Understanding Authority vs. Power: How Effective Are We?

Being in control vs. being in charge. There’s a big difference.

At its essence, God is in charge, we are in control. Of course, we can and do surrender control of some aspects of our lives to either God or the enemy on a regular basis. Even so, it’s our choice and our choice is under our control.warrior at sunset

Now let’s talk about authority and power. They do go together but each can be used and abused separately.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines them this way:
Authority: the power to give orders or make decisions; the power or right to direct or control someone or something

Power: the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality (e.g. the power of speech). The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior or others or the course of events (e.g. the idea that men should have power over women).

Notice an important distinction? Authority has the right to exert power. Power doesn’t have the right to exert authority. Think about a traffic cop. Does he have the physical power to stop a car? He’d better not try, or he’d get run over. Does he have the authority? You bet. That badge and the law he works under prove it. They back him up. That authority is delegated to him. It gives him power.

What about the spiritual aspects of authority and power? Father God has all power. He also has open bibleall authority. Jesus, too, has all authority and power. He said it in Matthew 28:18 – All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (NASB). God the Father gave it to Him.

Now, how much power and authority do we have? Jesus shared His power as well as His authority with us when we surrendered our lives to Him. That authority is available for us to use according to His will.

Do we use it? Not so much.

When we do try to use it, do we act appropriately? Again, not so much.

Why not?

I believe there are lots of reasons why we don’t see the miracles and wonders that Jesus said we would according to John 14:12. See if you agree:

  • We hold bitterness against those who hurt us. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (NASB) If it weren’t important, would it be in there so strongly? Also, Hebrews 12:15 tells us that a root of bitterness defiles us. And defilement usually keeps us from hearing God’s voice. Bitterness is referred to a number of times. It’s important to recognize its presence and to deal with it.hands are tied
  • We don’t believe we are worthy of His attention and love, or of Him working through us. Our humility (the honest appraisal of ourselves according to what God says about us) has been damaged by our painful experiences. If we don’t allow God to heal us, we will continue in this false identity and belief, and never grow into the Kingdom rulers and warriors He has called us to be.

Are there more reasons? Oh, quite a few. And I’ve experienced a bunch of them – I’ll bet you have, too. Can you think of some?

part 4 of a series on authority


Part 1| Hey, Who’s in Charge Here?

Part 2|Total Control or No Control?

Part 3|“Losing” Control?

all illustrations courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net