False Spiritual Authority



Select scriptures 


500 years ago the Roman Catholic church had grown to be the most powerful force in Europe that it was in many ways a state church. Though they had done a lot of good over the span of about 1,000 years, they had become very corrupt in some of the most important things about what it means to be a Christian. We will address a lot of those in our study together; but at the forefront of what was at stake was that the gospel had been so perverted. The teaching that one could buy their salvation with money or good deeds had become the core teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

In steps Martin Luther; a Monk and priest in training, after being converted and getting his hands on a copy of the Bible for the first time, became overwhelmed with a sense of how deeply misunderstood the bible was by so many. As a German monk, he would go to a central power place of the Roman Catholic church and nailed his 95 thesis (Statements) to the church door which would spark a revolution unlike the world has seen since – what we would refer to as the Protestant Reformation; without which it’s likely we would not be sitting here this morning. 

Out of this reformation that lasted several years and, I believe, is still going on today, came 5 core teachings. These 5 teachings are not the only things that were critical to this recovery of the gospel – but they are the foundational things that were taken back and made right after having been so distorted by Rome:

5 Sola’s – Latin for Alone: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, God’s Glory Alone

These 5 truths about Christianity are so critical to the faith that if one of them is compromised, the whole thing goes down. These truths are so important that if believers fail to understand them or treat them halfheartedly, they themselves will be compromised. And I want us to begin today with the one that typically begins an understanding of the Reformation which is SOLA SCRIPTURA or Scripture Alone. In other words: WE BELIEVE the Bible is our only spiritual authority. 


Now, the reason why this was so important during the Protestant Reformation and is for us today, is because we are constantly battling the temptation of making things other than the Bible our spiritual authority. In other words, when we say the Bible is our onlyspiritual authority, we do so because we realize that there are all kind of false forms of authority that we must reject… let me give you a few of them and see if you’ve heard of them before: 



Now, let me say that there is nothing wrong with tradition in of itself. Whether it’s a family tradition surrounding something done on holidays or traditions that take place in the life of a church, it is not inherently bad to have things to practice on a regular basis. However, those traditions must never be elevated to or seen as something that is spiritually authoritative. The mindset of “this is how we do things” or “this is what we’ve always done it” is not equal to or substitute to ‘thus saith the Lord.’ And any believer, church, or denomination who falls into that snare sets themselves up for spiritual apostasy and may be already be engaging in gross idolatry as they equate tradition with God. Preference over God’s priority / Comfort over Commandments / tradition over Biblical conviction. 



There is a sinister form of false authority that assumes that because a person, pastor, denomination, or church structure is tied to religion and the name of God that they therefore have the right to speak with authority over one’s life. 

·       Titus 2:15 “…speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” 

 It’s important to know here that Titus, Paul’s or any religious leader’s authority does not come from his position, ministry standing, popularity, education, or anything else. The only form of authority is the Word of God. And as a Christian leader stands to proclaim the Word, the authority does not rest in anything other than the clear and right interpretation of Scripture. No pastor, Pope, church denomination, or spiritual leader has any personal authority – we may only appeal to the King’s authority as we deliver it to others. 


In 1521, while on trial before the highest-ranking officials and priests of the Roman Catholic Church who demanded recantation of his belief that the Bible alone was one’s spiritual authority, Martin Luther, knowing that his response would mean banishment or death, said, 

·       "Therefore, your Most Serene Majesty and your Lordship, since they seek a simple reply, I will give one that is without horns or teeth, and in this fashion: I believe in neither pope nor councils alone; for it is perfectly well established that they have frequently erred, as well as contradicted themselves. Unless then I shall be convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I must be bound by those Scriptures which have been brought forward by me; yes, my conscience has been taken captive by these words of God. I cannot revoke anything, nor do I wish to; since to go against one’s conscience is neither safe nor right: here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen"

Scripture alone! 


This is important for us to understand as we are living in a time when human experience has been so elevated. Many churches seem discontent with the teachings of the Bible and feel as though they need more. They need visions, outlandish forms of worship under the guise of tongues, prophecy, and miracles. It’s to the point that if person stands up and says, “you know, God spoke to me this morning” people are on the edge of their seats and cannot wait to hear of some supposed new experience. But if a man says, “open your Bible to the gospel of John”, well people can’t get to sleep fast enough. Many seem be so caught up in the next religious experience or high that they have little use for the Bible. It’s no wonder then that so many view religious experience as equally authoritative to the Bible itself. 

The problem with this, among many things, is that if a person is claiming to get new revelations from God – they are claiming that their words are just as true, factual, and authoritative as the Bible itself. So, when a person makes these claims of God speaking to them and making prophecies and claiming to have a word, the question that must be asked is “is it equal with Scripture?” And, if it is, it’s useless. If it isn’t, it’s not true. Don’t be bringing your “thus saith the Lord’s” unless it is found in chapter and verse.

“Chapter and verse” rule



Another insidious form of false spiritual authority is the ever-prevailing idea that a society gets to determine what is true and false and the Bible is simply a collection of religious writings that is old and outdated and must be evaluated by what a society currently believes to be right. We live in this danger every single day. How often do people build their arguments about what the Bible teaches on the fact that the Bible is too old, outdated, out of touch, cave-manish, and archaic, and therefore must be rejected because God cannot keep up with the times. “God may have written the Bible, but He only intended it to be binding of the people living in those times.” And so, when a culture of people finds something they disagree with in the Bible or that doesn’t fit their desires, they make themselves to be the authority, not God. In a sense, they try to rescue God. (apologize for God?)

And how foolish this is! All one must do is look back in history and we see how ridiculous it is to believe than mankind and changing social norms should be the determining factor of what is true and good. Let me remind you of how consistently man has proven themselves to be wrong and untrustworthy about matters of truth and error, right and wrong:

·      Science - World is flat / Universe revolves around the sun / 

·      Morality - Germany – murder of Jews was good / US slavery

·      False Religion - Religious terrorism seen as good 

·      Social norms – eastern countries women aren’t allowed to do anything (right?)

  … so, whichof these people should be our authority? We can’t predict the weather tomorrow, yet we have the audacity to make bold statements about the origin or man and the age of the universe based on theory and bad science. We have the audacity to take the place of God and make determinants about which human-beings matter and do not; which people should and should not have certain rights. We have the gall to take God’s authority away from Him and redefine marriage and sexuality. We don’t just have blind spots; we’re blindapart from God’s guiding light. 

May we as a people fully submit ourselves to the authority of the Word of God as we seek to honor and live in light of God’s commandments of His people.