Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Spirit-Filled Life: God’s Power in You

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Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth knows a lot of people are trying to please God out of their own strength.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: So many Christians are striving, struggling, trying harder: “I’m going to be a good Christian if it kills me!” It might! Because you can’t live the Christian life. The Christian life is not hard, it is not difficult . . . it’s impossible! Only Jesus could live the Christian life.

Leslie Basham: It’s October 14, 2019. This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: Over the last two weeks, we’ve been in a series called “Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.” Nancy’s shown us the joy that comes from living lives of honesty, repentance, humility, and obedience. Now, these all sound like great qualities, but the problem is we can’t live this way on our own. We need power outside of ourselves.

Nancy’s about to explain where that power comes from.

Nancy: Niagara Falls is the second largest waterfall in the world. On the U.S. side, 150,000 gallons of water per second fall down a 176 foot drop. That’s a lot of water! And then, 600,000 gallons per second fall over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls on the other side. That’s even more water!

Until the late 1800s the falls were just a beautiful tourist attraction. And then scientists began to discover that there was power available in all that water! In 1893, water was first diverted from the Canadian side of the Niagara River to generate electricity.

A small 2,200 kilowatt plant was built just above the Horseshoe Falls to power an electric railway. But that was just the beginning! Today the Niagara River is one of the world’s greatest sources of hydroelectric power. A series of power plants generate almost 4.5 million kilowatts of electricity, enough to power forty-four million (100 watt) lightbulbs. That’s a lot of power!

Here’s the thing though: the power was there all along. It just had to be harnessed and utilized. Back in the late 1800s, a British physicist and inventor named Lord Kelvin was asked to head up a commission to figure out how to harness the power of the Niagara River and turn it into energy.

On one of his first visit to the falls, Lord Kelvin was told by a guide: “This is the most powerful untapped source of energy in the universe!” Well, as powerful as Niagara Falls is, there is another source of energy that is far more powerful! That’s the power of the Holy Spirit. We want to talk about Him today.

And yet, much like Niagara Falls in the 1800s, this power remains largely untapped. In fact, I would say this is the most powerful untapped source of energy in the universe—the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as you know, is the third member of the Trinity.

He is not an “it”; He is not a thing; He is not a ghost. He is a Person, a real Person who can be hurt, grieved, wounded. He’s the third member of the Trinity, equal with God the Father and God the Son. His power—the power of the Holy Spirit and the activity of the Holy Spirit—are evident from the opening paragraph of the Bible.

Remember Genesis 1:1?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void [some translations say “empty,” as in CSB], and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” (vv. 1–3).

So here you have from the very beginning of creation the Holy Spirit, who is present and who is actively involved. He takes what is formless, chaotic, empty, and dark and transforms it. He brings order. He fills this space. He brings light. The power of the Holy Spirit/ The lights go on when the Holy Spirit goes to work in His power!

Now, whether you realize it or not, you are absolutely dependent upon the Holy Spirit for every single aspect of your Christian life. And whether you realize it or not, if you are a child of God, you have inside of you the greatest Source of power in all the universe!

So if like me, you often feel weak and inadequate and unable to do what God has called you to do or to be the woman you know God wants you to be, let me just remind you, you have the Holy Spirit inside you—the greatest power in the universe! The Holy Spirit is involved throughout the whole process of conversion and regeneration.

You could not become a Christian apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in this world and in your life. The Holy Spirit, we learn in Scripture, is the Creator. He’s the Giver of Life—both physical and spiritual life. John 6:63 tells us, “It is the Spirit who gives life.” The Holy Spirit, He breathes life into us physically, that’s how we come alive; and He breathes life into us spiritually, that’s how our spirits go from being dead to being alive. 

When you were lost, unregenerate, apart from Christ, the Holy Spirit convicted you of your sin and of your need for a Savior. You may not have known it. I was four when I got saved. I didn’t know to say, “This is the Holy Spirit drawing me to Christ, convicting me of sin,” but that’s who was doing this, making me know that I needed a Savior. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. 

First Corinthians 12:13 tells us that when you became a Christian, the Holy Spirit baptized you into the body of Christ. Ephesians 1:13 tells us that at the point of conversion you were sealed by the Holy Spirit. 

Without going into a lot of detail, what does “sealed” mean? It means that you are secure in Christ. You are sealed in Him. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee that all of God’s promises to you will come true! What He has said He will do in you, He will do. And the Holy Spirit is given to you as a downpayment on the eternal inheritance that is yours in Christ.

