For years now many have been lured away from the meek and lowly Jesus by the teaching that all Christians have the authority of Christ. Those who teach this sometimes call it ‘the authority of the believer’. I submit to you —- this teaching is straight from the lips of Satan, —- ‘If you are a child of God, do this, and do that; make the promises come true. Don’t wait on God, declare your right to the promises and make them come to pass.’ Satan’s tactics, the logic behind them, and the Lord’s way of dealing with them, can be found in Genesis 3:1-5 and Matthew 4:3-10.
Many think Jesus’ giving authority to the 12 and the 70 is proof that He gives us authority today. But consider this, — the 12 were the Lord’s apostles. All but one of them were soon to be His witnesses, His spokesmen, His ambassadors. His giving them authority is somewhat understandable. But what about the 70? They were believers, but so were thousands more. Why only the 70? Why would Jesus only give 70 believers authority over demons and sicknesses and diseases? Why not all believers? We know the 12 went to several towns and the 70 were sent to towns where Jesus Himself was to go. The fact that, out of thousands of believers, He only gave authority over demons and sickness and diseases to 82 makes it evident these were special missions, and not a forecast of things to come.
Regardless of what one might think about these things, Calvary and the resurrection of Jesus changed everything, for they brought about the promise of the Holy Spirit who came on the Day of Pentecost. Since then, the Holy Spirit distributes gifts as He wills; and these gifts are used through faith in the name of Jesus. Jesus no longer gives anyone authority over things; now we walk by faith.
Still, many Christians believe that all Christians have all the authority of Christ. I’ve actually heard preachers say that all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus, and that Jesus has given that authority to us. The second part of that sentence doesn’t exist in the Bible. Yes, all authority was given to Jesus, but nowhere does it say He gave it to us. It is something that has been added by man, and has been passed down as truth. But it is not truth. It is evil and it is sin. It is rebellion and insubordination.
After Jesus said all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth, He said, “Go THEREFORE…” The word ‘therefore’ means consequently, for that reason, because of that, hence, or, on that ground. So instead of telling the apostles to go in His authority, He was actually telling them that because of His being given all authority in heaven and on earth, they could now go and make disciples of all the nations in His name.
Some will ask, “But what about speaking in the name of Jesus? What about healing the sick in the name of Jesus? Isn’t this speaking and healing by the authority He has given us? Doesn’t doing something in the name of Jesus mean doing it with His authority?”
The answer to these questions is found in Acts 3:16. After saying to the lame man at the gate of the temple, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene — walk,” Peter told a crowd of people, “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.” So using the phrase ‘in the name of Jesus’ does not mean ‘by His authority’; it means ‘by faith in His name.’ Just as it says in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “…but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” We were washed, sanctified, and justified through our faith in the name of Jesus, not by any authority we may have had. The authority of the believer is a fallacy perpetrated by Satan and spread by false prophets who tickle the ears of the greedy and the selfish, as well as the weak and the gullible.
Dear friends, we are in Jesus now; we are His body; He is the head. He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Does anyone think for one minute that He will not take care of His own body? Revelation12:10-11 says, ‘And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”’
Jesus is still the only Person with all authority in heaven and on earth. We overcome by faith in His blood and by the word of our testimony, and by not loving our lives even to death. We overcome by submitting to God and trusting in Him. We overcome by taking up the full armor of God, which, by the way, does not include authority. We don’t need authority; we need faith; faith in the name of Jesus, our Savior, who is above all rule and authority.
One more misunderstanding that needs to be corrected: Mark 16:15-18 speaks of signs that will follow believers. Many think this is proof that all Christians can work miracles, cast out demons, speak with new tongues, heal the sick, pick up serpents, etc. But these verses are speaking of the church as a whole, not of individuals. This is made evident in 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul refers to the body of Christ as being many members. In verses 29 and 30 Paul reiterates, “All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healing, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? Verse 18 says, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” Verse 7 says, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Paul then lists different gifts of the Spirit, after which in verse 11 he says, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
All cannot do everything. The teaching that we can is just another false doctrine perpetrated on the masses. It is heralded and widely accepted by those who thirst for power and a way around the hardships of following Jesus. Most followers of Jesus can see through these haughty doctrines, but some need to be plucked from the fire.
The devil will do everything he can to keep us from walking humbly with Jesus, including convincing us we have the authority of Jesus, so that we will lift ourselves up to the level of Jesus. He tempts us just as he tempted Jesus. Satan tried to get Jesus to prove Himself, telling Him that if He was the Son of God the Scriptures pertained to Him. He was trying to get Jesus to prove His Sonship by lifting Himself up to the level of God and making the promises come true. The devil does the same with us, telling us that if we are children of God the promises pertain to us. He then tries to get us to lift ourselves up to the level of the risen Christ, and make those promises come true. This is why Satan started the erroneous rumor that we have the authority of Christ; he couldn’t get Jesus to lift Himself up to the level of God, so he now tries to entice us to lift ourselves up to the level of the risen Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God.
Consider the tactics of Satan. He enticed Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, and to share that fruit with her husband, which resulted in them both becoming like God, knowing good and evil. And this prompted God to say, “…Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…” Genesis 3:22. Adam and Eve were then removed from the garden and placed on a cursed earth where death awaited them.
Subsequently, Satan, having accomplished his plan to lift the first Adam up to the level of God, tried also to entice the last Adam to lift Himself up to God’s level. He tempted Him by quoting Scriptures that applied to Him, trying to make Him prove Himself. But, unlike the first Adam, the last Adam, Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, Philippians 2:6-8.
Dear ones, Satan’s goal has always been to get us to lift ourselves up to God’s level; but, thanks be to God, Jesus left us an example, that we, still being in the body inherited from the first Adam (flesh and blood), should not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but empty ourselves, taking the form of bond-servants, as did He.
We are not to usurp authority and make the Word work for us; we are to submit to God’s authority and humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us at the proper time. We are not to even seek the authority of Jesus; we are to humble ourselves and walk with the Person of Jesus. The choice is ours: We can follow the Lord, or we can follow Satan?
Rev. Jon Banks
P.S. It is my sincere hope that everything I write be tested, not by what others have said, but by the Holy Word of God. Please, please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord give His chosen ones ears to hear.
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