“Ellis, do you believe in…?” I have been asked this question concerning many different “objects of belief:” God, Jesus, scripture, etc. But when I was recently asked “Do you believe in the Devil?” as an admonition to look at scripture as our safeguard against the wiles of Satan, I deemed it appropriate to make a thorough explanation.
So, first, lets look at that phrase, “do you believe in…?” To believe in Jesus, for example, means to encounter his power and authority (as creator) and to accord him his authorized right of command in my life. I don’t mean just to consent that, “yeah, Jesus has ultimate authority and if I ever hear from him I’ll jump to and do it.” I mean that I accord him his authorized right of command of my life now by hearing and obeying his voice in all things. Thus to say that I believe in Jesus carries with it a history of me yielding to his rule and learning what that means, learning the security of walking on the foundation of his command, even though there is nothing else but water beneath my feet.
Now given that understanding of “believe in” I can take up the question of “Do you believe in the Devil?” The answer is: “No, I do not believe in the devil. It is not possible to both believe in Jesus and believe in the devil. I have experienced the work of Jesus to destroy the devil and his works within me. The devil has no authority, no power, and no right of command in my life.”
The chief work of the devil is to bring inward death to humanity and to then feed upon the dead. There is only one power that is greater than the power of death: the power of life. Jesus told the Pharisees, who searched the Scriptures because they thought to gain life through them, that the scriptures testified that He was the fountain of life. But they refused to come to Him that they might live. (See John chapter 5) Isaiah wrote of the sons who are taught by the Lord. He then asked “Are you hungry and thirsty for this well being, this life?” “Incline your ear, listen to me that you might live. Delight yourself in abundance [of listening and of living]” was Isaiah’s prescription. (See Isaiah chapters 54 and 55) Jesus continued in John 5 saying, “The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
Jesus, who IS the Word of God, IS the life. His life is the light of mankind. He instructed and instructs those who would follow Him to believe in the light that you may become children of the day. (See John, chapter 12) Here we have that phrase “believe in” again. Just as before, it is to be understood as acknowledging the supreme authority of the light of Christ and granting it the right of rule in our lives. Those who believe in the light have no occasion of stumbling. We receive the life by believing in the light. And it is this life that destroys Satan and undoes all his works of death.
Jesus told his followers, “all authority, all power, all jurisdiction in Heaven and Earth is given unto Me.” There is no secondary authority; not scripture, not priesthood, and not Church tradition. We do not need to consult a second opinion. If you are not walking in the light of Christ within you, you may quote the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but you have no authority and no power over evil. Where His light reveals evil within the heart, there is His power revealed to enable us to turn from evil to righteousness. Where ever mankind turns from that light, there is His power present condemning them for loving the darkness, for loving death. Where He commands, there is his power and authority given us to obey. There is neither legitimate excuse nor legitimate plea for sin as in, “I know what I ought to do, but I don’t have the power to do it.”
The proclamation that “Christ is come to teach his people Himself,” is a proclamation of Christ being present in and among us in all His authority, all His power, and all His jurisdiction to teach, lead, and direct his people. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is not a diminished Christ shorn of his authority and power, it is the revelation of Him who was, who is, and who will be to all eternity.