Power Over the Evil One

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).  One could interpret this verse as everyone that Jesus healed was in some way oppressed by the evil one.  And He healed them as One “anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power.”

Jesus has the power to overcome Satan, and defeating Satan and his work were part of Jesus’ mission on earth.  “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).

Without Christ, the world is under the power of Satan.  “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (I John 5:19).  But we are not without Christ.  As the verse states, “We know that we are of God.”  Though we are no longer under Satan’s power, we are still affected by his power as we navigate this fallen world.  So how do we overcome his power?

In a promise that seems too incredibly good to be true, we overcome with the same exact power that Jesus used to defeat Satan.  This promise is just mind blowing to me.  “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” (II Peter 1:3).  You have the same power as Jesus to overcome the evil one.  His divine power has given us everything we need to live in godly ways.

So what does this look like in our daily lives?  When Satan fills our mind with lies about our failures, our sin, our guilt, we have the power to say, “No, I am only listening to the truth about God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness.”  When Satan tempts us to sin, to follow after the flesh, we have the power to say, “No, this sin is not who I am.  I choose to walk according to the Spirit’s leading in righteousness.  I will walk by the Spirit’s power.”  Do you see the pattern?

We are not helpless, we are not destined to succumb to Satan’s lies and temptations.  Satan, our accuser, was defeated at the cross.  His fate is sure.  Our victory is assured.  May you walk in that victory today and boldly say with the apostle John, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).

The Power of His Resurrection

It wasn’t a minor thing that Jesus walked out of that grave two thousand years ago.  It was a feat that required great power, something only the power of God could accomplish.  It took God’s power to roll away the stone, breathe life into a dead body, and bring forth the resurrected Jesus.

This is the power that declared Jesus to be the Son of God.  “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).

And this is the same Spirit of holiness and the resurrection power He brings to us that energizes our own Christian walk.  “But since the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

“Life to your mortal bodies” comes from His indwelling Spirit.  It is the resurrection life of Jesus living through us.  It is living in line with the treasure of Christ in us.  “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (II Corinthians 4:7).  Mortal bodies and earthen vessels may sound powerless and mundane.  But they contain the deity Himself.  This Spirit of power is from God and not from ourselves.  It is the power of God bringing the ability to live His supernatural life in this earth suit we wear.

Paul described it this way, “And may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. “ (Philippians 3:9-10).

We are back to where we started, the power of the resurrection.  What does it mean to “know Him and the power of His resurrection”?  Christ filled us with resurrection power the moment we believed the gospel and received the Holy Spirit.  This happened.  This is truth.  But knowing this power can be a process.

We only know this power as we put it into practice.  We only experience this power over sin, power over feelings of shame and guilt and failure, power over fear, power over all kinds of things we have talked about before when we walk according to the Spirit and see His power in action in our lives.  As we mature and grow in grace this power becomes more real in our lives.  Our faith, God’s grace, His Spirit, the God of hope in us are working together to empower the resurrected life of Christ in us.  May you rest in the resurrection power of Jesus today!

Preaching with Power

“And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

“For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:18-19).

The apostles preached in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Paul preached in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We share the message of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Have we been deceived into thinking that we need elegant words or sharp logic or compelling apologetics to share the message of Jesus Christ?  Has our church hierarchy inadvertently contributed to this attitude with its focus on seminary training, public speaking skills, and celebrity pastors?  You, yes you, are qualified to preach the gospel.  Because you carry in you the same Spirit of power that the apostles possessed.

You have what it takes to share, proclaim, teach, and explain the message of the gospel; the message of grace.  “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to human standards, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (I Corinthians 1:26-27).  This is us.

If you have believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ, Christ Himself is living His life through you.  The Holy Spirit is teaching you.  Christ is guiding you.  The Father is empowering you.  You are qualified to proclaim grace to those God brings into your circle.  (And thanks to the internet, that circle is getting bigger and bigger.)  Never be ashamed of what training or expertise you lack.  You are fully qualified to announce the good news!

