LIFE IN THE SPIRIT: Acts—Week 2 (Power)

Acts 2

Last week we began a study of the book of Acts, focusing on the Person of the Holy Spirit—a co-equal Member of the Godhead with the Father and the Son—and how He empowered, inspired, led, and molded ordinary men and women into a movement that turned the world upside down, and how He continues to do so today.  Last week we looked at how the Holy Spirit is both the fulfillment of many promises and the promise Himself.  This week, the theme is power.

The concept of associating the Holy Spirit with power is not introduced in the book of Acts; it is a theme throughout Scripture.  From Genesis 1 forward, when the Spirit moves, things (often miraculous things) happen.  We see the Spirit bring life to the first man.  We see Him bring prophetic wisdom to Joseph.  We see the Spirit supernaturally empower Bezalel with ability, intelligence, and artistry to create the items to be used in the Tabernacle.  We see Him rush upon Samson and Saul, bringing super-human strength to one and the gift of prophecy to the other. In the New Testament, we see the Spirit descend upon Jesus at His baptism, both inaugurating and empowering His earthly ministry.  Thus, by the time we get to Acts 2, it should be of no surprise to us that when the Spirit falls upon the disciples, He does so with tongues of fire and a mighty rushing wind.  From Acts 2 forward, we see the Spirit empower and guide these men and women as they navigate and formulate what it means to be followers of Jesus.

In all candor, this has been a difficult blog to write.  It has been difficult because it is impossible to cover such an immense topic in a short blog post.  It has also been a struggle because for some, discussions about the power of the Holy Spirit can conjure up feelings of doubt, confusion, or even fear. There are lots of debates among Christians about how the Spirit operates or what the Spirit does or doesn’t do.  Personally, there have been times when I have witnessed the Spirit do miraculous things I had been taught He didn’t do anymore.  But there have also been times when it has seemed as if I am devoid of His power in my life.  Rather than getting caught up in the debate over what the Holy Spirit may or may not empower us to do, I’d like to spend the remainder of this blog exploring some of the reasons why His power may seem limited in our lives.

The first reason is obvious: we don’t have the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives if we’ve never surrendered our lives to Christ.  As we examined last week, the Holy Spirit is a gift given to us at salvation.  If we’re not followers of Jesus, then we will not have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us.  Another reason we may not see the power of the Spirit at work in us is because we’ve given no space for His power to work in our lives.  Instead, we’re trying to do the work for Him.  However, just as a tree doesn’t produce fruit by an act of its will (it just does what it was designed to do), so it is with us.  Lasting spiritual transformation is not the result of us trying to do better.  Rather, it is the natural outflow of a life yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we are focused on working harder rather than abiding in Christ, we are placing ourselves into the role assigned to the Holy Spirit by the Father, which inevitably leads to frustration and disappointment.  The final reason we will discuss that the Spirit’s power may seem limited in our lives is because we are seeking to manipulate or control the Spirit. In Acts 8 we see just such a situation.  Simon the Magician was a Samaritan who had used his alleged powers of sorcery to beguile the people and convince them that he was someone great.  After Philip, one of the first deacons in the Church, preached in the area, a great number of Samaritans became believers and were baptized, including Simon.  Unfortunately, Simon struggled to leave his old ways behind, and he thought the power of the Holy Spirit was something that could be bought and sold. Thus, while others experienced the Spirit’s power in their lives, Simon never did.  In fact, one Church legend states that Simon ultimately met his demise in Rome when he jumped from a building to prove the power of God gave him the ability to fly.  While it is easy to judge Simon, we can be guilty of the same attitude.  Anytime we pray a certain way expecting God will do what we want or see our faith or obedience as a condition for God’s responding to our requests, we’re following in Simon’s footsteps.  We must be sure we are surrendered to His leading rather than trying to bridle Him to fulfill our desires.


  1. Have there been times when the Holy Spirit’s power seemed limited in your life?  What were the circumstances surrounding that time?  
  2. Read Titus 3:1-7.  We often associate the power of the Holy Spirit with the miraculous, but Paul gives us a list that seems pretty mundane.  How is the power of the Holy Spirit evident in these qualities?  What are some other areas we might overlook where the power of the Spirit is at work
  3. Have you ever struggled with trying to do the work of spiritual transformation for the Holy Spirit?  Have you ever struggled with trying to control or manipulate the power of the Holy Spirit?  How do we combat such attitudes?