|THE PRACTICAL EXERCISE OF AUTHORITY
John A. MacMillan
I AM REVEALED
Jan 29 2012
The believer has now accepted the place of exaltation with his Lord. There has opened for him a life of holiness in the
presence of God, and of watchfulness in the presence of God, and of watchfulness in the presence of the enemy in a
deeper sense than he has known before. His first lesson will be personal. He must learn the significance of the term
"Satan" (the adversary) and come to understand why one of his titles is "accuser of the brethren" (Revelation 12:10).
Just as Joshua (Zechariah 3:1), when he came to stand before the Angel of Jehovah, found "Satan standing at his right
hand to be his adversary" (ASV), so will the spiritually energetic child of God. He will encounter a constant stream of
accusations in his own heart. These will trouble him until he discovers that the purpose of the enemy is to turn him in
upon himself and, through the creating of a consciousness of personal unworthiness, draw him down from the place of
perfect faith. He learns to "[overcome] him by the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 12:11). That is to say, he presents
the blood as his only answer to these accusations.
But he speedily learns a further use for this divine provision. The blood represents not only the cleansing from the guilt
and power of sin, but it is also the witness of that overwhelming victory gained at Calvary by virtue of which the Lord is
now seated on high. Once this is grasped, the believer sees that he does not have to fight against the foe but simply to
hold over him an already accomplished triumph, the authority of which he shares in the full. Not all at once the full
vision comes, but, as he holds his place and exercises his ministry, there will be a gradual perfecting in the heavenly
warfare. It will be in his province, concerning the hosts of darkness, "to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles
with fetters of iron," and, in that approaching day of full exaltation in the presence of the King, "to execute upon them
the judgment written." Oh, that all God's people might come to an understanding of their high calling, for it is expressly
stated: "This honor have all his saints" (Psalm 149:8-9).
The Limitation of Authority
Let it ever be held in mind that the authority committed to the believer is over the powers of the air and
never over his fellowmen or their wills. He is called to bind the unseen forces but to deliver his brethren. Satan's
constant aim is the subjugation of the human will to himself; God's purpose is the full liberation of the will that the freed
spirit, through glad acquiescence in the divine will, may glorify his Creator. Human control of the will of another, as
manifested in hypnotism, etc., is obtained through the use of occult powers latent in the soul and is as unlawful for the
Christian as wizardry and necromancy, which are directly forbidden in the Word of God. Following are a few simple
examples of authority in exercise.
Release from Oppression of Body
Just a year prior to this writing, contact was made in a country district with an earnest young pastor and his equally
efficient wife - equally efficient in spirit, at least, but in body sorely hindered. For long she had suffered from what had
been diagnosed as serious heart trouble for which medical treatment was being taken. One symptom was the frequent
recurrence of severe pains, causing fainting spells. The husband stated that he had several times, on coming into the
house, found her lying unconscious on the floor.
The wife mentioned that her father was a spiritist and that she had been expert in former days with the planchette. The
question was asked, "Is it not probable, sister, that your present physical trouble and your difficulty in receiving healing
is due to the past?" "No," was the serious reply, "for I was never a medium in the ordinary sense. I simply used the
planchette," and many interesting and remarkable incidents of its use were narrated. "Nevertheless," the point was
pressed, "in using the planchette, your body had to be surrendered to the evil spirit. There is little question in my mind
that the difficulty lies there. Your connection with these powers should be acknowledged and confessed. Then a
definite stand in the authority of the Lord should be taken, absolutely refusing the further working of evil spirits in your
body, which has been purchased by the precious blood."
About three weeks after, a letter was received from the sister in question. After the visitor's departure, the light had
come; confession had been made and she and her husband had unitedly refused the further oppression of the enemy.
She has never had another attack of heart trouble and has been blessed in her service greatly.
Release from Oppression of Mind
Some months ago, after a service in one of our cities, two women came asking an interview. The appearance of one
gave an immediate understanding of the situation which was confirmed by conversion. There had been earnest
seeking of deep spiritual experience which was followed by a sudden attack of intense despondency. The attacks
persisted until, after three years, the mind was in complete bondage. All joy had fled and only a feeble hold of salvation
was retained. Suggestions of suicide were frequent, pressing with an urgency that was hard to resist.
The following line of approach was taken, after definitely asserting in prayer the power of the ascended Lord, and the
believer's throne union with Him. "Sister, this trouble is clearly the oppression of evil spirits, which have obtained a hold
over you in some manner. These thoughts of self-destruction are directly prompted by him who is a deceiver and a
murderer. You are a Christian and united with Christ. This afternoon may be for you, if you will, the last occasion of
manifestation of satanic power." In a simple manner, her place of victory and authority in Christ was shown from the
Word. She was urged to take it audibly before those who were witnesses (her sister, a friend and the speaker). After
full assertions of her faith and her acceptance of what Christ had gained and the Father bestowed, the party kneeled in
victorious prayer. As the group arose, one of the friends remarked; "She looks different already." There was a life and
animation, most noticeable after the deadness of her previous expression.
