Living in the power of the Spirit

Several years ago I was finishing up a men’s Bible Study that I was leading at a local restaurant. As all the guys were standing up to leave a young man came up to me and asked if we were Christians. I told him we were and that we met every week for breakfast and Bible Study. He asked for my help and began to tell me his story. He related some tough times in his marriage and his feeling that his life was unraveling around him. As he spoke, I noticed his whole body seemed to be tense and under tremendous stress. I asked him to hold out his hand and when he did, I put a quarter in it. He looked down at the quarter and I said, “Now make a fist and try not to let me open your hand.” Like a vice grip, he squeezed his fist together. One by one, I pulled back his fingers. Each time I pulled a finger, I could see a grimace of pain on his face. Finally, I had all of his fingers pried open and I took the quarter out of his hand. I asked him, “How did that feel?” He quickly replied, “It hurt!”

I then put the quarter back into his hand and said, “Now just keep your hand open.” He did and I picked the quarter up off of his palm. I looked him in the eye and asked him, “How did that feel, did it hurt?” Of course he said no. I then explained that God was trying to get his attention. God wanted to draw him into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but he needed to surrender his whole life to Christ. Because he was holding on to his life, he was experiencing the pain like he felt when I pried his fingers loose to grab the quarter. I said to him, “You can hold on to your life, trust in yourself and try to solve your own problems,” and I clenched my fist. “Or you can surrender your life to Christ and give him everything, the good, the bad and the ugly,” and I extended my open palm.

The key to living in the power of the Holy Spirit is to acknowledge we cannot do it on our own and to fully surrender to Jesus Christ. Paul said this in Romans 7:23-8:4,

23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the flesh a slave to the law of sin.8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Every person struggles in the spiritual battle because they have an external enemy, the devil, and every person has an internal enemy, the flesh. The flesh rebels against God and asserts self on the throne. The flesh can be religious or it can be pagan but either way it does not submit to God nor honor Jesus Christ. To defeat our goliaths in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must dethrone the flesh. We must choose to surrender to the Holy Spirit and ask Jesus to empower us and live His resurrection life through us.

In the movie, The Rundown, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the Rock continually faces situations where people have to make choices. Confronting the quarterback of a super bowl champion team who had defaulted on a bet, the Rock asks the man for his super bowl ring as collateral. The Rock says, “Option A you give me the ring or option B, I make you give me the ring.” Option A is the easy way and option B is the hard way. Romans 7-8, like the Rock, says we have option A; surrender to Holy Spirit or we have option B; live in the flesh. We defeat Goliath when we live in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a choice; a choice to surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit’s control and to ask Him to fill and empower our lives.