Friday, August 24, 2018

The Authority of the Believer

If we as believers realized the authority that we have in Christ, we would not allow the devil and his demons to do the things they do to us and to others, but would exercise that authority to the fullest extent. So what authority do we have according to God's Word?

Made in God's Image
In the beginning man was made in God's image. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:26-27). This is our fundamental starting point, because God's original design was for man to be in His own image.

Being made in God's image has many aspects to it, including things like the ability to love, to know God, to worship, to reason, to think independently, and to understand. It also includes the aspects of our physical features, as well as our spirit man. It also means that once we are born, we exist forever, since the human soul cannot be destroyed and even after the death of the body the soul continues on its existence in either heaven or hell. But the aspect of being made in God's image that I want to discuss today is that man was given authority on earth. What does that entail?

Authority to Subdue the Earth
First it involves authority to subdue the earth. "God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Gen 1:28). The word "subdue" here comes from the Hebrew word "kabash", which means to tread down, conquer, subjugate, bring into subjection, or subdue. God gave man authority to subdue the earth, which includes everything in it such as the ground, the trees, the plants, and the wildlife. But let's not forget that the wildlife includes the serpent, which represents the devil. This means that God originally gave man authority to subdue the devil and all of his demons.

Authority to Rule Over the Earth
The second aspect that is involved in man receiving from God authority on earth is the express authority to rule over it. God said to them, "...and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Gen 1:28). God gave man authority to rule over every living thing on earth. The Hebrew word for "rule" here and in verse 26 means to have dominion, prevail against, reign, or rule. Once again, this not only applies to every living thing that is seen but every living thing that is unseen as well, including the devil and his demons.

Perhaps you may question whether God originally gave man authority over the devil and his fallen angels before the fall, so that he might subdue them and rule over them. But there are some very good, biblical reasons why I believe Adam and Eve's authority extended even to the unseen spiritual realm of satan and his demons. Let me enumerate them.

1. To be made in the image of God, as the first Adam was, means he was a type of Christ, who is the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45). Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that he had the same level of authority on earth, before his fall, that Christ the second Adam had on earth, which included authority over all demons.

2. The term "image" of God comes from the Hebrew word "tselem" meaning "resemblance or representative figure." It can also mean "idol or physical image," similar to what we would call a statue, except that a statue is an inanimate object and Adam was a living human being. The Greek word used for "image" in the Septuagint is "eikon," meaning "likeness, representation, statue, or image." From this Greek word we get the modern English word "icon." This is the same Greek word the apostle Paul used in reference to Christ in his epistle to the Colossians, in which he wrote, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." (Col 1:15).

The apostle says in Hebrews that Christ is the "exact representation" of God's nature (Heb 1:3), which is what you would expect an icon to be. If you hold a mirror in front of you, you expect to see an exact representation of yourself reflected in it, and so it is with Christ's representation of God. Likewise, since Adam was also made in the image (eikon) of God, we should expect that he accurately represented God in all respects, except for His actual divinity. The Lord is God and God alone, but as one made in his image on earth, Adam possessed that same God-given authority that the Lord walked in. We would not expect anyone who is a representation of God on earth to lack authority over the devil and his demons, because we know God most definitely does have authority over all of them.

3. Adam was "the son of God," according to the genealogy of Christ in Luke 3:38. This doesn't mean he was the son of God in the same sense that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, because Adam was not divine, as I have already stated. Although Jesus was fully God and fully man, Adam was fully man and not God at all. But the term "son of God" with reference to Adam does mean that he was a direct creation of God, and not an offspring of someone else that God created. The term also implies by parallelism or analogy that he walked in the same authority over the devil and his angels.

4. The Lord would not have put man on the earth to subdue it and rule over it, knowing that the serpent was here to tempt man, subdue him, and rule over him as the god of this world. That would have been setting Adam and Eve up to fail, if the authority God had given them to subdue the earth and rule over it had not included authority over the serpent. In fact, the Scripture explicitly names the serpent as one of the wild beasts (Gen 3:1), so there can be no doubt that the serpent was included among "every living thing that moves on the earth," over which God had given man authority.

Therefore, according to Scripture, God gave man authority to rule and reign and to have dominion over the devil and his demons, and every other living thing on earth. His plan was for man to rule over the earth (Gen 1:26), which was the original state of man made in the image of God before the fall.

Image of God Marred
However, the image of God was marred by the fall of man into sin. Up until that time everything that God made was good. He created it and He saw that it was good. That pattern is repeated all throughout the six days of creation (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). In fact, when He finished, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." (Gen 1:31).

After that the only thing that was not good was for man to be alone. Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Gen 2:18). So God put Adam into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs out and closed up his side, then made a woman out of it and Adam called her Eve. They became one flesh together as husband and wife. "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." (Gen 2:25). So obviously that was good, too! It was all good.

