Big Guns - Understanding Spiritual Authority

What is the secret to operating with power in the Kingdom of God? What makes some prayers more powerful than others? Why did Peter have such confidence in Acts 3 about lifting up a man lame from birth "and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength"? The answer: spiritual authority.

Unfortunately, the term is thrown around quite a lot and understood just a little. But the difference in results for those who understand and those who don't is BIG. Since all of us want to operate more powerfully in God's Kingdom, isn't it important to get it right?

Let's talk first about something that does not demonstrate spiritual authority. Swaggering around screaming at the devil "IN THE NAME OF JESUS" does not impress the demonic world one bit. On the other hand, exercising true spiritual authority will make short work of Satan and his minions. So, how do we get the real goods?

Jesus commended a man who was not even a Jew for having "the goods" in the New Testament. A Roman Centurion sent for Jesus through some Jewish elders and asked healing for his servant. He knew it was not necessary for Jesus to actually see the sick man so had his friends say to the Lord: "But say the word, and my servant will be healed." (Luke 7:7)

The Centurion cites his understanding of authority as the basis for his faith that Jesus not only could, but would, heal his servant. He said; "For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." (Luke 7:8)

Notice that the Centurion says that he is "also" under authority. He is saying that he and Jesus have something in common - being under authority. You might think, hey wait a minute, wasn't Jesus God? Yes, but upon this earth he submitted himself to his heavenly Father. As a child Jesus submitted to his earthly parents. In his adult ministry he said this; "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:19)

In order to have authority, you must be under authority. If it was necessary for the Son of God, we should not expect to be exceptions. See what Jesus told the disciples right before he ascended into heaven after his resurrection; "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18) Jesus humbled himself and submitted to the Father's authority and he then possessed ALL authority.

Willing to pay the price?

Those who desire greater spiritual authority must accept what it really means. When I worked in corporate America I reported to the Vice President. I understood that he was one of two people who held all the power in the company. I worked at his direction and under his authority. As time went along, I received promotions which enlarged my own authority. This happened as I successfully managed what had been given me so far.

It would have been foolish for me to overstep my bounds and it would have resulted in loss of the authority I had attained up to that time. My sense of my authority level was always clear to me and it was therefore very clear to those under me. I expected them to submit to me as I was submitting to the VP. If someone questioned my authority it was usually enough to mention the Vice President by name; "Ron has asked me to put this in place" or "Ron has given me responsibility for this." That was always the end of it.

In the spiritual realm, where is your place? Who has spiritual authority over you and who is under you? Are you properly submitted? Yes, Christ is the head of the Church and he is our ultimate authority but there is a chain of command. Your authority level increases when you understand how to submit and when you handle well what you have been given so far.

For instance, there are authority levels in families. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." (Ephesians 6:1) "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:22) Between believers scripture says; "submitting to one another in the fear of God." In working relationships we are told; "Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ." (Ephesians 6:5) And listen to this admonition; "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account." (Hebrews 13:17)

As you can see, there is plenty of submitting to go around. While your children may be under you, you are also under someone such as a pastor, elder, or bishop. Within the hierarchy of authority is a place of great safety. Those over you are responsible for your spiritual safety just as you are responsible for the spiritual safety of those under you. Take that very seriously.

If you like to operate spiritually as a lone wolf you are in great danger. Remember the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:14-17. They did not understand spiritual authority and tried to exorcise someone afflicted by evil spirits, even invoking the name of Jesus. "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." (Verse 13)

The evil spirit knew perfectly well it did not have to obey and said; "'Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?' Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.'" (Verse 16)

Many in the Body of Christ are lying naked and wounded by the side of the road today. They don't realize they may have contributed to their brutal beating because they did not have adequate spiritual covering and were not properly submitted. Don't let this happen to you. All the power and authority of the Kingdom of God are available to God's people. But before you operate the BIG GUNS, make sure you have read the owner's manual!

Now read about spiritual authority Part II: Enforcing the Truth

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