When bad things happen, talking to the devil with your God-given authority is a powerful prayer
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with a problem, or a series of problems, and then things seem to escalate. It feels like evil forces are trying to tempt you or perhaps harm you, someone you love, or something dear to you. This is when talking to the devil with spiritual authority comes to the rescue.
It is so important, especially in this world with all the materialism of the day clamoring for our attention, to be able to resist and defeat these evil influences in our lives.
There’s no way to cover everything on this topic, but I’m going to share sine ideas I’ve found helpful
Jesus has the answer
As always, Jesus gives us the answers we need,
There’s a wonderful story in Luke, Chapter 10 when Jesus sends 70 of his followers or, 72 depending on which translation you’re reading, to preach the good news of the kingdom of God in the towns where he was about to go.
You can read the whole account and the specific instructions Jesus gave his disciples in Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
I want to focus specifically on verses 17-20.
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 NIV
There’s a lot going on in these few verses.
Jesus had authorized these 72 disciples to preach the gospel. He empowered them to heal in his name. By the way, that doesn’t just mean repeating Jesus’s name. It means speaking and acting, thinking and praying in the spirit of Christ, with “the mind of Christ” as Paul says in
…we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV
Something bigger is going on
When the disciples return and report that as they were preaching the demons submitted to them and people were healed, Jesus said something bigger was going on spiritually.
It’s not just that people were being healed and freed from evil spirits. What was really going on, Jesus says, is that Satan fell like lightening coming down out of the sky.
Did Jesus mean this literally or was he using this as a metaphor to explain that Satan, or the power of evil, was losing whatever power and authority people thought he had?
I don’t know for sure. I wasn’t there.
But whether you take it literally or metaphorically, the point is that Satan fell from power and authority because the gospel of the kingdom of heaven was being preached.
This is an important point to remember when you’re dealing with evil forces, temptations, and influences. It means it’s time to preach to gospel of the kingdom. And it can mean you have been preaching the gospel, bearing witness to the fact that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
What seems like evil forces descending on you may actually be the destruction of evil, the falling from heaven as lightening, with a big bang and a dramatic light as it’s being destroyed.
Jesus makes his disciples a wonderful promise. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19
Jesus didn’t want his followers, and that includes you and me, to be defenseless in dealing with the enemy, with Satan. He gave them authority over all evil influences and over all the power of Satan. Christ gives this same promise and gift to you and me when we understand and bear witness to the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand.
But it’s not enough just to have been given this gift of dominion over evil. We have to accept and exercise this power bestowed by Christ. The first step may simply be to acknowledge that we have it and that Jesus wouldn’t have bestowed it unless he knew we could use it in the right way.
Jesus’s power over the devil
There are lots of times when Jesus exercised his authority over Satan.
One of the most obvious ones is when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness after fasting for 40 days and nights.
Three times the devil tempted Jesus. Three times Jesus quoted the Scriptures to fend off the temptation.
Each time Jesus quoted an appropriate Scripture (they were all from the book of Deuteronomy, by the way), it shed more light on what the underlying temptation was. The first two temptations to make the stones into bread and jump off the highest point of the Temple, were secondary to what Satan attempted the third time.
Because Jesus refused to take the bait Satan offered in the first two temptations, it forced Satan to show his hand in the third one.
…the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8, 9 NIV
The real temptation
This was the ultimate temptation behind the other two. It’s the temptation to break the First Commandment,.
Whenever you are tempted to do, say, or think something that isn’t right, the real temptation, the temptation behind the temptation, is to have and worship more than one God, that something besides God can give you happiness, health, purpose in life, just to name a few.
But of course, Jesus sees through this just as he did with the first two temptations. But this time, he doesn’t just quote Scripture, he commands Satan to leave him.
I love the authority with which Jesus says
Get thee hence, Satan. KJV
Away from me, Satan. NIV Matthew 4:10
Talking to the devil with the authority of a child
I heard a story about a little kid in Sunday School who had learned this story about Jesus being tempted. The next Sunday he came to class and shared how he had dealt with a problem during the week. The teacher asked how he prayed. The little boy replied, “I said, ‘Satan, you’re a big fat liar. Get lost. Scram.’” And he was happy to report that whatever the problem was had been solved.
This little child took to heart the essence of Jesus’s experience in the wilderness and applied it to his own life.
You and I can do the same.
Jesus talking to the devil with the authority
Remember when Jesus healed the woman who had been bent over for 18 years, he said
This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” Luke 13:16 NLT
He proved his power over the devil by healing her. But he was acknowledging what the real problem was. Every time Jesus healed, he was exercising his authority over Satan.
