Summary: God wants us to get close to Him, using His authority to accomplish His will.
Gaining Spiritual Authority
“Who’s the Boss?”
Intro: Have you ever been caught in the middle of a power struggle? I can think of jobs I’ve had in the past when there was more than one boss to whom I was accountable. Sometimes one of them would try to get the upper hand on another of my bosses by getting me to do something that they knew was against the wishes of the other boss.
-Well, life is filled with power struggles between parents and children, among classmates, within social groups, on the job, and yes, even in churches. The question that so many people MUST find the answer to is, “Who calls the shots? Who’s the Boss? Who is the dominant one in this setting?”
-It is strange that churches should battle so much with this question because Jesus clearly stated that the great ones or dominant ones in His kingdom were those who served Him and others. So, let’s try to remember that next time we are stepping on someone else’s head, trying to get to the top of the heap.
-Well, today we’re talking about spiritual authority. I’m not talking about the authority that comes with a title or an office. I’m talking about the authority that God has given every true believer over the powers of darkness – the devil and his evil companions. There really are demonic spirits loose in this world and in our community that seek to torment people and hinder God’s plan of love and restoration. Paul and several other NT figures encountered evil spirits as they ministered. Things really haven’t changed all that much over 20 centuries later. We may not see as many cases of demonic possession in our small circle of influence as we read about in the Bible, but make no mistake: the devil and his demons are every bit as active and evil as they were back then!
-What happens when we enter a situation where we know that there is demonic activity going on? Can we do anything about it, or should we just steer clear and keep on doing the best we can? I believe we can do something about it, but we need to keep our focus on Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit, rather than trying to show how strong we are or how much we can handle. The main thought I’d like us to think about today is all about relationship, and here it is:
Prop: God wants us to get close to Him, using His authority to accomplish His will.
Int. Sentence: As we get closer to God through obedience, prayer, worship, and the word, how does this affect the level of authority God has given us?
TS: Let’s look at a few brief thoughts today that speak to the issue of spiritual authority.
I. Spiritual Authority Comes through Relationship, not Ritual (Acts 19:13-16)
13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
-Only Christ-Followers Have Authority over Evil Spirits. Some people think that if you just say the right words, then you can tap into powers higher than yourself. They assume that spirituality is all about incantations and spells and magic formulas. This is really the mindset of witchcraft and manipulation, and is not the least bit Biblical! People get rich claiming to have the spiritual powers to read people’s minds, to see into their future, or to make contact with dead people so people can once again hear from loved ones who have passed on. I do not want to needlessly offend anyone here today, but let me just say that the Bible explicitly forbids seeing mediums, witches, or spiritists to contact the dead or gain some magical or supernatural advantage.
-Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says, “Let no one be found among you … who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.” God said, “Don’t play around with other powers or put your trust in any power but Me. Listen to those I’ve chosen to lead you and obey what I’ve commanded you.” He wants us to love Him and trust Him to help us. He wants us to get close to Him and far away from the cheap imitations of His power.