The Fullness of His Power
While reading a few passages from the book of Philippians recently, my eyes were fixed on the seventh verse of chapter two (Philippians 2:7). I’ve read many Bible translations of this passage, but this one included the words, “emptied Himself” when referring to Jesus taking on human form. At first glance, it appears that He emptied Himself of all that is God in order to become man. But that would conflict with the truth about Him being fully God and fully man. I’m not a theologian, but what I’ve come to understand it to mean is, He set aside the fullness of His power.
Undoubtedly, the thought of “God” contained inside a tiny and helpless infant is stunning! After all, He could have harnessed the power He retained inside a subatomic particle or in a distant star. But He chose an infant! Power through weakness (also displayed at the cross) is clearly demonstrated and the desire for a relationship with us is beautifully conveyed.
His immeasurable integrity and authority to harness His power was frequently tested. He remained infinitely patient and slow to anger! Compassionate even in the face of sin all around Him. He stayed the pure and humble servant, the lamb for the slaughter. Without ever giving in to His power to change everything in an instant! Only God can do this.
And although Jesus defeated evil forever on the cross, He is passionately committed to convincing us to stop loving sin. He wants to drive it out of our midst forever, but lets it run its course. He rarely interferes with the process and allows it to groom us for our eternal destiny. God is faithful to endure our hardships alongside of us. And He experiences our pain with us.
That was clearly demonstrated when He hung on the cross. He didn’t use some sort of supernatural means, even on a subliminal level, to douse the pain during His crucifixion. And when He cried out to the Father to fulfill prophecy (Psalm 22) – as the suffering Messiah, He continued to teach the people even while dying. And His plea to the Father marked the moment He would bare all the sins of humanity onto Himself.
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.” (Psalm 22:1, NASB)
It’s tough love beyond measure! How can we begin to thank Him?
The job is finished on the cross. Done! Finished! And Salvation is ours – Praise the Lord! God empowered us to defeat evil in our hearts by seeking Him with all of our hearts. That is, surrender to His will completely. If we don’t believe we have the victory, it will control us. If we choose to be complacent, it will continue to possess our power of dominion (a gift given to us long ago). God promised us that someday evil will be gone completely – all evil, even the mere mention of it.
And so, it is my prayer that from this point forward, you and I can take a proactive stand against it in our lives. Know that there isn’t a thing we can give to Him that He doesn’t already have but our obedience. Love him back with how we live our lives. And do it with great confidence knowing that no problem we could have in this lifetime would even come close to the one that had been solved on the cross. And be freed by that truth today!
Heavenly Father, thank you for proclaiming your Son, Jesus Christ as the One and only power that saves us! And with that, we have been justified by Him. We now seek your guidance during the sanctification process and ask that you reveal everything in us that offends you. Take us to the next step in recognizing that evil has been conquered. No longer does it have dominion over us. And knowing that should empower us each time we are tempted. We can boldly say, “I have dominion over that temptation!” We can depend on Jesus to grant us the ability to win the battle waged against us. Turn our lives around as a tribute to Him and honor Him not only for what He has given us, but for Who He is. Amen!
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25, NASB)
A Spirit-Empowered Life – Forward with Back to the Bible – May 16, 2018
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6
It is the Holy Spirit who empowers your new life in Christ. In his book Flying Closer to the Flame, Charles Swindoll explained the importance of this truth:
“The inescapable fact is this: Most (yes, most) Christians you and I know have very little dynamic or joy in their lives. Just ask them. They long for depth, for passion, for a satisfying peace and stability instead of a superficial relationship with God made up of words without feelings and struggles without healings. Surely, there is more to the life of faith than church meetings, Bible study, religious jargon, and periodic prayers. Surely, the awesome Spirit of God wishes to do more within us than what is presently going on! There are scars He wants to heal. There are insights He longs to reveal. There are profound dimensions of life He would dearly love to open up. But not one of the above will happen automatically not as long as He remains a sterile, untouchable blip on our theological PC. He is the comforting Helper, remember? He is the Truth-Teacher, the will of the Father revealer, the Gift Giver, the Hurt Healer. He is the inextinguishable flame of God, my friend. HE IS GOD. To remain a distance from Him is worse than wrong; it is downright tragic. Flying closer to the flame, therefore, is better than good; it is absolutely magnificent. ”
The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in you to accomplish the good works He created you to do. He equips and empowers you for His service. Living a Spirit-empowered life frees you from defeat and frustration. Living the great adventure that God has for you can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit
There is a story in the book of Acts which records Pauls coming to the city of Ephesus, and there finding some disciples. Whereupon Paul inquired, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied, “No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:1-2).