He’s involved throughout that process of conversion and regeneration, the new birth. When Jesus talked to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, He talked about the Holy Spirit. There is no conversion, there is no salvation apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. You owe a lot to the Holy Spirit—as do I.

But it’s not just to help you become a Christian, it’s not just until the point where you get saved, and then you’re on your own to figure out this Christian life thing. The Holy Spirit is involved in every part and particle and throughout every period and season of your Christian life.

Romans 8:9 says that He lives in you; He lives in every believer. Romans 8:16 says that the Holy Spirit assures you that you are a child of God. Sometimes you may doubt that, and sometimes when you doubt, it’s because you’re not a child of God. If you’re not a child of God, God doesn’t want you to have assurance that you are. He wants you to doubt.

But sometimes you can be a child of God, but you live in such a way that you think, Could I have done that and still really be a child of God? You may be, but God’s Spirit will bring you assurance that you are, and then He will draw your heart back to a place of right relationship with the Father. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:14 says that the Holy Spirit guides us, He leads us: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” He leads us in the ways of God. “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1). He leads me; that’s the role of the Holy Spirit, to lead us.

Romans 8:26 (a lot of these are in Romans 8, you’re gathering, so that’s a great place to study the ministry of the Holy Spirit) says He helps you know how to pray! When you’re clueless, when you think, I have no idea what to pray for, how to pray. My mind is just wandering. I have no idea what would please the Father. The Holy Spirit helps you pray in a way that God will answer those prayers.

The Holy Spirit, John 14:26, teaches you. He takes this Word, which otherwise is just ink on a page, and He illuminates it to your understanding. He speaks to your heart. Every day when I open this Book, I’m dependent on the Holy Spirit to show me what it means and how it applies to my life. That’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

John 14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s presence known to us, real to us. He assures us of the presence of Christ, because the Holy Spirit is “Christ in [us], [our] hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Second Corinthians 3:18 (we’re going to talk more about that in a moment) says that Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Jesus.

He produces the life. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit who produces that fruit in us. Do you ever find yourself like trying to “do” the fruit of the Spirit? Love . . . let’s just start there. I can’t do that. Joy. Are you kidding!? Not today! Peace. Are you crazy? This world is crazy! How can I have peace!? P-a-a-a-tience. 

I can’t have these things. I don’t have these things by myself. But with Christ in me, the Holy Spirit in me, He lives in me to produce that fruit just as the juice and sap of that tree goes through its branches and produces fruit. You’re not sticking fruit on that tree so it will be a fruitful tree. It’s bearing fruit because of what courses through it.

It’s the Holy Spirit coursing through us who produces the fruit of Jesus in us. First Peter 1:2 says that the Holy Spirit purifies us, He sanctifies us. After all, He is the Holy Spirit, so He makes us into the image of Jesus. First Corinthians 12 teaches us that the Holy Spirit has given each of us gifts for serving God and making Him known. 

My gift is different than yours, yours is different than the person sitting next to you, perhaps, but those gifts are from the Holy Spirit. When God calls you to do something, He doesn’t just throw you out there and say, “Okay, go serve Me!” 

He says, “No, go and serve Me—not in your power, but in My power. I will do it through you.” The Holy Spirit supernaturally empowers you to serve God with those gifts. And you see in the Old Testament, many times, that judges and priests and kings were anointed with oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, as a visual evidence that they were being consecrated to God’s purposes. It was God’s power that was going to fall upon them and flow through them so they could do exactly what God had called them to do. 

This is a picture for us in the New Testament, who have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, to anoint us to do the work and the will of God.

What I love is thinking about the fact that the same Holy Spirit who enabled and empowered believers in the Old Testament, lives in me! You see some of these passages, like “the Holy Spirit came upon him, and then he did . . .” Then there’s some unimaginable great feat! Well, he didn’t do that great feat; it was the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit!

The Spirit that, by the way, raised Jesus from the dead—talk about an impossible feat! That same Holy Spirit lives in me and lives in you, if you’re a child of God. And He will enable you. He will empower you to do things that you could not possibly do apart from His supernatural presence and enabling. 

And I mean, not just being called to teach a Bible study or lead a small group or be a worship leader. But your calling in your workplace, your calling as a wife, as a mom teaching your children, responding to pressure, doing everyday things in life. I need the Holy Spirit to do all of that in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

And when I don’t have the desire left and I don’t have the ability left—I don’t have the strength left—it’s the power of the Holy Spirit coursing through my veins that gives me the enabling, the power, to do what I could not otherwise do.

Jesus said in John 15, “Apart from me you can do”—how much?—“nothing.” Nothing! And how do I get Jesus to do that? It’s the Holy Spirit living in me. The Holy Spirit is Christ in me. Any significant work, any godly work, done by me or through me is done, according to Zechariah 4, “Not by might, nor by power [my power], but by [His] Spirit” (v. 6).

So anytime I like start to think, Oh, I can teach the Bible. I got this down—I’m done; I’m toast! I’ve got to keep realizing, “I cannot do this! I am not adequate for the things God has called me to do.”

To be a wife to my precious husband, I can’t do that, amazing and wonderful as my husband is.But to be the woman who can encourage and bless him in the ways that God wants me to, I need the power of the Holy Spirit . . . and so do you.

I love that passage in Luke 1:26 where the angel comes to Mary and says, “You’re going to have a child! I know you’ve never been with a man, but you’re going to have a child and that child is going to be the Son of God.” And in wonder and amazement, Mary looks up, verse 34, and says to the angel: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (“This is not possible.” That’s what she’s saying.)

But, verse 35, “The angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’” 

That’s to live in your marriage, that’s to parent that child for whom no textbook was ever written. That’s to figure out that staffing issue at work that’s driving everybody crazy.

It’s not saying that the Holy Spirit will take all your problems away, but He will give you what you need to be, who God needs you to be, wants you to be, in that situation. The Holy Spirit will come upon you. So the Holy Spirit supernaturally enables and empowers us to serve God.

But He also enables us to overcome sin, indwelling sin, that gravitational force—that pull, that power—of sin in me . . . my flesh. So I do the things I don’t want to do, and I don’t do the things I know I’m supposed to do. There’s this battle that goes on in the heart of a Christian that the non-Christian doesn’t experience. They just do what the flesh wants to do.

But you have the Holy Spirit wanting you to please God, but then you feel pulled, you feel drawn by whatever that gravitational force is in your life. (see Rom. 7:18–20). There are so many Christians—and I’m one of them, so often—who are striving, struggling, trying harder. “I’m going to be a good Christian if it kills me!” It might! Because you can’t live the Christian life. 

The Christian life is not hard, it is not difficult . . . it’s impossible! Only Jesus could live the Christian life. The Holy Spirit lives that life in you, and He enables you to overcome sin. That’s why Paul says in Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Walk by the Spirit and you won’t give in to the flesh.

So I just want to say: you need to get to know the Holy Spirit. 

  • Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. 
  • Thank God that you’ve not been left alone to live the Christian life or to serve God. 
  • Thank God for the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit that lives in you, that transforms you into the image of Jesus. 
  • Thank God for the power that enables and empowers you to serve God and to overcome the pull of your flesh and its sinful tendencies. 

Never, ever, ever say, “I can’t have victory over this sin!” You can’t, but He can! So when you say, “I can’t!” remember, He’s not asking you to do it. He wants to do it in and through you.

So it’s important as we respond to the Holy Spirit that we don’t grieve Him. Scripture talks about that in Isaiah 63:10: “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.” First Thessalonians 5:19: “Do not quench the Spirit.” That word “quench” means “to extinguish or stifle the power or energy of something.” The Holy Spirit is at work within you to make you like Jesus, to sanctify you.

So don’t smother His work; don’t put it out. Let Him have His way, let Him do His work in you. And then Acts 7:51 says that sometimes we resist the Holy Spirit. Don’t grieve Him; don’t quench Him; don’t resist Him. What makes us think, anyway, that we could succeed at resisting God? We can’t! But somehow we’re foolish enough to try at times, right?

I’ll tell you, sooner or later, at the end of the day, He’s going to win that battle! Like your two-year-old who thinks he’s going to win against you . . . you’re going to win. God’s going to win, so don’t resist the Holy Spirit. When we quench Him, when we grieve Him, when we resist Him, we lose His empowering. We lose the blessing of God in our lives.

So that’s what don’t do in responding to the Holy Spirit. What do we do? Well, Galatians 5:18 says that we are to be led by the Spirit. He leads us through His Word. We need to learn to recognize His voice when He’s speaking. 

Instead of just going on our own way when something’s getting ready to come out of my mouth and the Spirit’s prompt is, “You don’t have to say that” Maybe it’s not true, or maybe it is just putting you in a better light, and it’s pride that’s wanting to say that. 

Or maybe you’re wanting to put somebody else down, and the Spirit prompts you, “Don’t say that; that’s not edifying.” So what are you going to do? Are you going to just blurt it out? Or are you going to say, “Yes, Lord.” Obey the Holy Spirit, right?

The Holy Spirit says, “You don’t need that second dessert.” Now, I’m not saying that second desserts are sinful . . . unless the Holy Spirit is prompting you: “You’ve had enough; you’re out of control. Stop!” So what are we going to do? Are we going to just barge ahead and do what we want to do, follow the lusts of our flesh, or are we going to wave the white flag and say “yes” and let the Holy Spirit enable us to do what He’s calling us to do? 

“Be led by the Spirit.” And then Ephesians 5:18 says we are to “be filled with the [Holy] Spirit.” This is not talking about an ecstatic experience; it’s not a one-time experience. This is a way of life! Be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit.

That means, simply, to be under His control rather than your own—every part of your life under the influence of the Holy Spirit. If someone is inebriated with alcohol, they’re drunk with wine, every part of them is affected by this. That alcohol content is affecting every cell of their body!

And Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, don’t be drunk with wine but instead be filled with the Holy Spirit. I think sometimes, as Christians, we’re like [shouting] “Don’t be drunk with wine!” [whispering] “but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

I have seen un-Spirit-filled Christians do way more damage in the body of Christ than I’ve ever seen drunks do. Now, he says, “Don’t be drunk with wine,” so there’s no question about that. But equally important in the force of that imperative is, “Be filled with the Spirit!” 

Let the Holy Spirit control every particle and part and piece of your body, of your soul, of your spirit, so that you’re “inebriated” with the Holy Spirit, under His control. We find that when people get too much alcohol, people who are really quiet get really loud, and sometimes people who are really loud get really quiet and depressed.

They do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, things that are uncharacteristic. When you get filled with the Holy Spirit, you’ll find yourself able to speak up in a word of witness to that person, when you think you’re the shyest introvert on the planet. But God puts it on your heart to share Christ with that person sitting next to you.

You’re going to go, “Who said that?” You were being led by the Spirit. You were being filled with the Holy Spirit, and He was using you as His instrument. And then walk in the Spirit. Be led by the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, walk in the Spirit. We’ve been talking about this. Respond to His promptings.

And let me say this, anything that the Holy Spirit ever prompts you to do will be consistent with this Book. The Holy Spirit will never tell you to do something that is contrary to this Book. Never! If you’re going to be led by the Spirit, if you’re going to be filled with the Spirit, you’ve got to know this Book because the Spirit works through the Word to make Christ real in our lives. 

Now, I want to go back for just a closing moment here to the idea of the fullness and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. 

We’ve hit on a lot of things He does, ways we need Him, but from the Old Testament through the New Testament there is a picture of the Holy Spirit filling every empty space. For example, we read in Isaiah 44:3 the promise of God: “I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.”

When the Old Testament talks about the Holy Spirit, it talks about an effusion of the Spirit, a fullness of the Spirit, an abundance of the Spirit, we see: streams in the desert, water being poured out on thirsty land, the Spirit being poured out upon your children, and the blessing of God being poured out upon generations to come.

There’s a fullness and an abundance of life in the Spirit! God is not a God of scarcity. God is not a God who just metes out to you just a little crumb of the Holy Spirit. No, the Holy Spirit wants to fill you in every empty place in your life. This metaphor of water and rivers is used throughout the Scriptures as a picture of the fullness of the Spirit.

So Jesus said in John 7:38–39, 

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive. 

The fullness, the power of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments, is likened to water that goes into the desert, into the dry places.

It’s likened to a river, from the opening of Genesis to the end of Revelation, we have this river that flows through the Scripture. It’s a picture of the fullness of God’s Spirit. This river comes from God, it proceeds from God. He is the Source of this supernatural supply of water. There’s no human explanation for what the Holy Spirit does in and through God’s people here on earth.

Because, you see, where there is water, there is life; where there is water, there is growth. The Holy Spirit—the river, the water of the Spirit—is an inner source and supply of fruitfulness. Now, the people in the Middle East, reading a passage like this, they didn’t have all these irrigation systems we have. We live here in Southwest Michigan where things are really green. If they get dry, we turn on our sprinklers. 

But in the Middle East, it’s a very arid climate. There’s a lot of desert space, so water was vital! You couldn’t live without water, and flowing rivers were a rarity. But God’s not talking here about the work of His Spirit being a trickling stream. He’s talking about it being a gushing, pouring, sweeping torrential river!

And that river that was talked about, the people in this desert territory could have imagined that it would be a source of food, it would be a promise of abundance of fullness and fruitfulness! This river is not still; it is not stagnant. It is flowing; it is ever-flowing, and it’s a picture that the Spirit of God is alive in our world today! Alive in us, moving, at work, transforming. 

The river of the Spirit transforms and changes everything it touches! You see this just so beautifully in Ezekiel chapter 47. (I’ve done a whole message on this in the past.) There’s a river that we read about in that passage that is flowing from the temple, the presence of God.

And Ezekiel 47:9 says everything “will live wherever the river flows.” Verse 12: 

On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for [your] food, and their leaves for [their] healing.

Listen, this is speaking of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in you and in this world is a never-ending source of life to you and others, and He never runs dry, never runs out! “Freedom, fullness and fruitfulness” we talk about in this ministry. You can’t have that without the power of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience . . . these things come flowing out of us. (see Gal. 5:22).

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). Jesus said if you would believe in Him, if you would exercise faith, out of your innermost being (some translations have it “out of your belly” as in KJV) . . . the deepest part of you . . . will flow rivers of living water. (see John 7:38)

You think that’s not going to affect the people who live with you? You think that’s not going to affect the person in the cube next to yours at work? You think that’s not going to affect your church life, if people start to live in the stream and the flow and the river of the Spirit of God? You’re not going to have carping and division and people tearing each other up. You will have the fruit of the Spirit!

You say, “Well, my church is a really dry, barren place. My family is a really dry, barren place. My workplace is so dry and barren.” That’s why that place needs the Holy Spirit flowing through you! A river of life out of your innermost being, to bless others, to help them grow, to make them flourish, to help them be fruitful.

You see, God wants you and you and you and you and you and me to be, wherever we go, there’s a river of life flowing through us, flowing out bringing abundance and fruitfulness and food and healing and blessing. That’s what the Church in the world is supposed to be like! I don’t mean the church building. I don’t mean the church organization. I mean you and me!

The Holy Spirit flowing out through us to give life and blessing and goodness and fullness and abundance—the fullness of God. We are empty. We are nothing. He is everything!

Oh Father, how we pray that You would fill us! Thank You for Your Holy Spirit! We are empty. We are poor. We are needy. We are dry, thirsty, barren ground. But You are full. You are life! We want that river of life flowing through us. We want to make room for You. We want to let you do Your work. 

We don’t want to just be content with ho-hum, ordinary traditional. We don’t want people to just see what we can do about the Christian life and the changes we can make in other people’s lives. We want to stand back and see what You—and only You—can do to bring life and grace and hope and fullness to this barren, thirsty, dry world. 

Do it in us! Do it through us! Do it for us! Move through us and breathe life and wholeness into the world around us! We pray for Jesus’ sake and in His Name, amen.

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing you the power you have to live according to God’s will. Are you ready to learn more about living in the power of the Holy Spirit? Nancy writes about it in the workbook Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival. She says all revivals share some common characteristics.

When God moves in the hearts of His people, it usually results in an outpouring of honesty, repentance, obedience, and holiness. You can experience all of these on your own, in personal revival. Seeking Him will lead you through the process, and we’d like to send you a copy.

We’ll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size this month. Just visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation and get your copy of Seeking Him. Or ask for it when you call us at 1–800–569–5959.

When Nancy recorded this Seeking Him series, our team was capturing the whole thing on video. That means you can share the message you just heard by inviting a group of friends and watching it together in your own home.

For details on how to get the Seeking Him messages on DVD, along with more copies of the workbook for your group, contact us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Do you know that you make an important choice every single day? Through your actions you are showing whether your day will be all about the Lord or all about you.

Nancy will show you how to make Him your priority. Join us again tomorrow here on Revive Our Hearts!

Revive Our Hearts wants you to experience the freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness of the Spirit. The program is a production of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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