What Power?

October 20, 2023 Jim B

Critical to fulfilling our mission is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. He is the source of shared wisdom, vision, and power in us individually and corporately. Jesus tells us in John 15; that we can do nothing apart from Him. The principle of abiding is how He is empowering us by His Spirit. It is relatively easy to claim the priority of this doctrine, but it proves to be difficult in practice. Nonetheless, the Spirit of God is essential in our pursuit to bring glory to His name. God desires our worship.

John Piper correctly said, “missions exist because worship doesn’t.”

Therefore, the consummate purpose of our lives in Christ is to birth and disciple more worshipers to the praise of His glory. Ah! The task is clearly defined! As we engage in this “simple” process of bringing more worshipers into the Kingdom of Christ, we are brought hard up against the task’s difficulty. It is far beyond our ability to accomplish. That is a good thing because anything of eternal value must indeed give credit to the One deserving of praise. Out of sheer necessity, we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Thankfully, it is easy to see if we are working in the power of the Spirit versus our flesh by applying the metrics of Paul in Galatians 5. Do we see the fruit of the Spirit or the works of the flesh? All too often, we see dysfunction, disunity, stagnation, and failure plaguing Christian ministry. We can trace it to a lack of understanding of the destructive “desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:19 lists some grievous sins which we easily recognize and reject in horror. But what about those not so deplorable (in human terms)? Do we realize the sin of envy, anger, discord, strife, and the like quench the Spirit just as surely as the aforementioned grievous sins? Probably not! The “desires of the flesh” come from our fallen nature and are always contrary to the Spirit (vs. 17).

The Word of God instructs us to walk in the Spirit, and we will not satisfy the desires of the flesh. This instruction is God’s Plan. There is an appalling lack of teaching in American evangelical churches of what it means to walk daily by the Spirit. Many readily embrace the magnificent beauty and power of the atoning death and resurrection of God’s Son that saves us from the penalty of our sin, but then go silent on the importance of Christ’s fulfillment of His promise of power realized at Pentecost. This may explain why so few today are experiencing consistent and fruitful living. Many great authors have labored diligently over the years to communicate the principles of the Spirit-filled life. Dr. Bill Bright’s “Transferable Concepts” teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life instructs us how we can live victoriously by the power of the Spirit. The starting point is always the confessing and repenting of revealed sin (1 John 1:9). God only fills cleansed vessels. How then do you continually experience God’s indwelling power?

We automatically, without thinking, breathe physically. The exhaling of poisonous spent gasses and inhaling fresh oxygen is necessary to sustain physical life. Similarly, spiritual breathing (a phrase borrowed from Dr. Bright) is essential to maintain spiritual life. Consider this analogy: we confess and repent of revealed sin (exhale) and by faith claim the filling of the Spirit (inhale), thus walking in the Spirit. Recognize spiritual breathing significantly differs from physical breathing in that it is not automatic. Spiritual breathing requires a conscious act of the will. God has commanded us to be filled (strengthened and controlled) by His Spirit (Eph. 5:18); thus, He will gladly honor our desire to be so. Spiritual breathing, similar to physical breathing, has to be practiced continually. When one becomes aware of Spirit-quenching sin, it is to be confessed as the God-dishonoring thing that it is (exhaled) and the controlling power of the Spirit of God reestablished (inhaled) in the life of the believer. Spiritual breathing is a continuing process.

Do not be discouraged by any apparent lack of progress as you begin this walk. The crucible of life never ceases its refining fire. It is God’s way of purifying and strengthening us. Embrace it. Confess even the little sins that the Holy Spirit reveals. Then by faith, appropriate the fullness of His power in your life. This walk is Biblical Christianity. It is a life full of peace, power, and praise, lived above the fray. God’s power at work in you through His Word and by His Spirit will produce faithful and fruitful glory to His Name.