by Rayola Kelley
It is not unusual to hear of people seeking power in the kingdom of God. This perverted emphasis on power can prove to be dangerous and destructive to the innocent. It is true that power is associated with God and the supernatural, but power is also associated with Satan. God may sovereignly allow His power to flow through His people according to His plan and ways. However, Satan makes it easy for unsuspecting people to tap into his power, as a means to counterfeit the work of God, and glorify his workings, ways, and darkness.
Sadly, many people think that if something is associated with the supernatural that it is of God. Such thinking has set people up to come under another spirit. This is why we, as Christians, are to test the spirits (1 John 4:1). The spirit is associated with the workings of the unseen and the supernatural. The spirit involves the motivation, intention and focus of something. Spirits cannot be identified from an intellectual standpoint, they can only be discerned from a spiritual perspective (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).
Obviously, power is important because it implies ability to bring something about. When it comes to power that is inspired by a wrong spirit, it proves to be controlling, seductive, oppressive, abusive, and harsh. Today, we witness the seduction and abuse of power from those who claim to be leaders. For Christendom, these leaders often claim to be apostles and prophets. They operate with what appears to be some form of power, but they are controlling and tyrannical in their leadership. They try to drive and manipulate people to agree with their particular worldview. Jesus, who is our example of true leadership, never drives or controls. He only leads. When a leader drives people through the means of control and manipulation, you know that they are heretical, and are representing the kingdom of darkness.
As I consider these false leaders, I realize they have falsely obtained their leadership. These leaders have seductive spirits that seduce innocent people into their reality (1 Timothy 4:1). Seduction simply throws a demonic covering over individuals. This covering will keep people from discerning the harsh fact that these leaders are indoctrinating them into their false reality. As the spirit warns the individuals that something is not right, they find themselves in an emotional whirlpool that is sucking them into this false reality. They cannot bring their spiritual perception into agreement with the rest of their senses to get a handle on what is wrong. It is important to not mistake seduction with the affects of truth. Truth will also cause conflict as inward conscience battles against the desire to give into the flesh, the world and darkness. Such a conflict does not stipulate seduction, but rebellion and unbelief against God and His truth.
If there are people who are properly discerning the discrepancies, seducing spirits begin to bring division between them and those who are giving way to seduction through speculation and false accusation. It is not unusual to hear about divorces where this false leadership reigns. In fact, these false leaders will tear families apart just to have total control over those who go along with their perverted indoctrination and reality. For these evil spirits, it is divide and conquer those who do not agree with the leader’s agendas and practices. The devastation that is left in their wake is alarming. Sadly, broken lives and marriages are reduced to statistics, as the Church fails to recognize the real battle.
Christians are not being properly instructed when it comes to Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). As a result, many are becoming prey to these heretics. In the end, whole families and the spiritual lives of many end up shipwrecked by the treacherous lies of these wolves. As Hosea 4:6 tells us, God’s people perish for lack of knowledge.
This brings me to the subject of authority. When I ask Christians, what do they prefer—authority or power, some people actually become stunned. The reason for their reaction is because they never have separated power and authority. They assume the two operate together as one. Yet, they are different. It is important to make this statement: You can have power without real authority. However, real authority possesses power.
Today, there are many people claiming authority because of their “so-called” power. However, such people are devoid of genuine authority. With this fact in mind, what would you prefer—authority or power? The correct answer is obvious. Any intellectual, thinking person would prefer authority over power. But, what constitutes authority?
I looked up the word “authority” in my dictionary. It referred to the positions of authority such as government positions. In other words, these people have authority to carry out certain functions in their positions. This brings us to a very important observation. Any form of authority is given to us by those in greater authority. Everyone is subjected to some type of authority. Each person, who is in a position of authority, was given his or her authority by one who is in authority or by a ruling body or a body of people. As you study authority, you realize that all true authority comes from one source: God.
For the proper function of the Body of believers, God established positions of authority. Likewise, He established positions of authority in the home. These positions are to ensure proper leadership and order. However, problems occur because some people in these positions do not possess authority. People who are in positions of authority, but do not have authority become bullies or tyrants as they try to exert authority over others through fear, intimidation, verbal harassment and abuse. Such people are abusing their place of authority by exerting ungodly power over others. As you study the character of these people, you often discover they are cowards who are hiding behind their “so-called” authority. However, the implications behind abusing a place of authority are far reaching. No doubt the judgment will be greater for such people.
What constitutes real authority? According to my dictionary, the power in authority is not to control reality or people, but it is found in its ability to influence people. Influencing people means having the authority or command to influence opinions and behaviors. One of the greatest examples of a person who had authority to influence people was John the Baptist. He never performed a miracle, but he possessed true authority from God. Ultimately, he made a difference. He was used to prepare people for the Messiah.
