The words Authority and Power are most times used interchangeably, but there exists a fine line of difference between them.
Whereas Power is referred to as the capacity of an individual to influence the will or conduct of others, Authority is termed as the right possessed by a person to give the command to others.
Power is exercised in a personal capacity, while Authority is used in a professional capacity. Power is a personal trait, while Authority is given formally. You exercise power by knowledge and expertise, whereas you exercise Authority by your position and office. Power does not follow any hierarchy, but Authority does.
And so, by power, we mean the personal capacity of an individual to influence issues to act in a particular way. It is derived from charisma and status. It is an acquired ability that comes from knowledge and expertise. It is the right to control other’s actions, decisions and performances.
Authority on the other hand is a legal and formal right to a person, who can take decisions, give orders and commands to others to perform a particular task. It is hierarchical in nature, it flows downward.
In Luke 10: 19, our Lord Jesus Christ gave us a command “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall in any way harm you”.
What Jesus is giving us here, is ‘authority “with teeth” or authority with enforcement powers’. Having authority alone will not enable one to tread upon such dangerous animals. The owner of a plot of land infested with serpents and scorpions certainly has the “authority” to tread upon them, but does he have the “power” to do so? How great is our God who not only gives us authority but also the power to carry out his will.’
What Jesus is saying here to us is that ‘I give you the authority as “Children of God”, and in addition, I give you power to back-up that authority. So, we are insured, nothing shall harm us.
There is no question whether we, as believers, have authority over the devil. Through His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus destroyed the works of the devil (Eph. 4: 8; Col. 2: 15), and made us sit with Him in heavenly places, far above them all!
Jesus gave authority to those who believe in His Name to cast out the devil: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils…” (Mark 16: 17).
Notice He said, “In my name….” You have at your disposal Jesus’ Name to combat the devil: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2: 10). The power of God stands behind the Name of Jesus to deliver you from the power of Satan.
So, take courage in the fact that you have been given authority over the devil!
Your Vicar and friend.
The Revd. Canon Kiri Wakama