What is the measure of God’s power toward believers? What can be accomplished in the believer by that power? How can the believer appropriate and apply that power?
THE MEASURE OF GOD’S POWER TO US-WARD
“That ye may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the super-heavenlies, and put all things under His feet.” Ephesians 1:18 to 22.
Such is the measure of God’s power to the believer in the matter of salvation; salvation from sin. “The Gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Romans 1:16. Something more than human power is needed to save the sinner from sin. Divine power is needed. And the very best news that any human being ever heard is, that Divine power is available. The news that there is power that will save from the power of sin is good news, or “the gospel”. Every human being is utterly helpless to deal with sin. But the majority of sinners are more interested in being delivered from some of their sinful habits than they are in being saved from the penalty of sin. To be saved from the penalty of sin means to be saved from the wages of sin, which is death. Romans 6:23.
God demands death for sin. Unless the sinner finds and appropriates the Divine remedy for sin, the death penalty is certain; it is fixed by the just and holy Judge. Apart from Divine merciful intervention, the sinner’s doom is inevitable; Divine judgment inescapable. So far as man is concerned he can do nothing to deliver himself from the presence of sin, from the power of sin, or from the penalty of sin. So far as God is concerned His very character demands justice. The question is, how can the helpless, powerless sinner escape justice at the hands of the God against whom he has sinned? There must be death for sin. Must each sinner die for himself? Is it justice for the innocent to suffer for the guilty” The world says, “no.”
God’s Word declares that “Christ hath once suffered for sins the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” I Peter 3:18. Then this question, “has the holy Judge the right to be the sinner’s Saviour?” Can He act as Judge and Saviour and be both just and merciful? The world says, “true justice knows no mercy.” But the Just One, who has accomplished the redemption whereby man can be brought to God, was both God and man. The Offended One was delivered for our offenses. He satisfied His own justice by becoming the God-man and receiving the wages of sin; death.
The Lord of Glory was crucified; put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit. Christ died for our sins: He was buried and was raised again on the third day. He dealt with sin, which he put away by the sacrifice of Himself. Then He abolished death and hath brought life to light in the gospel and incorruptibility to light in the gospel. In this redemptive work Christ proved His Deity, vindicated and satisfied Divine righteousness and justice; and fulfilled His word: “I lay down my life, that I might take it again . . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again:” John 10:17 and 18. It must be admitted that such power is Divine power.
God was ever well pleased with His Son; when He was in the bosom of the Father; when He was Jesus of Nazareth in the midst of His people, and since He has raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the super-heavenlies. God manifested His great power in the act of the resurrection and exaltation of His Son. God manifests that same great power, to save from the penalty of sin, any and every sinner who believes this Divine gospel.
There is absolutely no saving message for any sinner in the sinless life and holy example of the Son of God, apart from His death and resurrection. The penalty of sin is death. How could the sinner escape that death penalty by trying to live like Jesus lived? There would be no death penalty in such a struggle; but there would be utter failure; and eternal death after the futile struggle. It is the privilege of redeemed sinners to know Christ in the power of His resurrection; but not until they have escaped the death penalty by identification with Christ, “baptized into His death.”
If the same exceeding great power that God manifested in raising Christ from death to the super-heavenlies is available for the believer to enable him to have power over sin, it would seem that the believer’s defeat could only be the result of his failure to appropriate and apply that exceeding great power. If such exceeding great power is available for the believer, then the believer should be delivered from the power of sin.
ACCOMPLISHED BY GOD’S POWER
“How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” Romans 6:2. The believer is baptized into the death of Christ, and having been crucified with Him he is raised to walk in newness of life. “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” “Let not sin reign in your mortal body.” Romans 6:4, 12 and 14.
From these, and many other verses, it seems that victory is provided for the believer in Christ and that victory is expected of the believer in Christ. The believer is identified with Christ in death. Christ died unto sin. The believer is positionally and potentially dead unto sin.
“Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1. What things are where Christ is? Not a thing that has to do with sin. A very high standard? It couldn’t be higher. It is the “super-heavenlies” standard. It is the Christ standard. The things which are where Christ is are the things which are in Christ. And the believer is in Christ. The believer is raised with Christ. The believer is seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Because the exceeding great power God used to accomplish the resurrection of Christ is to us-ward who believe, the believer is exhorted to manifest that resurrection power in his life. “That I may know Him in the power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10.
It is one thing to be kept by the power of God through faith unto that glorious salvation at the coming of the Lord; it is another thing to day by day live in resurrection power.
As believers we fail to measure up to God’s standard, but we have no Divine authority to lower the standard to the level of our failures. When we would do good evil is present. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and we may not do the things that we should. But the exceeding great power of God is available.
APPROPRIATION AND APPLICATION
Believers are exhorted to pray without ceasing. Quite a big order for one who has many other duties. But it is God’s order. And the principle is always, “Be it unto you according to your faith.”
The believer is exhorted to study, to present, to resist, to let, to hope, to overcome, to live, to watch, to be vigilant and sober, to seek. Then there are many negative exhortations.
He is to put on the whole armour of God. He is to witness and work. He is to walk in the Spirit and make no provisions for the flesh. He is to yield himself to God and his members as instruments of righteousness. He is to put on the new man and to put off the old man. There is to be no let-up and no let-down; no unoccupied moments; no surrender to Satan or self; no compromise; but constant abiding in Christ, in fellowship and communion, yielded every moment to the Holy Spirit, saying with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The believer is instructed to abstain from all appearances of evil. He is exhorted to keep himself unspotted from the world. “Love not the world; neither the things of the world.” In fact there are several hundred admonitions, injunctions, orders, warnings, beseechings and rules for his Christian conduct.
Such is the price of victory. Paul practiced what he preached. How are we getting along? Our sufficiency is of God.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.