“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
We are not strong in ourselves. Even in our age of empowerment jargon and self-help, we are actually weak.
From childhood, we are promised that we can be anything and everything we desire to be. If we have enough intrinsic motivation and willpower, they say, we can achieve whatever we want. This all sounds so great. It appeals to our natural impulses to work hard and find success. Even Scripture shows us the folly of laziness and apathy. Yet the promises of strength and success that our culture offer us are not enough. They are hollow gourds.
We are not strong in ourselves. No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that we are, we simply aren’t.
We may be able to muster up enough willpower and strength to hit the gym, make the grades, or keep that stellar office job. Yet, we will find our Achilles’ Heel eventually. If we don’t have an emotional breakdown, it will show up through depression, anxiety, foolish eating, etc. Weakness will show up in pornography addiction, egocentrism, criticism, or outright rejection of God.
We are not strong in ourselves. That’s part of what it means to be human.
God knows this and commands us to find our strength in Him. We have heard that He is strong, and anyone with a slightly religious background will acknowledge that. In fact, through creation, we all have clear evidence of God’s eternal power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20). What we do with that knowledge doesn’t excuse us from the fact that God is powerful. If we walk in unbelief or apathy, we will fail to have spiritual vitality. Instead finding our strength in God will allow us to withstand the attacks of Satan.
Knowing we are not strong in ourselves (I told you that, right?), we must ask a question: How strong is God?
1. God showed His strength in creation.
God spoke the heavens and the earth into existence! Don’t ignore the first 2 chapters of Scripture. When we look out into the vast night sky and see the glorious heavens—God made them. When we look at the seemingly infinite microscopic world that escapes even those with flawless vision—God spoke that, too. When we consider that gravity, sunlight, oxygen, water, and everything necessary to keep us alive comes from God, we see His mighty power in creation! Contrary to the notion that God just set things and motion and let them go, He actively governs and upholds the universe. God’s power in creation should draw us to look to Him for strength!
2. God showed His strength in history.
God displayed His majestic power over the nations. The grand narrative of Scripture shows us nations like the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, the Romans, or the Philistines rising to prominence and falling at the power of God’s mighty hand. Psalm 136 zooms in specifically on God’s power over Egypt and shows us what God did with that wicked Pharaoh who wouldn’t let His people go:
He killed their firstborn.
He brought Israel out of Egypt with his strong and outstretched arm.
He divided the Red Sea into two parts and brought Israel through it.
He overthrew Pharaoh and his men.
He carried Israel through the wilderness.
Beyond Egypt, God struck down kings and nations as He brought His people into the promised land—their names are largely forgotten today! We should praise Him for His powerful work in the past, knowing that He can do the same in the present and future for His people!
3. God showed His strength in redemption.
God, our Father, showed His strength in sending His all-powerful and all-authoritative Son to the earth to destroy sin, death, and Satan. Remember, He didn’t lack the power to defeat Satan. Nor does He lack the power to bring life to dead souls. He doesn’t lack any authority, even over His most wicked and powerful enemies.
Jesus, God in the flesh, died to destroy the devil who has the power of death. Not only did He destroy Satan, but He also delivered us from lifelong slavery to that wicked taskmaster. In Jesus, death has been swallowed up and lost its sting forever. We have been redeemed through His blood and brought from death to life! Jesus is powerful, for there is no man who can ransom another and no man who can raise himself from the dead except Jesus Christ!
God, the Holy Spirit, gave life to our dead hearts! He breathed life into our souls and made us new creatures! As He raised Jesus’ body from the dead, so He raised our souls from the dead. As He made dry bones live, so He gives life to dead souls! If that’s not a picture of the strength and power of God, I don’t know what else you’re looking for!
There is none like our God who has power over death and Satan. Even though Satan has the “power of death” (Heb. 2:14), God has the power of life! Death has no victory, no power, and no sting! (1 Cor. 15:54-55).
4. God shows His strength in sanctification (Rom. 8:13)
Not only does God raise us up from the dead and give life to our mortal bodies, though. He also gives us the power to continue killing the sin. Through the Spirit, we “put to death” the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13). We kill sin and become more Christlike. By what strength or what power? Better yet, by Whom? The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead with power! If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, we can be confident that He will make us holy (Romans 8:11)!
Elder D.J. Ward reminded us to ask ourselves to look back at our old lives and ask “How did we get from that... to being upright, church folk?”. The answer, of course, is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit giving us life and causing us to walk in the ways of God! What power! The Spirit who gives us life is the same Spirit who will see to it that we finish the race looking more like Christ. The power to grow in holiness doesn’t come from within ourselves, for Jesus is clear: “apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
5. God will show His strength when He returns to overthrows Satan forever (Rev. 20:7-10)
Though the victory is already God’s, there is a sense in which we are still waiting for the fullness of victory to come. Satan is still prowling and still seeking to devour us and deceive the nations, but there will come a day when he will be thrown in the lake of fire and sulfur to suffer for eternity. There is a day when he will do nothing more than face torment day and night! God’s enemies have limited power now, and they will have absolutely no power in the future! God’s power is on display and will forever be displayed for eternity!
Behold God’s Strength
How should we respond to such displays of God’s power? One sure thing we can do is behold the power of God. When we look upon Christ, we are transformed into His image from glory to glory. As we stand in reverence of God, we will be delighted to submit to His supreme authority and find our strength in Him.
As you read your Bible and pray, behold the strength of God. Take seasons to meditate on the glory of God’s work in creation, history, redemption, sanctification, and the last days. Beholding this strength will not only humble us but also draw us to the worship of God that is truly good for our hearts! Behold Him today!
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