Not Will Power but Spirit Power

Romans 7:18 “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

There’s no such thing as self-help in God’s kingdom. If self-help was as effective as its promoted to be, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus Christ to die in our place and rise again conquering sin, Satan and death. We all can identify things in our minds, hearts and lives that we’d like to change. Many of us search for answers in the strategies of human reason than the power of the Holy Spirit. The reality is our will is limited in its ability to bring sustainable and permanent change to our hearts. Stop trying to change yourself by your own will and just start following Jesus. When you surrender to Jesus as your Lord, and you start to follow him out of relationship, transformation is a natural byproduct of the work of the Spirit’s power in your life. Paul said to the Romans, “If you live according to the flesh you will die but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God.” Selah!

I’m not who I used to be…

2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold the new has come.”

I have been a Christian for nearly 30 years. At 4 years of age I can remember confessing my sin and believing in Jesus Christ, as I was led to God through the influence of my parents and other older believers. I’m so grateful to God for his sovereign grace at work in my life and it has been an amazing adventure of discovery and growth, albeit painful at times.

Truth is, I cannot believe how far God has brought me in my own spiritual journey. Even as a Christian and pastor, just a few years ago, there were things I wrestled with in my heart, which manifested in my marriage and relationships with others. Now by God’s grace those same struggles are no longer on the dashboard of my life. Granted, there are other challenges that I must run to the Gospel with but God’s empowering grace has rescued me already. I think this is how it should be, if we are working out what God has already worked into our hearts. It does seem, though, that the closer you get to God, the more aware of our sinfulness we become. 

Sanctification is a key theological term which describes the process of a believer becoming more and more like Jesus. Regeneration is the initial act that gives birth to our spirit and begins the sanctification process, whereby the indwelling Holy Spirit transforms us to reflect the character of Christ. This is both a joyful privilege and painful process.

When Jesus saves us, he transforms what we find joy in. Our flesh finds joy in self but our regenerated spirit finds joy in Christ and others. Our flesh finds joy in lust but our regenerated spirit finds joy in purity. Our flesh finds joy in revenge but our regenerated spirit finds joy in forgiveness.

The cross where Jesus died to atone for our sin, is the place of the great exchange – our sin for God’s righteousness. The process of sanctification is the process of dying to self and coming alive to Christ. It’s the process of finding joy in a cross -centered life, rather than finding joy in a self-serving life.

As a Christ-follower, you should be changing. You cannot taste of the eternal gift and not be changed by it. Jesus does something in you by the work of the Holy Spirit and you too will wake up one day and say, “I’m not who I used to be…”

Grace!