The seventh point of the 10-point Bible Study Tool is establishing authority in Christ. Points five and six concerned denying or crucifying the old nature and edifying or building up the spiritual nature. These are opposite sides of the same coin.
It is through establishing our authority in Christ that we can accomplish both of these things.
(John 1:12) As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
The Greek word translated right in this verse means authority or dominion. He has given us authority over that old slave master called Sin. The reason Jesus died was not merely to save us in spite of our sin or to pay the price for our sin, but it was also to deliver us from its power. He came so that we can learn to live unto God rather than unto the nature and the worldly system of thinking.
1 Peter 1:3 says that He has given us all things that pertain to spiritual life and godliness. However, for that authority and power to be effective we must exercise it. If a king never enforces the law or gives an instruction to his followers, then he is a mere puppet and has no authority. God has given us the authority, if we believe in and receive Christ. If we never establish the authority we have in Christ, then our faith will quickly become worthless.
Where does our authority lie? Jesus taught that God’s Kingdom is within each of us, as individuals. The power we receive is Kingdom authority. Thus, we can establish the authority of Christ over our old sin nature.
Romans 6 teaches that our sin nature was crucified with Christ on the cross. We are to consider ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God.
How many of you have ever seen a dead animal that had been lying on the side of the road for a couple of days? They stink. They are filthy and potentially carry diseases that can kill us. As adults, we understand this and avoid going near a dead animal if we can.
Young children cannot really understand this concept, though. Rather, sometimes, the smell makes them curious, draws them near. Then they will poke at the dead creature, perhaps even handle it. Sometimes even older kids will do so.
We often don’t have enough sense to quit playing with our sin nature. It is like a maggot-filled, dead creature. Rather than digging a hole and burying it, we poke at it, prod it; we flip it over, watch its guts spill out. Yes, I know that is a disgusting image. So is our old, dead nature that we so casually play with.
God has provided us with a shovel. He has given us the power to put that disgusting thing in the grave. But it is our responsibility to do so. When we meet our responsibility, then we also establish or build up the inner man. When we establish our authority over that stinking thing, then we grow toward spiritual maturity.
There are other areas where we have authority in Christ. These include the power to cast out demons and to exercise spiritual gifts as God wills. It is good to know how and when to use these abilities, but this is a topic for another time. But understand this: If you operate in this authority, but do not exercise your authority over your dead nature, then this power will be absolutely worthless.
(Matthew 7:21-23) Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?”
And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
On the other hand, if you exercise authority over that dead nature, you will bear eternal spiritual fruit (John 15), and demonstrate your salvation. It does not matter whether you ever chase a foul demon or exercise a miraculous gift. While these things are wonderful, they have no bearing on your salvation. Jesus taught that the primary evidence of salvation is bearing the fruits of obedience to God and love towards each other.
The next part of the 10-point Bible Study Tool will be the renewing of the mind. When we exercise our authority in Christ over the nature, the result will be a renewed mind.