Our Spiritual Soldier series continues. We just talked about the battlefield practices of the mind and how important the mind is to spiritual warfare. As we continue to talk about the tactics and strategies that make us effective in spiritual battles we turn to the authority of the believer.
Spiritual power comes through authority, and we must understand the authorities we have and the authorities we don’t have. Two of these authorities will be what we don’t have, and learning to live under authority before we use our authority. Let’s dive in!
- What authority is not
Those who claim believers have great authority in the spiritual realm sometimes use unbiblical means to claim such authority. Claiming we have the authorities get rich, stay healthy, or speak in new reality into existence are not founded anywhere in Scripture.
We do not have ultimate authority to do whatever we please. Our authority comes from Jesus. It comes from our relationship with Him. But it does not mean we can do anything. Some people claim that because Jesus had authority (Matthew 28:18) that we have Jesus’ authority. I don’t see this in Scripture.
For instance, Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father and the Father gave Jesus authority over all of creation, the Church, and the evil spiritual powers (Ephesians 1:21). Some Bible teachers claim that because we are seated with Jesus in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) just one chapter later that we also have the same authority Jesus does.
Being processes select that we with Jesus in heavenly places is not about authority. It is about our privileged place in Christ because He has saved us by His grace. Our salvation does not give us the same authority Christ has. Rather, we operate out of our relational authority given to us by Jesus.
This nuance is important for us to observe and practice. Jesus has ultimate authority over all things. He gives us authority out of His authority. We do not hold the same place Jesus does. He is King of the universe. We are saved by His grace and enjoy a privileged place in Him including the authority He gives to us.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have great authority in the spiritual realm. We will look at the authorities Jesus has given us in spiritual warfare to tear down strongholds and destroy the evil forces that come against us in this world.
- Live under authority
Another important principle and practice we must observe is that we are first under certain authorities before we have authority to use in Christ. To properly understand authority we must understand how to live under it before we have the permission to use it.
As a pastor I am accountable to others before I ask anyone to follow my lead and be accountable to me. There’s a chain of command of accountability and authority. First and foremost we are under God’s authority.
Jesus is Lord over us and His Church (Ephesians 1:22-23). We do not have authority over the Church as believers. We are the Church. We are not above Jesus in authority. To claim so is to do no different than Satan tried to do at the beginning of creation.
We fully submit to Jesus (James 4:7). We are glad that He is our Leader, our Commander in Chief. We follow His lead in all things. We do not share His authority. But we do enjoy some authorities He has given to us.
Second, the Bible tells us that we are under the authority of the governments and governmental leaders God has ordained and placed in this world (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13). The only circumstance this rule changes is if they are violating God’s law with ungodly commands.
You may say as I sometimes feel in my spirit that these ungodly rulers put into place must be opposed or that we are not subject to them because they are ungodly. While this is true we must remember that the apostles who laid down this rule by God’s command or under the tyrannical reign of ungodly Roman emperors too terribly persecuted Jesus’ church, rulers like Nero and Domitian in their time.
If they were able to obey this rule given by Jesus to obey the authorities because God has put them in place all the more we are required to live under the same rule. God will avenge every injustice done to His people. We must leave it in God’s hands.
Third, we are under the authority of church leaders. God has put in place righteous and Spirit-led leaders who love us and are responsible to care for us (). Because they stand before God and give account of everything they have done we must honor them and not make their lives miserable.
As we live under the authority of others it teaches us not only to be followers first but to understand what it is like to have authority. Many of these leaders give us insight into the difficulties of having authority ourselves. Yet as we speak of the authority we have we are not talking about our authority over other people but over evil spiritual powers.
- Authority through faith
We obtain authority because of our relationship with Jesus. But we also obtain authority through our faith in Christ and what He has apportioned to us. We have authority through the name of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus’ name is above every other name (Philippians 2:9-11).
When we speak in the authority of Christ and in His name we have the most powerful names in all of creation. We must represent Jesus well as we use His name. We are His ambassadors on the earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). People watch to see if we do what Jesus taught and commanded.
Beyond this, our authority works directly through His name. When we cast out demons, call from God’s healing for the sick, and speak for Jesus, we use His name. We must not think of Jesus’ name as an incantation or formula for getting the results we wish. When we speak in Jesus’ name we must do it in accordance with God’s will and Jesus’ reputation.
We will flesh out other authorities Jesus has given us as believers in Him throughout the rest of this battlefield training. But before we do, since I will give Scriptures to show these authorities, I must clarify our stance on the Scriptures.
Some Christians argue we do not have the authorities I will speak of below because these authorities were either given in specific situations to certain people or they are part of passages of the Bible considered not part of the original manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.
In Matthew 10:1, and 7-8 Jesus gives authorities to His disciples and the twelve disciples are named as He continues to teach. But at no time does Jesus rescind this authority from the disciples. Just because the twelve are mentioned doesn’t mean that Jesus does not give this authority to all of His disciples. There is no set time for disciples to have this authority.
