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Spiritual authority needs practice

The last couple of blogs have dealt with the issue of spiritual authority. One thing I’ve seen is that it is complicated. For one thing, we confuse the exercise of spiritual authority (influencing events in the spiritual realm) with the people holding a position in a religious institution. The tw…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
The last couple of blogs have dealt with the issue of spiritual authority. One thing I’ve seen is that it is complicated. For one thing, we confuse the exercise of spiritual authority (influencing events in the spiritual realm) with the people holding a position in a religious institution. The two are very different.
For example, 19 years ago in our Presbyterian church, we elders held a religious position. But when a congregation member came and asked for healing prayer and deliverance, none of us knew how to apply James 5 (which tells us how to pray for healing). We couldn’t wield the spiritual authority that Jesus had already delegated.
After holding a meeting wherein half of the elders voted against praying for her because of the legal implications, the other half of us decided to go to her house. We may not have known what we were doing, but we believed Scripture and were at least going to try to wield the authority Jesus had delegated to us.
It took us a while to experiment with it (we prayed at her house about 12 hours in all), but we finally cast out the demons that were bothering her and causing her to talk like Linda Blair. Whereas she was constantly sick and the family was bedeviled by poltergeists, years later they are still healthy.
It’s a good illustration of how we grow in our spiritual authority. We don’t grow in it when we’re named elders in the church. That just makes us candidates to be the most visible hypocrites in the church to those looking at us from the outside.
We advance in our ability to exercise spiritual authority by
experimenting – by practicing the sorts of activities that seem far beyond our native capacity, but which Jesus nevertheless assigned to us: preach the gospel, cast out demons, heal the sick, and raise the dead just for starters.
These experiments may take the form
of journeys like the one that Jesus sent his disciples on in Luke 10. In fact, I’ve seen that going on spiritual journeys can be a great way to accelerate the growing
process. This is why short-term missions are so important as a part of discipleship – they afford us a venue for trying out new things in the spiritual realm. 

understood that we have to practice taking authority. If you’ve not
wielded authority before, it may not feel natural. You may feel awkward –
all of us need practice. When Jesus sent his disciples two by two, he gave them authority. But he knew that in order to gain confidence in wielding it, they needed small-scale journeys to
experiment. And we need to do the same today.

Comments (6)

  • Thanks Seth. I still remember a woman coming up at a Bible study at my brother’s home and prophetically saying …”You and your ex wife will be married again” apparently not knowing she was remarried with no interest in me and a new husband threatening lawsuits. We have too many novices wielding spiritual authority and carnage reigns.

  • Scott Molgard (again- ha!)

    I guess what just became clear to me is:
    it’s not a question of who is my spiritual authority, obviously this is Jesus.
    It is the question of who is teaching/leading/discipling me in my given authority, who is giving the training and opportunity?

    I think this can only be done in the flesh- meaning not just by blogs and books. While I wish we had made it to Georgia….

    We are still slowly trying to regain trust of authority and community through the institution- meaning church as we know it here in new england.

  • Without a doubt, the first step is a willingness to step out in faith. I remember a definition of faith as “Knowing God enough to trust in Him”.

    Still and all, many are afraid to step out because we do not see those in “authority” leading us. Their faith is often so diluted.

    I pray we may have a spiritual boldness and discernment in these matters.

  • Amen Seth. We pray with faith according to scripture, that is our reality in the Kingdom. The rest is up to God.
    I was reminded a couple of weeks ago, when praying for a woman in RO. She had been oppressed her whole life with thoughts of suicide. As she was sharing, I was so stirred in my spirit, as she finished sharing we gathered and prayed for her, she started manifested, the spiritual struggle, I started having feelings of doubt, but I continued along with my the other women and the Lord healed her.
    I can tell you it had nothing to do with me or how we prayed or the words we used, the Lord healed her. It was amazing, she was free.

    Thanks for sharing.

    One who is continuing in faith according to the word of God

  • Hey Seth,

    This is a great follow up to our conversations! Thanks for being such a great example of what spiritual authority is (influencing events in the spiritual realm). I have been in great need of this wisdom and you have always innately provided some much needed answers for my journey unaware. I fully experienced during our time together in Georgia this summer at the Luke 10 gathering what spiritual authority looks like. I only wish I had more time to pick your brain and learn. I see how being under spiritual authority as defined in this last blog is so pivotal, and such a deep desire of my heart!


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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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