The Authority of the Believer
The Qualifications for Authority
It has been pointed out more than once in this study that the authority of which we are speaking is the portion of every believer. It is not a special gift imparted in answer to prayer, but the inherent right of the child of God because of his elevation with Christ to the right hand of the Father. He has become, through the rich mercy of God, an occupant of the Throne of the Lord, with all that it implies of privilege and responsibility.
This elevation took place potentially at the resurrection of the Lord and because of the believer's inclusion in Him. The elevation is wholly of the wisdom and grace of the Father. We do not 11 climb the heavenly steeps" by any act of faith or devotion on our part. It is ours simply to recognize the fact of this position, and to take our place in humble acceptance, giving all the glory and honor to God.
Let us recall four words to which mention has been previously made. They are "to usward who believe." In the former reference, we emphasized the first two, pointing out that all the demonstration of the omnipotence of God in Christ pointed manward. We shall now lay stress upon the latter two: "to usward who believe." it is not enough that the Divine Fulness outpours unstinted supplies; there must be a receptive heart and attitude on our part. A bottle may be submerged in the waters of a fountain. But, if the cork is not removed, the holder may wait indefinitely, and at last carry it away empty. In accord with this simile, multitudes of truly spiritual believers are, as it were, immersed in the omnipotence of God; it presses them on every side. There is a longing for its experience, and a belief that it should be theirs, and a readiness to receive, these things being the witness of their spirits to the truth which the Holy Ghost has unfolded in the Word. Yet, because their minds have been "holden" as they have read the Word, the simplicity and the glory of this truth have not dawned upon them. Do we not need, indeed, continually to pray with deep heart-humility that "the eyes of our mind may be enlightened"?
"To usward who believe.- Few comprehend the primary thought of "belief." It has a twofold meaning, fraught with deep significance. In it are combined two old Anglo-Saxon words: "be," to live or exist; and "lifan," which conveys the thought of accordance. Thus to believe means literally "to live in accordance with" anything. We are accustomed to consider "belief" as simply mental acquiescence with some particular truth. But its root leads us on to action; that which the mind accepts, the will must obey. We do not truly believe, therefore, unless our conviction is manifested in our life. Thus understood, "belief" stands on a par with its great synonym "faith," which, in its deeper sense, means not only to have trust in a person but to manifest that trust by practical committal.
Do we believe that God "hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus"? If we do, our reaction to it will be a fervent: "Lord, I accept Thy gracious word. I believe that Thou hast thus wrought for me. In humble faith I do now take my seat in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus at Thy right hand. Teach me how to fulfill this sacred ministry, how to exercise the authority which Thou hast entrusted to me. Train me day by day that I may attain to the full stature of the perfect man in Christ, so that in me Thy purpose of the ages may be fulfilled. Amen."
If we are walking in the spirit, our normal life is in the heavenlies. To secure the consciousness of this, there must be the daily acceptance of the fact. Let us, morning by morning, as one of our first acts of worship, take our seat with Christ (as suggested in the previous paragraph) and return thanks to God for all that it implies. Let us often remind ourselves that we are seated far above all the powers of the air, and that they are in subjection to us. As our faith learns to use the Name and the Authority of Jesus, we shall find the spiritual 1 forces yielding obedience in ways that will surprise us, As we continue to abide closely in Him, our prayers for the advancement of the Kingdom will become less and less the uttering of petitions, and will increasingly manifest the exercise of a spiritual authority that recognizes no national boundaries, but fearlessly binds the forces of darkness in any part of the world.
While belief thus introduces us to our place of throne-power, only humility will ece of throne-power, only humility will ensure our retaining it. As we compare the abounding grace of God, and our own utter unworthiness, the question arises, Should we need such a warning?
Praise God, it becomes less necessary as the soul grows in grace, and the likeness of the Son increases in us. But we know little of the plague of our own hearts, if we think the danger is ever over. The forces against whom we contend, the principalities and powers, the world rulers of this darkness, the hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenlies, know us far better than we know ourselves, As we attack them, and authority is nought but a longdrawn-out warfare against them, their return stroke is often swift and crushing. With a strategy gained in long experience in spiritual battles, they know that the offensive is their best mode of defense. One of their tested weapons is spiritual pride, and too often it proves effective.
