In the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul writes, “…that I may know Jesus and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10). Have you ever wondered what that power is all about? What power is Paul referring to?
Last time we were together, I wrote about the Resurrected Life; the theology of Christ living His resurrected life in us. Today we turn to the power associated with that Life.
Peter writes, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (II Pet 1:2-4).
When you embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ, God gave to you a divine nature; sometimes referred to in Scripture as “the righteousness of Christ.” But did you know that this nature also brought with it “His divine power”? I don’t pretend to even know how to unpack the whole picture of this, but by God’s truth in His Word, His divine power (can we say supernatural power?) lives inside each of us as part of His divine nature indwelling us.
And one of the primary ways we experience the divine power is in our conflict with sin. The end of our passage above highlights that His divine nature empowers us “to escape the corruption that is in the world by lust.” That is a good description of sin; a lustful corruption that is typical of the world and the world system. But God in His generosity has given us a way of escape from this corruption; this power of sin.
We often hear the phrase, “God will provide a way of escape when we are tempted.” But we don’t talk much about the “how”. Am I just supposed to buck up and face the challenge with an increased will power? Am I to try to quickly plant something positive in my mind in place of the temptation that is facing me head on? Is there some “path of escape” to avoid this temptation that I need to discover?
I believe the “how” is to recognize who we are in Christ; redeemed sinners who now possess a divine nature in which sin is no longer our master. Our old nature has been replaced. Our old man has been replaced. Our old heart has been replaced. And your new nature, your new man, your new heart are powered by the resurrection life of Jesus living in you. And this power is available to us, to bring to bear on those pesky temptations. It is a power we are to believe, embrace, and walk in, in our hour of temptation.
While this power is always available, it is not automatically in force like some supernatural power of a comic book hero. No, there is a path to us acknowledging this power, appropriating this power, and experiencing this power. In its most succinct form, the path to victory is the path of faith. To bring the promise of this power into our experience, we must believe “His precious and magnificent promises”; one of which is that we have been set free from sin’s power.
So celebrate, and reflect on, the two astonishing miracles of Resurrection Sunday. Miracle one; Christ was raised from the dead. A completely dead body came back to life. This miracle sealed Jesus’ identity as the Son of God and thus sealed our salvation. “Jesus was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4).
Miracle two is that this same Christ who was raised from the dead now lives in you, and you in Him (Col 3:3-4, and about two hundred other places in the New Testament). And in some ways, Christ living His life in us is just as astonishing as miracle one.
These two miracles come together in us when we long with the apostle Paul to “know Him and the power of His resurrection.” May you experience that power today. And give thanks to our Living Lord that we have this opportunity to pursue His life in us every day; a powerful Easter dawning in us over and over and over.