Summary: Introductory message of the series. Focuses on where our authority comes from and why.
Understanding Power and Authority Part 1
I grew up in Tennessee and before I left home I stood over 6 feet tall and weighed 180 pounds. My father was shorter than me and probably weighed 30-40 pounds less fully dressed and soaking wet. However, when I think back to my days of living with my parents, I learned what it meant to have authority. Although I was taller, heavier and younger than my father, I did not question what he told me to do. Even if I wanted to argue about something, I’d do it under my breath because he had authority. Now I had power in my size and could probably take him in a fair fight (I say fair because daddy always told me he would not fight fair if I ever wanted to try him), but my power was no match for his authority. His authority had absolutely nothing to do with his size; it was his presence and his position. Not only did he have this authority with his children, but our cousins were terrified of him especially when we all got in trouble. My parents gave me my first insight to what it means to walk in authority.
When I first left home, I left to go into the Air Force. I was 20 years old and it was the first time that I had been away from home. While in the military, I learned a lot about power and authority. My first interaction with authority came when the bus arrived at basic training and this short sergeant screamed at us to get off the bus. This sergeant probably weighed less than my dad but he had authority. There were guys on my bus who were bigger than me who almost cried when this short sergeant got in their face screaming. Anyone of us based on size alone could have taken him out, yet we were scared of him. When he spoke, we listened. When he gave a command, we followed it. You see, it was not about size or power with this sergeant or my dad, it was about this “something” that they had that when they spoke, you knew they meant business. That “something” was authority. There is a difference between power and authority and as a Christian, it is important that we understand both. We have a powerful enemy, but as powerful as he is, he must yield to our authority in Christ, if we understand that we have it and choose to walk in it.
So let’s define power and authority.
• “Power” is defined as the “the ability to do or act; capability of doing something.” By definition, power has to do with one’s ability. In the example that I gave earlier, I was referencing the physical strength that comes with size as physical power. To have power means to have the ability to do something.
• “Authority” is defined as the “the power to determine or settle issues; the right to control; persuasive force.” To have authority has nothing to do with your ability or your capabilities. To have authority means that the “power” has been bestowed upon you, whether you have the ability or not is not relevant. This is where Satan fools a lot of Christians. He wants us to get into a power struggle with him based on our own strength and forget about the authority that has been given to us through Christ Jesus.
Although we as Christians have been given power and authority through Christ, many Christians do not allow themselves the opportunity to walk in it. We mistakenly measure someone’s spiritual power by their outward show – much of which is not reflective of what is on the inside. We judge people by their outward show. In Church, if someone sings well, or shouts or are very vocal of their faith walk, we judge them as being “strong, powerful Christians”. The sad thing is that many of these outward focused Christians have shipwrecked faith and what they show in public is all that they have. Many Christians get tired of fighting the good fight of faith and over time begin to lose that which they have. Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18-19 to ….fight the good fight, keeping the faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.”
There is also another group of Christians that believe they are walking in faith yet still without power. This group of Christians believes that everything must come through the Church leaders or the Pastor. They do not want to know about what they can do, they just want to be spoon fed their faith. Their lives are riddled with fear, confusion, anger and sins of the flesh. In all of their spirituality, if you pull back the glitter and show, you will see that all that remains is a person who knows of Christ and nothing else. They profess Christ, have accepted Him, but have done nothing more but go to Church every Sunday and get their praise on. These Christians appear to walk in power and authority, but in truth they do not. Some would call them hypocrites because they are professing one thing in public while knowing that they do something else in private. I believe that there are some genuine hypocrites out there, but I also believe that many who seem to be that way are really just confused as to what it truly means to walk in faith, authority and power as a Christian.