Two Conditions for Real Spiritual Power

Most of us have things about ourselves we’d like to change, but many of us are discouraged at our persistent inability to do so. Some people didn’t even make a resolution this year because they don’t need one more thing about which to feel guilty when they believe they will inevitably fail.

When Jesus drives out a mute demon in Luke 11, he is teaching us that if we don’t recognize the real nature of the Enemy, we’ll be ill-equipped to survive the battle.

You’ll find the Enemy at work in culture and media and business, but he’s also at work in our churches and families—and even in our own hearts. That understanding requires different strategies of engagement, and it also reveals why we struggle so much to bring real change into our lives.

Jesus explains that it’s because spiritual forces are at work in us. And, apart from his power, any attempt to change is doomed to fail—even if for a little while it looks like we succeed.

Are You Fully Surrendered?

Luke 11:23 says, “Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters” (CSB).

Until you are fully surrendered to Jesus, you are powerless to fend off Satan’s domination. Cleanup or self-reform or pledges to do better won’t do it. You’re either all-in with Team Jesus or you’re still on Team Satan.

Christianity is not about self-improvement; it’s about surrender. So, the only question is, “Are you fully surrendered?”

C.S. Lewis said that we come to Jesus like people whose house is in disrepair. We hear Jesus can fix it, so we ask him to help us clean it up. He does—but then he starts knocking down walls. You say, “Wait a minute, Jesus. I just wanted a cleanup. I wanted help tidying up my room, my marriage, my habits, my career, and my kids.”

Jesus says, “I can help you with all those things. But to get that help, the house has to belong entirely to me. I don’t come just as your divine servant to help you become a better ‘you.’ I come as the owner. I’m not here to take requests; I’m here to take over.”

We don’t come to God, Lewis said, as bad people who need to be made into better people. We come to him as rebels to lay down our arms. We don’t come to Jesus to turn over a new leaf; we come in surrender to receive a new life.

The only way to come to Jesus is in total surrender.

Keep Knocking, Knocking, Knocking

In the first part of Luke 11, Jesus teaches about the power of prayer through the story of a man who has unexpected visitors in the middle of the night and needs bread to feed his guests. The man knocks and knocks and knocks on his neighbor’s door until his friend gets up and gives him the loaves he is asking for.

This, Jesus says, is how you should pray. If the neighbor responds to such persistence, “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13)

If you want the power of the Holy Spirit in and through your life, you get it not only through surrender but also through desperate, urgent, unrelenting prayer.

You don’t need to put more effort into “sweeping and cleaning” your life because that will never produce lasting change. It takes Jesus’ power and presence to make a change, and that comes only through surrender and prayer.

If you want to see God’s hand working in your community, your church, your family, and in your own heart, you must first fully surrender to Jesus and then keep knocking, knocking, knocking with fervent prayer.