As you consider God, He is not a dictator or a tyrant. He does not try to control through fear. Although He has the power to destroy, He does not intimidate others to do it His way. He wants to draw us to Him, and change our lives by influencing how we think and conduct our lives through His Spirit.
The beauty of God is that He has the authority to command such a change. He also has the power to bring about changes in one’s heart, mind and conduct. However, authority disciplines and challenges power. God’s power operates according to His authority. When power does not work within the boundary of true authority, it becomes wicked and destructive.
Now that we understand that the power within authority is the ability to influence change, we need to come to terms with what establishes authority. To understand this, let us consider the One who holds all authority: God.
Character: The first trait in authority is character. God is the source of all authority because of who He is. He is trustworthy; therefore, people can trust His leadership and motive towards them. If people do not have a trustworthy character, they will not have authority. To have authority over people’s lives, those under authority must trust those who are in positions of authority. Without trust, people will not follow. Authority never demands that people follow. Rather it encourages people to make the right decisions in all matters. Righteousness will submit and follow those who are upright.
Wisdom: People who are in positions of authority can act as if they are experts in their particular positions, but without wisdom, it is nothing but a bluff. They are hiding behind their position because they have no real substance to offer. Without substance, there is nothing but fear and arrogance. Those who have authority do not hide behind a position. After all, if you have authority, you never have to bluff your way through a situation. People who possess true authority have obtained wisdom through humility, as they wisely submit to the wisdom and authority of others. They are not afraid to experience failure in order to develop the understanding that will prove beneficial to those around them. They have learned to listen, and to apply the lessons of life to ensure both wisdom and maturity.
Respect: The next trait in authority is respect or honor. Respect in Christianity is the act of preferring the welfare of others over yourself. The problem with many people today is that they are self-centered, independent, stiff-necked, arrogant, and refuse to come under authority. This brings us to another principle surrounding authority. If a person refuses to come under authority, he or she will never possess authority. People who fail to learn the discipline of coming under authority will be abusive, brutish, indifferent, cruel, and vindictive in their handling of matters. Ultimately, such people prove to be fools. The Bible refers to them as the sons of Belial. In other words, these individuals are worthless and will prove to be troublemakers. They will be indifferent or clueless about what is really going on, and will resent any intrusion into their particular reality. If you encounter such people, if possible, flee from them.
Love: We are about to celebrate Valentine’s day. We think in terms of flowers, candy and expressions of undying love. It is so romantic, right? Such a presentation is indicative of the world, and not God. The worldly presentation of love is sensual (lustful), unrealistic, and is a fleeting sentiment. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for love and expressing it, but we as Christians must gain God’s perspective of lasting, enduring love that stands in the hard times. Love is the motivating virtue in real authority. Therefore, to have authority, we must possess God’s love, and become an expression of His love in attitude and actions towards others. If God did not have love for us, he would not command our respect and worship. In other words, He would not have the authority to command our devotion.
Authority commands respect and devotion. In God’s realm, love is a moral obligation to do right by others. If we did not believe God had such an obligation towards us, we would never come under His authority. Let me explain, people establish loyalty through two avenues: fear or love. Leaders either command loyalty because we are afraid of them, or they command our devotion because we love and trust them.
It is important to understand the psychology behind loyalty or devotion. It requires some kind of passion. For example, fear causes passion through anger and hatred, while sincere devotion causes passion through love.
This brings us back to our initial subject. Wrong spirits, such as seducing spirits, will begin by stirring up sentimental passions of devotion. Since there is no real substance behind the people who operate with these spirits, they must try to maintain such loyalty, especially from those who see through their façade. As a result, wrong spirits create an environment of fear. People begin to fear the leader’s attitude or retribution. The focus is changed from pleasing a loving God to trying to suffice a harsh tyrant. Such an environment is idolatrous and contrary to God, for He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Jesus clearly stipulated that people will know we belong to Him because we possess the love of God. Therefore, people who do not possess His love, will not possess true authority. In fact, people who do not love God, will refuse to come under His authority in humility, submission and obedience. Ultimately, their fruits will tell on them as they try to control their reality through fear and intimidation. Their walk is one of unbelief. Their fruits will be that of contention, anger, hatred, and vindictiveness.
God offers every Christian authority from above. In my personal encounters with Satan, I prefer possessing the true authority over power. Keep in mind, Satan has power, but he is subjected to God’s authority. When we are under the authority of God because of love, adhering to His authority through obedience to the Word, and walking in His authority by faith, we are able to stand against and overcome that which opposes the message of redemption, God’s truths and our salvation. Such a reality is vital. For it is not a matter of having the power to overcome, but the authority from God to overcome.
Have you embraced God’s authority, thereby possessing the true authority from above? We must have this authority if we are to stand in these precarious times. My heart for you is that all notions of sentiment, power and grandeur are put aside, and that you begin to seek the living God. Keep in mind, the more you know, apply and obey the character, ways and heart of God, the more you will realize and possess His authority.