God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:28 NASB
There is no way to fulfill God’s mandate for humans without possessing authority. If you have ever been charged with policing a group of people but without the authority to enforce rules, you know the chaos that ensues. A governor must have authority to do their job. If we are to “reign with Christ” (2 Timothy 2:12, Luke 22:29, Romans 8:17), we must exercise authority.
All the world strives for authority; we often call it power, but power isn't the same as authority. Legitimate authority possesses the power to bring all things into submission to it, hence the struggle to have it. There is only one actual Authority, but there are many powers: power masquerades and counterfeits authority. People use power to acquire positions of authority to exercise greater power, but power is not authority itself. Sinners use power to acquire authority illegitimately. But thanks be to God, authority cannot ultimately be purchased or possessed illegitimately. Proper authority will always reassert itself because all authority comes from God, Who is the Truth.
What Went Wrong
Here is a sobering thought: the devil never possessed an ounce of authority in the world (except to exist within it) before men gave away some of their own authority. The devil has limited authority to function as himself. God allows him to exist and to use his tongue and powers of persuasion, but the devil cannot incarnate his agenda without the willingness of men. The devil must leech onto mankind or hijack humans to acquire any access to a position of authority. But note that the devil uses power to obtain a position of authority to exercise more power. But the devil does not possess actual authority. Outside of the freedom God grants the devil to exist, the devil has zero legitimate authority in the world.
Satan is a slick prosecuting attorney whose deadliest weapon is a silver tongue used to lure mankind into contracts that grant him access to their inheritance.
Our struggle and remorse
The human struggle is a striving to regain our God-given inheritance. We struggle with feeling out of control and not good enough. We experience guilt, addiction, depression, anger, fear, shame, regret, despair, and all things that come from trading away our sovereignty. We are precisely like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal and afterward could not change the bargain, though he sought to with tears.
An Irrevocable Gift
All authority is God’s authority. But “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29). When God granted humans sovereignty in a world where satan also had a right to exist, He took a considerable risk. When God gave humans authority, He was not pretending. And when humans entered into contracts with the devil, Satan gained legal access to the power that proceeds from human authority. Nevertheless, since satan is a liar and the father of lies, he still cannot possess actual authority but only positions of authority. Satan gains nothing from acquiring our positions of authority unless you consider flipping God the finger to be a reward, for the wages or the payment of sin is death (Romans 6:23), even for satan. Satan is on a vindictive, suicidal mission to spite God. He is, by definition, a loser. But so are we because of the contracts we signed through sin.
A bad contract is a curse. Lawyers who know how to work the system can use a bad contract to take everything from you. When a lawyer traps someone in legalize, sometimes the only way out is for someone of greater means to buy out your contract. But who would buy such a horrible contract with death?
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25 NASB
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB
A lie eventually turns in on itself. For this reason, the great “risk” God took in allowing satan to exist in His good creation was no risk at all because lies do not possess authority. When Jesus came into the world, He carried all authority because He walked in unadulterated Truth. A lie cannot abide the Truth and not be destroyed by it. But in attempting to destroy the Truth, the lie exposes its weakness.
And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another, saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”
Luke 4:36 NASB
When Jesus walked the earth, exercising His natural authority, lies had no option but to attack. Lies and the Liar cannot abide with the Truth, but attacking the Truth exposes the lie all the more. Satan used the positions of authority around Jesus to condemn Him and crucify Him as a criminal (”He made Him who knew no sin to be sin”) because he could do nothing else. And by condemning the Truth as if it was a lie, God forced satan into the buyout. Jesus took the bad contract and liberated all those who would believe in Him.
The Courtroom Awaits Your Decision
When Jesus purchased our bad contracts, He also purchased rights to us. We all want and need authority to function in life. But authority comes from outside of us. We did not create ourselves and cannot generate our own authority. Therefore, we must receive authority. We can either receive legitimate authority by submitting to the Truth, which results in life, or we can retain the contract with the devil that results in death.
The choice is ours. The choice is now. The Court of Heaven waits for your answer. Time is running out.