Spiritual Authority; September 24, 2021


Acts 9:40-41 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.

I find it interesting that with both Aeneas (verse 34) and Dorcas, Peter commanded them to get up. In Aeneas’ case there was a faith response, but Dorcas was already dead, so it wasn’t her faith in operation. Actually, Peter had a track record of giving commands like this, as we saw when he was instrumental in the healing of the man lame from birth at the Beautiful Gate of the temple in Jerusalem. (Acts 3:6-7) We tend to associate prayer with essentially begging God to do something, when sometimes we need to exercise the authority we have been given in Christ. Even evangelism is often expressed in terms of command. Jesus Himself commanded people to “Repent and believe the Good news.” (Mark 1:15) Often enough the vocabulary is still here, but the sense of spiritual authority isn’t. It was in no way just coincidental that the Great Commission was given in conjunction with Jesus’ declaration of His authority. “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 I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20) The danger here is that many of us have a thirst for authority, and when that kicks in genuine spiritual authority generally goes out the window. It’s like the Roman Centurion realized: there is a flow of authority, and when we aren’t submitted to that above us, our authority evaporates. (Luke 7:8) We must be humble, but at the same time realize that the authority of Jesus Christ the Son of God operates through us. Peter grasped that, and we have the record of the results.

As I have written many times, I have had a very ambivalent relationship with authority all my life. The American side of my heritage – or maybe it’s just the human – doesn’t like to submit to authority. That was something I didn’t like about my two years in the Army! At the same time, I don’t think I’m rebellious for the sake of being rebellious. When it comes to giving commands myself, I’m if anything even less comfortable. Even in the Army, though I rose to E5, traditionally called a sergeant, I was a “specialist,” and so not in a place of ordering others around. Frankly, I don’t like ordering people around, but sometimes that needs to be done. Of far more importance is the matter of spiritual authority. I need to realize that when “all authority in heaven and on earth” is in Christ, operating in His name means having that authority operate through me, for healing and resurrection, even, as demonstrated by Peter, and for deliverance, salvation, and every other spiritual benefit. For that to operate, I’ve got to be fully submitted to Christ myself, so that is to be my focus, allowing Him to show me when and how to exercise His authority.

Father, this is an area that I’ve only touched the fringes of to this point. Keep me from operating in the flesh, but also keep me from holding back for any merely human reason. May I be a useful instrument of Your authority, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your rule and reign be manifested as Your will is done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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