Exercising Authority in Warfare

In the life of Jesus, demons often cried out when He came close to them.  They recognized His authority and often manifested in His presence.  Apparently these demons were not comfortable to remain in His presence without crying out and wanting to depart.  This may not have happened each time, but we have several references of this occurring.  When Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are– the Holy One of God!”  A man in the audience stood up and shouted these words with his own voice even though they came from the evil spirits.  Another account of such manifestations took place when Jesus approached the man in the country of Gerasenes.  This man was filled with so many demons they identified themselves as “Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5:9).

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.  He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” (Mark 5:6-7)

These demons were very much aware of who Jesus was and when He was in their presence.  Jesus drove out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit, but it was Christ’s authority and His name the demons feared.

When Jesus gave this power to His disciples, it was not only transferred to them, but after Pentecost, it was given to all who believed.  Membership in God’s family gives you the same legal authority to cast out demons.  Jesus said that signs would follow those who believe and in His name they would cast out demons (Mark 16:17; Luke 10:17) . However, Jesus’ authority is only given to Christians.

“A team of itinerant Jews who was traveling from town to town casting out demons planned to experiment by using the name of the Lord Jesus.  The incantation they decided on was this:  “I adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest, were doing this.  But when they tried it on a man possessed by a demon, the demon replied, “I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?”  And he leaped on two of them and beat them up, so that they fled out of his house naked and badly injured” (Acts 19:13-16)

Exercising Authority Through Commands

In the New Testament we have examples of spirits being cast out and commanded to leave individuals.  Paul used this authority when he commanded the spirit of divination to leave a soothsaying girl.  She followed him and his workers around for many days saying good things.  She kept declaring that Paul and these men were from God and were telling people the way of salvation.  On the surface, this was fine, but the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul that she spoke by an evil spirit.  “Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment the spirit left her” (Acts 16:18).

While it is appropriate to pray against demons, there are times when a command is necessary.  In the same way that God has chosen people to preach the gospel, He has chosen to give us authority to command demons to leave.  You may pray for someone to be encouraged, but you are still expected to speak words of encouragement.  God has given us a vital responsibility to participate with Him in commanding evil spirits.

To rebuke an unclean spirit does not require a loud volume or excessive emotionally charged rebuke, but a firm faith-filled command.  A brief command speaking directly to the spirit to leave and not return is sufficient.  You need not be afraid of demons.  The power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of Jesus are more than adequate to bring about deliverance.

Commanding evil spirits to leave need not frighten the one who is receiving the ministry.  “It is often considerate simply to ask questions of the person we are helping.  We might ask, ‘Do you think an evil spirit may be attacking you in this situation?’ or ‘Would you mind if I spoke a word of rebuke to an evil spirit that may be a factor in this?’”[1]

If it is not appropriate to command the spirit aloud at that moment, it can be done in private prayer.  The command should be spoken audibly, however, because we have no indication that demons can read our minds.  Simply say, “I command that lying spirit (or whatever spirit you have identified) to leave and not return.”  Then pray for God’s blessings upon that person.

Exercising Authority through the Word

We are specifically told that our offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, is the Word of God (Eph 6:17). Jesus demonstrated its power against the devil when He was being tempted in the wilderness.  Each time He was tempted, He simply quoted the Scriptures and said, “It is written!” (Luke 4:1-13).

Simple attacks are often diverted by daily devotional time with God and hearing the Word of God.  There are times, no doubt, that spirits have departed when one is sitting under anointed preaching.  The power of God is in the Gospel.  More serious strongholds, however, may take other measures.  Anytime deliverance is brought to a person, afterwards they must be filled with the Word of God.   The daily application of the Word is a guard against deception and a snare.

When Paul spoke of his authority to confront false apostles and false teaching, he was talking about the Word that he preached.  He declared that the weapons of his warfare were not of this world, but mighty through God.  He said that he would tear down strongholds that were built up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:405). The Word of God is one of our main offensive weapons.

Exercising Authority through Prayer

Though we have already mentioned prayer earlier, it must be reiterated as a powerful weapon against the works of darkness.  We should pray in the spirit and pray specifically.  When the Holy Spirit reveals an area of bondage that is the time to identify its nature and pray expressly against the actions of that spirit.  Paul tells us to pray with all kinds of prayer without ceasing.  Faith and prayer work together, blocking the fiery darts of the enemy.

Exercising Authority through Actions

Whatever you see prevailing from the kingdom of darkness, you can counter by living and acting in the opposite spirit.  If perversion is prevalent, then the Christian should manifest purity.  The Church is to be the salt and light to the world.  Your life stands in contrast to darkness.  When proper actions and decisions are kept, the influence of demonic power is broken.  Each believer who acts in the opposite spirit diminishes Satan’s strongholds.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p. 431

About the Author:

Glenn Shaffer is the author of Apostolic Government in the 21st Century, Christianity 101 and Discipleship 201. He has a Masters of Ministry degree in leadership studies from Southwestern Christian University and is working toward a Doctorate in Ministry at ORU in Tulsa.

Glenn and his wife, Ami have been married for 40 years with two sons, Matt and Daniel. Together, they co-see the elder pastoral care of Destiny Life Church, one church in two locations (Owasso and Claremore, Oklahoma) where they have been serving for almost 4 decades. It is a non-denominational church, based on a New Testament Apostolic form of church government. Together, they also serve as the directors of ATI- Apostolic Teams International, an emerging network of churches and ministers.

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