In a “Frank & Ernest” cartoon, the two bunglers are standing before the pearly gates. St. Peter, holding the keys, is scowling at Ernie. Frank whispers to Ernie, “If I were you, I’d change my shirt, Ernie.” Ernie’s T-shirt reads, “Question Authority.”
Americans think that questioning or defying authority is our inalienable constitutional right. If our President begins to act as if he were the king, we rally to throw him out of office. It carries down through our society, all the way to rebellion on the family level. We resist the concept of authority. We don’t like submitting to anyone.
Genesis 3:1-9: Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
We want to look at the Biblical concept of authority with child-rearing as the focus. For this reason, we will not dwell on the establishment of authority in society; that discussion is for another time. We want to start with the passage in Genesis to show that God was the authority to Adam and Eve. We see a pattern established at the beginning of time—authority is derived from God. This is true in society, in churches, and in a home. For this reason, if a society disregards God’s Word, then there will be a breakdown in authority. It has always been the devil’s aim to get human beings to question authority. He did this as revealed in Scripture in Isaiah. Let’s refresh ourselves on this passage.
Isaiah 14:12-14: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
In this passage, we see that Satan’s desire has always been to ascend to the place of God. He does not want any authority above himself. His desires have not changed for today—he desires each of us to be our own law unto ourselves. This is a fundamental difference between Christianity and the pagan world. In a society which screams, “I have my rights,” Christians should be crying out that God has my rights and my life. It is important that we see these differences and do not conform to this world’s mind-set when it comes to authority.
So, coming back to the passage in Genesis 3, the devil wanted to get Adam and Eve to disobey God’s direct commands. Notice he did this by saying that God knew that they would be like gods if they partook of the fruit of the tree. Authority is always compromised when we have a wrong view of self. Satan is a master at making us think more highly than we ought to think of ourselves.