This incident seems quite relevant to our situation today. The typical church member may be heard to say, “I can understand the reason for God and Christ, but the Holy SpiritI dont quite see what its all about.” It is not that he has never heard that there is a Holy Spirit but that there is little understanding and experience.
Let us then think upon the meaning and the place of the Holy Spirit, considering this doctrine under three heads: the nature of the Holy Spirit, the operation of the Holy Spirit, and finally the reception of the Holy Spirit. Or it could be put in question form: Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? How is the Holy Spirit received?
Who Is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God. Christian faith speaks of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, 20), Jesus sends His disciples forth to proclaim His message, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” God is spoken of as one “who gives his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:8). The Holy Spirit is God.
The Holy Spirit, being God, is therefore personal. It is improper, indeed incorrect, to refer to the Holy Spirit as “it.” “He”, “Me”, etc.personal pronounsmore adequately convey the personal nature of the Holy Spirit. For example, we read in Acts 13:2, “The Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which Ihave called them.”
The Holy Spirit is frequently throughout the Bible referred to simply as “the Spirit.” Note, as an illustration, how the terms are interchangeable in Acts 8:17, 18: “Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given.” Instances such as this could be multiplied.
Again the Holy Spirit may be referred to as “the Spirit of God,” “the Spirit of the Lord,” or “the Spirit of (Jesus) Christ.” In the Old Testament almost all mention of the Holy Spirit is of Him as “the Spirit of God,” “the Spirit of the Lord,” or merely “the Spirit.” This begins with Genesis 1:2, “The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters,” and abundant references may be found throughout to “the Spirit of the Lord” and “the Spirit.” As a pertinent New Testament illustration of the interchangeableness of terms, observe Romans 8:9“You are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Such biblical quotations as already given show that however much the Holy Spirit is distinct (as in the Great Commission), He is also the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. One God in three persons is the mystery of the Trinity, and the Holy Spirit is always referred to as the third. He proceeds from the Father through the Son”The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name” (John 14:26). Therefore, the order is invariable: “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
God as Holy Spirit points also to a twofold fact about the divine nature. First, God as spirit is noncorporeal: He has neither body nor form as does man. All references in the Bible to Gods face or hand or eyes, and so on, are anthropomorphisms. They are human ways of speaking of Him who is spirit and yet also personal. As spirit, God is not limited in space or time; He is everywhere and always present. As said the Psalmist, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there!” (Psalm 139:7-8).
Second, God as holy means that He by nature is pure, undefiled, without evil. In Him is all moral perfection. God is holy spirit.
One further word about the nature of the Holy Spirit. The name is of course interchangeable with Holy Ghost. Due to the present connotation of the word ghost as some kind of an apparition or phantom that belongs to the realm of the weird and occult, the more meaningful term is now Spirit. This accords also with the words of Jesus about God in John 4:24“God is spirit.” In worship we often, however, hold on to the older name, as in the Doxology and the Gloria Patri.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 NASB
Luke described two ways that the Holy Spirit would change Mary’s life. First, the angel told her that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you.” She would experience the presence of the Spirit in new ways.
Second, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The Greek word here literally means to throw a shadow. To be enveloped as by a cloud. This was the same word that Luke used when describing the experience Jesus had during the transfiguration, when “a cloud formed and began to overshadow them.”
These examples help us see how the Spirit envelopes our lives, overtaking us in ways so overwhelming that we are capable of doing extraordinary things. These changes can take place at any time, in any place. As happened to Mary, we suddenly can be overwhelmed by His presence. Caught up into a spiritual dimension, empowered, changed.
The human mind can find it difficult to comprehend the dimension of the Spirit. But everything changes for those who understand the realm of the Spirit. Who realize that the Spirit operates in a different dimension. How He can change circumstances and enable “normal” people to do extraordinary things.
As a result of this kind of transformation, God’s Spirit can give us insights that are not our own. We can be inspired or supernaturally receive revelations about our own lives, or world conditions. At times like this, others may be tempted to think that we are special. But the fact is that we simply are vessels of His Spirit.
Ask God to help you be sensitive to the work of the Spirit in your life. Be ready for His transforming power anytime, day or night. And remember that through Him, there are no limits.