Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spiritual Enablement and Empowerment

...faith involves both renunciation and reliance.
We have to first renounce all confidence in our
own power and then rely entirely on the power 
of the Holy Spirit.  We must be enabled, not merely
helped.  What's the difference?  The word help implies 
we have some ability but not enough; we need 
someone else to supplement our partially adequate
ability.  By contrast, enablement implies that we 
have no ability whatsoever.  We're entirely powerless.
We can do nothing.  But when by faith we renounce 
self-sufficiency and embrace reliance on the power
of the Holy Spirit, we receive divine empowerment,
enablement, and strength for personal transformation
and ministry.

Jerry Bridges
Bob Bevington
The Bookends of the Christian Life
Page 85

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear
fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can
you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the 
branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears
much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

Blessed is man who trusts in the Lord and whose
trust is the Lord.
Jeremiah 17:7

A faith that does not rest fully on the Lord is an incomplete faith, a faith that is not fully mature.  In one way or the other, this applies to all of us.  I am reminded of the man who called out to Jesus, "I believe, help my unbelief."  This is a cry that all of us could make. Our faith should rest fully on Christ, both for our salvation and our sanctification.  Just as we did not begin our spiritual life without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot live our spiritual life apart from His enabling power.

In applying this to our lives, it should even affect how we pray.  How many times have we asked the Lord to help us versus empower or enable us? Yes, we are responsible, and we must act and we must do; but in our acting and doing He is the One enabling and empowering. The Scriptures do not give us a formula for this, for faith does not have a formula. We walk by faith, faith in Him and not in ourselves, which should lead to trust in Him and not in ourselves.

When I was a child, my mother would never let me use the phrase 'I can't' for her reply would be, "Can't never could do anything."  Then she would tell me the story of the little engine who could, and for those who don't know the story, the little engine would chant, "I know I can, I know I can." as he was pulling the huge load up the steep hill.  This kind of human effort, the positive  can do attitude, has polluted our minds, and is one of the humanisms we bring into our faith; and it rides into our Christian life on the back of our pride.

Renunciaton and reliance are an assault on our human pride, and require a submissive humility, which again, is quite impossible without His enabling power. It is only after we have been humbled by our spiritual impotency to overcome sin and to be pleasing to God, that we will ask for forgiveness and acceptance from Him so that we may be saved; and it is in a continued submissive humility that we ask for enablement and empowerment to live the life He has called us to live.

Even to the end, our spiritual life is designed so that the Lord receives the glory for it, not us. For all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him; and we exist for Him; and let us remember that we can do all things through......Him who strengthens us.  

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