Do we have the authority to order him out of our lives?
Can we “pray hedges” around our homes and children that he and his demons are afraid to cross?
The questions are important. If we answer them with either undue alarm or too much confidence we can play into our enemy’s hand.
Spiritual warfare is one of many two-sided issues. The Bible makes it clear that those who are “in Christ,”
Have power to resist Satan (James 4:7), but,
Do not have authority over him (2 Peter 2:11; Jude 1:9)
This distinction is important. The “power over demons” that Jesus gave his 12 disciples was specific and temporary. As Matthew wrote, “When He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” (Matt 10:1).
By overlooking the fact that this authority included the power “to heal all kinds of disease,” and that it was a sign-gift related to Jesus’ presentation to Israel, some of us have assumed that we also have been given the power in Jesus name to tell the devil where he can and cannot go. With good motives, we have tried to pray spiritual hedges around our children, homes, businesses, and churches to keep the “destroyer” at bay.
But making such assumptions can result in spiritual disillusionment. Wrong expectations can leave us with a false sense of security and eventual spiritual discouragement.
The one place in the Bible that mentions hedges that Satan can’t cross is the book of Job in the Old Testament. But the same story makes it clear that, where such “hedges” exist, it is God who puts them up, and takes them down for his own purposes (Job 1:10-12).
God has all authority over the devil. He is the one who gave the apostles the ability to heal disease and cast out demons in Jesus’ name to show that the Messiah of Israel had come. But later, even though the Apostle Paul had done many signs and miracles pointing to Christ, he himself lacked authority to remove his unidentified “thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan,“ (2Cor 12:7). Instead, Paul prayed 3 times asking God to take it away, and the Lord said to his Apostle, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (v 9).
Other New Testament writers warn us about false teachers who claim to have authority over the devil(2Peter 2:10; Jude 1:8-9).
But that does not mean we’ve been left unprotected.
We have been given something better than the ability to “pray hedges in Jesus name”. The New Testament assures us that, for now, the misguided attacks of our enemy actually give us a chance to show a faith that is far more precious than gold (1Peter 1:7). By using our very real spiritual battles as an opportunity to put our trust in the Lord, Paul tells us that we can “put out the flaming darts of our spiritual enemy” (Ephesians 6:16).
I want to take a closer look at that strategy with you in a following post. But for now want to emphasize what happens when we use the tactics of our enemy as an occasion to show our faith in God.
According to the Apostle James, when our spiritual enemy sees us drawing near to God, he runs from us in fear. James writes, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:6-8).
Makes sense doesn’t it. If, while trying to separate us from our God, our enemy sees that he is giving us reason to run to our Lord for protection and comfort, he will have reason to run, while leaving behind the disarmed “darts” or “thorns” that can continue to back-fire on him.