When it comes to resisting the assaults of evil against your heart, the starting place is stepping into the authority that is yours. Jesus Christ has set you up to succeed in warfare with evil. However, it’s essential to get clear about the authority that Jesus has delegated to you. This entire podcast began with the claim that “you have a story and that story matters.” The corollary today is “you have authority and that authority matters.” Are you aware of your authority?

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Show Notes

Welcome back to TPWFO podcast. This is the fourth in a series of episodes about The Place We Find Ourselves—namely, we find ourselves born into a world at war — the forces of the kingdom of God battling against the forces of the kingdom of darkness.
The strategy of the Kingdom of Darkness is primarily to break you down by accusing you of sin and failure and by deceiving you into making agreements with evil.
Today we are going to talk about how to fight back.

Now, let me say at the outset that although nothing is more serious than this war, there can actually be a lot of rest and play (pause) in waging war against Evil.
This does not have to be exhausting. It requires effort, but it can also be playful and even restful.
In fact, the only way to begin a discussion about waging war against evil is through song.
Why? Well, because when it comes to warring against evil, singing is actually rather important.

So let me begin today by quoting the bridge to a song called “The Great I Am” written by Jared Anderson.
The mountains shake before him, the demons run and flee
At the mention of the name, King of Majesty
There is no power in hell, nor any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the great I Am
And here’s one more. Here’s the bridge to a song called “What A Beautiful Name” by Hillsong.
Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast of sin and grave
You have no rival, you have no equal

What both of these bridges do is remind us of the starting point for any discussion about warfare with evil: Jesus Christ has no rival.
There is no power in hell, nor any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I Am.

The overarching story of Scripture is that the serpent who first appeared in Genesis 3 is defeated through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
The Bible leaves no doubt about Christ’s definitive victory over the forces of darkness.
Thus Colossians 2 says that Christ is “the head over every power and authority.”
Paul goes on to say that on the cross Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities… triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
Peter declares the same, saying that Christ “has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (1 Peter 3).
Finally, Ephesians 1 states that Christ is seated “in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion,” and that “all things” have been placed under his feet.

So, as to the question of Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness there can be no doubt.
Jesus Christ has conquered evil—and every entity of the kingdom of darkness is in submission to him.
But remember 1 Corinthians 15 — 24 Then the end will come, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
Where is the Place We Find Ourselves? We find ourselves living at a point in the war in which Jesus Christ is in the process of destroying all dominion, authority, and power.

Q: The next question, of course, is How exactly is Jesus doing this work?
And this is where it gets really fun and, frankly, a bit surprising.
Jesus is in the process of destroying the kingdom of darkness? But how? Largely in collaboration with you and me.
Which brings us to the topic of authority, and more specifically the authority that is yours.

Q: So, simple question. Are you aware that the authority that Jesus has over the forces of darkness—that a significant portion of this authority— has been delegated to you? PAUSE

Consider the following:
There are three gospel accounts of the commissioning of the disciples. One it Matthew, one in Mark, one in Luke.
Commissioning is about authority. Which is why, in all three accounts, Jesus explicitly names what the disciples have authority over.
But notice what Jesus says in all three accounts.

When Jesus calls the twelve disciples to himself in Matthew, he gives them “authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” (Matthew 10).
When he appoints the twelve disciples in Mark, he sends them out “to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3).
And when he commissions the twelve disciples in Luke, he gives them “power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and… to proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9).

There are two things you have to hear in the accounts of the commissioning of the disciples.
First, it’s all about authority.
And second, please notice that the primary task Jesus assigns to his disciples is that of driving out evil spirits:
In Matthew, the disciples are instructed to drive out evil spirits and heal disease.
In Mark, they are instructed to drive out evil spirits and preach.
In Luke, they are instructed to drive out evil spirits, heal disease, and preach.
The only task that Jesus gives to his disciples in each of the three gospels is that of driving out evils spirits.
What’s the point?
The point is that… more than anything else, the commissioning of the twelve disciples was about Jesus sharing his authority, and more specifically sharing his authority to engage in warfare with the forces of darkness.
The only task that Jesus gives to his disciples in each of the three gospels is that of driving out evils spirits.

Lest we think that this assignment is restricted to the twelve disciples, Jesus sends out an additional seventy-two disciples in Luke 10.
This is what it says in Luke 10… The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
So, after commissioning the disciples, Jesus sends out an additional seventy-two… to go out to “every town and place” where Jesus is about to go.
In other words, they are going ahead of Jesus. Why?
Because the harvest is plentiful… IOW, Jesus is about to go to various towns and places and he’s saying there is a harvest awaiting him…
So why is Jesus sending 72 other leaders to go ahead of him into these villages?
Well, you find out a few verses later.
Because here is what the 72 say to Jesus upon their return from going into these towns and places:
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:17-18).

Now, a quick caveat: though the earliest followers of Jesus were sent OUT to engage in warfare, I don’t want you to think that you have to go anywhere to join the fight.
Evil will bring the fight to you.

