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#21 Sign of Authority

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(A Series on I Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 9/12/98 a.m.            I Corinthians 11:2-16

PROPOSITION:  God’s people are to be people under authority, honoring God as our Source, honoring God’s order, and honoring God’s people.

I. introduction

-     FROM the fall in the Garden of Eden, the sin of mankind has been rebellion....I don’t care about God, I don’t care about others, I WILL do things my way.

-     I JOHN 3:4 says,

      “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”

-     IN 2 Thessalonians the anti-Christ is called the man of lawlessness...and Paul tells us that the spirit of lawlessness is already at work (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

-     THIS was the essence of Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden.

*     God had ordained in creation that man would honor Him and be dependent on Him for moral understanding and purity.

*     That was why He forbade eating of the fruit of the tree of the ‘knowledge of good and evil.” He wanted humankind to depend on Him  for that.

*     When Eve gave in to temptation and ate the fruit of the tree she was saying that she wanted to be independent of God. She wanted to do things HER way.

-     IT is the sin of rebellion. It is at the heart of all sin.

*     We see it in the heart of the criminal, who rebels against the law of the land without regard for the life or property of others.

*     We see it in the heart of the terrorist, who rebels against the government of the land without regard for the safety of others.

*     We see it in the heart of the child, who rebels against the order of the parent or family without regard for the peace of the home.

*     We see it in the heart of the employee, who rebels against the order of the workplace without regard for the goals of the company.

*     We see it in the heart of the rebellious in the congregation, who resist the government of the local assembly without regard for God or His Church.

-     IN each of these places, the nation, the home, the workplace and the church, God has instituted and appointed representatives of His rebellion is actually rebellion against Him.

-     HUMANKIND chafes under and resists coming under God’s authority.

-     AND you see it in the disrespectful attitudes towards any authority in our day.

-     THE Bible says that this spirit of rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft. And the reason is that, like witchcraft, rebellion is the sin that invites Satan to take up a base of operation.

-     SO, this spirit of rebellion has been around since the fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden.

-     SHORTLY after coming into the wonderful land of promise, and enjoying all the blessings of the Lord in Israel, the people became rebellious...and Judges 17:6 says of the people of God that,

      “...everyone did as he saw fit.”

-     THE apostle Paul says that, as we approach the second coming of Christ, we will see this spirit of rebellion on the increase.

      “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--(5) having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

-     THE people of God are to be a people “under authority.”

-     IN this way we honor God. We show God respect. It is our proper worship and service.

-     THAT is the theme of I Corinthians 11:2-16 (page 1135)

-     I CORINTHIANS 11,12,13 and 14 are all about the worship environment in Corinth.

-     IT seems that in the church in Corinth, one of the problems was a spirit of rebellion....and it showed up in the worship setting.

*     The people who spoke in tongues or prophesied wanted to do it when they wanted and as loud as they wanted...without regard for anything or anyone.

*     Some were exalting their gifts and degrading the gifts of others.

*     The people who took communion wanted to eat when they wanted and as much as they wanted....without regard for the others in the service.

*     Some were actually getting drunk on the communion wine in the services.

-     AS a result the worship services were noisy, chaotic and confusing. It was a mess....because no one was willing to be under authority.

-     SO in I Corinthians 11:2, Paul wades into the subject....and verse 10 contains the heart of the message where Paul asks the women to have a,

      “...sign of authority.”

-     THE challenge of this passage is to live your life in such a way as to show that you are “under authority.”

-     AND, after much study, and a lengthy conversation with an eminent Bible scholar on this passage (Dr. Philip Payne has written 275 pages just on these verses), I want to show you three areas where the follower of Christ must show himself/herself to be under authority.

-     HERE is the problem that had developed in Corinthian worship services.

-     MOST of the believers in the church had come out of a society where over 85% of the populace had worshipped at the Temple of the Greek god, Dionysis.

*     In the Dionysic cult, every night great cisterns of water were sealed up and to show the miracle power of Dionysis, when the Temple was opened in the morning the water had been turned into wine (Archeologists have since uncovered secret conduits that ran the wine into the vats after the temple doors were sealed each night).

*     But the worship of Dionysis started with great feasts designed to gratify the appetites of the worshipper.

*     In these feasts great volumes of wine were consumed, lowering the inhibitions of the worshippers.

*     When the worshippers were sufficiently drunk, the women would let their hair down, launch into ecstatic prophetic utterances, and be available for temple orgies.

*     Many of the men who would get drunk would put their hair up, like a woman, and engage in homosexual activity.

-     NOW some of these men and women had gotten saved, and they needed to know how to honor the Lord.....and not just live unto themselves. 

ii. honor GOD AS Your source

-     SO, in this passage, Paul addresses the subject of being under authority and showing honor to others.

-     THE first way, in this passage, that you and I show ourselves to be under authority is by honoring where we have come from....what I have called honoring God as your Source.

      “I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you. (3) Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (I Corinthians 11:2-3)

-     WHEN most of us read the word, head (and it is used 13 times in this passage), we think of hierarchy....someone being over someone.

-     BUT Bible scholars believe that most of the time that Paul uses the word head, as in Ephesians 5, a better synonym is Source.

-     IN Ephesians 5, when Paul tells us that husbands are the head of the wife AS Christ is the head of the church, he is talking about Christ who.....

*     ...purchased the Church from slavery to sin at the cost of His own life.

*     ...gave Himself as a ransom for the Church without regard for His own safety.

*     ...protects and nurtures the Church to the point of laying His life down.

