BodEquip Ministries - Equipping the Body of Christ to Live Abundantly.

Understanding Our God-Given Authority

(By Christopher Long, BodEquip Ministries)

Part 1: Created for Authority

Authority is one of those subjects that one hardly ever hears any teaching on in Christian circles, beyond perhaps a one-liner talking about "using our authority". But what does this actually mean? What authority? Where did this authority come from? What are its limits? What is this whole authority thing about?

In this teaching I hope to be able to delve into this subject in a practical way by providing a general overview to help empower us as believers to better understand, so we can better use, what has been graciously given us by our Heavenly Father.

First we need to establish the basic understanding that spiritual authority springs from the One who not only has authority, but created the whole idea of authority. Humans may designate others with authority in a natural sense, but we're talking about true spiritual authority here of which God, being God, is the source of. Any such authority given to anything or anyone else, springs from God. Angels, for instance, have authority they are allowed to operate in because God has granted to them some authority.

Authority is not power itself. It is the right to use the power.

This whole universe and all that God made to do what it does is a result of delegated authority given by God.

In Genesis 1, we see God using His authority and speaking.

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:3 ESV)

Literally what God said was basically "Light be!"

God had authority and He spoke using His authority and there was a result. "'Light be' became 'Light was!'"

Continuing on, we read, "And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness." (Genesis 1:16-18)

God used His authority to make the sun and the moon and the stars and He delegated to them authority. They all operate in this delegated authority to this day. They still are doing what they do because of words spoken to them at creation! Each one was given a role and the authority to operate in that role.

As we proceed in Genesis 1, we read that God then made the animals of all kinds to do what they do - the birds to fly, the "creeping things" to "creepeth" (see KJV rendering of Genesis 1), and so forth. Each was given characteristics and certain authority to do what they do.

Then we get to the creation of mankind.

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And LET THEM HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over ALL THE EARTH and over EVERY creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth AND SUBDUE IT, and HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' (Genesis 1:26-27 ESV, emphasis mine)

So Adam & Eve walked in an incredible identity given to them as ones made in God's own image and they walked in delegated authority. They had a mandate from the Creator to subdue the earth and have dominion over every aspect of it. They were the ones in the position of power - the ones created to walk as literally a son and daughter of God Almighty.

They literally had everything they could ever need available to them and they could use their authority as needed.

Just as God spoke and things were because God's words carried power because they were backed up by His authority, Adam & Eve also had authority to speak and have their words carry power because of the authority delegated to them.

They also had the authority granted them to choose to obey God or disobey God - they had authority granted to them over their own life and destiny. They were given a command of what not to do and they could choose to live within that confine or step outside of it. Of course we know they stepped outside of it (boo Adam and Eve!).

The devil tried to get them dissatisfied with their identity as a son and daughter of God made in His image and operating in His authority and only knowing good to instead want to actually be God apart from God. It was the original deception rooted in pride from a fallen angel that abused his delegated authority given to him to try and usurp the place of God, and then he, still operating in his own delegated authority, tempted mankind in similar fashion to try and get them to believe God was holding out on them and that they could in essence be just like God.

When they submitted to the word of satan over the word of God, they chose satan's words over God's. Instead of living in the authority given them by God (which was significant authority), in their disobedience they turned their back on this and they subjugated themselves to the devil. Mankind was the jewel of God's creation - we were the ones created to rule and reign over the earth, operating in the authority given to us. But when Adam & Eve disobeyed, they subjugated their authority to the devil by agreeing with him over God. The order of authority in the earth at this point switched from God->mankind->devil, to instead God->devil->mankind.

This is the point at which the devil became “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), and the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). The devil was not initially any of those things. WE WERE! Adam & Eve were designed and given authority to be the rulers of this world, in power, in essence to be 'gods' (little "g") over this world. Not God (please don't misunderstand me!), but ones operating as those created in God's image to steward and rule this world using His authority that we had been given.

But instead of being content with that, the devil tempted Adam & Eve, as an affront against God, to disobey God and try to take and be what had not been given them to take and be. The original sin in the Garden was about far more than just eating some fruit God told them not to eat - it was about what that disobedience represented. Adam & Eve were supposed to operate in all they had been given while still recognizing their subjection to the One that made them. So when they sinned and in essence chose the devil over God, things changed.

They still had degrees of authority but the devil now became over them and they became subject to the devil. However, we still have choice as given to us by God and our words still carry power in some sense ("Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." - Proverbs 18:21). People still have authority over their own life and can still choose to follow the devil or God, but the Bible makes clear that all mankind subsequent to Adam & Eve were born into this sin condition where by default our father was the devil and not God. This is why while people post-Adam & Eve COULD choose to still follow God, it wasn't their default position and is why the world rapidly degenerated where the whole world except one man (Noah) was found to be wicked. Subsequent to the flood and the repopulating of the earth, God established a peoples for Himself through Abraham, but even in that, it was still subject to these issues because humanity was still subject to the authority of the devil as the "ruler of this world" and you can read the whole sorry state of the Jewish nation throughout the Old Testament as they constantly turned their back on God. In Jesus' day, Jesus even spoke the following to some of the Jews coming against him, saying "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44 ESV).

