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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Authority without power is no authority at all

18-21We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can't lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it's only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God's Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles.
(I John 5:18-21)

Be on guard - the alertness of spirit and mind that immediately recognizes anything that is not truth and rejects it as such.  We are surrounded on all sides by that which is untrue - there may be elements of truth, but at the core, that which presents itself as light may not always be light!  Satan is a real enemy - but he is limited in his power over the child of God.  He may be the tempter, the deceiver, and the accuser of man, but his power is limited by the fact that each child of God is protected by God himself.

As the tempter of the brethren, Satan works overtime to stimulate desires within us that will get us entwined in activities and pursuits that are not the best for us.  Our heart has a way of betraying us - it exposes our real desires and areas where our determination to serve Jesus with obedience is less than fully committed.  As the enemy of our soul sees those weak areas, he uses them for his advantage - to attempt to get us to love those things that are both outside of God's priorities for our life and outside of those things that bring honor to him.  Seduction is simply being led away - there is something that appeals to that which is really at the heart of our being.

Satan is the number one authority on rebellion - but he does not have the market cornered!  He has a lot of company in that "rebellion" ring!  Every time we choose our own way, we are really choosing who will be in authority in our lives.  That is the nature of rebellion - WE want authority!  One thing to keep in mind - authority without the power or ability to back it up is really no authority at all.  Satan is really without authority when it comes to the child of God.  That is because his power has been destroyed by the cross.  Sin is, and always has been, a question of which authority we will listen to - Self, Satan, or God.  Whenever we choose any other authority than God, we are asking that authority to back up that authority with its power.  

The power of Satan is limited by the hand of God.  The power of self-desire is limited by the investment we make into elevating self over any other authority in our lives.  At best, that "limiting" effect we have over self-desire is minimal.  We need a more powerful authority in our lives - therefore, we need God's authority to rule.  

Satan works to deceive us.  I think this is his greatest weapon in his arsenal.  He has many lies.  Have you ever noticed how effective he is in the use of those lies?  He brings the exact lie that fits the exact circumstance or choice we find ourselves in.  We are presented with three choices at every moment of decision in life - Satan only wants us to see the choices that don't align us with God's authority or power.  We can choose to believe Satan's lie, our own self-deceiving desires that are not placed under God's authority, or the reliable authority of God.  There is only one authority that is truly backed with the power to accomplish anything of value - God's.

As Satan came before God in heaven one day, God asked him what he'd been up to.  Satan's immediate response was that he'd been out, going to and fro throughout the earth, taking in all the activities of man.  God's next question may confuse you a little - he asks Satan if he'd considered the activities of one of his children, Job.  Now, I don't know how that makes you feel - but for some, we'd wonder if God actually loved Job!  In our minds, we'd think, "If you really loved Job, you'd never want Satan to consider him for one moment!"  The question is telling in that Job immediately answers, "Yes, I have!"  When you understand that Satan is not concerned with the activities of those that don't serve God, but is intently aware of the activities of those that do, you understand God's question!  He knows Satan wants nothing more than to deceive, tempt and try his hardest to get Job to compromise his loyalty to God!

At best, Satan is nothing more than our accuser, one who attempts to bring deception, and the opportunities to tempt us into sin.  At every opportunity, he is "considering" our actions - hoping to present us with one opportunity that will drive a wedge in between us and God.  Little does he know that his authority has no backing!  His power has been broken - we are "God-protected" beings!  As such, we need fear no evil.  No temptation presents itself without a way of escape.  No deception is offered without the opposing truth of the Word to contradict its lies.  At best, Satan offers "clever facsimiles" of the truth - we have the "original" to counter his facsimile!

There is comfort and security in knowing that we have no need to fear one who possesses no power!  We will do well to remember the truth that all of Satan's power is bound by the hand of God.  He may tempt, bring accusation and offer deceiving alternatives to every truth we embrace from God, but his power is really not there to back up his efforts to dissuade the soul committed to the purposes of God!