The apostle Paul summarized it this way, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4-5).  Our message does not rest on the wisdom of men.  It rests on the power of God.

Or put another way, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (I Corinthians 4:20).  Our message does not rest on our words.  It rests on the power of God.  May you walk, rest, and preach in the power of the Spirit!

Hope and the Power of the Gospel

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

The power of the gospel is an absolutely incredible power.  And who does it belong to?  “Everyone who believes.”  There is only one requirement to receive and enjoy and experience the power of the gospel; believe in the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

According to this verse, the power of the gospel is for our salvation.  Now we often think of “salvation” as that initial rescue when we placed our faith in Jesus.  But starting from day one of our belief in Jesus, the power of the gospel is also an ongoing power, a lifelong power that “saves” us in all kinds of ways.

As an administrator for the Freedom in Christ Movement Facebook group, I read stories almost every day of folks set free by the power of the gospel.  The gospel of grace sets people free from shame, from condemnation, from addictions, from fear and worry, from pride, from the performance trap, from rule-keeping for God’s approval, from feelings of inferiority, from selfish ambition, and many other chains.  These stories of lives set free are so encouraging to hear.  They truly testify to the power of the gospel for salvation.

But traveling alongside these beautiful testimonies are folks who believe in Jesus but still feel trapped by one or more of these snares.  Our experience of God’s freedom is not always instant or automatic.  Sometimes it takes time.  Sometimes we need to mature and grow in grace.  Sometimes the pain or trauma of our past puts us in a tailspin.  The power of the gospel does not always work in ways we would like to see happen.  Sometimes the circumstances of life outside of our control bring us setbacks, pain, and disappointment that we can’t seem to repair.

These setbacks do not nullify the promise of the power of the gospel.  But there are times when we find ourselves waiting for the fulfillment of the promise.  And it is in those times that the promise of hope is so important.  Remember our verse from last time, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).  God is the God of hope.  Never give up on yourself or others in your circle still caught by a besetting sin or struggle.  Keep believing!

The power of the gospel and the power of hope work together to strengthen our faith.  And these powers are yours.  They belong to you; already given by the matchless grace of God to “everyone who believes.”

We Have the Spirit and the Power

On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came with power and indwelt the first century followers of Jesus.  And the Holy Spirit has been living in every believer in Jesus ever since.  You received the Spirit of Christ the minute you believed the gospel message of Jesus.  This is the clear teaching of Scripture.

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  Since Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  But since the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you(Romans 8:9-11).

Look how many times “Christ is in you” or “Spirit dwells in you” appear in this short passage.  It is at least four times.  The Holy Spirit of God came to dwell in you the moment you believed.  Or said the other way around in this passage, you can’t belong to the family of Jesus and not have the Spirit inside.

Here are some other verses that point to our indwelling by the Spirit.

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge(II Corinthians 1:21-22).

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:19).  You are a temple.  A temple is the place God dwells.  In this case, your body is the place where God dwells united with you by His Spirit living in you.

The Spirit in you is the Spirit of Jesus.  It is God’s Spirit.  It is Jesus’ Spirit.  The Spirit is how the promise of “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27) works itself out in our daily living.  God, Jesus, Holy Spirit are interchangeable when it comes to who is in you.  We have all the facets of God’s indwelling that He has chosen to give us.  And we have the power that comes with Him.

A personal application of this power for me goes back to our topic of fear.  In the last three years, our personal lives have gone through an increasing number of “scares”.  But God’s power though His indwelling Spirit has been the calm in the storm.  His Spirit has been the power to overcome and the power to take the next step.  The next step often felt impossible and I could feel the “immobilized with fear” coming on.  But I have learned in these challenging situations that the power of God is the fuel to overcome my fears.

I love this promise of hope in the midst of our fear or whatever else is troubling us.  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).  The power of the Holy Spirit in us fills us with hope.