Another passage in Mark 16:17-18 speaks of the authority of the disciples of Jesus. Many scholars, Bible teachers, and pastors will claim that this passage is not included in the original manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Therefore, they say, these are not authoritative versus and the authorities they speak of were only meant for the early church and not for Christians today.
I have three rebuttals. First, if the Lord did not want these verses included in the Bibles we have today would He have not stopped them from being placed within His Word to us? God has the power to make only what He desires for us to read and apply to our walk with Him to be in the Bible.
How can we trust the Scriptures if we could question versus we do not agree with or that seem outlandish to us? Indeed, naturalism and scientism have already tried to take the miracles of Jesus away because they don’t believe they are repeatable or believable.
But that’s the point of miracles. They are points in time where God does the extraordinary and things that happen against nature. They prove His divine power over nature. If we stopped believing in miracles we have given up our faith in Jesus to do the impossible as is His prerogative and power to do.
Third, everything written in Mark 16:9-20 that is blocked off in most modern Bible versions because of the belief that it is not in the original manuscripts is attested throughout the rest of the New Testament. I could provide a detailed analysis of where each of these shows up in the rest of the New Testament but rest assured I would not make a claim if I could not back it up academically.
If you wish for a detailed analysis, please let me know. Now let us move on to discussing the authorities given to all believers to fight spiritual battles.
- Authority over Satan and demons
Throughout the New Testament we see the apostles and Christians regularly taking authority over Satan and his demons. Especially in the Gospels and the book of Acts demons hold no ground against them.
Jesus is our example in taking authority over demons. He says about Satan that He saw him fall from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18). Jesus takes authority over demons and casts them out regularly throughout His ministry. He does this so much that He is accused of casting them out by the prince of demons (Matthew 9:34; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15).
Jesus gives authority to the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1, 7-8; Luke 9:1-2) and to the seventy-two disciples (Luke 10:1, 9, 17-20) when He sends them out in ministry. Included in these authorities is the power and authority to cast out demons.
We see Paul casting out demons in Acts (Acts 16:18) and he was not one of the disciples mentioned in the Gospels. This shows that the authority to cast out demons is for every disciple of Jesus. You have authority to cast out demons in Jesus’ name (Matthew 10:1, 8; Mark 16:17; Luke 10:19-20).
But your authority to cast out demons is not because of your own power. Your ability and authority to cast out demons comes from your relationship with Jesus and the authority He has placed in you. Casting out demons is about Jesus’ power over the dark forces of this world.
- Authority over sickness
Jesus also gives you authority over sickness (Matthew 10:1, 8; Mark 16:18; Luke 9:1-2; James 5:13-16). Several words are used for healing the sick but Jesus gives us the authority. Through the prayer of faith we anoint people, lay our hands on them, and see them made whale by Jesus’ power.
Have you seen stories of people being raised from the dead today? Jesus gave the disciples, and us, authority to raise the dead (Matthew 10:8). This power like all the other powers must not be abused. All credit must be given to Jesus.
The power exhibited through our authority to heal the sick breaks the disease of darkness over the minds of the unsaved. They see Jesus’ power exhibited through healing the sick. They cannot deny what their eyes show them.
Authority over sickness is a useful tool in evangelism to convince the unsaved at Jesus’ power is greater than the power of Satan and other evil spiritual powers. They may counterfeit gods miracles and use false power to deceive the nations but no one can deny Jesus’ power over every sickness.
- Authority to proclaim the gospel
Finally, Jesus gave the apostles, and us, the authority to proclaim His gospel to everyone we meet throughout the world (Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:2). As we spread His good news to those we meet we introduce them to Jesus and give them the opportunity to become Jesus’ disciples.
Other authorities of the believer are mentioned within the pages of the New Testament, such as speaking in new tongues (Mark 16:17). We see this happen in Acts 2:1-13 and throughout the rest of Acts. The epistles lay out principles for using this gift.
One of the most unusual authorities of the believers are to pick up serpents and drink deadly poison that will not hurt them (Mark 16:18), and treading over serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:19). I don’t suggest testing this out.
The reason for these final authorities is to show that when we are doing the work of Jesus’ Kingdom nothing in this world can hurt us. We see an example of this in the book of Acts (Acts 28:3-6). We should not try to do these things, but if they happen as we minister for Jesus we will not be hurt by these threats to the spread of the gospel.
We have seen that we have great authority in the spiritual realm because Jesus has given it to us to show His power over the dark spiritual forces in this world. We do not seek to demonstrate such authority to impress the world.
But when we encounter evil spirits and the evil spiritual forces in this world we show the power of Christ in His authority. How do you show the power and authority of Jesus in your ministry?
We have observed the authorities Jesus gives us to fight the evil spiritual powers of this world. Now we will look at the battlefield training concerning spiritual gifts and their effectiveness in spiritual warfare.