Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 5:3,10
January 5, 2022
The Power of Leaders
Jesus came into the vicinity of Jerusalem and seeing the multitudes, began to teach them (Mt. 5:1). This teaching is popularly known as the Sermon on the Mount. It is amazing to realize that the first stop of this New King was to the poor, downcast and oppressed people of the land. Jesus did not say, “Take me to your leader.” That is where we would expect a new leader to affect change. He did not speak of opposing their leaders or pronounce how bad they were, even though they had horrible leaders. The Jewish nation was under bondage to Rome and crimes could be punished through stoning by Jewish authority or crucifixion by the Romans. Jesus came to tell the poor oppressed people that there was coming a new king and kingdom that they could become part of that would govern them with truth and grace. He brought good news of hope for their future and a great change that would make their lives better.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Mt 4:17
We notice that Jesus was proposing great changes for this people but He would do it without violent overthrow of their present leaders. He did not even speak of them; but their leaders were the problem. The people were poor and broken in spirit because they had been abused and led astray by false leaders for hundreds of years. The Jewish Sanhedrin was their governing body over religious and civil law. While their leaders daily taught the law, they were also very corrupt. They no longer practiced the truth of Moses’ Law given by God, but they made up their own laws to suit their fancy; and the people had no one to turn to for help from the oppression of the government or church until Jesus came.
The most important thing that Jesus brought them was hope for a better life as He began to teach them how to conduct themselves among each other. Jesus was giving directly to the people the power of change by the Holy Spirit. The truth is that if we treat each other right in everyday life, there is little need for leaders to intervene in our daily affairs. So what Jesus did in teaching the people did not really involve their leaders until the leaders saw the crowds following and the weakening of their authority over the people. The Jewish leaders were leading by greed and oppressive power. They opposed anything that affected their wealth. Jesus came to reign throughout eternity as a spiritual leader for those who love God.
Leaders Without God
The leaders of the Jews during Jesus’ ministry were men who did not fear God. Abraham recognized and honored his Lord when He showed up in his camp. If these leaders had been men who followed God, then they would have recognized Christ as their Messiah because He fulfilled all the prophecies they taught.
Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. Joh 8:19
Jesus came from Father God to restore God’s leadership for the people. He taught them love for God and neighbor. The Jewish leaders no longer followed Father God or His laws. They had made up hundreds of their own rules, making themselves an authority to be obeyed, rather than God. Jesus actually revealed to them who their god was:
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. Joh 8:42-44
The leaders of that day did not like being exposed as false religious leaders. They were men of power but without God and became their own gods by making up their own rules and forcing them upon the people. The oppressed people had nowhere to run to for help because their leaders were the highest authority in the land and had power to imprison them.
Likewise today, many people feel hopeless because their leaders do not seem to want to do what is right even though they carry all the authority needed to make things right. They do not sympathize with the plight of the people because they receive their wealth through their oppression of the poor. Rich men line leaders’ pockets for favor and the poor cannot compete with the rich’s influence. Judges did favors for the rich then, just as they do now. It was a bad place to be in then; and it is a bad place to be in now. In both situations, God watches the good and the evil and has the power to and will ultimately remove the wicked in authority.
It was never God’s plan to allow believers to be oppressed by men without honor or reverence for God. God established leadership to obey God and to lead by His commands as Moses taught both the ecclesial and civil leaders to serve the public by obeying and promoting God’s laws as recorded in the Word of God. American history records General George Washington going to God for help and guidance in the tight times of battle, but where does an unbelieving leader go when his back is against the wall. Believing leaders can always get help and move forward in the most dire of situations because they know how to seek God. He is their source of strength in difficult days.
What Does God Say About Leaders Without God
God’s world and His kingdom are called to order under His Sovereignty. God set the order of things when He made the world. After the intervention of Satan upset His order, God came back and re-established order by judging all disobedience in Adam, Eve, the serpent and later through a worldwide flood. Moses appointed godly leaders to keep the Law of God and to correct disobedience by the Law. Under Moses’ Law people would be judged and often stoned for disobedience. Moses represented the highest judge in the land and the hard cases he took to God for judgment. Notice here that all leaders were to be led by and subject to God’s law. That system was the foundation for our current legal system in America but unrighteous authorities corrupt godly systems. Our democracy does not want to do a religious test for candidates so leaders coming from lower levels may not have proven faithfulness, worthiness or leadership ability for office.
