If you are going to make disciples, you must first be a disciple: learning, loving, obeying, and following after the Lord Jesus. It doesn’t take long until you realize that following after Christ is an impossible task if you try to do it in your own strength and power.
Listen to some of the things Jesus requires of us:
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
(Matthew 5:44, CSB)
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48, CSB)
16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16, CSB)
How can we do these things on our own?
In his book Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders addresses this dilemma.
“Is God so unreasonable as to make impossible demands on us and then hold us responsible for our failures? Our conscious spiritual inadequacy underlines our need for a partner who has adequate spiritual resources from which we can draw.”
God has provided this unseen partner in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
But Who is the Holy Spirit?
There are so many misconceptions about the Holy Spirit. Some believe that the Holy Spirit is an “it” or an impersonal “force,” while others believe He is a mere influence, like an ethereal power floating through the air.
But the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God. He is in every way equal with God the Father and God the Son.
He is a real person, having attributes and characteristics of personality. He has a mind (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), a will, (1 Corinthians 12:11), emotions (Ephesians 4:30), and prays (Romans 8:26-27). He is God Himself and has come to indwell the hearts of every believer.
Because the Holy Spirit lives within the disciple, He is a constant comfort and helps the disciple to follow Jesus in his walk and his witness.
The disciple’s walk is his whole manner of life: his thoughts, motives, attitudes, and actions! The disciple learns he must surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit. Consider what Paul says in Ephesians:
18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18, CSB)
To be “filled by the Spirit” is to be controlled and empowered by the Spirit. When we surrender to the Spirit’s control over our lives, He empowers us to follow Christ and bring glory to God. He provides the adequate resources necessary to do what we cannot do on our own, live the Christ life.
Jesus told the believers in Acts:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8, CSB)
Only through the power of the Spirit can we really be dynamic witnesses for Christ.
Consider the disciple Peter. In his own strength, he was a miserable failure who denied Christ. But when empowered by the Holy Spirit, he fearlessly stood before the Jewish leaders and would not deny his Lord, no matter the cost.
Following Christ is impossible in our own strength, but when we allow the Holy Spirit to control and empower us, we can follow Jesus wherever He leads.
Join next week as we talk more about the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.