And that's why Jesus came. Jesus came to undo what the devil had done - to purchase us back to God by paying that debt we could not pay for us so we could again be in relationship with God the way we were always intended to. He came to destroy the power of the devil over us, which He did by willingly sacrificing Himself for us.

In Christ, the whole game's changed and we can again in a sense go back to Eden where the order again is restored back to God->mankind->devil and where we have authority over the devil.

Part 2: Restored Authority

In John 12:31, Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:31 ESV)

Jesus said that the moment He was in and about to face - talking about His dying on the cross - was the judgment of this world where the devil as ruler of this world was to be cast out and that Jesus would draw all to Himself. There's a whole lot in that one verse that I'm not going to be able to cover in this teaching, but this drawing work of Jesus is ongoing and the devil's been dealt with.

Paul tells us in Colossians, "In Him [Jesus] you were...buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it". (Colossians 2:11a,12–15 NKJV, bracketed text mine)

I used to kind of think of God and the devil as being in some sort of arm wrestling match but that eventually God would win. That's not Biblically accurate. God and the devil aren't in an arm-wrestling match. The devil's already been defeated and stripped of his authority for those in Jesus. What he does now is go around pretending he's still got it and trying to keep us as followers of Christ from recognizing the place of authority that we have been restored to. (yeah, read that again).

Paul goes on right after that verse to say, "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you" (in questions of food and drink and sabbath etc )... and "Let no one disqualify you..." and "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?" (Colossians 2:16a, 18a, 20-22 ESV)

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 says, "Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!"

The point is that we have authority restored to us and we are supposed to walk with our head held high knowing the authority we have been graciously given and restored to!

Colossians 1:19-20 says, "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

While we were lowly sinners who desperately needed saving and were in a position of subjugation to the evil ruler of this world, that is no longer the case because of the blood of Jesus! So we need to stop walking around like it still is! We have been restored to a position of power and authority.

Jesus spoke this to Peter: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Jesus told us that He was again restoring us to authority whereby we would have the "keys to the kingdom of heaven" and that what we bound would be bound, and what we loosed would be loosed. That's some serious authority!

Jesus also gave us our marching orders which we are still operating under today:

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:18-20)

We are told that Jesus has authority, and we are called to GO in that authority and just as Adam & Eve were called to be fruitful and multiply with the authority given them, we are called to the same - to make disciples of Jesus. We walk in His authority. Just as Adam & Eve were intended to walk in God's authority, so are we.

We are also told here that Jesus is with us always. As believers in Jesus that have passed from death to life, this is literally true because we are literally with Him.

Colossians 3:1:
"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."

Colossians 3:3:
"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

We are told in Ephesians 2:6 that "[God] raised us up with him [Jesus] and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". (Ephesians 2:6b ESV, bracketed text mine)

We literally are seated with Jesus right now in the Heavenlies. We're here, but we're there too. Paul prayed that we would "know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:18b-22)

We're literally in Jesus and He's in us and all things are under Jesus' feet, so all things are under OUR feet! Jesus is above every name that can be named and we are joined together with Him!

We're literally in Jesus and He's in us and He has authority and He's told us to use His authority and told us that what we say, what we command, when we speak it in faith from this place of the authority we have been given, nothing is impossible to us - literally we can move mountains.

Mark 11:22-24:
And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (ESV)

Jesus told us if we operate in faith using this authority that we can see some mighty incredible stuff. So it's time to start lifting our drooping heads where we've been thinking "who am I?" and "what can I do?"

Who we are is restored sons and daughters of God that have been given God's signet ring and told to use it!!

Matthew 8:5-13:
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. (NKJV).

The centurion understood authority - he understood his earthly authority in an earthly kingdom, and thus he understood Jesus had authority in the heavenly kingdom and that that kingdom trumps the earthly kingdom. He appealed to Jesus' authority and that was where his faith was at.

I've taught this passage before talking about faith and that's great...and for another message. With this I want to point out that Jesus says that people will come from all over and dwell in the kingdom of heaven in this kingdom of authority. That's us. That's you and me as followers of Jesus that have believed on Him. Just as Jesus only had to speak a word and it would be done, so we can just speak a word and it can be done.

We are literally carriers of God's power and we've been given the authority to use it.

Authority is not power. It's the right to use the power. We've been given Jesus (and His name) - and in Jesus we have been given the right, the authority, to operate in and draw on His power.

Just as Adam & Eve had delegated authority, so do we now.

The question is: Do we believe what the Word says about us as children of God? Do we believe that we have this authority and can use it and that as it basically says in Mark 11, "we shall have what we say"? Or do we walk around constantly "under things" - under the circumstances of life, under sickness, under discouragement, under fear, under depression, under lack, under sin. Or do we see ourselves as those that are already victors in Jesus that have authority over all things in Him because all things are under His feet (and thus under our feet?) How do we see ourselves?

