Luke 9:1 is a simple, but profound, declaration: Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. This is the same issuance of authority that Matthew records in chapter 10, verse one. Christ gave his disciples “authority” and “power” over the devil. Are these two words merely a re-emphasis of the fact, or do they indicate something entirely different? Authority and power are not the same thing. Authority is the right to declare a law or edict. Power is the ability to enforce what has been authorized. The cop on the beat cannot arrest or detain without proper authority, the right to adjudicate justice on behalf of the state. But in a life-threatening situation, he needs to back up his enforcement with the threat of force.
Power is meaningless without the authority to express it. And authority accomplishes nothing without the possibility of enforcement. Authority is the badge, power is the gun. Authority is the ability, power is the implementation. The Apostles needed both and so do we. We have no more authority then the Disciples of Christ did. But this side of Pentecost we have more power to exercise our authority. So if they cast out demons before the Holy Spirit descended with fire, what’s our excuse?
Most Christians vaguely understand they have at least some authority over evil, but they sorely lack the power to act upon what Christ has commanded. Power comes from the fullness of God’s spirit, strength of character, and consistency of conduct, all qualities lacking in many believers today. The demons will truly tremble when the Body of Christ recovers it’s calling to act upon the authority of every edict of Jesus and walks in the endowment of forcefulness available to every Christian.