Throughout the Bible, scores of believers have wittingly or unwittingly abused the power of the Spirit entrusted to them. In this sermon, Pastor Kong Hee explained integral concepts pertaining to the power of the Holy Spirit so that Christians may be cautious to steward this power well in their lives.
“What is very important for us to understand is that this power we receive (from the Holy Spirit) is ‘on loan’. So, we have to exercise it as faithful stewards of God,” Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, shared at the beginning of his sermon. On the weekend of 11 and 12 Jun, Pastor Kong delved into the stewardship of the power of the Holy Spirit and how Christians can learn from Jesus how to safeguard it.
He first explained that the word “power” comes from the Latin word “potere”, which means ability. Beyond supernatural miracle-working abilities, power also refers to special skills. In Exodus 35:30-34, God empowered Bezalel, through the infilling of the Spirit of God, with the artistic skills to build the Tabernacle and teach these skills to others.
Power also refers to influence—a force that comes with authority, allowing people to influence others even in the absence of official titles.
The overwhelming and infinite power of God is alluded to from the very first verse of the Bible. “By virtue of the fact that we are created in His image means that human is gifted with power,” Pastor Kong taught reading from Genesis 1:26-28. God authorised Adam to name the animals, not because He lacked the ability to do so. Rather, He wanted Adam to exercise authority on His behalf. This applies even today, as seen in the New Testament where He commissioned the Church to exercise power in Jesus’ name (Matt 10:8).
This means that the power is “on loan” to humanity. “But has mankind stewarded the power of God well? Unfortunately, not,” the pastor highlighted. After God gave Adam and Eve the power, they listened to Satan and fell into sin. In Genesis 11, humanity used their power in a collective rebellion against God. Their talents and skills were channelled toward building the Tower of Babel, to challenge God.
REMEMBER THE LORD YOUR GOD
Despite that, God did not give up on His people. He tried again through Abraham and his descendants when He delivered them from bondage and led them out of Egypt. Before the Israelites entered the promised land, God gave the Israelites power to attain wealth. But He also told them that this power was on loan to them, and they were not to forget Him when they became successful (Deut 8:18).
Three chapters earlier in Deuteronomy 5, God reminded them of the Ten Commandments which speak of love. In the next chapter, God expressed His love for His people, promising that He would care for and provide for them. In return, He asked that the Israelites would love to reciprocate His love (Deut 6:5).
In anticipation of their future prosperity, the Israelites were reminded not to lose their holiness and purity (Deut 7:6)—to not become greedy and use their wealth only for their own enjoyment. However, the Israelites did not steward this power well. They did not care for the widows, children, or slaves. They ignored God’s instructions to adhere to the Sabbath Year (Lev 25:2-4) and the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-11), which was meant to create a system of fair wealth distribution.
“God gave Israel an amazing system of wealth management and distribution so that the income gap would never get too large,” Pastor Kong explained. “But for 1500 years, the Sabbath year was hardly ever practised.” Once Israel faced success and wealth, they became proud and greedy—they forgot the Lord.
King Hezekiah was a king who started out humble and walked closely with God. Because he put God first, God gave him success in whatever he undertook (2 Ki 18:6-7). However, once he had tasted prosperity, he used it for self-promotion.
Before the Babylonians became a world empire, they sent ambassadors to visit King Hezekiah. In his desire to be admired for his power, Hezekiah showed off his treasures and weapons to impress them. He lost the chance of witnessing to them the goodness of God.
God was grieved by Hezekiah’s actions and sent Isaiah to prophesy to Hezekiah, warning him that everything would be taken from him (Isa 29:5-6). “Hezekiah’s perversion of power launched Judah into a rapid decline for the next 200 years,” Pastor Kong shared.
David was another powerful king who abused his power repeatedly. In Samuel 25, David had a powerful army and was poised to be the future king. His army had been protecting the herds of an extremely wealthy man, Nabal. But when David asked Nabal to provide for his army, Nabal refused and scoffed at David (1 Sam 25:10-11).
With his ego bruised, David went into a rage and wanted to massacre the entire town, including the innocent. David had become so powerful that he thought he was entitled to kill whoever he wanted. Thankfully, Abigail, Nabal’s wife, talked him out of it (1 Sam 25:31).
David abused his power again a few years into his kingship. He gave in to his lust and violated Bathsheba. He made matters worse by murdering her husband, Uriah who was his loyal soldier. “Sometimes when you are a leader or a boss, and people look up to you, you do certain things that you are not supposed to do. Why? Because you can or because you want to prove that you can,” Pastor Kong cautioned the congregation.
“The Bible gives us case after case of the perversion of power. That power was given on loan from God but it was abused and misused again and again. God’s people did not focus on love and holiness, but instead, they perverted the power, for gold, glory and girls,” Pastor Kong continued.
JESUS GAVE US THE EXAMPLE OF STEWARDSHIP
Thankfully, Jesus came to show believers how one could steward the power of God perfectly. At the beginning of His ministry, the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus and immediately after He had completed His 40-day fast, Satan tempted Jesus.
The first temptation was a challenge for Jesus to turn stones into bread to satiate Jesus’ hunger (Matt 4:3). Jesus countered this by acknowledging that His power was on loan from God—it was not for Him to use for His own benefit.
“Jesus understood the balance between being empowered and using the power the way God wanted Him to,” Pastor Kong explained. Many Christians today feel that they can live their lives the way they want because God loves them and would make anything happen for them—even if it is not His will. If they do not get what they want, they get angry with God.
“It doesn’t work that way,” the pastor emphasised. “I must steward the power of God and use it only to do what God wants me to do.”
In the second temptation, Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. He dared Jesus to jump off the building (Matt 4:6). In reply, Jesus said that He did not want to tempt God. This showed that He understood obedience to God’s will. “There are consequences for bad choices,” the pastor taught.
In the third temptation, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He asked Jesus to worship him in return for the entire world (Matt 4:9). Immediately, Jesus rebuked Satan, declaring that He would only worship and serve God (Matt 4:10).
Jesus was not tempted by power, glory, or fame because “Jesus knew where He came from, where He was going and who was His Source—this is what He models for us,” Pastor Kong taught. “Your value is not based on fame, how many followers you have on social media, or how well known you are in the marketplace. You need to be secure in who you are in Jesus Christ!”
Pastor Kong encouraged the congregation not to live life with the need to constantly prove to others, giving into lust, greed, or anger of the flesh. He assured them that God has cleansed them, and the Holy Spirit has invested great power in them. “You need to understand that your power is anchored and rooted in your Creator and must be yielded and submitted to Him,” he taught.
Like how Jesus was tested, there will be tests for a believer’s love for God, and their desire for purity and holiness. When the Holy Spirit saw that Jesus was able to overcome the three temptations and the attitude of Jesus’ heart, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit”.
“If you focus your life on God’s love and the purity of His Holiness, and reject the lusts of the flesh, the pride, the greed, and the envy; then God can entrust you with more of His power. You will be even more skilful, more gifted, more influential more supernatural, more anointed, and more effective because the Holy Spirit knows that you can be trusted to use His power very carefully in obedience to do God’s will and only for God’s glory,” Pastor Kong encouraged the church in closing.