Summary: We want power. Everyone wants power. The pursuit of power is what got Adam in trouble and landed us in a fallen world – a creation groaning under the curse and a heart bent toward sin. And yet, what is it that Paul prays for in our text this morning –
The Power of Holiness
Cascades Fellowship CRC, JX MI
March 13, 2005
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Tim Allen, brought to life one the most beloved and most quoted television characters of all time. In fact, he played the man trying desperately to be “a man’s man,” Tim ‘the tool man’ Taylor.
In the situation comedy, Home Improvement Allen brought the bumbling testosterone-addicted ‘Tool Man’ into our living rooms. He taught us to agonize with the plight of man in a society that has decided it no longer wants to be male-dominated. He is the consummate chauvinist – a gear-head out of Detroit with a frat-boy sense of humor and a viking’s sensibility – well, at least what we picture to be a viking’s sensibility. The sports arena, the hardware store, the garage were his stomping grounds – where he was most at home. He even spoke fluent grunt.
And like the typical male, his natural bent was to fix things, whether he knew how to or not. The mental and emotional discomfort that gets stirred up by something that doesn’t work as it should – whether a machine or flesh – is too much for Tim Taylor, as it is for the average male. The urge to fix it, to make all things better, to bring order back to something breaking down into chaos always gets the better of Tim, driving him. And for him the primary means of fixing something is always the same – it needs more power.
We like the word “power,” don’t we? More to the point, we like power. We have power bars, power ties, power walks, power brokers and my personal favorite, power naps. Power is intoxicating, it is stimulating, attractive. Power turns heads and opens doors; it both inspires and calms fears. We want to be empowered, we despise being overpowered and having circumstances out of our power generates hopelessness. If we want something to sell or catch someone’s attention, we attach the word “power” and underscore it.
We want power. Everyone wants power. The pursuit of power is what got Adam in trouble and landed us in a fallen world – a creation groaning under the curse and a heart bent toward sin. And yet, what is it that Paul prays for in our text this morning – he prays that we will have power.
Over the past few weeks we have been talking about holiness. We looked at the big picture of holiness and then talked about what it means practically to pursue holiness. It isn’t just dos and don’ts – rather it is reflecting Christ in every area of life. We then said that it begins with repentance – with taking God’s attitude toward sin and making it our own. Essentially, hating sin as God hates sin. After that we spoke of holiness as a healthy Christian life – striking a balance as we grow in how think about God, how we worship and how we feel about him.
This morning we are going to talk about the power of holiness. We will begin by talking about what the power of holiness is not. Then, we will take a look at Paul’s prayer in Ephesians for insight concerning what is the nature of the power of holiness. Finally, we will talk about how that power is revealed in the life of the child of God.
So when Paul is praying that we will have power, what is he praying for? Our tendency, usually, is to understand power as some capability we can control. Power is something that is possessed, it augments or enhances what is already there naturally.
In Acts 8:9-24, Simon the sorcerer sought the power of holiness, but he didn’t understand what he was asking for. After seeing the manifestation of the Holy Spirit upon those whom the apostles touched and prayed for Simon begged them to sell him the power to do the same. He wanted to be able to share or withhold that blessing with whomever he chose.
What Simon didn’t understand – and a mistake rather common in the church today – is that when you begin talking about the power of holiness, we are not talking about receiving this new ability that allows us to do this or that. We are not talking about some sort of magical or miraculous powers that suddenly start showing up in our lives. We are not talking about becoming a super hero with super powers.
Now, we may giggle and laugh a little and think, “Gee, Chris. We knew that.” Yet, when we talk about power, we still think of it as some sort of endowment of ability that we are able to use at our discretion, like a faucet or light switch we can turn on or off at will. We want to be able to control it, to harness it and use it strategically. We want to be able to bring to bear on specific applications – one’s of our own choosing.