If you remember from yesterday Paul was dealing with a situation of a few people claiming to have greater spiritual authority than the Apostle Paul. Paul continues his correction by pointing out that there is much more to spiritual authority and the things of God than meets the eye:
You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. v. 7
It happens so often. People with no or little understanding judge by what they see instead of judging by the Spirit. The Spirit can manifest in some pretty odd ways in a persons life, in Christian gatherings or even in our work among the lost. If we lack spiritual maturity we will understand it one way but with spiritual maturity we see it completely different. It is the same with spiritual authority. People who do not understand by the Spirit cannot understand what this authority is all about.
There are some people in spiritual authority who should not be there. God did not call them to it, they took it upon themselves. They often become abusers. There is no abuse in spiritual authority because it is much different from other authorities. Spiritual authority is always about service. If we were to look at the five-fold ministries of Ephesians we can see that they are servants to the Church. Look at what Paul says:
For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it. v. 8
Spiritual authority is not about power as the world understands power, it is always about pouring ourselves into other people. It is about building people up so the Spirit of God can become more powerful in them. It is about training people so they can be better in their relationship with Christ and in their calling. It is never about tearing down or destroying people. It is never about belittling them or making them feel foolish. That is an abuse of authority and they will have to give an account to God for the misuse of this authority.
Be careful who you allow to have spiritual authority over you. These people are people we are submitting ourselves to as the Word tells us to. But also remember that we have been told to check this authority to make sure it is authentic. I am going to leave you with this passage from 1John 4. Take it to heart and let us not be lazy in this matter:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.