When a landlord leases out the building he owns to someone else, he gives the new tenant all of the authority and rights to do what they want with the house. But, if that tenant subleases the house, they have to hand over their keys as well as their permission and authority. So, imagine that God is the perfect landlord of the perfect earth. He leased it to Adam, therefore giving him the eternal keys to His house and dominion over all of the things in it forever. His desire was for mankind, as His image bearers, to reflect His character to the world as they walked in friendship and fellowship with Him. But when Adam sinned, he lost the keys.
Satan then took the keys, and Adam lost all of the control and authority he had previously been given. This broke God’s heart, and His desire to restore mankind compelled Him to send His Son to earth as a man—so that, through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus could take back what Adam gave away. Scripture says Jesus went to the lower parts of the earth and took the keys, giving full reign and dominion back to man. When we operate in our flesh, we are walking around like we have lost our keys again. But, when we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit, we are able to operate in Jesus’s authority as His body.
That’s why in Matthew 28:16, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And then in Luke 10:19, He says, “I have given YOU authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy.”
This verse implies that the enemy still has power, and we know from Scripture that satan is still considered the god of this world, or ruler of this realm. Adam handed him a great measure of power on this earth, but Jesus came to defeat him and allow the Kingdom of God to advance forcefully into his realm of darkness. Even the mightiest of demons doesn’t have as much power or authority as the weakest believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit of God. 1 John 4:4 tells us that the One who is living in us is greater than the one who lives in this world.
Which means that when we fight against the enemy, we can’t fight as citizens of earth. Our flesh is a part of this world, so it can’t defeat the god of this world. Instead, we have to fight as ambassadors of a superior world, backed by the power of the Holy Spirit. And because our power and authority comes from the Holy Spirit, in order to access it, we must first surrender our flesh. I think of this like a fail-safe in God’s perfect plan. The authority of Jesus can only be used from a place of total surrender and humility. In order to access the keys, we must first knock. Power comes from the encounter.
So, what does it look like to walk in this? In John 16:33, Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world.” And then in 1 John 5:4, we read, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.”
Believers overcome the world—and the powers of this world—by taking the fight higher. I once heard a story about a pilot who found a mouse on his plane. He saw the mouse chewing through some important wires and realized that he needed to make a quick decision or risk the plane crashing. His first thought was to land the plane immediately, but—instead—he took the plane higher, knowing that the mouse would lose oxygen and die, while he could put on his oxygen mask.
The Holy Spirit is the oxygen mask that allows us to take our fights up to a higher realm. We need to stop landing the plane every time we find a mouse on board, chewing up our wires. Because when we do, the mouse runs away. And then, it sneaks back on board, derailing our flight again and keeping us from ever getting to our destination. But when we take the plane up—to a place where we can breathe, but the mouse can’t—we don’t even have to fight. We let the realm we are fighting from take over while we simply slip on our oxygen mask. This is what it means to be MORE than a conqueror, living in glorious victory and triumph THROUGH our God who loves us.
So, when in doubt, remember who has the keys. And then, take the fight higher.