Saturday, November 05, 2016

Authority over spirits

“Jesus casts out an unclean spirit” 
Engraving by Bernard Picart, published 1728

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 4:31-44

TO CHEW ON: “Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves saying, ‘What a word is this! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.” Luke 4:36

Our society’s reaction to occultic phenomena is mixed. On one hand there is a fascination with the paranormal. (For example, stories involving occultic and paranormal themes have been a recent popular trend in young adult fiction.)  On the other hand, most psychiatrists and psychologists would pooh-pooh the possibility that some people with mental disorders could be experiencing demonic oppression or possession.

Jesus wasn’t ambivalent about the reality of dark spirits. He acknowledged their existence by speaking to them. He commanded they come out of those they tormented, often forbidding them to speak of Him and who He was. He had authority (exousia) over them.

The whole of Luke 4 is an interesting study in Jesus’ authority. In today’s reading He is recognized as an authoritative teacher. He takes authority over demons. And He commands sickness to leave a woman’s body. At the beginning of the chapter is the account of Jesus’ authority encounter with Satan after His 40-day fast.

Jack Hayford says in a sidebar article about this passage:

“Here we see the Adversary as administrator of the curse on this planet, a role he has held since man’s dominion was lost and forfeited at the Fall. Because of this, Jesus does not contest the Devil’s right to make that offer of this world’s kingdoms and glory, but He pointedly denies the terms for their being granted. Jesus knows He is here to regain and ultimately win them, but He will do so on the Father’s terms, not the Adversary’s. Still, the present world systems are largely grounded by the limited but powerful and destructive rule of the one Jesus calls “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31; 14:30).” New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1394.

However, we don’t need to be intimidated. For Jesus, who demonstrated His authority over Satan while on earth, lives in us now by the Holy Spirit. As John reminds us, quoting Jesus' words:  “'You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.'” 1 John 4:1-4

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for demonstrating Your power over Satan when You were on earth. Help me to live with Your authority in this Satan-administered world. Amen.

MORE: Spirit of the Rainforest is a powerful modern story of demon spirits and their reaction to Jesus. In my review of it you will find the testimony of a shaman and his account of how his spirits reacted when he visited his brother-in-law who had accepted Christ.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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