-     SO, in this passage, in verse 3, Paul is saying three things....

1.   The Source of every man is Christ.

•     Christ is the Author of life, the Giver of life, the Savior and Protector of humankind.

2.   The source of every woman is man, speaking of God’s act of creation in the man, Adam.

•     God is the Creator, and provided the means for its procreation and order.

3.   The Source of Christ is God, begotten of the Father before the beginning of time.

•     God is the Father of Christ and all creation.

-     AND in our worship, we humble ourselves and come under the authority of Christ, of His created order for life, and of the Father.

-     WE are not a law unto ourselves. We did not create ourselves from nothing. We are not self-made, nor are we self-perpetuating.

*     We honor Christ in our the Source of every man.

*     We honor God’s creation order in our worship....the Source of all that we see and hear and touch from Genesis 1:1 to today.

*     We honor our heavenly Father...the Source of the Only Begotten Son, and the family of God.

-     HONOR where you have come from with your life, your attitudes and your worship.

-     COME under the authority of heaven.

iii. honor god’s order

-     NOW, we get to the part of the passage that has been used for generations to support teaching on length of hair, wearing hats, not wearing hats.

-     BUT the context of the next few verses is WORSHIP...and the sobering fact that the angels themselves attend the throne of God WHEN God’s people worship Him (verse 10).

*     Also see Hebrews 12:22&23, where we are told that the angels join the assembly of the Church in joyful worship.

-     AND in the worship setting in Corinth the believers were being disrespectful to God by ignoring the order that He had established for marriage relations, for husbands and wives and for godly sexuality.

*     Literature, coins, frescoes, paintings and statues and portraits of this time in Corinth tell us that respectable women wore their hair long and put it up....NO headware.

•     The verses we are about to read are not about women wearing hats.

*     They tell us that loose women showed their disdain for marriage, their husbands, and common moral decency by letting their hair down....available for immoral sexual activity.

•     A woman caught in adultery had her hair shaved off to publicly show her shame.

*     They tell us that respectable men wore their hair short, and that homosexual men wore their hair long and up like a woman....available for immoral homosexual activity.

•     The verses we are about to read are not about men having hair over their ears.

*     And, remember that in the Old Testament setting the priests and Levites actually wore headware in the presence of the Lord.

-     THE social customs that Paul is decrying are those directly associated with rejecting God’s standards of holiness. This is NOT about wearing bluejeans to church.

-     SO, what Paul is saying in these next verses is that out of respect for the presence of God, and in our worship setting, we must not be disrespectful of the order that He has established for marriage and righteous sexual expression....because that is a sign of rebellion against Him.

*     It would be showing our rebellion in a worship environment.

*     It would be dishonoring to God by mimicking the rebellious element of our godless culture.

-     IN this passage, that way you and I show ourselves to be under authority is by honoring God in the order He has established for society.

      “Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. (5) And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head-- it is just as though her head were shaved. (6) If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. (7) A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. (8) For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; (9) neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (10) For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.” (I Corinthians 11:4-10)

-     ARE your lifestyle, your dress, your hair, your attitudes and conduct  a “sign of authority” as it relates to marriage, the family and righteous sexuality?

-     ARE you, based on what our society considers conservative norms in these areas, living under authority?

-     IT is a sign that you are under God’s authority and not some maverick out there doing what pleases you, flaunting the purposes of God.

iv. honor god’s people

-     THE third way, in this passage, that you and I show ourselves to be under authority is by honoring God’s people.

      “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. (12) For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. (13) Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? (14) Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, (15) but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. (16) If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God.” (I Corinthians 11:11-16)

-     THE word, however, in verse 11, is one of the strongest ways in which Paul makes a break from previous thoughts.

-     IT is as if he anticipates that some may mistakenly take the previous verses to construct a hierarchy with men superior to women.

-     SO, he states emphatically in verse 11 that we cannot be or act separate from each other.

-     IN verse 12 he reminds us that in God’s creative order it takes a male and a female for us to even come into being.

-     AND in verse 12 he also reminds us that we all ultimately come from God.

-     SO, there is a mutual dependence and humility before each other that is absolutely required as we come together for worship as the people of God.

-     WE are to be submitted to one another in the family of God.

-     WE are to honor each other as better than ourselves.

-     WE cannot afford the rebellious spirit that puts our personal gifts, preferences, ideas, plans ahead of others in the family of God.

-     WE are not our own island, free to do whatever pleases us.

-     WE are part of the same body of Christ.

-     WE are connected mutually to the head, the Source, which is Christ.

-     WE must walk humbly before each other.

v. conclusion

-     THIS is a complex passage that has been open to much misunderstanding through the years.

-     LET me review again the theme in verse 10,

      “...a sign of authority.”

-     A SIGN in your lifestyle that you are a man, a woman, who knows how to live under authority....that you are not a rebel, doing your own thing.

-     AND the three areas that we are to show a sign of being under authority is....

1. honoring God as your Source.

2. honoring God’s order.

3. honoring God’s people and humbling yourself to those around you.

-     LET’S remember that rebellion is the original sin of the fall of humankind.

-     LET’S remember that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, inviting Satan in to establish a base of operations in our lives.

-     LET’S remember that rebellion and lawlessness is what Satan is known for, and the main work of the antichrist.

-     LET’S resist the spirit of our age, and by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, live in the opposite spirit of our world.

1.   Honoring God as your Source.

2.   Honoring God’s order.

3.   Honoring God’s people.

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