“The seventy came back triumphant. ‘Master, even the demons danced to your tune!’
Jesus said, ‘I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Now what you do for God but what God does for you –that’s the agenda for rejoicing.'” Luke 10:17-20.
The seventy came back from their preaching trip bubbling over with excitement. They had just experienced something they had never thought possible – authority to send demons packing. Note – they weren’t excited about people getting free or cured or saved. No, they were proud of their success because they had experienced what it was like to have power.
What was their perspective? Control! We can control demons. We’ve got power over diseases. We can control people? Is that what they were thinking as well?
Once again Jesus has to pull them up short. He was happy about their success because it meant that He now had a wider group of followers who had been recruited to continue His ministry but – if they did not understand His heart, they would become a liability and not an asset to the kingdom of God.
They had to understand two things clearly. Firstly, when they learned to live under God’s authority, the enemy had no power to touch them. The only power he had to influence them was the power they gave him when they believed his lies and capitulated to his manipulation and intimidation. He is a liar and he can only speak the language of lies. Believing his lies, not his power is what gets people into trouble.
Secondly, when they submitted to Jesus’ authority it was a pledge to come under His yoke. We have been learning that Jesus’ way of doing life is the way of unselfish generosity. That includes caring about other people enough to forget ourselves in order to meet the needs of others. Real power, said Jesus, is power over ourselves, not power to manage others.
It takes far more for us to submit to God’s authority than it does to get others to submit to us. We, not the devil, are our own worst enemy. There is so much potential to do damage and wreak havoc in the lives of other people that we don’t need the devil to do our dirty work for us when we are capable of destroying others ourselves by our words and actions.
Take our tongues, for example. How many children’s lives have been destroyed by the careless words of parents or teachers? When we think about it, words, which seem so weak, are one of the enemy’s most powerful tools to destroy when we allow him to influence us.
Words also have the power to do unimaginable good. What about God’s Word? His word brought the universe into being. Jesus said that His words are spirit and life. We have been given a brand new life through His Word, and we are directed every day to live that life His way through His Word.
It’s up to us who claim to be His followers to keep our perspective true to Jesus’ perspective. It’s never about what we can do for God – not even cast out demons and heal the sick. It’s about His life in us – His Spirit at work in us and through us. We are not in charge; He is. Our perspective must be how well we can get out of the way so that His life can be lived out through us.
In the words of Louie Giglio: “I am not, but I know I AM!”