We Need God’s Power Plus Our Effort

To Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory.
–Ephesians 3:20-21

Sanctification, becoming like Jesus Christ, is not God’s responsibility; it is a joint project between God and us. I once illustrated this during a sermon by pouring a bag of dirt all over the carpet. Let me tell you, we had several heart attacks that morning! Then I pulled out a vacuum cleaner and said, “How many of you think this vacuum cleaner is capable of cleaning up this dirt?” Everybody raised their hand. So I started pushing the vacuum cleaner across the dirt, and nothing happened. Without power, that vacuum cleaner could do nothing to remove the dirt. In the same way, we do not have the power in and of ourselves to clean up our own lives.

I then said, “How many of you believe the power of God is sufficient to remove all the dirt and grime in your life?” Once again, everybody raised their hand. So I took an extension cord that was plugged into an outlet, and I started rubbing the socket of that extension cord over the dirt. Of course, nothing happened. I said, “There are 120 volts running through this cord, but that power is insufficient to remove the dirt.” And so it is with the power of God. It does not matter how powerful God is; His power alone will not remove the grit and the grime from our lives and make us like Jesus Christ.

Then I plugged in the vacuum cleaner to the extension cord, turned it on, and started rolling it over the dirt. I said, “See, it is the cooperative effort between the vacuum cleaner and the power from the outlet that completes the job.” It is the same way in our relationship with God. Sanctification is a joint responsibility. Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.

What does all this have to do with the power of the Holy Spirit? First of all, the purpose of God’s power is transformation, not exhilaration. Think about that extension cord. Was the purpose of that power so I could stick my finger in the socket and get a buzz? No. It is the same way with the Holy Spirit. A lot of people think the Holy Spirit exists to give us a spiritual buzz during a worship service. No, the reason God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit is to accomplish His purpose in our lives, and that is to make us like Jesus Christ.

That leads to a second truth: the process by which we experience God’s power is cooperation, not delegation. We do not say, “God, fill me with Your Holy Spirit.” We already have the spiritual generator, the Holy Spirit, living within us; it is our responsibility to access that power. In the weeks ahead, we are going to look at four specific channels through which we can experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “If It’s Going To Be, Is It Up To Me?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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