“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV
Last week I was reading through a Bible study by Tammie Head called Duty or Delight? In it, she challenged me with this suggestion:
The basic definition for the power of the Holy Spirit means to be able. Please take this in: The “to be able” came to live in you and in me. What if we began calling Him the To-Be-Able instead of the Holy Spirit? Can you imagine how that would change our thinking? We’d no longer be ruled by I can’t because the To-Be-Able can. (p.92)
That day I wrote in my journal: You are the To-Be-Able to change my want to.
Do you have a “want to” that you’re struggling to overcome, dear one? Is there something in your life God is asking of you that you can’t seem to do because your heart doesn’t agree?
I think you can probably relate to what I’m talking about. God says . . .
- Take this step . . . but I don’t want to.
- Give this to me . . . but I don’t want to.
- Forgive . . . but I don’t want to.
- This relationship isn’t good for you; let it go . . . but I don’t want to.
- Feed my sheep . . . but I don’t want to.
- This sin is hurting you . . . but I still want it.
And the worst part is that you really want to obey God. You want to please Him, but you can’t seem to follow through. What He’s asking goes against your nature. It doesn’t feel right. So you don’t do what you know you ought to do. Instead, you keep doing what you know you shouldn’t.
I can’t help thinking of Paul’s words in Romans 7:18-20,
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So many of us have good intentions. We really want to please God through obedience, but when it comes right down to it, we find that we can’t. And so we rejoice when we read Paul’s words because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin! This is normal.
And it is.
Scripture makes very clear that we humans are unable to combat the stranglehold of sin’s desires in us. That’s why we need a Savior! And as Christians, we read those verses describing Paul’s struggle and breathe a sigh of relief. Then we use them to justify our own disobedience.
Perhaps we need to read further and discover what else Paul said.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25
Did he say delivers me? Is it possible to end those habitual cycles of sin? To stop doing those things we know we shouldn’t do? Paul seemed to think so. Notice his use of exclamation points! He could hardly contain his excitement. Let’s read on.
. . .through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, 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, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:2-4, NIV 1984
Listen, dear one. If you have put your faith in Jesus and received the gift of His Spirit, you have also received the power to do everything God asks of you. Look at those verses. God sent Jesus as a sin offering, not just to cover our sin, but to conquer the power of sin living in us. He did it so “the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us.”
He did it to give you a new nature. His nature.
Jesus didn’t just pay the penalty for your sin, beloved. He also defeated its power. You and I have been given a supernatural ability to obey God. Do you remember what John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus approaching?
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
He doesn’t just want to cover or hide it; He wants to remove it altogether.
So how do we let Jesus do what He came to do in us? Romans 8:4 provides the answer: We have to choose to surrender our desires to the Spirit we’ve been given, instead of continuing to follow the natural desires of our flesh. We have to ask our To-Be-Able to change our “want to.”
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Precious one, the Holy Spirit wants to start changing your desires. Are you ready to give Him permission? I hope so, because He’s ready to reveal Himself in your life. You just may bear witness to God’s power “. . .to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).