Empowered for Life

This entry is part 56 of 62 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

I used to watch a Tim Allen show called “Home Improvement” when I was a teenager. I always got a kick out of hearing him say, “More power,” and then grunt over and over. He even taught his boys how to do the same thing.

The thing is that Tim was always getting in trouble as he sought more power. The hospital probably had a private room just for him. I hope he got paid well on his cable TV show Tool Time to pay for all of the damages he caused.

Many Christians don’t know that God wants to give us power like we’ve never seen before. It’s the power to do many things for him in this life. But they operate on half power, or maybe even less. It’s God’s hope and desire for us to live in the full power of the Spirit all the time.

But this isn’t just raw power for power’s sake. No, the New Testament outlines the kind of power Jesus wants to place in your hands. First of all, we know that he wants this power of the Spirit for us.

Before he left the disciples in the beginning of Acts, a book that details the power of the Spirit they operated in regularly, he told them to wait in Jerusalem in the Upper Room until they received the power of the Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8).

It’s true that everyone receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation and is sealed in him (Ephesians 1:13-14). But most Christians don’t operate in the immersed power of the Spirit. Either they aren’t taught about this next step in their walk with Christ or they don’t seek that full immersion in the Spirit.

I went to detail the power of the Holy Spirit the New Testament shows us. If you don’t already know about this power or walk in it regularly, begin seeking the Spirit for all he has for you when you see what he wants your life to be like.

Power to Resist

Many of the Christians I have met throughout my ministry over the years are still focused on resisting the devil. There is scriptural precedent for this (James 4:7). They are so focused on it that they can’t see the rest of the Christian experience.

For them, the Christian life is all about digging in our heels against temptation and sin. It’s about fighting the devil on every level. These are the kinds of folks that think he is after them, and only them, all the time. They grow battle-weary and see no hope for anything greater.

They ask questions like, “Why, God, is the devil always after me?” They have a persecution complex. It’s not that there isn’t persecution from the world, but they think they are Elijah in the wilderness telling God they’re the only true believer left.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Living a life full of the power of the Holy Spirit means that we do have power to resist the devil, temptation, and sin. But not in our own ability. It’s when we have a vibrant, connected life with Jesus through the Spirit. That’s when we see this power to resist temptation and sin.

There is so much more to the power of the Spirit. Yes, his power works in our favor with temptation and sin, but he wants to go beyond defense.

Power to Submit

James also tells us to submit ourselves to God (James 4:7). He tells his congregation (and us) that when we draw near to God, he draws near to us (James 4:8).

Did you ever realize that the power to submit to God is the power to draw close to him and grow in intimacy in our relationship? This can only happen by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit searches our hearts and minds. He knows us, and becomes the intermediary between us and Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:9-11).

The Spirit knows us completely. And only through him can we achieve intimacy with God. He gives us the power to submit to God, to listen to and obey him. And it is through this process of listening and obeying, practicing what the Spirit leads us to do, that we grow in godliness and holiness.

Instead of concentrating only on the fight at hand, we can become dead to sin and alive in Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Ephesians 2:1-3). This doesn’t mean we don’t worry about temptation and sin anymore. It means we are more intent on following after Christ and being fully surrendered to him, including those places we may still struggle with in our character.

We used to seeing a song that talked about this very idea of focusing more on Christ than the world and its temptations.

I have decided to follow Jesus

I have decided to follow Jesus

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me

The world behind me, the cross before me

The world behind me, the cross before me

No turning back, no turning back

Power to Witness

I mentioned Acts 1 earlier where Jesus told the disciples to wait until the “promise of the Father.” This is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That’s what Jesus wanted them to wait for before they jumped into ministry.

Why did he want this? Because he knew they would be much more effective for them after they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. There are several misunderstandings of this baptism, though. Some say that it is the same as salvation.

But the disciples already know Jesus. This is something that happens after they are saved. John the Baptist baptized people for repentance, one of the main parts of salvation. But Jesus baptized with fire, a symbol of the Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 2:3). So Jesus is the one who immerses us in the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who brings the power in our lives.

What is the purpose of baptism in the Holy Spirit? We see it on the Day of Pentecost. The apostles received boldness to witness about Jesus and God’s glory like never before. Those who were timid in the Gospels are now empowered in Acts.

