Note: This article originally appeared in the May 1985 issue of Charisma.
We read in Ephesians 6:12 that, ” … we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” or “wicked spirits in the heavenlies,” as one Bible margin notes.
The Word of God teaches us that these evil spirits are fallen angels who have been dethroned by the Lord Jesus Christ. Our contact with these demons should be with the knowledge that Jesus defeated them, spoiled them, put them to naught (Col. 2:15). And now that Jesus has dethroned them, we can reign over them!
Originally, God made the earth and the fullness thereof, giving Adam dominion over all the works of His hands. In other words, Adam was the god of this world. Adam committed high treason and sold out to Satan, and Satan, through Adam, became the god of this world. Adam didn’t have the moral right to commit treason, but he had the legal right to do so.
Now Satan has a right to be here and be the god of this world. Satan had the right to rule over us until we became new creatures and got into the body of Christ, as we read in Colossians 1:12,13: “Giving thanks unto the Father…who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son….”
That’s why Satan has no right to rule us or dominate us. Yet the average Christian has more faith in Satan’s authority and power than in God’s!
The Bible not only discusses the first man, Adam, but also the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who became our substitute. In 1 Corinthians 15:45, He’s called “the last Adam,” and in verse 47 He’s called “the second man.” All Jesus did, He did for us.
Our trouble is that we relegate everything to the future! Most church people believe we will exercise our spiritual authority some time in the millennium. If that is so, why does the Bible say Satan will be bound during the millennium? There won’t be any need to exercise authority then, because there will be nothing here that will hurt or destroy.
It’s now, when there is something that will hurt and destroy, that we have authority. But many people believe we can’t have much of anything now. They think Satan’s running everything down here. We must remember, however, that although we are in the world, we are not of the world. Satan’s running a lot of what is here on earth, but he’s not running me. He’s not running the Church. He’s not dominating us. We can dominate him. We have authority over him!
Jesus said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing [nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing] shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).
Does the Church in this century have less authority than it did right after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, ascension and seating at the Father’s right hand? If it has less authority today, it would have been better for Jesus not to have died. But no—bless God—we have authority.
We need to build these truths into our lives by meditating and feeding upon them until they become a part of our consciousness. Naturally speaking, we eat certain foods every day because doctors tell us we need certain vitamins, minerals, etc., to build strong bodies. There are spiritual “vitamins” and “minerals” we need to take every day, too, to be healthy Christians.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” All the authority that can be exercised upon the earth has to be exercised through the Church, because Christ is not here in person—in His physical body.
We are the body of Christ. Even though we have prayed, “Now, Lord, please do this and that,” leaving everything up to Him, He has conferred His authority on the earth to His body, the Church. Thus, many problems exist because we permit them to—we’re not doing anything about them. We’re the ones who are supposed to do something about them, but we’re trying to get someone else, including God, to do something about them.
This became real to me years ago when I was studying along this line. I couldn’t explain it in my mind. But, I knew it in my spirit. I began to understand this authority we have. While praying for my older brother’s salvation, I heard the Lord in my spirit challenge me. He said, “You do something about it!”
I had been praying for my brother’s salvation for many years. He was what you would call the “black sheep” of the family. In spite of my prayers, he seemed to get worse instead of better.
I always had prayed, “God save him.” I’d even fasted. I was prone to slip back into praying this way, but after the Lord challenged me to do something about it—after He told me I had the authority—I said, “In the name of Jesus, I break the power of the devil over my brother’s life, and I claim his salvation!”
I gave the order. I didn’t keep saying it or praying it. When a king gives an order, he knows it’s going to be carried out.
The devil tried to tell me my brother never would be saved, but I shut my mind off and started laughing. I said, “I don’t think he’ll be saved—I know it! I took the name of Jesus and broke your power over him and claimed his deliverance and salvation.” I went my way whistling. Within 10 days, my brother was saved. The Word works!
As long as Satan can keep you in unbelief or hold you in the arena of reason, he’ll whip you in every battle. But if you’ll hold him in the arena of faith and the Spirit, you’ll whip him every time. He won’t argue with you about the name of Jesus—he’s afraid of that name.
I have found that the most effective way to pray can be when you demand your rights. That’s the way I pray: “I demand my rights!”
Peter at the Gate Beautiful did not pray for the lame man; he demanded that he be healed (Acts 3:6). You’re not demanding of God when you demand your rights; you’re demanding of the devil.
Jesus made this statement in John 14:13,14: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do…If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” He’s not talking about prayer. The Greek word here is “demand,” not “ask.”
On the other hand, John 16:23 and 24 are talking about prayer: “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (The Father is mentioned here in connection with prayer, but He isn’t mentioned in the passage from John 14.)
The Greek actually reads, “Whatever you demand as your rights and privileges….” You’ve got to learn what your rights are.
Many years ago when I was pastoring a little church in Texas, a woman brought her violently insane sister to the parsonage to be prayed for. Because this woman had tried to kill herself and others, she had been in a padded cell for two years. However, her health had deteriorated, and doctors had recommended a furlough at home for her, because she was no longer considered dangerous.
When her sister introduced me as a “preacher,” Scriptures started to roll out of this woman’s mouth. She thought she had committed the unpardonable sin. The Lord told me to stand in front of her and say, “Come out, thou unclean devil, in the name of Jesus!” I did then, but nothing happened. She just sat there looking like a statue.
I knew I had spoken the word of faith. You don’t have to stand there all day long and command devils to come out. They’re going to do it the moment you tell them to when you know your authority. They have to go sooner or later.
Two days later, I was told the woman was having a violent attack similar to the kind she had when she first lost her mind. This news didn’t disturb me. In the Bible we read that when Jesus rebuked the devil in such cases, people would fall and the devil would tear them. I knew the devil was just tearing this woman before he left her for good. I knew she wouldn’t have any more spells, and she didn’t. The doctors pronounced her normal and sent her home for good. Twenty years later she was happy and healthy, teaching a Sunday school class and working in a business.
Faith is involved in exercising spiritual authority. Yes, there are times when evil spirits come out immediately, but if they don’t when you speak the word of faith, don’t get disturbed about it.
I base my faith on what the Word says. Some people’s faith is not based on the Bible but is based on a manifestation. They operate outside faith in the sense realm. If they get certain manifestations, they think the devil’s gone. But he isn’t gone just because you get a manifestation. He’s still there, and you need to know that and exercise your authority.
When circumstances don’t change immediately, some people become discouraged and slip back into the natural. They start talking unbelief and they defeat themselves. they give the devil dominion over them.
As Smith Wigglesworth often said, “I’m not moved by what I see. I’m not moved by what I feel. I’m moved only by what I believe.” So stand your ground.
Before I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was a young Baptist pastor. This was during the Depression, and I had a mother and a little brother to help support. My mother’s small income paid the utilities, taxes and insurance. My income bought our food.
I owned only one suit and an extra pair of pants. During those Depression days, much stealing went on, and someone stole both pairs of my pants. They were stolen on Monday, and I was to preach that Thursday. So I prayed Tuesday as I left my job, “Lord, all I’ve got is a pair of khakis, and I can’t preach in them. They are old work pants.” I told the Lord that by Thursday I expected to see my stolen pants hanging right where they had been. I prayed that the person who had stolen them would be so miserable he would have to bring them back.
You see, it’s a wrong spirit that makes someone steal. I was dealing with that spirit and not the person, because we have authority over spirits. I commanded the spirit to stop this action.
When I came home on Thursday afternoon, I knew those pants would be there, and they were there. So we can—and should—rise up against the devil.