They also had something holy, which was the seventh day that God rested on, which God blessed and sanctified (Gen 2:2-3). And they had a command from God, too. The command was not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Aside from the positive commands to be fruitful and multiple, to subdue the earth and rule over it, this was the only negative command God gave them for something they were not allowed to do. They were allowed to eat from any other tree in the garden except for that one.

Then entered satan into the scene. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Indeed, has God said, "You shall not eat from any tree of the garden"?'" (Gen 3:1). The serpent subtly tricked the woman through deception to eat of that one tree that God had commanded her and Adam not to eat from. Once she ate from it and tasted its fruit, she also gave some to her husband and he ate it. This implies that Adam was right there with her when the devil deceived her and she ate it, and it explicitly states that he also ate of the fruit after that when she gave it to him. This is how man fell into sin and the image of God he was made in became marred.

In order to understand the magnitude of what happened at that moment, we have to remember that Adam and Eve were made in God's image and given authority to subdue and rule over the earth. Eve was supposed to have dominion over the serpent, subdue it, and rule over it, but instead she allowed it to subdue her, deceive her, and get the upper hand over her. By allowing him to do that, she sinned against God, and she relinquished her authority to the serpent. Once she did that, then he was able to rule over her as one of his agents to get Adam to do his bidding also. Once Adam ate of the fruit, and committed his first sin, he too allowed satan to subdue him and rule over him. Now the tables were turned and God's original design was twisted. The image of God in man was now marred.

At that point we see Adam and Eve ashamed, covering themselves and hiding from God. This is the point at which they become separated from God, which is one of the terrible consequences of sin. God comes looking for them, questions them, and then pronounces a curse on the serpent and consigns him to crawling on his belly, licking the dust beneath Adam's feet all the days of his life. He says the serpent will still be able to do damage by striking and bruising man's heel, but that man will bruise him on his head. This is also a prophetic allusion to the work of Christ on the cross, bruising the serpent's head. And God said there would be enmity between the serpent's seed and the woman's seed. This, too, was another prophetic word about Christ the woman's seed being at enmity with the devil's seed. There was destined to be warfare between Christ and the devil, as well as between all who are Christ's and all who are the devil's.

God then pronounces a judgment over the woman for listening to the serpent, being deceived by it, and eating the forbidden fruit. He also sentences the man to punishment for listening to his wife. God then makes coverings for them out of animal skins, so they can cover their shameful nakedness, which is a type of Christ. It typifies Christ giving His life just like those animals did whose skin Adam and Eve were covered with, so that He could take away our sin and enable us to cover our shame before God.

But at that point the image of God they were made in was marred. They had to be removed from the Garden of Eden, so that they would not eat of the tree of life any more and live forever in that condition. That was how mankind fell into sin and his authority was first abdicated to the devil.

Now since all men have sinned, the image of God that man was originally made in at the beginning has become disfigured by sin. It's like when you look at yourself in one of those concave or convex mirrors at the amusement park, and you see yourself looking either too fat or too skinny. You no longer look the way you are supposed to look, but you appear very strangely. That's what sin has done to the image of God in fallen man. Now man has a caricature of God's image that is distorted and no longer accurately represents God on the earth. This is satan's plan, since it brings pain to God's heart and goes against His will.

Image of God Restored
When a person repents of his sin and puts his faith in Jesus Christ, because of His finished work at the cross paying the price of sin for us, and rising from the dead, then his sins are forgiven. Then God begins to restore His image in that person. The apostle Paul said, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2Co 3:18). It's a kind of metamorphosis like a caterpillar goes through when it becomes a butterfly. We go from being lowly worms, crawling on our bellies like the caterpillar and the serpent, into beautiful butterflies that float and fly effortlessly through the air far above the serpent and the ground. We who know Christ are being transformed from glory to glory into the same image as Christ.

That means the image of God in us is being restored to it's original condition. That means we also begin to exercise the authority originally given by God to man to subdue the earth and rule over it and every living thing in it, including satan and his minions.

Authority can only be given, it must never be usurped. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to the Lord Jesus Christ. "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" (Mat 28:18)

He has given authority to His disciples over the devil and all disease. "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mar 16:17-18).

As you read through the book of Acts, you can see the acts of the Holy Spirit performed at the hands of the apostles. "The Lord...confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders." (Ac 14:3, NIV). And the Lord continues to do the same thing today through his disciples around the world.

Jesus gave us power and authority over all the demons, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And He sent us out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. (Mat 10:1; Luk 9:1-2). We  have received of the fullness of Christ (Jn 1:19).  We have the authority to do the same works that Jesus did, by doing them in His name (Jn 14:12)

Now we can say with the apostle Paul, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (2Ti 4:18) Now we can say as T.L. Osborne did, "The Man at God’s right hand, Jesus Christ, who loved me and died for me now lives in me." (Gal 2:2). The devil and his demons are eternally defeated, since Christ has triumphed over them through the cross (Col 2:15).  We as believers have overcome them, because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). Jesus has given us authority over all the power of the enemy and nothing will injure us, when we exercise it (Lk 10:19). In all our difficulties, we have complete victory through Him who loved us (Rom 8:37).