Victory over the powers of the air, from their dread prince downwards, is a demonstrated possibility. But its attainment is alone through the employment of Divine aid. Now, since Eden, man has forgotten that God is essential; through the intervening ages he has constantly sought to show himself self-sufficient. Christ was the first of all our race that ever cast Himself fully upon God. "He trusted in God, let him deliver him," was the 'sneer of the enemy at Calvary. But at Calvary, the One who had thus fully trusted, could not be delivered. He must go down to death, for the sin question of the world was involved, and the shedding of His precious blood was necessary for atonement. So, "He was crucified through weakness" (2 Cor. 13:4). When this was accomplished, nothing more stood in the way. God raised Him from the dead, stripped, His foes of their authority, and set Him on high over them.
With believers, the consuming desire to be independent is something which even the regenerate heart does not fully overcome. Often, just after some signal victory has been gained, there comes the subtle whisper of the enemy, and the overcomer is swiftly shorn of strength through feeling that he is strong.
With profound humility, there may go, however, the greatest boldness in the Name. True boldness is faith in full manifestation. When God has spoken, to hold back is not humility but unbelief. In the exercise of authority, there is needed a divine courage that fears nothing but God, and reaches out strong hands to bind and to restrain all that is contrary to Him. But with this courage there must be a continual and close abiding in God, a spirit that is alert to every urge and check from Him, and a mind that is steeped in the Word of God.
The heavenlies, while the place of "every spiritual blessing" (1:3), are, as well, the place of most intense conflict. Let the believer, whose eyes have been opened to the comprehension of his throne rights in Christ, definitely accept his seat, and begin to exercise the spiritual authority which it. ich it. confers upon him. He quickly realizes that he is a marked man. Whereas, in his previous ministry, he may have firmly believed in the presence and working of the powers of darkness, and often earnestly prayed against them, there comes now a new consciousness of their existence and imminence. Bitterly they resent and resist his entrance into their domain, and his interference with their workings. Implacable and malignant, they concentrate their hatred against him in an intense warfare, in which there is no discharge. If attacks against his spirit are successfully resisted, assaults may come in mind, or body, or family, or circumstances.
The place of special privilege thus becomes a place of special danger. That there is no truth that encounters such opposition in its presentation is the testimony of those who have brought it forward by voice or pen. We have known of workers, who have taught these truths with acceptance, who have been quite overthrown in spirit or in body, and their ministry rendered useless. Yet, since God Himself, with an eternal purpose in view, has introduced His people into this sphere, we cannot doubt that full provision has been made for their safety.
The Panoply of God
The only place of safety is the occupation of the seat itself. It is "far above" the enemy. If the believer abides stedfastly by faith in this location, he cannot be touched. Consequently the enemy puts forth all his "wiles" to draw him down in spirit, for, once out of his seat, his authority is gone, and he is no longer dangerous, and, further, he is open to attack.
At this point is seen the meaning of the message of chapter 6. To maintain his place against the wiles of the devil, the believer must be constantly arrayed in full armor. The different parts of this armor symbolize certain spiritual attitudes which he must maintain. It is most important to understand that the armor itself when worn constitutes the protection of the believer, and not his activity against the foe. Fully harnessed, he is fully kept, and is unhampered in his ministry of authority. All that he need be concerned about is, like a good soldier, to keep his armor bright and well secured about him.
Let us note briefly the meaning of the various parts of the panoply: no item can be omitted. There is (1) "the girdle of truth," the clear understanding of God's Word, which, like a soldier's belt, holds the rest of the armor in place. (2) "The breastplate of righteousness," not, as often stated, the righteousness of Christ, but rather the active obedience to the Word which he has received. (3) The "feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace," a faithful ministry in the heralding of the Word. 14) "The shield of faith" (thureos, the large doorshaped shield covering the whole body), which indicates his complete refuge under the blood of Calvary, where no power of the enemy can penetrate. (5) "The helmet of salvation" (called elsewhere "the hope of salvation," I Thess. 5:8). It is a remarkable fact that the hope of salvation, the coming of the Lord Jesus, is the only helmet that seems able to protect the head in these days of apostasy from the truth. (6) "The sword of the Spirit," which shows the Word of God used in an active sense, even as the "girdle" shows it in a defensive one. [7) "All-prayer," the training of the faculties Godward by constant approach to God.
The emphasis in chapter 6 is laid on victory. Note the following paraphrase which brings out the full force of verse 13: "Wherefore take up with you to the battle the whole armor of God, that you may be able to successfully withstand in the evil (lay, and having overthrown all foes, to remain unshaken." There is no suggestion of defeat. Secure within his armor, the believer may disregard the enemy, and give his entire attention to the exercise of the ministry to which he has been called.