We don’t have to venture too far into the world of religious resources today to find writers and leaders, songwriters and singers, even pastors and preachers treating the power—that ostensibly comes from God—like it’s some kind of impersonal force, some kind of biblical fairy dust that we can “use,” dispense, or otherwise manipulate. We see it in any Christian talk that refers to our supposed ability to “unleash” or “activate” the Spirit, or any time we talk about “letting God” do something. A few very famous preachers on social media routinely suggest to their audience that unless they pray, obey, or engage in other positive actions, “God can’t” bless them.
The cumulative effect of all this kind of talk is the overwhelming—and overwhelmingly bad—suggestion that the power of God is some kind of force, like in Star Wars. But this line of spiritual thinking owes more to Far Eastern mysticism and New Age occultism than biblical Christianity. Indeed, what we see in the hyper-charismatic events depicted on televangelist programs and what we read in the Twitter feeds of the prosperity gospelists is more like witchcraft than Christianity.
The power Peter says makes us partaker of God’s divine nature is not some impersonal force. In fact, it is not an it at all. This power is the very presence of God himself in our lives. This power is the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
What is the Holy Spirit?
Again: not what. Who. The Holy Spirit is the third divine Person of the Triune God, co-equally and co-eternally God along with the Father and the Son. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. As God, he has always existed, and he always will. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, though he shares the same essential nature they do. Equal with both the Father and the Son, he is commissioned by the Father to glorify the Son and apply the work of the Son to the lives of believers.
I am sorry if that is getting too technical. The bottom line is this:
The Holy Spirit cannot be pumped and scooped. He cannot be slung around, gathered up, or dispensed. He’s not pixie dust. In this sense, there is no such thing as the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is not a thing at all, but the very presence of the personal God himself—with us, in us, and around us.
Yes, the Holy Spirit’s power is something we really do experience, really do have access to, really can be more aware of or less—that is what this entire book is about, after all—but we never, in any sense whatsoever, can think of ourselves as controlling the Holy Spirit. You may as well try controlling ten thousand hurricanes at once. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
So it is. This power, this real power straight from heaven, the power of the presence of the very God in our lives for all eternity, is not something you can step into and out of at your leisure. You couldn’t do that any more than you can step into and out of your union with Christ itself.
The presence of the power of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing reality for those who trust in Jesus, not because of you who perform but because of he who has promised.
This is an edited excerpt from my brand new book Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God's Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life, which releases tomorrow. Today is the last day for special pre-order offer of free resources with purchase. Click link for details.