The power to God - wisdom/understanding, obedience, and the Holy Spirit within.
Last time we documented in Luk 4 and Act 10 that Jesus depended upon the power of the Holy Spirit during the first advent. He grew in wisdom and knowledge, He obeyed all the Father’s will, and He was empowered to complete fully every aspect of the mission for which He was sent to earth.
Power is by the Spirit, but we have to participate in its use by obedience to truth through faith.
We cannot use our own efforts. But how do we know we are using our own efforts?
The easy answer is that our own efforts always ultimately have as their target things outside of the will of God; simply put - decisions toward sin are our own efforts.
The more difficult issue is when we desire to do the will of God, but in our own power. This second one is always confusing since we are commanded to be diligent and striving, but how do we do that in reliance upon God and not ourselves?
Our will has to coincide with God’s will, so how is it that we don’t use our human will? We are humans after all.
The difference between God’s power and human power can be subtle because it depends on how we think.
First off, we must ask if the difference is presented in the scripture of the NT and that we’re not trying to find an answer to something that isn’t there. In other words, is anything said about working hard to do God’s will, but in the wrong power, or is there an example given of someone working diligently to do God’s will in the wrong power?
Let’s look at some possible examples:
2TI 3:5 holding to a form [outward form] of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.
But they are those who pursue sin, and so they fall into the first category - effort to do that which is outside of God’s will.
2TI 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant …etc.
In fact, I cannot think of an instance in the NT where a person or a category of persons is depicted as attempting God’s will in the wrong power.
2CO 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;
Any good is only by the power of God. All we can do is to know good and do it.
This passage reveals that the doing of any good is only by the power of God. I cannot do the will of God in any other power than God’s. The fruit of the Spirit is love. Could I love with agape and not know if it was of my own power or God’s? Not any more than I would be confused if it was gravity that made things fall to the ground or my own magic.
We are to celebrate this supper together.
1CO 11:17 But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.
1CO 11:18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it.
It was not so much that one group hated the other, but that one group thought itself above or better than the other.
1CO 11:19 For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.
1CO 11:20 Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper,
1CO 11:21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
1CO 11:22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.
The conjunction gar, “for” or in this case, “what?” Don’t you have houses in which you can gorge yourselves and get drunk? Paul is not condoning gluttony and drunkenness, but is making the point of how aghast he is at their behavior when they know that unity and humility and service are cornerstones of Christianity.
Notice that there are some who have nothing. The have-nots have nothing to bring to the dinner that is taken at the gathering in the Corinthian church. Rather than put the food and wine out for all to partake of, the haves are eating and drinking and the have-nots are only looking on with hunger pangs.
We don’t do that. We put out food for everyone. However, there is more that I want to make of this principle of life in Christ.
MAR 2:15 And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.
MAR 2:16 And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, "Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?"
MAR 2:17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Jesus ate with them and considered that to be the work of a physician. He spent time with them, spoke with them, shared His thoughts and heart with them.
How many of us, I mean in this ministry, distance ourselves from the world of people, unbelievers, sinners, worldlings? Do we consider ourselves better than them? Did Jesus say, “Leave them to God, leave them to government?” How many of us do not look around us for people in need of anything and chalk it up to the government to take care of them?
LUK 14:12 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you.
LUK 14:13 "But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
LUK 14:14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Is the emphasis as much on getting food in their bellies as it is in spending time revealing the light of Christ to them, which you cannot do within the minute you hand them a bag of food or a few dollars?
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor, then?” said Scrooge. “Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”
“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.
“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”
We live today in a very structured society. Due to good laws and strict laws, and sadly even owing to political correctness, we hardly have anyone to forgive anymore. When was the last time someone did or said anything to you that demanded forgiveness that was difficult to give? I’m not advocating the removal of laws, but the point is that the world has gotten so sterilized that we might think we are forgiving when we don’t really know.
Our society has enormous welfare programs. When was the last time you were around someone truly in need and you had to sacrificially help them? We depend on the government on the downtown mission etc. and may not actually know if we are very gracious or not. I’m not advocating the removal of the mission, and many of the poor around us are drug seeking and in need of mental health services, but that still does not remove our opportunity, and responsibility as ambassadors for Christ.