“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit” (I Thessalonians 1:5).
I love words. I think most writers do. Words can illuminate, explain, and deliver our ideas, our thoughts, and our feelings. Words can convey facts AND emotion. Words have the power to heal and the power to harm.
But our gospel message is more than just words. As we understand more and more of the words of God in Scripture, we can fall into the trap of thinking that knowledge equals maturity. We can lord over others with our Bible knowledge. But knowledge for knowledge’s sake completely leaves out the power supplied to us by the Spirit.
The apostle Paul gives us this warning, “Knowledge puffs us, but love builds up” or “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (I Corinthians 8:1). Knowledge without love can send us headlong into a prideful destruction.
How do we measure “growing in Christ”? How do we measure maturity. I believe the greatest commandment in the new covenant is to love as Jesus loves (John 13:34, 15:12). In our new life in Jesus, we see our maturity develop as we learn to love, learn to serve, learn to obey, and learn to worship.
And all of these efforts to love, serve, obey, and worship require the power of God brought to us by His Spirit. We are not robots. God is not asking us to just read the words and automatically do what they say without any thought, feeling, or effort. We need the power of the Spirit.
Grace does not teach that God’s requirements are soft. No, God is asking us to live in ways that are contrary to the world we grew up in; ways that are not natural to our flesh. But in one of the most beautiful joys of the new covenant, GOD SUPPLIES WHAT GOD REQUIRES!
It is really quite supernatural if you think about it. How is God asking you to love, to serve, to obey, and to worship? Who is God asking you to love in this moment? His words inform our love, our service, our obedience, and our worship. But the power to do it? It comes straight from the Holy Spirit. Don’t rely on your knowledge to get everything right. Rest and move in the power of the Spirit in you. He has given you more than enough. He has given you Himself.