Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Stick the key in and turn it. Push the button, Start me up. Turn on the switch. Click here. Activate the voice. These are the verses that make the Christian life work. They provide the key. This is what activates the power. Without this at work, we are just spinning our wheels.
What if I told you you could have the confidence to have what it takes to do everything God wants you to do in serving Him? Would you want that? Then what if I told you you already had it? That’s what this is all about. If we’re not experiencing this, it’s because we don’t know about it, we don’t care, or we don’t want to serve the Lord. Can you put a circle around any one of those?
The vast majority of Christians who are not experiencing this power in their lives are simply not aware of it and are caught in the failure, guilt and frustration of the first part: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves.” It seems that for a lot of us, we start out this way — thinking that we are adequate when we’re not. We start out trusting in ourselves to do great things for God. We may need to experience this adequacy shortage in order to eventually get to His adequacy. It’s an unnecessary step, but it seems like many have to go through it.
Many churches are full of well-meaning Christians trying to serve God in and of themselves. These people are constantly finding themselves inadequate for the task but are having to cover up that failure because they want to appear like they are doing well, and everything is fine. The discovery of adequacy comes from finally admitting inadequacy and coming to the Lord to discover, lo and behold, that He has actually given us what we need in His Spirit — that if we would stop relying on ourselves, admit our inadequacy, and start relying on His Spirit, we would discover that God has indeed made us able to be all He wants us to be in and through His Holy Spirit.
Having said that, there are exceptions to this pattern. There are people who jump straight to the adequacy part without having to go through a time of experiencing their own failure and frustration — they just jump right to the Spirit. I say that because one of these people would be my wife. When she first became a Christian, she immediately began setting up national fellowship organizations, evangelistic events, Bible studies, and seminars. She grabbed whatever teaching she could come by and ran with it. There was no question about the sin in her life or the inadequacy to serve God, as a new Christian, she simply was operating on Holy Spirit power and she knew it. It was an exhilarating ride. She had no church experience to confuse her with trying to be a good Christian, she was just full of gratitude for God’s forgiveness and wanted to tell everybody she could about it. She was experiencing the new covenant without knowing what it was. I sometimes wonder if she wore the Holy Spirit out keeping up with her. It’s been said that she has 3 angels on 8 hour shifts. You can hear one angel say as he picks up his lunch pail to go home, “She’s all yours.”
I’m happy to say I think our Millennial brothers and sisters may have a similar advantage. For the most part, they don’t have a Christian stereotype to have to live up to. Forget trying to live up to expectations when you already know you can’t, nor do you even want to. Let’s just skip right to the Spirit and get on with it. God’s power made perfect in all my imperfections. If you can be honest, then you can move on. That’s what this is all about. How you get to it may be different for different people, but the power is in discovering His adequacy coming out of your own inadequacy.
The 21 Day Challenge
— Day Seven —
The key to the Spirit
2 Corinthians, Chapter 3:4—6
- Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?
- You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.
- You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
- Such confidence we have through Christ before God.
- Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
- He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
There is nothing wrong with confidence as long as we understand where the confidence is coming from. Paul is saying, “It doesn’t come from me. There is nothing coming from me; everything comes from God.”
This new confidence or new covenant that Paul talks about is entirely different from anything the world knows anything about. Nothing is coming from us. Everything is coming from God. The evidence – the changes that occur in people’s lives – has nothing to do with our natural skills or abilities. Everything is coming from God.
If we want to change lives as Paul did, to really upset whole communities and start people in new directions, to give them liberty and freedom in the midst of guilt and oppression, aren’t we going to have to learn what Paul learned? – nothing coming from us, but everything coming from God. God alone can do God’s work. If there is no sense of dependence on Him, whatever we are doing is a wasted, useless effort.
For Your Consideration:
- Are you someone who lives by conditions; standards to achieve?
- Do you work to develop self confidence?
- Do you work very hard for God? Do you try to do your best on behalf of God?
- Do you find yourself measuring up to the standard of another Christian’s expectation?
— or —
- Do you just show up, present yourself, and believe God will work through you?
- Do you believe what God demands, God himself will achieve by using you as the instrument of it?
For Your Consideration
- Is it important to get the credit for anything you do? Do you ever boast to God or others, “Look what I did!”
- If you believe it is no longer up to you to preform which was the old covenant and written on stone, do you still pretend everything is “just fine” when it is not?
- What does Paul mean when he says God has made us competent to be ministers of the New Covenant?
- As competent ministers of the New Covenant, which of the following is true:
- He lives within us.
- We are His.
- We have access to his power, wisdom, strength, and energy.
- The Spirit instructs us so that our eyes are opened wide.
- He forgives us our sins right away at the very beginning.
- We are constantly washed and cleansed and forgiven by God all through our lives.
- Our whole motivation and outlook on life changes.
- Since we are the letter from Christ, written with the Spirit of the living God on our human hearts, who are we known and read by:
- Most Christians
- People who are sunk in despair, filled with darkness, and living their lives governed by superstition and fear, being hounded, haunted, and hurt by all they are going through — people who, without realizing what they are doing, have fallen into terrible, hurtful things that are destroying them?
- The whole world.
- As Christians, what matters most?
- Being human enough?
- Being real?
- Being touchable?
All together now …
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
Everything from God, nothing from me.