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Every Believer Is a Powerhouse

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But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

In this passage, the apostle Paul assures us that there is something strong and forceful within the believer, and it is godly. Every Christian is a walking powerhouse, guaranteed by the presence and power of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

The Power Within

Paul begins by saying “we have this treasure in jars of clay.” It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to know that this jar is a metaphor for the weak human body—frail, easily bruised and easily broken. Yet within, there is something to be greatly prized. Thesauros, the Greek word in the original text that is translated “treasure,” literally means “storehouse” or “place of safekeeping.”

During biblical times, people kept their most valuable items in everyday, unattractive clay jars to conceal them from thieves. Consequently, the Corinthian recipients of this letter would have understood what the apostle was telling them and could have quite easily pictured themselves as the clay jars within which a treasure was stored.

That treasure housed is power from God, placed there through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. At the instant one believes the gospel and receives Christ as one’s Savior, at that moment of regeneration, the power and presence of God through Christ and the Holy Spirit becomes part and parcel of the Christian’s life. Two other Scripture verses confirm this. The first is Titus 3:5-6: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” The second is Ephesians 1:13-14: “Having believed, you were marked in him [Jesus] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance . . .”

Dunameos, the Greek root for our English word “dynamite,” is the word Paul chose in 2 Corinthians 4:7 to speak of that power stored within us. Various versions of the Bible interpret it as “this power that surpasses all things”; “this superior power”; “this great power”; “this extraordinary power”; “this splendid power”; “this surpassing greatness”; “this super-excellence of power” and “this excellency of the power.” I believe that the two latter interpretations best convey Paul’s intention.

The Greek word for “excellency” is huperbolei, which, when combined with dunameos, literally means an “overcast power” or a “transcendent power.” In his endeavor to explain “transcendent,” philosopher Immanuel Kant stated, “It means exceeding the limits of experience and therefore unknowable except hypothetically.” In other words, this power within us is above our comprehension. Yet He who is unknowable made Himself known to us through our Lord Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Believer, we need to realize that that which is within us is explosive; it can move mountains, stem a raging tide, bring down walls—and it is all from God, not from us. This power, beyond our comprehension, is encased within frail, weak, easily bruised and easily broken us! We are the jars of clay, and yet we are a powerhouse because of the transcendent power of God within us!

The Power Made Relevant

After so vividly illustrating the power at work within every believer, the apostle then explains how this transcendent power affects everyday life. The power within may be beyond understanding, but it is applicable to common situations. Paul cited several couplets of troubles to illustrate his point. The first is being “hard pressed but not crushed.” That power within will keep the believer from being overcome when the troubles of this world press in from every side. The image is of someone being constricted, constrained and pushed down upon. The person crushed by life is cramped, hemmed in or distressed.

Everywhere, there are problems that seem relentless, continually bombarding mind, body and spirit. Yet not one believer’s soul can be crushed, because the transcendent power of God through Christ is resident within us through the deposit of the Holy Spirit.

Imagine a plastic bottle filled with water. If a person were to press upon the sides of the bottle with both hands, they would not be able to make the sides touch. The water contained within would resist the pressure from the outside. But should the bottle be emptied of its contents, then without much effort, the bottle could be flattened.

Every one of the remaining couplets describe other problems that impact believers in every era. “Perplexed but not in despair” speaks to a life that is out of control. Although confused with nowhere to turn, the Christian will not lose hope and will not give up, because of the excellent power within. Paul selected the words “persecuted but not abandoned” to remind the believer who is being chased and harassed that he will not be forsaken or left to cope alone, because of the all-surpassing power within.

Lastly, Paul says the believer may be “struck down but not destroyed.” The story is told of a boxer on the verge of losing a fight who was told to stay down the next time his opponent hit him. He bluntly stated, “I may be knocked down, but I am not yet knocked out”!

Power Nurtured

As believers we should tap into that transcendent power available through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit within us. It is a gift that will never leave, and it is unconditional.

How can one tap into that power? Our spiritual walk is nurtured and strengthened through time spent daily in the Master’s presence, through study of His Word, prayer and life lived in obedience to His will. These basic disciplines of the faith will keep the believer reminded that we live and move and have our being by means of the power of God through Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

We may be jars of clay, but every believer is a walking powerhouse.

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