When we really grasp the position we are in, it makes us bold to operate in it. Not in arrogance or pride. But in honesty. True humility isn't beating ourselves up and thinking we are so lowly in relation to God. True humility is believing what the Word says about us. That is the position of the abundant life. That is the position of walking in the authority we have.

It gives a bold attitude! An attitude of "who do you think you are devil?" It's where we no longer see the devil as some giant boogeyman, but more like a little gnat we can flick away with our fingers. In Jesus, the devil has no authority or power in our lives beyond what we allow Him to have. And that's the problem - because most believers have allowed the devil residence and allowed him to unpack his bags (sickness, poverty, anxiety, addictions, etc). And largely that's because most believers haven't known just who they really are in Jesus and the authority they have.

We live in a world where people still are operating under their original human authority over their own lives to choose, and many have chosen NOT to follow God and instead go along with the devil. While the devil's been defeated through Jesus, for those outside of Jesus, they will still be very much in lockstep with the devil. And as mentioned, even believers can still use their authority over their lives to allow the devil space in their lives by being passive and not knowing the authority they have and not using that authority to send the devil packing. The devil will take whatever he can get. He's not actually a lion, but he roams about LIKE a roaring lion looking for those to devour (see 1 Peter 5:8). He's a fraud, a pretender, a toothless nothing. But if we choose, we can choose to listen to him and his slate of goods he has for us and we'll reap the results of what those things produce.

When talking about authority, one principle that is REALLY important to talk about that I would be remiss not to mention is understanding where your authority begins and ends. Everybody, believer or not, has authority over their own life to choose for themselves. This was given to humanity and has never been rescinded. In Jesus, we've been restored to incredible authority where we can again operate in dominion and the devil is subject to us and we don't have to put up with his nonsense and can live and operate in line with how we were meant to live and operate.

Because we have the power of God available to us, we can also release that power into a situation or environment and see changes that even can affect other people. However, other people even outside of Christ still have a degree of authority also just by being a human being. Thus I may be killing a sacred religious cow right now, but you do not have either the authority or power to choose Jesus for someone else. Your authority ends where another person's authority begins, unless they are open to your authority in their life.

You can pray and believe for God to send other workers to an unbeliever's life and you can speak truth to them and over them and love on them and all of that, and all of that is good. You can even speak to demons or environments and command things and perhaps help set the stage for a positive reception to the Lord, but ultimately you need to know that people do have authority for themselves and God does not override people's choice when they insist on their way. God is not in the business of going around overriding peoples' wills - He's the One that gave them their ability to choose in the first place.

Understanding this is important in all sorts of spheres. In Jesus, you can cast a demon out of someone, but if they really want that demon (or what that demon is bringing in their life), they will have that demon. In Jesus, you can command health to a person, but if they truly believe in their heart they are just going to be sick, then they're going to be sick because they in essence have used THEIR authority to override YOUR authority. Christian or not, that's just how it goes. When your delegated authority butts up against other peoples' delegated authority, its important you understand these principles or else it can be easy to get discouraged and wondering why you don't seem to be seeing answers to your prayers or seeing what you say come about. We have incredible authority, but we do need to keep in mind the principle that all people have been given a degree of authority over their own life and their authority over their life trumps our authority over their life.

On the other hand, if you can get others to use THEIR authority to at least on some level agree with you and give you space in their life to speak/operate using YOUR authority in Jesus, you can see MIGHTY results and major changes and totally changed lives.

We have incredible authority that we've been restored to in Jesus and we need to be using it far more than we have been.

We believe, we speak, we have. We believe God's Word and the authority we have in Jesus, we speak in that authority, and we have what we say.

Jesus told US to "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons..." (Matthew 10:8a)

He didn't tell us to ask God to heal the sick or cast out demons. He told us to do it. It's delegated authority. Now again, it's not authority apart from Him, but it's in Him and through Him. But we don't need to beg God to heal someone or to cast out a demon or whatnot. *WE* rise up in Jesus with who we are in Him and WE speak in faith and declare and have what we say. That's God's intention for His people! That's not being prideful - that's us taking hold of all Jesus died for us to have using the authority He has given us!

What we bind is bound, what we loose is loosed. Words are just words without the faith behind it. But when we believe in faith and speak in faith using the authority we've been given in Jesus, we can literally change the world as we "GO therefore" (as Jesus told us to in the Great Commission) and operate in that authority.

It's time for the Church to operate in this authority she was always intended to operate in.

Jesus died to restore us to relationship with God and where we would operate in victory in and through Him, using the authority He has given us.

Lift your heads friends and see all that you have in Christ. YOU are the victor in Jesus. You carry the signet ring of the King on your finger!

This article is Copyright by Christopher Long 2022-2023. All rights reserved. You may quote/reprint this article for any non-commercial purpose without obtaining permission as long as you use the entire text and that all text, including this and all following notices, is not modified or removed in any fashion. For any other usage, you must obtain written permission from the author.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This is version 1.2 of this document (April 19, 2023).
Previous versions: 1.1 (October 29, 2022), 1.0 (October 28, 2022)
This document is provided as a ministry outreach of BodEquip Ministries.

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