“Then He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” John 20:22 (NLT)
It’s almost been a week into the New Year. So, how are those New Year resolutions working out? I recently read a study conducted by the University of Scranton which found that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. If you’re like me, you’re probably not among that 8%. One guy said, “I’m starting a gym called ‘Resolution’. For the first two weeks out of the year, it’s a gym; then, for the rest of the year, it turns into a bar.” Maybe that’s why most gyms require an annual payment contract. It’s true; hell is paved with good intentions. So much for will power!
What we need is a power greater than personal resolve, greater than determination, and greater than emotion. We need a power outside ourselves to change. Even the great Apostle Paul realized this when he confessed,
“I do what I don’t want to – what I hate.” Romans 7:15 (TLB)
If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re in good company. Twice, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow Me.” The first invitation was easy. Peter was captivated by the teacher and miracle worker. Oswald Chambers writes, “…he did not need the Holy Spirit to help him to do it.” Peter was so confident that he could follow Jesus that he swore he would even die for Him. He followed Jesus for three years, only to deny Him in the end. Devastated by his own lack of resolve, Peter was heartbroken. Chambers adds, “He had come to the end of himself and all his self-sufficiency; there was not one strand of himself he would ever rely upon again and, in his destitution, he was in a fit condition to receive an impartation from the risen Lord.” John tells us what happened. “Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” Then, Jesus invited Peter a second time, “Follow Me.” Jesus provided for Peter – and for all of us – the power we need to follow Him. That power is the person of the Holy Spirit. His indwelling presence enables Christ followers to be what we have become – Christians. He changes us from the inside out! Rely on His power.
I love the way the Amplified Bible translates Philippians 2:13,
“[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”
If you’ve blown your resolutions already, take heart. Only when we come to the end of ourselves are we able to receive the Holy Spirit and experience His power!