September 1, 2021

The Believer’s Authority

Standing firm against the schemes of the enemy

In 1926, the Alliance mission in the Philippines teetered on the brink of collapse. Dissension and strained relationships poisoned the camp. The missionaries were demoralized and talked of closing the mis- sion. Many of them left the field never to return. Several mission stations were left without missionary personnel or trained and qualified native workers.

Asian Field Director Robert Jaffray and the C&MA Board of Managers appointed John MacMillan as the Philippine mission director to attempt to salvage the floundering work. MacMillan had proven himself in China to be a capable leader who understood the spiritual forces behind the struggles.

Applying principles of the authority of the believer, MacMillan took authority over the spirits of evil operating in the mission. Within four years, the mission re- covered and revival broke out. The Alliance in the Philippines is now one of the largest in the world.


Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this dark- ness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:11–12, NASB).

We are able to stand firm against evil forces by exercising our spiritual authority in putting on the armor of God. A. B. Simpson, founder of The Alliance, taught the authority of the believer: “The secret of Christ’s power was that He spoke with authority, prayed with authority, commanded with authority, and the power followed. . . . The reason we do not see more power is because we do not claim the authority Christ has given us.”

MacMillan was a pioneer in spiritual warfare. In the 1930s, he wrote The Authority of the Believer, which is now a timeless classic. He recounts many stories of practically exercising that authority: healing, casting out demons, rebuking depression and dissension, and loosing the power of the Spirit in people’s lives to bring them to repentance, salvation, healing, and freedom. How do we exercise that authority?


But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [or authority] to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name ( Jn. 1:12).

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are a child of the King of Kings. That makes you a prince or princess! You have the rights and authority of the royal family of God: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).


Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you (Lk. 10:19).

“Serpents and scorpions” are symbolic in Scripture of demonic powers. Some would claim that this authority over demons was given only to the apostles; however, Jesus is speaking this to the 70 disciples, showing us that it is for all believers, not just the elite Twelve.


MacMillan wrote of his victorious experiences in spiritual warfare: “The believer can assert in prayer the power of the Ascended Lord, and the believer’s throne union with Him. . . . Where in faith the obedient saint claims his throne-rights in Christ and boldly asserts his authority, the powers of the air will recognize and obey.”

John repeatedly found this principle effective in his ministry. For example, two Christian workers, a husband and wife, had been quarreling. One day they were yelling at each other. In another room, John and his wife, Isabel, quietly but firmly took authority over the spirits of dissension and commanded them to leave. Almost immediately, the quarreling stopped. On another occasion, a girl in the mission school was shrieking angrily. Under his breath, John quietly rebuked a spirit of anger, and the girl suddenly became calm.


Paul tells us in Ephesians that Jesus Christ is seated on the throne at the right hand of God the Father (1:20) and that all things are under His feet (1:22). Christ is the head, the Church is His Body (1:23). Therefore, all things are under our feet. Paul goes on to say that God “made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:5–6).

A. B. Simpson described this amazing truth: “It is throne life. It is dwelling with Christ on high, your head in the heavens even while your feet still walk the paths of the lower world of sense and time. This is our high privilege.”

When I was diagnosed with third stage rectal cancer in 2007, a retired Alliance pastor called me and assert- ed, “Paul, look down.” I replied, “What kind of encouragement is that?” He directed me to these verses, saying, “Look down, because you are seated in heavenly places. You may have cancer on earth, but you are healed in heaven.” It changed my attitude through the whole process, realizing that I needed to pray and claim the healing in heaven to be manifest in my body on earth. In the end, God healed me!


And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades [hell] shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:16–19).

“To bind” means to tie, chain, forbid, limit, lock, or close. “To loose” means to free from bonds, to open, to permit. With these keys of the Kingdom of heaven we open and lock doors spiritually. However, we cannot bind and loose anything we want; we must be in accord with God’s will. God does not have to bind what we bind.

It is the reverse. God decrees; the Church enforces. We bind or loose on earth what God has already bound or loosed in heaven. Jesus instructed us to pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Fred Hartley provides a helpful list for binding and loosing in his book Church on Fire:

“You can declare: In the name of Jesus Christ:

  • I bind fear—I loose courage.
  • I bind poverty—I loose provision.
  • I bind violence—I loose peace.
  • I bind sickness—I loose health.
  • I bind deception—I loose truth.
  • I bind darkness—I loose light.
  • I bind bondage—I loose freedom.
  • I bind confusion—I loose clarity.
  • I bind foolishness—I loose wisdom.
  • I bind unbelief—I loose faith.
  • I bind hate—I loose love.
  • I bind unforgiveness—I loose forgiveness.”


Be properly submitted: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7).

Resist: Rise up against (see Ephesians 6:13)—be aggressive not passive. Take ground. Be on the offensive not the defensive.

Stand firm: Hold your ground (see Ephesians 6:11, 13–14). Don’t duck, don’t cower, don’t back off. Be firmly planted, and persevere. “Be steadfast, immovable” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Put on the Full Armor of God (see Ephesians 6:13).

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