. The over-arching theme of the NT is the commands oriented to serving in the body of Christ. The service we are to render is to those in the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).
You and I were saved for good works, and those good works find their expression in the local church. For example, Paul in Eph. 4:16 says,

“according to the proper working of each individual part, cause the growth of the body.”

 Every believer plays a role in another believer’s life.
We have been saved to serve in the maturation of another saint’s life, and if we allow self-will, self-comfort, and self-abortion to creep in, then we are not living for the good of others. The believer needs to live for the good of others, setting aside self-will, self-comfort, and self-abortion.
Secondly, self-autonomy is dangerous because it subverts the shepherd’s biblical role of oversight. The spiritual health of believers is the task of the local pastor (1 Thess. 5:12, Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:1-3).
One great threat to this work is an attitude that believes it does not need direct, intimate spiritual oversight (3 John 1:9,10). Paul, in 1 Thess. 5:12, makes it clear we are to appreciate elders for their oversight:

“Appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.”

The pastor-elders (i.e., under-shepherds) have charge over you in the Lord. Paul’s point is clear: shepherds do have authority over you, but it is a limited authority, namely, “in the Lord.” The scope of biblical oversight is within the Lord, which would be all things spiritual.
This oversight comes through biblical instruction. This instruction takes on different forms, whether through formal ministry or informal ministry (1 Cor. 1:17, Acts 2:20). Spiritual leaders have the biblical authority to teach, reprove, correct, and train according to sound doctrine (2 Tim 3:16).


The spirit of selfism is a real danger to the believer’s life. These threats from our culture are real, and may we, as believers here at GBC, ever be vigilant to fight against anything that undermines God’s work in our lives.