Something that freaks a lot of people out about the baptism in the Holy Spirit is how you know you receive it. When you are water baptized, people know because you get wet. In the same way, you know you are baptized in the Holy Spirit when you speak in tongues(Acts 2:1-4; 10:46; 19:1-7; 1 Corinthians 14:18).

Speaking in tongues is the language of angels or of humans (1 Corinthians 13:1). It is an unlearned language the Holy Spirit speaks through us. It’s showing he is controlling the one thing we can’t control, our tongues (James 3:8). If he can control the thing we can’t buy our willpower, he can control our whole person and bring us into holiness.

How do we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit from Jesus? It all starts with seeking the Lord for this baptism. Next, like the apostles, we must patiently wait on the Lord to give us this wonderful promise of the Father.

I have found that through praise and worship many people receive. That’s what the apostles were doing on the Day of Pentecost. They were praying in the Upper Room. There is something about loosing our tongues to praise God that Jesus takes and looses the Spirit to speak through us about him. Remember that the Holy Spirit always speaks about Jesus (John 16:14).

And as I said before, the way you know Jesus has immersed you in the Holy Spirit and all of his power for all of his purposes in you is that you will speak in a strange, different language that you did not know before. It opens the door to empowered service to God.

Power to Serve

The next empowerment that the Holy Spirit gives is gifts to minister for him. These are gifts to serve others, not to make us look good or feel good about ourselves. They allow us to be used by him to help others.

The gifts are powerful because the Holy Spirit uses them as he ministers to others through us. We become a conduit or a vessel for the Holy Spirit to use. And oh the things he can do through us as he uses his gifts!

The New Testament tells us all about these gifts. You can find lists of the gifts of the Spirit throughout the New Testament. There are different categories of gifts. There are no complete lists of the gifts. The Holy Spirit has the prerogative to creatively do whatever he wants to through us.

Here are the three basic categories the gifts of the Spirit fall into:

  • Service Gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
  • Leadership Gifts (Ephesians 4:11)
  • Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

It’s not that a person who doesn’t operate in the baptism and gifts of the Spirit can’t serve others or be effective. It’s the level of effectiveness that comes into play when a person surrenders to immersion in the Spirit and is used in his gifts regularly.

Power to Battle

The Holy Spirit also empowers us for the spiritual battles all around us. Paul introduces spiritual warfare in several of his letters. Probably the most well-known is the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Sometimes it goes unnoticed that one of the last things he talks about after the armor is praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Praying in the Spirit involves passages like Romans 8:26, where the Spirit intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.

But it also refers to our personal prayer language, praying in the Spirit, in the spiritual language, speaking in tongues we received when we were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Paul makes a distinction between the gift of speaking in tongues for service that must be interpreted and speaking in tongues as prayer and praise to God (1 Corinthians 14:2, 4-5, 15, 17-18).

John tells us that greater is he (the Holy Spirit) in us then he (Satan) that is in the world (1 John 4:4). This doesn’t only speak to our war with temptation, desires, and sin, but also to the spiritual battles we face against the enemy.

Paul speaks of the battle of the mind, taking captive all of our thoughts so that they serve Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). So on all fronts, from our old desires to temptations to battling Satan and his demons, the Holy Spirit is not only our defense but our offense.

Conclusion

These are just some of the ways the Holy Spirit’s power works through us from the Scriptures. Power is not for us, but we become willing vessels to be used by the Spirit however he wishes. And now I must stress the most important part of this entire post.

The spiritual gifts, the baptism, the power we receive, none of it is worth anything if we are not growing deeper and deeper in our relationship with the Spirit. If we are not found in the Vine, Jesus himself, we can’t do anything (John 15:4-5).

No one wants to end up like the seven sons of Sceva who tried to cast out demons by the names of Jesus and Paul without having a relationship with Jesus (Acts 19:13-16). They found themselves naked and bleeding, humiliated because they operated in spiritual warfare without knowing the Persson, Jesus, behind the power.

All the power I have spoken of flows through the Holy Spirit. Only when we are connected to him can we receive from him and be used in service to Jesus. And the power of the Spirit comes when he brings it, not when we do. He is in charge. The moment he is not, we’re doing it on our own.

What experiences have you had with the Holy Spirit? Leave a comment and tell me what your life is like when you are connected to the Spirit.

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