“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19
A woman at our church was telling me about some tragic circumstances in her family, and the family members that didn’t have the benefit of the faith that was sustaining her. As two other women came up, she asked for prayer, as she would soon be joining her family for a few days. Rather than say, I suggested we all pray together on the spot, not only because there’s power in agreement, but because when I say “I’ll be praying for you,” I often forget or get sidetracked.
We joined hands and prayed that our sister would be strengthened, for God’s angels to surround her on her travels, that those needing God would be drawn to her, and that the LORD would guide conversations, giving her the right words to say. As I thought of the spiritual vulnerability of her unbelieving relatives, I asked the LORD to bind every demon away from the family.
After we had prayed and exchanged hugs, one of the other women took me aside and said sternly, “We are not allowed to bind demons here.”
I’m afraid I gave her a blank look. Not just because I hadn’t “bound demons,” (I had asked the LORD to.) but also because I had never sensed from the preaching there that we aren’t to engage in spiritual warfare.*
As I was processing what she had said, she continued, “If you read the gospels, you will see that they are very clear about that.” Again, stunned silence. I had been “reading the gospels” for over fifty years, and had seen otherwise.
“That’s a charismatic doctrine,” she concluded, as if that were the final nail in the coffin.
She spoke with such an air of authority that I simply said, “Well, I’ve come to a different conclusion, so I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” (See “Mud Wrestling,” June 15, 2018.) This time she was the one at a loss for words, and as the conversation was fizzling, I smiled, said “Have a good day,” and walked away.
This wasn’t the first time someone has said to me, “Scripture clearly tells us…” and gone on to state an opinion that contradicts what I know is biblical. Sometimes the subject is not worth arguing about. But since I consider spiritual warfare of major importance, especially in these times, I think it’s worth while to examine what Scripture does tell us on the subject. When confronted with the enemy of our souls, should we roll over and play dead, or do we fight back? – More importantly, are we able to fight back and win?
In our own power, absolutely not. But when the One with the power over death and hell is backing us up, we have no reason to be intimidated.
So, how much authority are we talking about? According to Matthew 28:19 Jesus told His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” [emphasis mine] I’m sure that comes as no surprise to most of you. But has He shared that authority with His followers?
When Jesus sent the Twelve out to preach the kingdom, He gave them authority to drive out demons. (Matthew 10:1, Mark 6:7, Luke 9:1) In case we begin to think that those twelve were the only ones Jesus gave that authority to, there’s another account in Luke 10, where at least once He sent out seventy others (some translations say seventy-two). They were all given authority over the enemy, as well.
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.'” (Luke 10:17)
Their statement is backed up by the words of Jesus Himself.
“He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the demons are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'” (Luke 10:18-20)
Please note: That last statement does not negate our authority as believers, it is a statement of priorities. Too many people get so excited about fighting demons that they get out of balance and lose sight of the fact that salvation and the promise of eternal life is by far the greatest blessing. I suspect that these fanatics are a major reason some believers back away from spiritual warfare altogether.
I have yet to find a Scripture saying that the original believers were the only ones endowed with Jesus’ authority. On the contrary, I see in the Great Commission that all of His teachings extend to believers everywhere, and in every era:
“Then Jesus came to [the Eleven] and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. [emphasis mine] And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Everything. Jesus didn’t add, “… except for that thing about demons, they won’t be able to do that stuff.”
If we obey everything that Jesus commanded, we have no scriptural reason to doubt that we can resist demons. The danger comes when in some way (such as pride or disobedience) we forget our dependence on Him and step out from under His authority.
If we do that, all bets are off. [Acts 19:13-17]
Prayer: LORD, what a blessing to know that You are for us, not against us! Help us to remain in You, so that nothing will hinder You from using us in any way You desire. In Jesus’ name, amen.
* I spoke about this with my Sunday school teacher after class. He said that if any of the pastors had heard me pray that day, none of them would have batted an eye. So apparently the woman was misinformed.