In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he describes the apostasy of the Gentiles, their abominations and foolish hearts after knowing that God exists and knowing His power, they seek their own authority. Paul writes, “Because, knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful. But they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things” (Rom. 1:21-23). These Gentiles know God, and yet, they turn away from His wisdom and authority to seek their own wisdom. Ultimately, such actions do not end well for the participants. God “gave them up unto vile affections” (vs. 26) because they were determined to have them. God never wants anyone to fall away (2 Peter 3:9), but when stubborn and arrogant people refuse God’s law and guidance, the Almighty turns away from them. He cannot see their sinfulness (Isa. 59:1-2).
When people push God out of their lives, who becomes the greatest source of authority in morality, in direction, in praise? Themselves! The heathen Gentiles create their own gods and establish their own authority and limitations on their gods. Idolatry is vain imaginations and a fool’s authority. The heathen claim their idol gods have authority, but the idol’s authority doesn’t emanate from its own power. The idol only has as much authority as the worshipper gives it. God’s authority originates in His nature and power. God will judge the world whether the world gives God their permission to judge them or not, which is the true authority (2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14).
The fool’s authority in the modern world is not so different than the warning Paul preached to Rome. People create to themselves idol images of a god that is all-tolerant of certain sins, sins that each person deems inconsequential, a god that is non-judgmental, and forgives all sins because sinners say and think in their hearts that they believe in Him. The foolish world believes this idol god to be the God of the Bible. They claim and establish authority for this idol god using the silence of scriptures and private interpretations (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Scriptural authority in the God of the Bible derives not from saying, “Well, the Bible doesn’t say I can’t do it.” A fool’s authority rests in the silence of scripture (Prov. 12:15). There are many things the Bible does not say. The Bible does not say that Christians cannot use ketchup and BBQ sauce with the unleavened bread during the Lord’s Supper, but this does not mean that Christians have the authority to make such additions. Using such an excuse to make additions to worship and doctrine undermines the true faith because eventually, so many changes will happen that people lose sight of what God said because they are so focused on what God did not say. Worship and faith become about what the majority wants rather than studying what God wants (Matt. 7:13-14 – following the majority leads down a terrible path!). Almost every idol image of God in the modern world stems from a misunderstanding of biblical authority!
From the beginning, in the Law of Moses, Jehovah God established authority, “You shall not add to the Word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, so that you may keep the commands of Jehovah your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). Likewise, in the Law of Christ, John states the same divine edict (Rev. 22:18-19). Basically, just do what He said and stop trying to put a personal spin on it! Unless God has ordained and approved of an action or teaching, then His followers should not be preaching and practicing such things (Col. 3:17). The true and living God, not the idol god established by the fool’s authority, is not tolerant of His followers living in sin and committing sin every day (Rom. 6:1-2, 6), nor going through His law and deciding with commandments can be ignored and which commandments cannot (James 2:10-11), nor believing that faith alone is sufficient for salvation and work is not required (James 2:24-26), nor dictating the name of the assembly (1 Cor. 1:10-12), nor creating councils and manuals equal to the Word of God or making traditions equal to the Word of God (Col. 2:8). Many false teachings and practices stem from the fool’s authority.
If a person cannot find written authority from God to his/her beliefs and practices, then to take such actions as authoritative is foolish (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Peter 3:15). Fools lean on traditions, creed books, councils, religious leaders, majority consensus, silence of scripture, and personal feelings for their authority, but the servants of God lean only on the Holy Writ (1 Cor. 4:6; John 1:1; 2 John 9; Matt. 28:18). Our faith in Jesus can be measured by our faith in His Word (Rom. 10:17; Luke 6:46).