John points this out in First John.
But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 NLT
Knowing Jesus’s definition of the devil gives you authority
Now you may be thinking: Hey James, this all sounds pretty good, but I don’t always feel like I have the authority to speak to the devil the way Jesus did?
I know exactly how you feel.
Here’s something that’s helped me. Jesus knew he had authority over Satan, because he saw the devil for what he was. Here’s how Jesus describes him:
He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 NIV
Jesus knew everything the devil said was a lie. When the devil suggested turning rocks into bread would satisfy Jesus’s hunger, Jesus knew he was lying. Only God’s Word could satisfy Jesus’s true hunger and thirst.
Jesus wasn’t fooled when the devil quoted Psalm 91, implying that if Jesus jumped off the Temple, God would send angels to catch him. Jesus knew the devil couldn’t push him off the Temple; he could only suggest to Jesus the idea to jump.
And Jesus knew the devil was lying about being able to give him the world if he bowed down and worshiped him. The world didn’t belong to the devil. It wasn’t his to give. Undoubtedly, Jesus knew this verse,
Psalm 24:1 NIV
1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
When you are tempted to do something wrong, or when challenges come up and you are tempted to believe God cannot solve the problem, take a moment to remember that everything Satan says is a lie. You can say, just like that little Sunday School kid: Satan, you’re a big fat liar. Get lost. Scram.
You can’t copy how someone else is talking to the devil
But it’s not just saying the right words that gets rid of the devil.
In the book of Acts, there’s a story of some folks who thought they could cast out evil spirits just by copying what someone else said.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. Acts 19:13-16 NIV
As I said, it’s not just about the words you say. You can’t copy someone else. You must feel the spirit and authority of Christ.
Jesus knew his relationship with God
Another thing that empowered Jesus to defeat Satan was that Jesus knew his inseparable relationship with God. And he knew,
…with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 NIV
Jesus could see God’s supremacy over the devil and all his lies. He could see that
…the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17 KJV
In this kingdom of heaven, there is no devil nor any devilish temptations. Jesus saw this so clearly that he was never deceived by Satan’s lies and claim to power.
To the degree you and I see as clearly as Jesus did that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, here and now, we will not be fooled by the devil’s temptations.
The devil’s temptations are not your thoughts
Another thing that has helped me immensely in talking to the devil with authority is the realization that the temptations that come to me are not my thoughts.
I know people who feel very guilty for being tempted to do something wrong. They think they must be terrible people for having such awful thoughts. But here’s the truth. The temptations are not coming from inside you.
The devil is whispering them into your thinking and trying to disguise them as your thoughts. For example, let’s say you’re tempted to do steal an apple from the grocery store. Where did that thought come from?
For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:19 NIV
Where do the evil thoughts come from?
And he’s right. Some of these thoughts may be in your heart. But how did they get in your heart? Where did the idea to steal an apple come from? Did God put it in your heart or did Satan?
Satan tries to make you think it’s your thought. He doesn’t say, “Hey, there’s an apple. It sure looks good. You should steal that, no one will notice.”
Instead, he whispers into your mind, in your voice, “There’s an apple. It sure looks good, if I steal it, no one will notice.”
Do you see the difference? We hear the devil talking in the first person, in our voice. We hear it and get fooled into thinking it’s our thought. But it never is.
When we get fooled this way, we take the thought into our heart and adopt it as our own, feeling guilty that we are such a bad person to think such things, even if we never follow through with the inappropriate action.
Anytime you are tempted to do or think something that is not God’s will, it was not originally your thought. It’s a temptation, disguised as your thought, directly from the devil.
Turning Satan’s lies back on him
One way I have learned to speak with authority to Satan is to turn the lie he’s telling me back on him.
For example, let’s say I hear the temptation: I want to steal that apple. I turn it back on the devil and say, “That’s right Satan, you want me to steal that apple, but you can’t make me do it any more than you could push Jesus off the Temple. You can only try to make me think I want to do it, but I’m not falling for your lies.”
Sometimes the temptations are more subtle and harder to realize they’re not your thinking, especially when they are about how we see ourselves. What if you hear the words in your mind, “I’m no good at my job. I don’t think I can do this project the boss gave me.”?
Turn it back to where it came from and say something like, “You’re right Satan, you are no good. You can’t do this project or help me do it. But with God’s help I will be able to do whatever I need to.”
What you begin to realize is that the devil is projecting, or at least trying to project, his own nature onto you and make you think that’s the way you are. Basically, the devil accuses you of being guilty of his evil thoughts. But he can only accuse.
