Over a hundred years ago, a French inventor came up with a marvelous innovation called motion pictures. He learned that by organizing a sequence of photographs and moving them quickly in front of a bright light, it gave the impression of real life being lived before his eyes.
This inventor knew he was onto something special, so he scheduled a premiere for what would be one of the most famous public showings of a movie ever. Expectations were high as dignitaries and guests filled the auditorium. The film, “Arrival of a Train at a Station,” was only fifty seconds long, but it had a powerful impact—too powerful, in fact. It showed a train chugging directly toward the camera, and some historians state that when the people saw it, they panicked. With no context for their experience, they thought an actual train was about to run over them!
Yet it was all an illusion! The people were convinced their lives were in danger when in reality what they experienced was mere smoke and mirrors.
This is the trick Satan plays on us whenever our faith is challenged. At such times, our needs seem to outweigh our resources. It looks like our God-given dream will be destroyed by a runaway train. That’s when the devil tells us, “It’s over. This is too much for you.” But the “reality” that Satan presents is superficial. The truth is, Jesus is greater than any hardship we face. He holds our reality in His hands, and that reality is victory.
When all seems lost in the face of an oncoming problem, Jesus tells us not to flee but to “sit down” (see John 6:10).
As Jesus faced a large, hungering crowd, “He himself knew what he would do” (John 6:6). Christ’s confidence was based on His sense of God’s reality behind every situation. And so He instructed the disciples, “Have the people sit down, because the Father is about to meet this need. It’s time to trust Him to provide all that this situation requires.”
Friend, God is sufficient for every circumstance we may face.
From the moment I gave my heart to Jesus, I have known how little I was capable of bringing to our relationship. There are so many people more talented than me, more eloquent in the pulpit, smoother in their delivery, more knowledgeable in theology. People with greater gifts to lay at the feet of Jesus. But what I do bring is a heart that is completely and wholly sold out to His kindness! I’m so in love with Jesus that at times I feel as if my chest will burst from my body. My bones aren’t large enough to contain my adoration. My vocabulary can’t express the depth of my worship! My words can never do justice to the love and devotion I feel in my heart. There are times when I cry in agony because I can’t fully express my love!
When I read the psalms of David, I feel such a kinship. I wish I had his ability to communicate his feelings for God with such eloquence and grace. I wish I could write as he does. Play the harp as he could play. I can’t say that I share his talent, but I do think I share his heart. I know what he was going through. I understand what he must have felt, sitting alone in his cold, dark palace, longing for simpler days. Longing for God’s nearness and favor.
And that’s why God loved him so. That’s why God called David a man after His own heart.
Can you imagine a greater compliment? Can you think of something God could possible say about someone to bring more weight? God loved David’s heart. He connected with him. The two were one in the most intimate and powerful way possible. God related to David, not because of his looks or deeds or strength, but because of the state of his heart. The love in his spirit.
Is there a higher level of communion with our Creator? Can a person get any closer to God than to share the intimacy and thoughts of his heart? Don’t we all long to have God say to us, “I love your heart”?
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
David declared, "I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23:4). David's hidden man remained unmoved, undisturbed in heart, no matter what Satan threw at him. Why? Because he was fully at rest in God's faithfulness to perform His Word.
David was able to say, "I've had a revelation of my Father's love and patience toward me. Therefore, I will accept no more lies from the devil. I know better than to listen to him anymore, because the Holy Ghost has educated me. Let storms of trouble come, let demons rage, let enemies rise up on all sides. Let sickness and even death stare me in the face. My heart is at rest, because I know all things are in my Father's hands. And He's working everything for my good."
By contrast, hand-wringing Christians have no authority. All they can think is, "Why would God allow this to happen? What am I going to do?" Their lives are full of chaos, fear and murmuring, because they've forfeited all resources. They've neglected to hide God's Word in their hearts, so they aren't able to turn to it in times of crisis.
The only righteousness that frightens Satan away is the righteousness of faith. "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever" (Isaiah 32:17). You can't stand against the devil simply because you don't drink or use drugs anymore. You may live by an entire catalog of do's and don'ts, but those aren't the essence of God's righteousness. Righteousness is believing that what God says is true, and committing your life to it. It's that simple.
When Isaiah says, "The effect of righteousness [is] quietness and assurance forever," the Hebrew word used for assurance means confidence. Simply put, faith in God's promise of forgiveness produces an unshakable confidence in us. We may still be sorely tempted, but we know Jesus is at work in us.
In short, spiritual authority is this: I walk in full assurance of the reliability of God's Word. I do what it says, submitting to every command. And my faith in His Word to me puts my heart at rest. Satan can no longer linger in my presence. I need merely to say, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan," and he will flee.
When the disciples were helpless against the enemy, Jesus told them that power over Satan came only by praying and fasting. Why is this so? I believe it's because the Lord wants time to work on our inner man. He wants our heart completely attuned to Him. We simply cannot obtain any authority without having habitual communion with Him.
How can we expect to chase Satan out of our churches, our homes, our troubled children, if we don't pray? How can parents expect God to impart spiritual power to them when they argue, fight and gossip in front of their kids? How can they expect to possess authority when they go out drinking, and then fly into a rage when they learn their kids smoke pot?
Jesus could boldly say, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me" (John 14:30). If you can't say this too, you'll remain powerless. And Satan will run rampant through your household.
Peter gives us a key to spiritual authority when he writes, "Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives" (1 Peter 3:1). The word for conversation here signifies lifestyles or behavior. I believe Peter is talking about the Bride of Christ. And the image here is of a wife who possesses true spiritual authority.
This woman submits to her husband because the Bible commands it. And because she allows herself to be governed by God's Word, her “hidden man” is being conformed to His divine image. Peter says that such a woman doesn't need to chide, harangue or preach at her husband. She'll be able to win him to Christ without saying a single word. How? Her witness is in the silent eloquence and power of her godly walk.
This woman's husband may be obnoxious and overbearing. She may have to bite her tongue time after time. But because she is in submission—to God's Word and, in turn, to her husband—she is gaining spiritual authority day by day. A mighty power is being released in her that increases her authority over the enemy's hold on her husband.
The apostle Peter was made of flesh and blood, just like the rest of us. Yet he wielded spiritual authority over the devil. He said to the lame man at the temple gate, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6), and the man was healed. The religious leaders of the day recognized this power in Peter and asked him, "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" (4:7).
Nowhere does the Bible suggest that this same power isn't meant for us today. When did the Lord ever say to His Church, "I've helped you so far. Now you're on your own"? What kind of God would empower His people in the wilderness when they needed it—would empower Israel's kings, prophets like Elijah, the crowds at Pentecost—and then withhold it from his last-days Church, when we need it more than any generation?
According to Scripture, Satan's power has increased in our day: "The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:12). Why would God permit Satan to attack a weak, powerless church that has no defense? His people have never lost access to His divine power.
Unfortunately, a number of Christians have a skewed idea of spiritual authority. This is especially true in charismatic circles. I know of a series of "power" conventions, where preachers lay hands on people to endow them with an anointing of spiritual authority. Yet, when the recipients return home, their efforts against the devil still fail miserably. They end up asking the same question the disciples asked Jesus: "Why couldn't we cast out these spirits?"
You can't obtain supernatural power simply by having someone lay hands on you. It isn't a gift, it's a way of life, of walking with Jesus. And not everyone who asks for such authority will suddenly be changed into a spiritual powerhouse. The fact is, God entrusts His divine authority only to what Peter calls the "hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible" (1 Peter 3:4).