A few weeks ago, a letter came: "I feel as if I were saved all over again." Joy and peace had returned; the Holy Spirit
had come, and soul-saving work had been granted to her.
Authority over Excessive Anger
"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26), the apostle charges the readers
of the epistle we have been studying; "neither give place to the devil." There is an intimate connection between sinful
anger and the prince of evil, and sustained wrath will surely open the door to his entrance. In a certain city two
Christian workers, husband and wife, had fallen into the enemy's snare of wrath. One day their quarreling had reached
a shameful height and was attracting attention, as it had done before. The writer and his wife were within hearing and
at prayer. Quietly and definitely they took authority over the spirits of evil who were behind the ostensible cause and
commanded their withdrawal. Almost immediately the quarreling stopped. As the authority was day by day and
renewed, the spirits were kept in check. Eventually, however, the two separated, for they did not seek victory for
One of the Filipino workers, when a student in the Bible school, had a very quick and ungovernable temper. This
having been stirred up by a trivial matter, he utterly lost control of himself and speedily became almost insane with
rage. The principal and writer stepped into the next apartment and, kneeling down, took the authority of the Lord over
the spirits that were working upon him. In a few minutes he was quiet, and it was possible to deal with him.
Similar cases occurred in the girls' school. On one occasion, after a fight among them, the ringleader was isolated in
the office where she continued shrieking wildly. The writer stepped into the office, sat down and quietly and inaudibly
exercised the authority of the Lord, commanding the evil spirits to leave the place. The girl instantly ceased, so
suddenly that the lady principal asked what had been done to her.
Authority over Fear
In traveling among the islands off the coast of Mindanao in a native boat, a considerable swell was encountered. The
son of the writer began to show fear which became almost uncontrollable. This was most unusual as he was normally
fond of the water and was an excellent sailor, having frequently traveled up and down the entire China coast where
storms are severe. He begged to be taken ashore, and as the whole affair seemed to be directed against the
progress of the evangelistic trip, the writer quietly took the authority of Christ over the spirits of fear and rebuked them,
though saying nothing openly. In a very few minutes the lad seemed to change completely, and for the remainder of the
journey lasting several days, there was no further difficulty. The second night after, while in the center of a wide bay
and about twelve miles from shore, a heavy squall was encountered, and an outrigger broke. The danger was
imminent, but, though the lad was fully aware of it, and though the waves were washing quite over the boat, he
manifested not the slightest shrinking. Other instances of fear involving older and experienced missionaries are
Coming down the West River, in the south of China, in 1926, there was a man on board being taken to Hong Kong for
mental treatment. He was a foreigner and a member of the customs staff in Wuchow. Early in the morning he leaped
overboard but was rescued and placed in a cabin on board. A little later he cut his throat from ear to ear. The boat
dropped anchor, and native doctors came and sewed and dressed his wounds. After they had left him, the writer was
asked to talk with him. He was lying on the cabin bunk with his hands secured by a rope.
As soon as the cabin was entered, and before any questions was asked, he said, "They told me to do it."
"Who told you?"
"The voices; they are talking to me all the time. They told me to throw myself overboard; and when I was taken from the
water, they said there was no hope for me, as I had tried to take my life, and said I must cut my throat." Then, growing
excited, he cried, "They are talking to me now; they say I must send you away. Go! Go!"
He was quite beside himself. The answer was made: "These are demon voices that speak with you. I am not afraid of
them. I have come in here to help you."
After prayer, he quieted, and no recurrence of the trouble occurred up to the time he was taken from the boat to the
hospital at Hong Kong. He was not delivered, but the trouble was under control while the worker was near. Here it may
be said that demons recognize at once anyone who can exercise the authority of the Lord, and they are afraid of him.
But full deliverance in such a case as this cannot take place without the consent of the one attacked. Other examples
could be given.
Authority over Opposers of the Truth
Previous illustrations are from the personal experiences of the writer. The following is by a lady now deceased. In a
town in the north of England, great opposition was being manifested to some religious meetings by a group of the
rougher sort, stirred by certain communistic leaders. After a short time, the pastor called some of his people together
and asked them to stand with him against the power of the enemy. About a hundred gathered, and after prayer, they
definitely repeated with him, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His authority we bind the strong man from
stirring up these people and from attacking God's work." A hymn of praise was sung, and members dispersed. The
very next day trouble rose among the leaders of the opposition, some of them left town and no further hindrance to work
Such instances as the foregoing might be multiplied, but these have been selected as illustrating different phases of the
question. They are sufficient to show that there are many situations where the direct working of spirits of evil may be
inferred. In all such situations, the authority of the Lord is available for the instructed believer. And where in faith the
obedient saint claims his throne rights in Christ and boldly exerts his authority, the powers of the air will recognize and
obey. There may be unwillingness and delay on their part, and time may be required. But once the word of
authority is spoken, it is not necessary to repeat it. The believer must "stand" (6:13) and strengthen himself in
God as he waits. He will learn with joy, as did the disciples of old, that "even the demons are subject unto us through
thy name" (Luke 10:17, ASV).
