Everything today is about power. But we seem to want the powerless kind—through control, clever manipulation, deceit, bullying, political factions, etc. For example, as the Time Magazine article admitted (that I talked about here), “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated.” Democracy was saved…for one-party rule. But all of this is the opposite of God’s kind of power.
Everyone wants and uses power. The desire for power is given to us by God. But it’s corrupted when driven by one of two negative human emotions—fear or greed.
You may disagree and say you don’t want power, and that you certainly never seek it in this negative sense. You may think that because you only associate power with aggression, but you could be seeking it passively, by playing the victim, by identifying as the “oppressed.” Or, you may be passive-aggressively leading your own quiet rebellion. We also use power negatively when we put other’s down in order to elevate ourselves above them.
So it’s good to start with an honest assessment of ourselves. 🙂
The State of Things
What always strikes me when I read Paul’s second letter to Timothy is how he absolutely nails the condition of our current culture. I will highlight the salient points in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. See if you can find any similarities to where we are today.
But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce and difficult for the people of God. 2 People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly.
3 They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right. 4 With brutal treachery, they will act without restraint, bigoted and wrapped in clouds of their conceit. They will find their delight in the pleasures of this world more than the pleasures of the loving God.
5 They may pretend to have a respect for God, but in reality they want nothing to do with God’s power. Stay away from people like these! 6 For they are the ones who worm their way into the hearts of vulnerable women, spending the night with those who are captured by their lusts and steeped in sin. 7 They are always learning but never discover the revelation-knowledge of truth. (2 Tim.3:1-7 TPT*)
It doesn’t take any spiritual discernment to see that Paul is describing our world to a tee. But there are two points most relevant to our current state as followers of Jesus:
- They may pretend to have a respect for God, but in reality they want nothing to do with God’s power (vs.5).
- They are always learning but never discover the revelation-knowledge of truth (vs.7).
These two points highlight the difference between empty religion and following Jesus, between true power that comes from God and that which is merely human. What’s interesting about this is that these two areas are resisted by many Christians as much as by skeptics. We even create theology to deny God’s divine power, relegating it to the first century.
But when we deny God’s power, turning it into an empty philosophy of words, we’re left with powerless religion, which usually leads us back to resorting to some form of manipulation, control, or deceit to achieve power.
In our flattened world of materialism, we resist anything beyond the echo of our own thoughts. We deny what we can’t measure or control, which is anything supernatural. We revere education and look down on revelation. Not that natural things are bad or that we shouldn’t be educated, but these things will never lead us into walking in true power.
Here’s the kind of power God intended for us to walk in.
Overcoming Power and Revelation-Knowledge
Earlier, Paul told Timothy this…
8 So never be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor be embarrassed over my imprisonment, but overcome every evil by the revelation of the power of God! (2 Tim.1:8 TPT*)
What Paul is saying here is that it isn’t our clever programs that will free us from lies and bondage, it’s the revelation of God’s power within us. I talk about this in more detail here. Then, later, Paul says the following:
Timothy, my dear son, live your life empowered by God’s free-flowing grace, which is your true strength, found in the anointing of Jesus and your union with him! (2 Tim.2:1 TPT*)
Notice that our true strength does not come from us, but from God’s power within us. It flows to us and through us by His grace.
When we only respect God but deny His power, always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth, we remain unchanged, un-transfigured, never increasing in glory (2 Cor.3:18). We become full of ourselves, thinking we know something when we know nothing. We will mock what we don’t understand, and we will use this counterfeit-power over others.
This is because it’s only the truth experienced through divine revelation-knowledge that makes us free from these human chains (John 8:32).
Beloved, the truth is, we overcome every evil by the revelation of God’s power within us, and our lives are empowered by God’s free-flowing grace. Both of which requires walking in our union with Christ and trusting in His power, not our own. This means that you and I will walk in true power when we let go of all other forms of trying attain it.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Eph.6:10 NKJV*)