Your Authority as a Believer
One of the goals in my life is to help you understand the authority you have in Jesus Christ. It’s part of four key elements that I believe are critical to living life as God intends it to be. These elements are:
A true knowledge of who God is
A true knowledge of who you are in Christ
A true knowledge of your inheritance in Christ
A true knowledge of your authority as a believer
The reason I stress the words “true knowledge” is that there are so many wrong views that totally misrepresent who God is, who you are in Christ, what is available to you through Christ, and the authority you have in Him.
What is Authority?
If you hang around me for a while, you’ll know that I am a word maniac. I want to know the meaning of a word. I am constantly looking words up on my system.
It is even more important to understand the meaning of the words in the biblical languages. The reason being is that these words may have meanings that are slightly different from the modern day understanding to the English language (or whatever your native language may be).
There are some great nuances to the word authority in the Greek language. The reason that we are looking at the Greek word for authority (exousia) is that we are looking at the authority we have in Jesus Christ.
Power Based on Position
Since we are looking at authority from a Christian perspective, it’s important to declare that all true authority comes from God. God is the ultimate source of authority. He is the sovereign ruler over the all of creation.
One aspect of authority is “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience” (oxforddictionaries.com). Authority is the “rightful, actual, and unimpeded power to act, or to possess, control, use or dispose of, something or somebody) (Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
As believers, we have the authority that is given to us by God. We’ll look at what we have authority over in a later post. The major concept to understand about this aspect of authority is that it is lawful and properly delegated authority, not something that is taken or possessed on our own merit.
Freedom of Choice Freedom is the most exciting aspect of authority. When you have authority it means you have the freedom to make a choice. Larry Richards gives us some insights. On the one hand, he says, “A person without exousia has little freedom of action, for others maintain a right to control him and determine what he does.”
On the other hand, “God is totally free to make decisions that cannot be frustrated by any natural or personal power in the universe. Of course, God always makes choices that are righteous and good and line up with His character. The Apostle Paul tells us that freedom is one of the reasons Christ came.
He says in Galatians 5:1,
It was for freedom that Christ sets us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subjected again to a yoke of slavery.
As we will see later, Jesus came to set us free from sin, sickness, demons, and death. He has given us the authority to stand in His name and experience the life He has made available to us. It is obvious from the verse above that there are things that strive against this freedom in our lives and that we can yield to them.
Paul boldly tells us to stand firm and refuse to allow ourselves to subjected to slavery again. Our choices determine how much freedom we experience. Jesus gives every believer all things.
The Apostle Peter tells us,
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 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. 4 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 Peter 1:2-4)
God has supplied everything that we need for life and godliness. He has given all things to us and it’s His divine power that is working in our lives. It is through believing and choosing to walk in God’s precious promises that we become more and more like Him.
Freedom Within Boundaries
All authority has boundaries, especially the kind we’re talking about. As believers, we have authority to do the will of the Father on the earth. Jesus proved to be a great example of this. He only did what He saw the Father doing and said what He heard the Father saying.
Our authority is limited to what God has given. It’s in the realm of the spirit and it’s never given for us to rule or reign over people. I should mention that I am talking about the authority of an individual. There is an authority in governments and churches to deal with the issues of people who are hurting other people.
You and I are to walk as representatives of Jesus on the earth. We’re authorized by Jesus to go and make disciples in all the world. Our authority is limited to the call and purpose of God in our lives.
I’ll give an example of what I mean by authority with limitations. Let’s take a General in the military. He has incredible authority, but it is limited to the men and women that are under his control. He also answers to those in authority over him, who answer to those in authority over them.
If you are a civilian living offbase, this general cannot come up and knock on your door and arrest you for being Absent Without Leave, because he has no authority over you. He cannot say, “Look at the four stars on my shoulders. I am a general. I have authority. You must do what I say. Can’t you see how powerful I am?”
The reason you can ignore this general is that he has no authority over you. He does not have the freedom to do anything he wants to do just because he is a general.
The same holds true for us as believers. Our authority is vast but it isn’t all-inclusive. It’s limited to the will of the Father and His purposes for our lives. That doesn't mean that we can’t go beyond our authority and do things that God doesn’t want. We see it all the time.
How many people have been wounded by controlling leaders that exert authority over the lives of believers God never intended. They use a verse like don’t touch God’s anointed to mean that they are untouchable and can command people to do whatever they want them to do.
Let’s wrap us this post with a review of the word authority. True authority:
Is sourced out of God who has all authority
Is the rightful, actual, and unimpeded power to act on behalf of God
Is the freedom to make a choice
Is empowered by God and based on His promises
Has boundaries based on the nature and character and purpose of God