We’ve all heard, and probably most of us have said, “the devil made me do it”, and it’s a lie that mocks God (Gal 6:7-8) and speaks of power that Satan doesn’t possess. The truth is that we give in to lusts of our old carnal nature and pridefully do what we want, choosing to willfully rebel against God. We’ve all been there, but we don’t have to live there. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory in the flesh (Rom 3:23), “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57)! The victory is through Jesus and His authority (Mark 1:22).
Luke gives an account of Jesus commissioning 70 to go out and preach (Luke 10:1-16)–not on their own power but by His authority. “The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.'” (Luke 10:17-20)
Don’t miss that Jesus gave “authority to tread on serpents and scorpions” (the devil and his minions) and “over all the power of the enemy”. The Greek word for power here is dunamis, which means ability and strength. The Greek word for authority is exousia, which gives the right or authority by position, standing or by delegation to use the power. As Christ followers and members of the royal family in the Kingdom of God, He has conferred on us that same power and authority. We can get an upper hand on the underworld!
Adrian Rogers said, “Kingdom Authority is the God-given mandate of Christians to exercise control over the world in the name of Jesus and under His oversight”. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5) Satan doesn’t want us to know about the authority we have in Christ; so he does all he can to deceive us, depress us, turn our attention to drugs, alcohol, pornography–any lusts of the flesh and worldly sin that piques our interest in order to steal our testimony for Christ–to make us mute.
Christ’s authority given to us is clearly seen here: “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Pet 1:1-4)
We must live our lives cognizant of living under the authority and power granted to us through Jesus because as Christ followers we are in a battle with “him who had the power of death” (Heb 2:14), who disguises himself as the “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14), who is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), “for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). The battle and the enemy are real, and won’t end until Jesus returns. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)
Through an intimate relationship with God (see Abounding In Love Still More and More), we have been given everything we need to lead the life God calls us to. The God of the universe does not lie and does not fail to keep His word. Coming from Him, a promise is a declaration of certainty, it is eternal currency, and a tangible gift. We have been equipped to follow the example of Jesus’ glory and goodness. We’re not missing anything we need to lead the life He calls us to. More, through faith in Jesus, we have been granted the right to participate, right now, in God’s nature. We can partner with Christ in fulfilling God’s purpose on earth. We have been freed from the corruption of sin, and have been equipped with divine weapons to fight the battle in the spiritual realm where the battles occur (Eph 6:10-18).
God has given us all we need to live like Jesus, but now we must actually use those gifts. And that means work. Before we had received God’s gift of grace, we lacked both the ability and the desire to live in Jesus’ glory and goodness. Now that we have been empowered to do so, we must “make every effort” to add the following qualities to, or “alongside,” our faith. “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet 1:5-8)
It is possible for a Christian to be fully equipped for a meaningful life of Christlike goodness, and yet to squander that opportunity; to choose to be ineffective and unproductive with that precious gift? This would be like realizing you’ve had a superpower all along, and have been wasting it. It would be disastrous to leave that ability unused, pursuing lesser things because they were easier or more immediately attractive. How can a Christian avoid that? Peter says that seeking the qualities he listed in the previous verses, and to have them growing in us, is the way to be effective and productive as people who know the Lord; submitting to and serving Him, and walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:15-26).
If we don’t have these qualities our whole existence as believers is an exercise in missing the point. If we fail to use these tools, we have become so nearsighted that we are as good as blind. “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (2 Pet 1:9)
Without these qualities we are living as if we are unbelievers, who are spiritually blind. Christians who are preoccupied with the short-term–on what they want in the moment–have lost the ability to see life from any kind of eternal perspective. Guess who is winning the battle when that happens? Satan, the thief makes our testimonies for Christ mean nothing when our actions and how we love look no different than unbelievers! “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Peter tells us to persevere–to take hold of the authority Christ has bestowed on us through Himself–and to live abundantly in His grace, power and authority. “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” (2 Pet 1:10-11)
He reminds us that we can truly possess and “abound” in these qualities. Therefore, those who exhibit them have every good confidence in their relationship with Christ, being “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph 6:10) “so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:11). This is the opportunity to be warmly welcomed by Christ as we finish our work on earth and enter into His kingdom. Every Christian should be motivated by that moment, and continue to exercise the qualities of Jesus which have been made available to us in the here and now.
How do we have this power and authority? By humbling and submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ, who has been given ALL authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18-20). If you believe in God and seek to live according to His will, it must be on this basis – submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ. There is no work around. The Father gave “all authority” to His Son, Jesus Christ. Submitting to His authority is a “make or break” deal. Disciples become disciples in just this way, by being taught and submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ.
Unless we submit to our Lord, we won’t have the authority and power He intends us to have; it only comes in our humble submission. Think of it this way, if we aren’t submitting to Christ, guess who we are giving a foothold to? “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God…Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:4, 7-8)
Part of the Series: The Authority of Christ (links will be added when they are published, and more may be added to the list as God leads)
- Authority Over Corruption in the World
- Recognize Your Enemy
- Stand Firm in the Authority of Christ
- We Battle From Higher Ground
- Be Strong in the Lord and His Mighty Power
- Put On The Belt of Truth
- Put On The Breastplate of Righteousness
- Shod Your Feet With the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
- Take Up the Shield of Faith
- Take the Helmet of Salvation
- Take the Sword of the Spirit
- Pray At All Times in the Spirit
- Strength Comes From Surrendering
- Overcoming Past Failures