Does Satan Have Power?
I don’t remember her real name, but it doesn’t matter because I just called her “Idiot.” She was stubborn, stupid, and strong. To this day, I can’t forgive her. Don’t judge me too severely—she was a horse.
I don’t have anyone else to blame for this weeklong test of self-control—which you can already tell I passed with flying colors. The delusional idea of renting the horses for that year’s elk hunt was mine. Yes, I said “renting.” I paid $300 for my misguided, romantic decision to relive the Old West on our annual attempt to “feed the family.” I had probably just watched City Slickers or some great movie about taming the frontier. Anyway, back to Idiot.
“Do you have enough experience with horses to handle them?” the man asked when dropping off the animals.
“Sure,” I replied confidently. “All I need is for you to show me how to tie that fancy little knot with those straps that hold the saddle on. It’s been awhile.”
He gave a big smile, chuckled, showed me how, and was on his way. What a friendly guy, I thought.
The next morning we had our early coffee, dressed in our warmest clothes—it was very cold—took thirty minutes to tie the fancy knot on the saddle strap, and we were off for the mountaintop. Idiot behaved on the way up. But everything changed when we returned to the horses after several hours of hunting.
With my knowledge of horses, I had known we couldn’t shoot from their backs; they weren’t used to it and would have reacted violently. So we tied them to some bushes and wandered off to hunt. I don’t think horses like being tied to bushes for several hours on the side of a hill with nothing to eat or drink. Because when we came back to ride them down the hill, they were really mad.
Idiot wouldn’t stand still so I could load my gear. We were on such a steep slope that when standing on the downhill side, it was hard to reach up and over her back to tie things on. And she kept moving up close to the bush, keeping it on her uphill side. Oh, she knew what she was doing, all right.
As I said, Idiot wouldn’t stand still. To make matters worse, I untied her before mounting up because the reins were so long I couldn’t have reached far enough to untie them from up on her back. Then things went from bad to worse. From the downhill side and with all my hunting clothes hindering my mobility, I couldn’t hike my leg high enough to reach the stirrup—I couldn’t get on my horse.
And Idiot was ready to go!
I was fighting her, trying to still hold her long enough to mount up, when finally my brother, Tim, after several minutes of dancing with his horse, succeeded in climbing on. (For a few minutes, we had looked like Laurel and Hardy—or rodeo square dancers.) When Tim finally made it on, his horse decided she’d had enough and took off for camp.
And Idiot was not about to be left behind!
So there I was, hanging on to the side of a moving Idiot, trying to climb aboard from the downhill side of a mountain. I had one hand on the pommel, the other holding the reins, one foot hopping off the ground, the other reaching for the stirrup.
“Stop your horse!” I yelled to Tim. “I can’t get mine to stop with yours trotting.”
“She won’t stop!” Tim yelled back. “You’re on your own.”
So Idiot and I did the “mountainside do-si-do” for a couple of hundred yards until we finally reached a level-enough grade for me to jump on. It’s a good thing I’m as athletic as I am. In fact, if not for my amazing combination of intelligence and athleticism, I don’t think I would have survived the ordeal. When we finally caught up with Tim, he looked at me and said, “What an idiot.”
“She sure is,” I said.
He mumbled something that sounded like “not the horse.” The horses were moving so fast I couldn’t hear him clearly, so I just agreed. We never could get them to walk—they ran all the way down the mountain.
It was a humorous sight when we came crashing into camp. And I do mean crashing. Guys started diving out of the way as equipment flew everywhere. “You idiot!” one of them shouted.
“I know!” I yelled back.
Nonetheless, I had the last word where Idiot was concerned. I made her stay in camp the rest of the week—wouldn’t let her go hunting with me. Tim did the same with Idiot’s sister. Each time we fed and watered them, Tim gave me a disgusted look and said, “Idiot.”
“I know,” was always my quick response. “She sure is.”
He later gave me a T-shirt with the word “Idiot” on the front in big letters.
“Why would I want a shirt with that horse’s name on it?” I asked him.
He just rolled his eyes.
POWER AND AUTHORITY
Most believers don’t understand the important difference between power and authority. Horses have much more power than humans, but one who knows horses well can exercise authority over that power. Other hunters in our camp, possessing knowledge of horses, rode theirs all week.
Though many dictionaries and lexicons include “power” in their definitions of authority, strictly speaking, authority and power are not the same. Power is the “strength or force” necessary to rule or accomplish a task; authority is the “right” to do so. They are governmental twins and should operate in tandem: authority without the power to enforce it is meaningless and fruitless; power implemented without authority—the “right” to use that power—is usurpation and is morally wrong.
Where God and satan are concerned, the issue has never been power, including control on the earth. God is omnipotent, and all-powerful. When satan tried to effect a coup in heaven, a flash of lightning was seen and satan was gone (see Luke 10:18). No battle, no time delay, no sweat or exertion on God’s part—just a release of His power and glory. So, again, where the struggle between darkness and light is concerned, who holds the greater power is never the question. The only question is: who has the right – the authority – to determine the outcome in the situation? It is always and only an issue of authority.
Regarding the earth, humans (through Adam) were given authority here. (Genesis 1:26-28). Adam’s free will enabled him to forfeit this authority to satan through his rebellion at the Fall (Genesis 3). The devil then had the right (authority) to use his power and influence on earth.
Satan didn’t gain any power or strength at the Fall; his power level and abilities didn’t change. His authority, the right to use that power, did change. And – hang on, this will surprise some of you – satan didn’t lose any of his power at the Cross. His level of power didn’t change at either the Fall or the Cross; his authority, or the right to use that power, did. (One day he will be cast into the lake of fire. At that point, his power will be dealt with [Revelation 20:10])
Scripture nowhere says that Christ delivered us from satan’s power at Calvary. He stripped satan of his authority – the right to use his power on/against us.
The King James Version uses the Greek words dunamis (power) [Strongs 1411] and exousia (authority) [Strongs 1849] interchangeably, which is unfortunate and creates confusion. Colossians 1:13, for example, translates exousia as power: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” The verse should read that Christ has delivered us from the “authority” of darkness, as most other translations actually do.
Likewise, in Matthew 28:18, Jesus didn’t actually say He had now been given “all power in heaven and in the earth,” as the KJV renders it. He already had all power – everywhere! – and He still maintained all authority in heaven. Christ used the word exousia, stating that He now had all authority in heaven AND ON EARTH. He was declaring that He had taken back Adam’s – and therefore our – lost authority over the earth.
And just as He had done in Genesis, He delegated His authority to us. This is why we pray in His name. We will look at this further, tomorrow.
If you or your family members do not know Jesus, remember Jesus died for everyone and made it simple. Call on the name of Jesus and you shall be saved. Then, you will be in Heaven with all other believers!