Bertha Smith, a missionary to China, once pronounced some of the most discouraging words I’d ever heard: “Charles, I want to tell you that you’re as good as you’ll ever be. You’re as good as you’ve ever been, and you won’t ever be any better than you are.”
I had grown up believing a falsehood—that believers were to pour effort into turning their flesh around and doing right all the time. Thankfully, Bertha wasn’t finished. “God never intended for you to get better, because you can’t improve flesh,” she said. “But the Holy Spirit, who is living inside you, will enable and live through you.”
She was right. My flesh hasn’t changed one bit. But as the Holy Spirit releases His supernatural power in my life, I find myself going beyond what is inherent to the nature of man. And the indwelling Spirit intends to do the same with every follower of God.
Although the works of the Holy Spirit are many, four are basic to the life of faith: The Spirit illumines the mind, enabling believers to understand the things of God; He energizes physical bodies to serve the Lord; He enables the will to follow through on doing what is right; and He quickens emotions to feel and express the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Bertha Smith passed on an important truth to me: Flesh is insufficient. Only the Holy Spirit living inside us has the strength and wisdom to live out the Christian life victoriously. That’s why God gave us His Spirit, through whom we reap all the benefits of a righteous and godly life.