Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How the Holy Spirit enables us to obey

The power of the Spirit

The Christian life is lived by the power of the Spirit —

— we obey by the Spirit (Eze 36:27).

— we kill sin by the Spirit (Rom 8:12-13).

— we are sanctified by the Spirit (2Th 2:13).

But what does that mean?

Maybe someone in your small group says something hurtful to you.

You know you ought to forgive them — lay down your anger, not hold it against them, not carry a grudge.

So what do you do?

For years I just relied on my own will-power, and resolved to forgive them.

I tried to feel loving toward them, tried to not think about what they did, tried to not nurse a grudge.

Usually — over time — the anger went away.

And I figured the Holy Spirit had enabled me to forgive.


Was it the Holy Spirit?  Or was it just my will-power?

Is what I did any different from what unbelievers do — when they try to feel loving, try to not think about their hurt, try to not nurse a grudge?

What I didn’t understand

I believed in the Holy Spirit.  I knew He indwelt me the moment I trusted Christ.

But I did not understand what He does — that He loves to —

  • satisfy my thirsty soul with living water (John 7:37-38; Jer 2:12-13).
  • enable me to see and feel Jesus’ glory (2Cor 3:18).
  • fill me with an experience of God’s love (Rom 5:4).
  • cause me to abound in hope of God’s glory (Rom 15:13; 5:3).

And when He does this —

  • my faith is strengthened.
  • my passion for Christ is deepened
  • my hurts are healed.
  • my lusts are defeated.
  • my worries are overcome.
  • my pride is humbled.

AND — I will obey.  Gladly.  Joyfully.  Passionately.  Enthusiastically.  I will obey.

See the difference?

Will-power says —

  • resolve to forgive this person,
  • try to feel loving towards them,
  • don’t think about what they did,
  • don’t bear a grudge —

— and maybe in time your heart will change (a little).

Faith says —

  • Father, forgive me through Jesus,
  • pour out Your Spirit upon me,
  • help me feel that what I have in You is far more than what this person cost me,
  • crush my wounded pride by showing me your mercy,
  • so fill my heart with Your love that I genuinely love them —

— and the Spirit will change your heart (completely).

Making a car move

Let’s say your car is on the side of the road and you want to move it.

So you take off the emergency brake, move to the back of the car, and start to push.

If the ground is level, and you’ve been doing your squats, it will move.

Slowly.  With a lot of effort.  But it will move.

There’s an easier way

The car has an engine.

So why not put the key in the ignition, give it some gas, and let the engine do the work?

It would be a lot easier.

Same with your obedience

You have an engine — the Holy Spirit.

Put the key in the ignition — by praying for more of His work in your heart.

Give it some gas — by pondering the truth of Gods’ Word.

He will change your heart and empower your obedience.

The fine print

I don’t want to make this sound easier than it is.  It’s called the fight of faith because — well — it’s a fight.

A sword-slashing, shield-crushing, spear-stabbing fight (1Tim 6:10; Eph 6:12) —

  • to humble ourselves before God,
  • confess our sin,
  • plead for the work of the Spirit,
  • and set our hearts to trust God’s Word.

But when we do — in time — we will feel the Spirit changing our hearts, freeing our hearts, motivating our hearts.

You can count on it — because God has promised (Luke 18:27; John 6:35; John 8:31-32; 2Cor 3:18; Rom 8:13; 2Pe 1:4).

Feedback?  Pushback?  Questions?

I’d love to hear them.  Feel free to leave a reply below — thanks.

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(Picture by FaceMePLS from everystockphoto.)

Category: Motivation for Obedience, The Work of the Spirit


6 Responses

  1. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    “Maybe someone says something hurtful to you…”
    Or someone says nothing when you usually expect a response. I think this is the same wound within the heart that can be felt in such a moment.

    My main problem with these things has always been to stand those (not really unknown) emotions re-emerging from the darkness of subconsciousness. As soon as Jesus – through the Holy Spirit – opened the entrance to my unconsciousness, an incredible amount of both positive and negative feelings was flooding my consciousness.

    I needed more than 12 years to realize and accept that any emotion had had a root deep inside of me that was planted even in childhood or in youth. The healing process always begins today and then goes backwards, showing me any hurt I experienced in my whole life. Though it is a long and painful process, I see that anger and bitterness have vanished completely in case someone hurts me today.
    Certainly, I feel the pain of being hurt again, but when I keep my heart open through prayer, it won’t last very long until I don’t feel the pain any more. What happens instead is a miraculous thing for me because – out of the blue – forgiveness and an overwhelming love arise for the person who did hurt me. Regular supplication and prayer for him/her deepen this astonishing love more and more. I do not understand how “this” works – for me it’s a real wonder! This is a supernatural love that leaves me stunned and moved to tears. I have no fitting words apart perhaps from referring to one of your Scriptures,

    “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Lk 18:27)

    In Christ’s love,

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I love your description of how the Holy Spirit causes forgiveness and overwhelming love for the person who hurt you.

      That’s not just you will-powering your way to stop being angry at them — that’s a supernatural work of the Spirit making Jesus’ love so real to you that you are filled and overflowing. Thanks for sharing your story.






    • Steve Fuller says:

      I’m glad you found this encouraging Samuel Christopher.

      I agree that the Holy Spirit is a precious gift from the Father.

      I love how the Holy Spirit’s job is to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:14) — enabling us to see and feel and love Christ’s all-satisfying glory.

      Keep relying on the Spirit to do this precious work, brother.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  3. Anonymous says:

    Obedience can never be achieved without the Holy Spirit. That’s why many who tried ‘obeying without the Holy Spirit’ failed.

  4. pamela says:

    Wow I love the way this is explained..I am still learning..

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