I have always been interested in learning how to really live and experience the abundant Christian life. I have often had my own personal struggles even though I try really hard to be godly and live a good life. Through the years, I have discovered both a troubling and a wonderful truth in relation to my struggles at living out my life fully for Christ.
What is this truth? It is the fact that I am a complete failure at living the Christian life in my own power. I just can’t do it. I have tried it time and again only to fail over and over. This is a troubling truth because it insults my pride. It is also troubling because there are times it leaves me feeling helpless and hopeless. I wish I could do better. I really wish I could be better. I wish I didn’t have to struggle with temptation and sin.
Yes, it is a troubling truth, but it is also a wonderful truth because it is the realization of this truth that leads me to a greater truth. The truth of my failure and powerlessness leads me to the truth of the sufficiency of God’s help, hope, and power. Jesus said that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. (Acts 1:8). He said the Holy Spirit would come to be our Helper and guide (John 14, 16). When I can come to the end of my strength, I can truly begin to grab on to God’s strength. The Christian life is not meant to be lived in the power of our own flesh but in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The last couple of weeks, I have written about Paul’s admonition to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). How can we begin to truly walk in the Spirit? What does this look like?
I love the following thoughts from John Piper using the phrase APTAT. This simple phrase reminds us to do five things.
A – Acknolwedge! First we must acknowledge that we can do nothing apart from God’s power. Jesus told his disciples that they would bear much fruit if they abide in him, but he said that “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Actually we can do something apart from Jesus. We can sin, and we can make a royal mess of things. Jesus meant that we can do nothing of eternal value without him. We can’t fully please God apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. So we must begin by acknowledging our powerlessness with His help. We must also acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s presence who has come to help.
P – Pray! Next we must pray and ask God for the power of the Holy Spirit to fill us and help us. He has given many promises in scripture to fill us with his power (Ezekiel 36:27, Acts 1;8).
T – Trust! Then we must trust God for His promises and be ready to take steps of faith. God has many promises in scripture no matter what the scenario we may face. As we seek to walk in the Spirit, we must trust God’s promises and His power living in us through the Spirit to live out those promises.
A – Act! After we have acknowledged our powerlessness, prayed and trusted God for his help, we then have to take a step. We must eventually act “in faith” that God is with us, helping us. We may feel God calling us to share Christ with a friend, but He will not open our mouth for us. We have to take the step of faith if we are going to walk in the Spirit.
T – Thanks! Finally, we must give God thanks for showing up and helping us. If the Lord shows up, give him the credit… because remember that you are a complete failure at living the Christian life in your own power. Oh yeah, I remember that. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.