Through faith in Christ, all things are possible to us (Mk 9:23). Because we have faith in God, we say to this mountain, "Be taken up and cast into the sea." We do not doubt in our heart, but believe that what we say is going to happen. It will be granted us. All things for which we pray and ask, believing that we have received them, they will be granted us. (Mar 11:22-24). Once you begin to get a hold of this, understand the authority you have in Christ, and begin to obediently exercise it, then I can truly say with the apostle Paul that the God of peace will soon crush satan underneath your feet (Rom 16:20).

There are many examples that I could give to illustrate what it means to have dominion, and I will not attempt to give them all. But a couple will suffice.

One evening when I was in Bible school, I had gone out for a prayer walk in the neighborhood adjacent to our campus all by myself. When I returned and was coming up the walkway to my dormitory, a vicious dog charged at me unexpectedly from in front of me off to my right. I cannot recall what kind of dog, but seem to remember that it was a German shepherd. I had never seen this dog before and it was unknown to me. In an instant he was standing right in front of me barking ferociously, looking up at me with his jaws located right between my legs. I steeled myself from showing any fear that my natural man was inclined to feel at that frightening moment. I said to him in a loud, commanding voice, "I bind you in Jesus' name!" I may have also said, "Go!" but I am not certain about that. At that point, he immediately stopped barking and ran away. That is an example of taking dominion over the wild beasts, and I've done the same thing with other threatening creatures like wasps, whereby I command them in Jesus' name to go.

The other examples would be related to healing, miracles, and casting out demons, which I have experienced firsthand over the past 30 years. One time when I traveled to Bulgaria, I preached at a gypsy church in Kalekovits, Bulgaria.  Fourteen people wanted healing, and the Lord healed many of them. One young lady manifested a demon that made her mute, and received deliverance after about 45 minutes. She was able to speak again! As the demon was coming out, she began coughing and spitting up blood. She later told us that as we were casting it out, she could feel something like a heavy, metal ball in her stomach that began coming up through her throat.

At another church here in the States in New Hampshire, my wife and I ministered to the sick one evening. One lady had suffered from scoliosis since age fourteen. After having her sit down with her legs out in front of her, I checked them and found that her left was longer by one-quarter to one-half inch. I spoke to her right leg and commanded it to grow out, which it did right before our eyes, until the two legs were perfectly even. She was then able to walk around without pain. She later said she felt a gentleness and had a vision of grapes when I prayed for her healing. My wife was led to minister inner healing while laying hands on her chest. She later said she felt a lump come up in her chest as my wife prayed.

All the glory goes to God for what He did for these people. They were healed and delivered by faith in Jesus' name according to Scripture. Without Him we can do nothing. My purpose in sharing these examples is to illustrate what I am teaching, and to emphasize the fact that this is not something that man taught me, but it is something I have experienced firsthand in my life.

Putting it All Together
To summarize, man was originally made in God's image with authority to subdue the earth and rule over it. However, that image became marred by man's fall into sin. That problem remained until Christ came and died for us on the cross, paying the price for sin, and rising from the dead, so that we could have peace with God and be restored to our original state before the fall. That restoration includes all respects of the image of God that Adam was made in.

By putting your faith in Christ, you receive a full restoration to the original condition that God intended for man when he was created in the beginning. That means you are put back into right standing with God and fellowship with Him like they had in the Garden of Eden, when God walked with Adam in the cool of the day. It also means you are transformed from glory to glory into the same image as Christ. Therefore, the same authority that Christ walked in on earth, we also have in His powerful name.

The reason that some disciples are not experiencing that dominion on earth is that they deny the power of God in their lives through doubt and unbelief. But we are not among those who do so. Rather we are those who believe the full gospel and have experienced His power first-hand in our lives personally. We have seen the wonderful results of taking the dominion God has given to us in Christ and exercising it, and it is glorious. That same dominion is available for every true disciple of Christ, and it begins with receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted.  Kingdom Authority image may be subject to copyright, courtesy First Baptist Church Loveland, used per Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading Supernatural Power for All Disciples, Baptized with the Spirit, The Laying on of Hands, The Power of God to Heal, Healing is in the Atonement, Against EntropyDelivered from Voices and Dizziness, Pastor Raised from the Dead, Healed from a Breathing Obstruction, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music, Sin, Satan, and the Submerged Sphere, The Kingdom of Darkness, Holy Fire Baptism, Changing the Atmosphere, The Link Between Two Realms, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Walking by Faith, Against Entropy, Demonology 101, and The Role of Demons. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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