When Jesus came and taught a new law of love and left His authority in the hands of the church, matters among Christians were supposed to be settled without going to court (1Co 6:1-8). Matters between the church and the world could be taken to the worldly court but God always gave favor and guidance to His children. The righteous Christian church led by the Holy Spirit was supposed to be a light in the world’s darkness to teach and help correct unrighteousness in the systems of the land so God’s peace could prevail, but not all churches or their leaders are righteous. The sin of leaders will influence the people under them. Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount still apply to His church today and the Holy Spirit is still available to help the believer. Apostle Paul further explained Jesus’ teachings for the believer.
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 1Co 5:12
Matters of disagreement within the church are to be handled among church believers because Jesus is still in authority by the Holy Spirit to resolve every issue and He commands righteousness or damnation. The strength of the Holy Spirit in the leaders of Peter’s day slew the liars to death within the congregation and exposed sin (Act 5:3). Paul said disbelieving people outside the church will be judged by God. There are civilian courts based on the Law of God to judge the lawless unbeliever. The confusion we are dealing with today is that ungodly leaders in churches have taught error to the people and united with the ungodly of the world to assume empowerment by force based on their selfish ideals. God calls this unrighteous union the spirit of the antichrist (ITim 4:1) and He has given the true church the power to put it down.
Godlessness in the Last Days
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2Ti 3:1-7
People within and without the church today are struggling with what should be done about disobedient leaders. The rules have not changed but some churches failed to prepare the believers for these days. The church should correct the church and God will punish those outside the church. However, what many people do not understand is that God uses His representatives in either place to carry out His will. Church authority should correct the church disobedience but also any believer can intercede to the Lord Jesus for correction of the church. Remember Jesus is Lord over His church and the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (Jas 5:16).” Believers are responsible to unite together with the spirit of Christ to bring order, as did the early apostles in the first church.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Mt. 18:20
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. Act 15:6
The disorder of leaders in the world is to be judged by God. God can sovereignly cut down any disobedient leader or people or He can appoint anyone outside the church, even the devil himself, to stop or destroy the wicked. The Law still applies to punish disobedience in the world. We no longer stone people in the public square; they are judged in courthouses by their peers. Both God’s people as Christians and worldly people makeup governing systems that judge disobedience in worldly settings and Christians are always God’s representative wherever they are stationed to represent righteousness according to the Word of God.
The complications we are seeing today in America are a result of religious leaders who have retrained believers to follow their worldly commands rather than God. These leaders, like in Jesus’ time in Jerusalem, have sought to use their leadership for gaining wealth instead of obeying God. They have changed laws and subverted judgments to do their own will. Unlike in Jesus’ day, the people are no longer illiterate, in bondage to overlords, too poor for proper representation, or too far outside the grace of God to get His attention. People are no longer helpless or hopeless. Even the Old Testament affirmed of the futility of evil power:
When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever… Ps 92:7
Even though Jesus has come and set the captive free and Americans are free to enjoy God’s liberty, Americans must remember that there are still plenty of nations now in this time of grace that live in bondage to overlords and totalitarian governments. People who in such places will pray and seek God will find that God will support them just as He did Esther and Daniel in heathen nations and the Hebrew boys sent to the fiery furnace. It is the grace of God to Americans and our obedience to God through Jesus that has kept us in freedom thus far, but when leaders turn from God, Jesus declared: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Mt 15:14).” We cannot afford to take God or His grace for granted. God will ultimately judge a wicked people. Many nations and the world have been destroyed because of disobedient people or leaders and God’s word is still in effect to put down all disobedience and start a righteous kingdom on earth which shall come to pass as surely as the flood came according to the word of Noah and God’s determination of a wholly corrupt and wicked people. If we do not use the authority of God to put down evil, the evil (leaven) has the power to fully corrupt and destroy us all.
It is the same devil working today in our nation to destroy God’s word and His followers that disrupted the Garden of Eden. He has set us against each other over food, clothing, housing and power; all of which the first family received freely from God. The devil is still lying and false leaders are still greedy but God has given us the cure in Jesus Christ as Lord and He has given us the ability to discern who is for or against God through the Word of God and spiritual discernment. We have been given all the weapons we need to prevail as believers. All who call upon the name of Jesus can be saved, set free, and empowered against the enemy. When Jesus said: “The Kingdom has come” it meant the rule of evil is ready to be broken off one’s life and salvation is now available. Jesus Christ came to lead every believer into true righteousness by the Holy Spirit when the individual accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Joh 3:16