Some years ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 75 inmates in the Dade County Jail during their Easter morning chapel service. Beforehand, the question looming in my mind was, “What difference will it make to these men today that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead?”
Actually, we could all apply the same question to ourselves! What difference will it make to me this Easter that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead? The answer doesn’t need to be the same for everyone, but if we don’t ask the question, then maybe the best thing Easter will offer us this year will be marshmallow chicks or chocolate bunnies. Hopefully, though, you’ll enjoy something that’ll last a lot longer!
This is what I shared with the inmates that day. I trusted that some of them both knew that they had some real issues to overcome in their lives and wanted to overcome them to live better lives outside of prison.
In Ephesians 1:17-21, the apostle Paul wrote,
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of Him– since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you may know … what is the incomparable greatness of His power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of His immense strength. This power He exercised in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
Say That Again
In short, the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the grave is available to us who believe! Yes, you did read that correctly! The power that God used to raise Jesus and to seat Him above all angelic, demonic, and human authority—that same power is offered to us who believe in Jesus as our resurrected Savior.
Paul prayed that God would give believers wisdom and revelation so that we might know:
- How incomparably great and immense that power is.
- How that power works “toward,” for, or to us.
Christ’s Resurrection Power and the Believer
Everybody—in or out of prison—has carried a lot of baggage in our lives. Some of it is psychological baggage. Some of it shows up as personality quirks. The worst of it sticks to us in the form of bad habits or persistent sin tendencies.
Once a person has been saved from the penalty of sin through belief in Jesus’s sacrificial death and resurrection, we often begin to desire deliverance from the power of sin in our lives. But try as we may, in human effort, we just can’t seem to beat sin’s power. We often fail miserably and turn to beating on ourselves. And that, my friends, is just not what our loving heavenly Father wants for us!
The good news this Easter is that deliverance from sin’s ugly power in our lives comes the same way that we first gained eternal life in Christ—by grace through faith! We trust God to cleanse and to purify us. We believe Him to prune us like a fruit tree (John 15:1-5), to get rid of the old, nasty growth so that new branches can bear beautiful fruit in our lives. We wait on Him to transform our minds (Romans 12:2) so that we no longer crave the things that kept us in bondage to illusions and falsehoods.
And this is where the same power that raised Jesus from the dead comes to us. God’s Holy Spirit wields that power and employs it for transforming us. As we see truth and beauty in God’s word, we begin to agree with God. We can hear what Jesus prayed to His Father for believers. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
We begin to confess and agree with God, “Your way is right and good. My way has brought trouble and damage.” 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to cleanse us from sin and to deliver us from unrighteousness.” God pulls away huge chunks and bits and pieces of our ungodliness. We find greater and greater joy in Him and in His work in us.
We delight to find that “we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.” (Ephesians 2:10) And we find ourselves rejoicing in the Lord and in the life He is recreating for us!
Resurrection power really is available to us—for setting us free from habitual sin and for delivering us from destructive behavior.
Praise God for His indescribable gift!