Personal Power: Good or Evil

Reading Level: Impassioned

Many People are on a Search for Personal Power.

No one wants to feel helpless. It is even common for people involved in spiritual searches through a variety of religions to be motivated by a desire for spiritual personal power. The validity of a search or desire for power is often questioned. Everyone has seen situations in which power corrupts. One may wonder whether power can ever be good. In this post, we’ll discuss that question, as well as the safeguards and motivations for power.

The Validity of Power

There is a type of power that we are all to experience, a power that is to be influential in each of our realms of existence. Though this is revealed through several quotes, I’ll use the most direct one first.

I pray that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which God has called us…His immeasurable, unlimited, and surpassing power in and for us who believe. It is the same mighty power He used when He raised Christ from the dead. Eph. 1:18-20

This quote is by the apostle Paul, author of the majority of the New Testament and considered by theologians to be the greatest leader in the Early Church. His prayer was that each person would have a greater understanding (some translations “enlightened”) to know that the same immeasurable power that raised Jesus from the dead is a power that is “in” us and “for” us who believe in God. A limitless power that can return a dead, decaying body to life inside us, and for us to use, is beyond most people’s hope or expectations.

In another place, Paul speaks of his own personal search to know the resurrection power of God:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. Phil. 3:10

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. 1 Cor. 2:4

If these quotes by the apostle Paul do not eliminate your doubts as to whether or not God intended us to have power, here are three quotes  from Jesus Himself.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matt. 22:29

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions [referring to evil spiritual forces] and to overcome all the power of the enemy [satan]; nothing will harm you. Lk. 10:19

I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do…I have sent them into the world, just as You sent Me into the world. Jn. 17:4

In the first quote, Jesus was telling religious leaders that they were in doctrinal error due to a lack of knowledge in both the Scriptures and the power of God. In the next quote, Jesus expresses to His followers that His delegated power in them can overcome the spiritual powers of evil forces. It takes power to overcome power. Lastly, in John 17, Jesus is praying to Father God, saying that He completed the work He was supposed to do on earth and is sending people to do the same work that He did, “just as You sent Me…”

The Purpose of Power

The purpose that God intends for His limitless power, resurrection power, to be in us and for us, is in itself a type of safeguard, though we will discuss that in a moment. Power’s purpose is to continue doing for people what Jesus did for people while here on earth. Jesus said,

I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. Jn. 13:15

What was the whole course of Jesus’ public life? Healing all that were sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, forgiving sins, restoring ruined lives, healing broken hearts. (Lk. 4:36; 6:19; Acts 10:38; Matt. 4:24;15:30)

Even during his time of public travel, Jesus gave His power to those closest to Him and sent them out to do the same things He was doing. See here:

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. Lk. 9:1

They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. Mk. 6:13

The Proof of Pure Power

What then is the proof that someone is using power in a pure way, as opposed to a corrupt way? The proof is, first, in their lifestyle and, second, in the consistency of it. Is the person’s lifestyle replicating or reproducing the positive effects on humanity that the power of Jesus did? If so, is the person doing good with consistency as Jesus did?

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Jesus made an outstanding statement regarding the opportunity for His power to work through us, but it is conditional.

I will do for you whatever you shall ask in My Name. If you really love Me, you will obey My commands. Jn. 14:14,15

God is willing to let His resurrection power work through us, doing whatever good we ask, as long as we truly love Him, which is shown by living in obedience to His commands. God’s commands are intended for the provision and protection of a happy, fulfilling, and effective life for each of mankind. Any desire, thought, or action that would violate an “abundant” life for yourself or another person would be in violation of God’s commands. Limitless power is not safe in the hands of someone who violates God’s principles; therefore, God makes the stipulation that His willingness to do whatever we ask is based on obedience to His type of lifestyle, one that provides and protects.

The commitment to using power to live in the same lifestyle as Jesus, having the same effects as Jesus on mankind, is in itself a safeguard over the use of power:

For God called you to do good…He is your example, and you must follow in His steps. 1 Pet.2:21

You must “follow in His steps” by following Jesus’ lifestyle example of doing good, not harm, of healing and restoring lives through the use of God’s power.

Power’s Ultimate Safeguard

Finally, the ultimate safeguard over a misuse or corruption of power is the law of love. A motivation of love for mankind is to be the ultimate, guiding principle for thoughts, words, and actions. That is why Jesus said that the greatest commandment is loving God and then mankind, that all the commands of God could be kept by obeying the guiding principle of love (Matt. 22:36-40).

Love is often defined by people in many different ways. However, Jesus made clear how He defines love:

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other. Jn. 13:34

Living by a motivation of love means that one lives the same loving lifestyle that Jesus did, one that was healing and restoring to people’s lives, not destructive.

God desires His limitless resurrection power to flow through us, influencing the realm of each of our existence, just as Jesus did. As we follow His lifestyle through a motivation of love, we can see God’s power in and for us bringing phenomenal healing and restoration to our own lives, and the lives of those around us.

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