Apply now these lessons to the great problems or the extension of the kingdom that face us. Here is the shortage of
funds. We speak of the financial distress, but is any work of the devil today distressed for funds? A walk on the streets
of New York after working hours will speedily give the answer. Satan is choking the channels of Christian benevolence
in many and shrewd ways, but he leaves free those which minister to pleasure and sensuality. The writer knows
intimately of several cases in widely separated parts of the land where funds are tied up which, if released, would be
instrumental in the advancement of the gospel.
Here are closed lands. Human governmental authority seems responsible for these. But in the background, there
stand the shadowy forms of the great princes (Daniel 10) whose dicta rule the minds and wills of the men whom we see.
Afghanistan, Arabia, Tibet and lesser areas are thus garrisoned against the entry of the truth. They will thus remain
until there rises in the Church believing groups who shall "agree" that this state of affairs shall no longer continue. And
as such bands, with one accord, exercise a spiritual will of freedom for these lands, saying in the name of the Lord,
"This shall not be!" the unseen dominant forces shall be dominant no longer but shall yield ground, and the barriers
Here are hindrances to advance in the field work. Mohammedanism meets us with bigotry and jealousy; paganism with
fear and hatred; ignorance binds the heathen mind in darkness that seems impenetrable. Fierce attacks, such as
occurred near the time of this writing in French West Africa, fall upon the workers, and some are cut off. Dissensions
rise in the ranks of brethren, and the Spirit of peace withdraws. Behind every such situation the presence of the same
malign powers can be assumed. The solution is in their displacement - we alone are to blame that they continue in
The same principle is often applicable in personal evangelism. A soul under conviction has great difficulty in grasping
the truth or in yielding to it. His mind is blinded and bound. A quiet attitude of victory over the opposing spirit has often
brought swift release. A Filipino student was suspected of lying but was resolutely standing by his falsehood. Quietly
the position was taken, "In the name of the Lord, I rebuke these lying spirits." Suddenly the student broke down,
confessed and wept his way through to victory.
Will it not be worthwhile for the believer to meet in the coming age men and women who have been delivered "out of the
snare of the devil" and loosed from varying forms of bondage, because he has steadfastly stood for their deliverance
for long periods against the fierce and incessant assaults of these deadly foes?
The Final Outcome of Authority
The question is often asked: Why does God permit this or that condition? Does not the answer lie here? God has
planned that man shall, through the outworking of redemption, regain the place of authority in creation that he has lost.
To this end, Christ, having conquered for man, sits as his Representative in the seat destined for him when redemption
is fully manifested. In the interim, the wonderful provision exists that man shall be reckoned in Christ and shall, to the
limit of his spiritual understanding and obedience, be endowed with the authority of His name.
Accordingly, God throws upon man the responsibility for the continuance of the conditions which we question. We feel
they ought not to be. We realize that they are the working of the enemy. We cry to God to rebuke the enemy and to
alter things. Through the teaching of the Word, He replies, "My children, rebuke the enemy yourselves. The authority
over him is yours. Its responsibility I have committed to you. I desire you to learn in these things to prevail. I have
purposed a high and holy ministry for you in the coming age. This is for you the time of testing and preparation. Be
strong and of good courage, and none shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life.”
Slowly, believers are awaking to their high place of privilege in Christ and are assuming the responsibilities which it
involves. The body of the man-child, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron, is nearing completion. Born
of the Church, but not itself the Church, the body consists of many members with widely differing offices.
These members are out of every age and people. On its ascension to the throne of God, which now potentially it
shares, the rebellious powers of the air which have so long resisted divine authority shall be fully and forever
dispossessed of their seats to make room for the new incumbents.
Before that event, it is recorded that "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." The initial tremors of that shaking
are now taking place. Every fully yielded heart that crowns Jesus King increases the consternation of the panic-stricken
hosts. Conscious of their impending overthrow, they are seeking by fierce attacks on every front to hold back the final
issue. Now is no time for the Church of Christ to hold back. Let us meet attack by counterattack. Faith is needed,
courage, determination, sacrifice. We have these - and more, we have Calvary, with all that it means. Men and women
are needed who will meet God in all that He offers, who will take up the cause of the closed lands and reply to the
challenge of the great heathen religions by an aggressive warfare in the heavenlies.
"Who is on the Lord's side? Who will face the foe?
THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER, by John A MacMillan, Copyright 2007, WingSpread Publishers.
|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES