"Not by Might, Nor by Power, But by My Spirit," Says the Lord Almighty
- Summary: The Bible says that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). There is no amount of human intellect or skills sufficient to accomplish the work of God effectively. It is not by our might, power, or abilities, but by the Spirit of God, that we will live fruitful lives in the Lord’s service on this earth.
Zechariah 4:6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
- • Human might or power is not sufficient to accomplish the work of God on earth. It takes the presence, enablement, and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to fulfill “thy will be done on earth.”
- • The One who stimulates all personal and national revival, as well as all effective ministry, is the Spirit of God, the third Person of the holy trinity. As Jesus anticipated His own return to heaven, He told His disciples that it was good for them that He go, because from heaven He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them and in them always (John 14:16-17; 16:7).
- • The Scriptures show the Holy Spirit at work to make every aspect of our lives effective in God’s service. Let’s see some illustrations.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
- • In 1968 and early 1969, the Holy Spirit of God was working upon me to pierce my heart of stone with an awareness of God’s love and grace. He succeeded, and in February 1969 I made a definite, heartfelt commitment to Jesus Christ as my Savior. It was the Spirit of God who had been working upon my stony heart. God “removed” my hard heart, put His Spirit in me, and gave me a “heart of flesh,” and “moved” me to begin a now-45-year journey of loving and serving the Lord.
- • Have you been trying to help a friend turn to the Lord, but have encountered hardness of heart at every conversation? Then pray to God that He would cause His Spirit to soften that person’s heart. What man cannot do — it's “not by [human] might nor by [human] power” — the Holy Spirit can definitely do (“by my Spirit, says the Lord”). He is the Heart-Changer!
John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ ”
- • Words of supreme importance and with eternal consequences — “You must be born again!” Jesus said that without a birth by the Spirit, no one will enter the kingdom of God.
- • We are not saved by good works, but by grace through faith. Paul said it well to Titus: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
- • Our entrance into the heaven-bound family of God begins when we come to sincere faith in Jesus Christ and repent of our sins, receiving His grace and forgiveness and new birth by the Holy Spirit in return.
Acts 1:4-5, 8 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…  you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- • One of the most amazing works of the Spirit in the believer’s life is the baptism with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This filling of the Spirit empowers us for successful ministry — “You will receive power” (vs. 8). And it enables us to “be witnesses” effectively for Jesus Christ.
- • I personally was born again in February 1969. Two years later I heard about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and received that mighty infilling in 1971. It changed my life forever! I sensed the power of God working in my life to be a good witness for Jesus Christ. Souls began to be saved, and spiritual gifts began to be manifested.
Acts 2:17-18 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
- • As seen above, believers have the privilege of being baptized with/filled with the Holy Spirit. In this context, the apostle Peter speaks of the Spirit being “poured out” upon men and women, old and young. A result of that will be our experiencing such spiritual things as visions and dreams, as well as gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy.
- • In other words, being filled with the Spirit opens up for us the opportunity to begin operating in an enlarged scope of spiritual gifts, ministries, and manifestations.
John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
- • We don’t tell the wind where to blow. Neither do we tell God’s Spirit where to lead. Rather, He is like the wind; He will lead us where He chooses, perfectly manifesting the will of God in coordination with the Father and the Son.
- • In fact, one of the marks of our being a son or daughter of God is receiving this spiritual guidance — “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14).
Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
- • Prayer is best when directed by the Spirit. Why? Because, as this verse says, often we do “not know what we ought to pray for.” But the Spirit of God certainly does know. He is perfectly aware of the will of God and intercedes for us in accordance with that will.
- • As you enter into times of prayer, right at the outset open yourself up to the promptings, the leadings, of the Holy Spirit. You will find Him guiding your thoughts and words into prayer that is in line with the will of God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The person without the Spirit [ KJV: the natural man] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit [KJV: because they are spiritually discerned].
- • How do we understand the things of God, His thoughts, His plans for us? We understand them by spiritual discernment. Without the Spirit, these things may appear to the natural man as foolishness. But the man or woman guided by the Holy Spirit will discern the mind of God.
Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
- • Our life in Christ on this earth — the beginning, the middle, the end — is to be under the continual influence of the Holy Spirit. “The flesh,” our natural human nature, is incapable of accomplishing the will and the works of God.
- • We began our walk with the Lord through the new birth — by the Spirit!
- • He took away our stony heart and put His Spirit in us, and our hearts were changed — by the Spirit.
- • He gave us the mighty baptism with the Spirit, to empower our lives for ministry.
- • We are brought into a new realm of such spiritual manifestations as visions, dreams, prophecy and other spiritual gifts — again, all by the Holy Spirit.
- • We receive guidance from the Holy Spirit.
- • We discern the things of God, not by natural means, but by God's Spirit.
- • The Holy Spirit brings us into our initial relationship with God through His Son Jesus. He continues to lead us, empower us, and reveal God’s mind to us throughout our earthly lives. And it is only through Him, the Holy Spirit, that (vs. 3) we can “finish” our lives on earth with victory and can look back on a life well spent under the Holy Spirit’s daily control.
Make every effort daily, as the apostle John said it, to be “in the Spirit” (Revelation 1:10), to be in touch with Him, to be in harmony with Him, to be sensitive to His voice, to have your mind “governed by the Spirit” (Romans 8:6). How can we achieve this? It is not difficult. Simply cultivate a lifestyle that is devoted to the Lord in His word (the Bible), in worship, in prayer and praise, and in holiness. Do so and you will find yourself drawn increasingly closer to the Father and the Son through the blessed Holy Spirit, who has been given to dwell with us and in us as born-again children of God.
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©2014, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.