It’s interesting that one of the names for Satan in Revelation is “the accuser.” See Revelation 12:10 below
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10 NIV
Talking to the devil calling him by name
One more thing I have found helpful at times is to call Satan by name, just as Jesus did in the wilderness and the little boy in Sunday School,
The devil has lots of names in Scripture. We’ve talked about a few of them. You may have another name for “the liar and father of lies.”
Why is this important? What difference does it make if you call evil by its name? Well, for me, it helps give clarity to what’s going on. I’m not fooled so quickly when I realize I’m being tempted by the devil as opposed to thinking it’s my idea to do something wrong.
Not too long after I made a commitment to follow Christ and get serious about my faith in high school, I got a terrible pain in my back. I couldn’t stand, sit, or lie down without excruciating pains up and down my spine. This went on for a day or two.
I was praying about it, but my mom came into my bedroom, where I was trying to find a comfortable position on the bed. She helped me get out of bed because we had to go somewhere.
She said very lovingly but matter-of-factly, “James, this is just the devil trying to tempt you to believe your strength and support is material. Your real strength and support is from God.”
Now, that may sound like an odd thing to say to someone in pain, but when she called out Satan like that, it sort of woke me up. I could see what she was talking about. With all the earnestness of my new found faith, I held onto the idea that God was the source of my true strength and support. The pain just drained away. I was pretty amazed. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before.
Does the devil have any power over you?
Let’s come back to the question of whether the devil has any actual power over you.
Some churches teach that Satan has power derived from or allowed by God. If you accept that as a premise, then you will never have full authority over evil because you believe his power comes from or is permitted by God. How can you or I destroy something that comes from God?
I always like to start with what Jesus says about the devil. He defined him as a liar and the father of lies, a murderer from the beginning, in whom there is no truth.
Does a lie have any power over you? Not at all, unless you believe it.
The only thing the devil can do is tell lies. The only way those lies have power is when we believe those lies.
Satan has told the lie so many times that he has power, that a lot of people believe it.
Don’t believe Satan’s lies about himself
A perfect example of this is the man-made doctrine that Satan is a fallen angel. But this is a lie. Just because a wolf puts on sheep’s clothing, doesn’t make it a sheep.
Paul uncovers this lie
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV
Satan disguises himself as an angel, or a fallen angel, and repeats this lie so often that many Christians believe it and teach this doctrine. But just because Satan claims to be, or have been, an angel with power and authority from God, doesn’t make it so.
I know, this is a controversial topic among some traditional Christian theologies. You don’t have to agree with me, but before you get all bent out of shape over this, and if you’d like to see why I don’t believe Satan is a fallen angel, I suggest you listen to Episode 41 of The Bible Speaks to You Podcast, Satan is Not a Fallen Angel.
Stick with Jesus
In this episode, I examine all the Bible texts used to explain that Satan is a fallen angel and show how they’ve been taken out of context. I go into a lot of detail, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll simply repeat here how Jesus defined the devil, as a murderer from the beginning. Hmmm. He didn’t say he was an angel in the beginning who fell from heaven and then became a murderer.
I’ll go with what Jesus says over what so many theologies teach.
Why is this important? Because, as I said, if you believe for some reason Satan was at one point an angel, and even though he rebelled against God, he still has some of the power given to him by God, you are trying to resist and overcome something given or permitted by God. You’re fighting against something God allows or ordains.
But Satan has no God-derived or God-allowed power.
When you understand this and depend completely on God, you will always have the power and authority and confidence to rebuke the devil as the powerless liar he is.
Submit to God and resist the devil
James sums it all up this way.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NIV
You can only resist the devil, you can only speak with authority to Satan, when you first submit wholly to God. This allows you to see the devil for what he is: a liar, the father of lies, a murderer from the beginning, in whom there is no truth.
Christ gives you this authority over Satan. God empowers you to exercise this authority. And the Holy Spirit keeps you alert to when and how to speak to Satan with authority.
Never doubt your ability to follow Jesus’s example of speaking to Satan with your God-given authority.
Photo Credit: unsplash.com
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Luke 10:17-20 NIV
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV
16 we have the mind of Christ.
Matthew 4:8, 9 NIV
8 the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Get thee hence, Satan. KJV
10 Away from me, Satan. NIV
Luke 13:16 NLT
16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”
1 John 3:8 NLT
8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.
John 8:44 NIV
44 He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Acts 19:13-16 NIV
13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”
14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”
16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Matthew 19:26 NIV
26 …with God all things are possible.
Matthew 4:17 KJV
17 …the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 15:19 NIV
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Revelation 12:10 NIV
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV
14 Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
James 4:7 NIV
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.