6. God's Strength

“…the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward. —Ephesians 1:19

Let’s have a little Bible reading about one of the great possessions of believers which I fear is not being appreciated and enjoyed as it should be. From the fourth chapter of Philippians, verse 13, I read, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I suppose the most common complaint of believers is, “I feel so weak. I don’t seem to be able to do what I’d like to be able to do.” Well, God has given us certain possessions. He wants us to possess those possessions. He wants us to make use of them!

First of all (and we can be perfectly sure of this) we have no strength of our own. Romans 5:6 reads, “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Unless you’ve realized this, you haven’t even started. If you feel you can make it pretty well by yourself, if you feel you can lift yourself by your own bootstraps, you haven’t yet learned the first secret of the power of God in your heart and life. We have nothing of ourselves. That’s the way God chose us. He picked us up when we were poor and weak and despised and helpless things, according to First Corinthians 1:27. This is not only true of us as unbelievers—we had no strength, no power, we could not save ourselves—it is still true of us as believers! The Lord Jesus told His own, in the fifteenth chapter of John, verse five, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” Severed from Him, you can do nothing. You can’t produce anything in your own strength any more than you could before you became a Christian.

Actually, our strength lies in our weakness, because as Paul writes in Second Corinthians 12:10, “For when I am weak, then am I strong.” How does that work out? What’s the real meaning behind that?

Well, the Lord said to Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” What kind of people does God save? Why, He saves people who are helpless. He saves people who are hopeless. He saves people who are lost. That may be the reason why some of my hearers have never really become children of God. You’ve never come to the end of your own resources. You still feel fairly capable. You feel like you’re going to be able to make it with maybe a little assistance from the Lord, but that isn’t God’s way He doesn’t assist people. The Lord Jesus is not a Helper in salvation, He is the Saviour! And unless you are willing to put your confidence completely in Him and trust His finished work you’re never going to know peace with God at all. The same is true of us as believers, because His strength is made perfect in weakness. The apostle Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong.”

The Lord sent a message to the little church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8, saying to them, “Thou hast a little strength.” Now that was the secret of their strength—it was that they had only a little. They drew from Him.

In Romans 1:16 we’re told, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” The word there for “power” is the word from which we get our word “dynamite” or “dynamo”—the source of power. The Gospel is powerful! It works! That’s why Paul said he was not ashamed of it. He knew it works. He knew it was effective—and I know it too. I’ve watched it work in many, many lives. I’ve watched it work in my own life.

Now we read in First Peter 1:5 that we are “kept by the power of God.” There are some Christians who believe that the power of God is enough to save them, but they don’t believe the power of God is enough to keep them. They think that, now that the Lord has wound them up and started them going, it’s up to them to make it. Well, how long could you go in your own strength!-No, we are kept by the power of God.

Now that power, according to the first chapter of Ephesians, verses 19 and 20, is the same power that worked in Christ when it raised Him up again from the dead. It is resurrection power! It is the power that takes a dead person and stands him on his feet. That’s the power that works in the life of a believer. The power of God. Entirely apart from human resources, from human energy, the power of God effectively works in our lives and leads us on to do exploits for Him.

Now this power must come from God, Himself, through the Lord Jesus Christ, by the energy of the Holy Spirit of God—“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). The Holy Spirit in this age is God’s medium of power in the life of those who are believers. You remember He said, just before He ascended, “Tarry in Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high.” And He also said, “Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come” (Acts 1:8). In Second Timothy 1:7 He is even called the “Spirit of power.” The source of power then for us as believers, is His Holy Spirit.

Now, why does He want the power of God to operate in our lives? Well, He tells us in the third chapter of Ephesians that the power of God operates in us in order that we might know these divine things. We haven’t any ability in ourselves to appreciate these spiritual things. In that same chapter, in verse 16, He tells us that the power of God is given to us that we may enjoy these things. We need strength from God, even when we read our Bibles, that we might be able to enjoy spiritual things. That’s why, when I pick up my Bible, I like to make sure that the Spirit of God is not grieved—so that He’ll be able to teach me. If I’m not conscious of any sin in my life, I sometimes ask the Lord to point out anything that isn’t right, so that with His help I can set it right. An ungrieved Spirit can teach and help me enjoy the good things I have in Christ.

Then in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, verse 10, we are told that we are armed with the might of the Lord to stand for Him in combat. Every day we are opposed by Satan and his henchmen in the enjoyment of spiritual things, attempting to keep us from entering into our possessions in Christ, and we need this divine power for combat.

In the first chapter of Colossians, verse 11, we are strengthened with the might of the Lord “unto all patience.” You mothers of little children know how much you need patience. You shepherds of the flock, who have to help Christians who ought to be helping themselves, know how much patience it takes. You who are trying to lead someone to Christ (and you’ve been patiently dealing with and praying for them these many years) know how much patience it takes. And you who are getting up in years, you wonder why the Lord doesn’t take you home. You’ve been looking for the Lord’s return these many years, and He hasn’t come yet—well, you need the power of God in your heart and life to strengthen you to all patience.

Then in Second Corinthians 3:18 we learn that this power operates in our lives to make us Christlike. That’s what the Spirit of God is trying to do with us. It isn’t your valuable service that He’s after—He’s wanting to reproduce Christ in your lives. Paul said, “My little children of whom I travail again in birth until Christ be formed in you.” As we gaze upon the Lord Jesus we are changed into the same image as by the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit of God wants to make us like Christ.

Well now, this is true for every believer. This source is given to every believer because First Corinthians 12:13 tells us, “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body”; and in the tenth chapter of the Acts, when the Gospel was preached, it says, “The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word.” So, if you’ve heard His Word, you’ve been born of God, you have the Holy Spirit of God indwelling you—you do not need to pray or wait for the Holy Spirit—but what you do need to do is be careful that you do not feel self-sufficient. Most of our trouble is that we think we’re rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing. We try to walk in our own strength, and we pile up. We just go down—like the Laodiceans. Or, we look to the wrong place. We look to ourselves. We think the Lord has helped me so far so I should have developed a little strength of myself, and then we find ourselves failing again. You have nothing more than you had when you first received the Lord Jesus, and you need nothing more. God wants you to find all you need, nothing more. God wants you to find all you need in His Son. Let’s bow our heads and thank Him.

Our Father, we thank Thee for giving us the Lord Jesus, and we thank Thee that with Him Thou hast freely given us all things. We thank Thee for the Spirit of God and His presence and the divine power operating in our lives. Help us then, like Paul, to say I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. We pray in His Name. Amen.