The Authority of the Believer

I had a conversation with a friend in which he revealed to me that he felt like he was powerless against Satan’s attacks. Like no matter how hard he tried, he always kept getting sucked into the enemy’s deceptions and falling away from God’s plan for his life. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t resist Satan’s temptations. I asked him if he was aware of the authority of the believer and he was clueless about it. Often times, we have a tendency to “blame it all on the devil”, when ultimately, the root cause of our downfalls is our own carelessness and fleshly natures. Nevertheless, Satan and his demons are very real and are waging war against God. As believers, we are involved in that war and if we are unaware of the authority we have, what we can and cannot do, then we usually end up on the losing side of the battle.

That’s the point of this post: to shed some light on the authority that we have as believers and to equip you with the knowledge and faith needed to withstand the enemy’s attacks. We can get a general idea of this authority by reading in Luke 10:19.

 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

 In this verse, a somewhat common translation error is made and it really kinda bugs me. If you’ll notice, the word “power” is used twice. There are two separate Greek words used for each instance, yet they are both translated the same. While the second instance is acceptable (dunamis), the first instance of the word (exousia) should be changed to “authority”, therefore, the verse should read: “Behold, I give you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy…” Basically, the Lord is saying that the Christian has authority over Satan, not power. Try to fight Satan on your own power and you’ll be squashed like a bug, but if you call upon the authority that is given to us by Christ Jesus, “and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

The most frequently used illustration of the difference between authority and power is the one of the traffic officer. With one blow of his whistle and a raise of his hand, he commands cars to stop and allows pedestrians to pass. He does not do this on his own power, it is his uniform and the authority that goes along with it that makes this possible. Get it?

So, basically, we started off by proving that we have authority over the enemy, but there’s much more to this than that. Take a look at Ephesians 1:19-23 and we’ll discover the source of our authority, beginning with verse 19:

and what is the surpassing greatness of His power (dunamis)  toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working (energios)  of the strength (kratous) of His might (esquai).”

Here, we see that there are four different Greek words used to describe God’s power. Dunamis, which is where we get “dynamite”, energios, “energy”, kratous, “to exercise strength”, and esquai, “a great summation of power.” This is an isolated case in the Scriptures where so may different words were used to describe the power of God. So powerful is the omnipotency of God that the Holy Spirit had to use four different words to try and describe it to us. What incredible event could merit such an elaborate description? Look at verse 20:

which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places

Those four words signify that the resurrection of Jesus Christ accounts for one of the greatest workings of God manifested in the Scriptures. Even greater than creation itself. God poured out more of His power and strength and exercised more dunamis, energios, kratous, and esquai in the act of the resurrection than is recorded in any other event in Scripture.

far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet...”

Paul elaborates further on Christ’s elevated position, His newly appointed power and authority over all things, and then goes on to write a very important verse in regards to this study…

and gave Him as head over all things” Now pay very close attention here: “to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

God gave Him (Christ) as the head over all things to the church (us), which is His body.
God gave Him (Christ) as the head over all things to the church (us), which is His body.
God gave Him (Christ) as the head over all things to the church (us), which is His body.

 Have you caught on, yet? God poured out more power than ever before to raise Jesus from the dead, thereby defeating sin and the Evil One (Colossians 2:15), seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, gave Him all authority and power over creation, and then gave Him to the church (us), which is His body. This means that our leader, our High Priest, Jesus Christ, has power and authority beyond anything that we can imagine. And as if that wasn’t enough, check out Ephesians 2:4-6:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses  made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”

We were raised together with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly places. We share the throne with Christ Himself. We share in His authority. Paul also speaks of this joint-heirship in Romans 8:17:

Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

 So you see? The idea that Satan has “beaten us” is a ridiculous one. The only reason that he has any influence over us is either because A) we are ignorant of the authority that has been offered to us through Jesus Christ, or B) we allow him to deceive us, with A usually resulting in B. No more do we have to live in fear of the enemy, and no more are we slaves to his vices. We are co-heirs with Christ; seated in the heavenlies at the right hand of God.

Be careful, though, that you do not let this realization create a sense of pride within you. Humility is the key to harnessing this authority. ‘“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you… Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:5) Now, humility is not going around thinking “I’m worthless, I’m just a speck and don’t amount to anything.” That is an insult to Christ. He died the most horrendous death on a cross and bore all the weight of your sins because you mean something to Him. To Him, you are worth “emptying Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7) No, humility is knowing who you are and knowing who made you who you are and giving Him the glory for it. God personally made you (Psalm 139:13), don’t insult what God has made.

All authority has been given to Him in heaven and Earth” (Matthew 28:18) “Even the demons submit to us in His name.” (Luke 10:17) There is a great authority that we share with Christ over the power of the enemy. We need not forget the Great Power that supplies our authority, and with the faith we have in the One who conquered death, we can stand boldly and proudly in the face of the enemy and proclaim His name and call upon the authority granted to us, and we will reign victorious as more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)

It is my prayer that these words and Scriptures will give you the confidence and the boldness needed to stand firm in this battle that we are in and to know that the same God who spoke creation into existence (Genesis 1), the same God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Corinthians 6:14), the same God who sustains all things by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3), is the same God that provides you the authority to do so. “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

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