When the seventy-two returned they did not exclaim, “Lord, even illnesses are cured in your name” or “Lord, the masses respond when we preach in your name.”
No, the focus is on invoking their authority to drive out demons in the name of Jesus. This is about authority. More specifically, it’s about your authority.
Luke’s point is that the way we know that Jesus has delegated his authority to the seventy-two is because the demons submit to them.
That is the litmus test, not spectacular healing or powerful preaching.
The 72 had to go ahead of Jesus into these towns because, although the harvest was plentiful, there were spirits keeping people in bondage… and the 72 had to get rid of those spirits so that Jesus’ words would be received on good soil.

Our charge—our task as followers of Jesus—is to continue the task that the earliest disciples began, namely to take back authority over the earth.
In other words, we—like the earliest Christians—have been charged with driving out evil spirits, and we have been given the authority to do so.
You have been given the authority to do so.

Let me read Luke 10:17-18 one more time:
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:17-18).
Let me break that down slowly.
I have given you authority.
I have given you authority to overcome.
I have given you authority to overcome all the power of the enemy.
Q: Do you believe that?
Q: Do you believe that Jesus has given his authority to you?

And by the way, did you notice that it says “the seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Luke 10:17
They were joyful because they had power over demons. Are you likewise joyful about your power over demons? I know it’s an odd question, but the text is clear.
The 72 returned with joy… and they said this joy was because demons were responding to their authority. Demons were submitting to them.
Engaging in spiritual warfare can become, in part, about the joy of using the authority of Jesus Christ to command the forces of darkness to stop harassing you.
Are you thinking to yourself, “Okay, but I don’t come across demons in my day to day life?” Don’t be so sure about that.
Bear with me, because this is very practical.
In the next episode we will go into much more detail about unclean spirits (aka demons), but I wanted to give you a sense of the power you have to address these spirits before talking about them in more depth.

No one has taught me more about my authority over evil than John Eldredge. And here’s how Eldredge puts it.
He says, “Look, the whole purpose of the death of Christ is that he is trying to restore humanity to our place of authority over the earth.
One of the reasons that God doesn’t just do things himself is because he’s trying to bring about the change of character in us that is willing to rise up, to enter in, to act like the sons and daughters of God.
The point of our maturing is that we begin to do the same things that we see Jesus doing.”
John Eldredge

To begin to do the same things that we see Jesus doing.
What’s the Place We Find Ourselves? We are in training… learning to do the same things that Jesus does.
One of the things Jesus does is He uses his authority over the spirits of the kingdom of darkness.
Do you know you have the authority to likewise command evil spirits to cease their work?

Here’s the point: Evil must submit to the children of God when we use the authority given to us by Jesus.
Since it has always been the intent of God to share His authority with his creatures, it should come as no surprise to see Jesus delegating his authority—including his authority over evil spirits.
As C.S. Lewis says, “God seems to do nothing by himself that he can possibly delegate to his creatures.”

You have to understand that there is a way things work in the spiritual realm.
In Matthew 8, Jesus tells a fascinating story which demonstrates that the world operates on the basis of spiritual authority. Here’s what it says in Matthew 8…
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith…” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

When Jesus hears the centurion’s words, he is amazed (which doesn’t happen often).
Jesus is amazed at the faith of this centurion: “I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
But what is it about this centurion’s faith that amazes Jesus? What makes Jesus marvel?
It is the centurion’s understanding of authority:
“… just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Here’s the point I’m trying to make: The starting point for waging war against evil is to understand your authority.
Why? Because the spiritual world operates on the basis of authority. I am deeply grateful to John Eldredge for what follows.
Eldredge makes an observation that is so simple and obvious and yet it’s changed everything for me.
And his observation is simply this: just as there are laws that govern the physical world, there are laws that govern the spiritual world.
For example, the physical world operates on the basis of gravity. If you throw an object into the air, it always comes down.

Why? Because there is a way in which the world works.
If you rub your hand against the grain of a piece of wood, you get a splinter.
If you turn a sailboat into the wind, you lose momentum. Why? Because there is a way in which the world works.
Why would it be any different in the spiritual realm?
It’s not. And the way in which the spiritual realm works is simple: it is governed on the basis of authority.

When it comes to the physical world, our actions are governed by the natural laws every day and we don’t bat an eyelash.
Q: So why are we surprised that there is a way things work in the unseen world?

The centurion in Matthew 8 names the governing law of the unseen world: authority.
Just as natural laws like gravity govern the visible world, authority governs the invisible world.
Everything that I’m about to say in the next episode—all of the tactics for waging war against evil—it’s all based on the fact that you, as a child of God, have been granted authority over evil.
When it comes to engaging in any and every form of spiritual warfare, the outcome is determined by a simple question:
Who has authority in any given situation: the kingdom of darkness (which includes Satan and his emissaries) or the kingdom of God (which includes God, angels, and the children of God)?

So, given all that, I want to conclude today by looking at what Jesus has done so that you know you have been setup to succeed in waging war against evil.
Jesus has gone before you and done a lot of damage to the kingdom of darkness… and the work of Christ has set you up to succeed in warfare.
The whole point of this last section is so that you will know that you have been setup to succeed.

The work of Jesus involves four categories… his work on the cross, his work in the resurrection, his work in the ascension, and his present work as the ascended Christ seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty.
When Jesus was crucified, some things happened in the cosmos. The structure of the world changed.
To begin with, when Jesus died, you were rescued from what Paul calls “the dominion of darkness.” In Colossians 1, Paul says that God has “rescued us from the dominion of darkness.”
In other words, you are no longer part of the kingdom of darkness; you have been rescued and brought into the kingdom of God’s son.
The crucifixion was a massive rescue operation.

But Jesus’ work doesn’t end with the crucifixion. In the resurrection of Jesus, the cosmos changed in a different way.
Writing to the Ephesians, Paul points out that there was a time when we followed the ways of the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). He continues, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Q: What does it mean to be “made alive” with Christ?
Well, no one was filled with more vitality, desire, and sensitivity than Jesus.
To be “made alive” is to begin to feel all of the joy, heartbreak, and longing that accompanies living life robustly alive in the midst of a world at war.
The essence of evil is a deadening of desire, sensitivity, and awareness—what the Bible calls a hardened heart.
Paul’s point throughout his writings is simple: formerly we followed the ways of evil, but now God has brought our hearts back to life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s argument goes like this: since a) Christ is resurrected and fully alive, and b) we participate in the resurrection of Christ through our union with him, we can experience fullness of life.
Even in the midst of the assaults of the enemy. This is how the work of Christ in his resurrection benefits us as we contend with evil.
Finally, in Romans 8 Paul proclaims that the “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” is living in us (Romans 8:10).
The very Spirit of God—the Spirit whose unstoppable life raised Jesus from the dead—lives within us.
If this Spirit lives within us, then we have power to be victorious over the daily attacks of the enemy.

Now third, The Power of the Ascension
It is common to think that the resurrection marks the culmination of Christ’s work on our behalf. Not so.
He is ascended. He sits at the right hand of the Father.
In other words, he reigns as a king. And he is in the process of bringing all things into submission to himself.

The power of the ascension gives us the power to take authority over the forces of darkness arrayed against us. Again, the principle is that of our union with Christ.
Since Christ has ascended to his place of authority over all evil powers, and since we are united with Christ and participate in his ascension, we likewise have authority over evil.
Paul puts it succinctly in Ephesians 2: God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6).
Q: Do you know that you are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.
Q: And what does it mean to be seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.
This is about authority, not about sitting down in a chair.
By saying that we are seated with Christ “in the heavenly realms” Paul is making a statement about our authority over evil.
To be seated in the heavenlies means that we sit alongside the ascended Christ, who is presently reigning over his conquered enemies.
It’s biblical language about your authority over evil.

We are united with Christ, and Christ is seated in the heavenlies above the powers and principalities that war against us.
Because we are united with Christ, we have ascended to the heavenlies just as Jesus has. This means that we are no longer under the dominion of Satan.
This is how Christ’s ascension benefits us.

Each day, as part of my daily prayer, I pray the following sentences:
I take my place in the triumph of your ascension, through which I have been exalted with you to the right hand of the Father Almighty and established in your authority.
You have given me the ability to bring your kingdom at all times and in every way.
And so I bring your kingdom. May your kingdom come.
This is such an important part of my prayer… I am taking my place of authority over evil.

Now, last, there is one more way that the work of Christ is relevant as you engage in warfare with evil.
And this is the Work of Jesus in the Present
According to the Bible, the present work of the ascended Christ is overwhelmingly focused on one objective: protecting us from succumbing to the accusations of evil against us.
Consider these words in 1 John 2 — My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 1 John 2:1
And here’s Paul in Romans 8 — Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

Paul assumes that charges will be brought against us. He assumes accusations will come.
He assumes that you will be condemned by the forces of darkness.
And therefore Paul reminds us that Jesus is presently at the right hand of God praying on our behalf. And what is the purpose of his prayer? That we might not succumb to the condemning accusations of the evil one.
As Dan Allender puts it, “every assault against you God takes personally.” God responds as if the accusation were an assault against him.

Okay, all of today’s episode was a prelude to addressing the question of how do you and I —practically speaking—how do we fight the forces of darkness. How do we wage war?
So, summary: the very first sentence of the very first episode of this podcast was: “you have a story and that story matters.” Well, the corollary today is, “you have authority and that authority matters.” [pause]
The question is “Will you use your authority?”
In the next episode, we’ll get down in the dirt and look at how exactly we fight, how we use our authority against evil.

Before we end, I want to play a song. Because if you are serious about stepping into your authority, music

This song is written and performed by Jared Anderson. It will be released on Oct 4 as part of Jared’s album entitled The Whole Landscape. The name of the song is Heaven Stands Up and it’s a song about owning the authority that is yours.