How’s your willpower? Most people complain that they are giving into the cry for comfort and instant gratification in life instead of the determination to do what is necessary to lose weight, get in shape, or even fight off various additions to hurtful temptation in life. Willpower defined is “the control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.” Some synonyms include determination, resolve, commitment, drive, and dedication. I think you get the point that willpower is an important element in succeeding in the race of life, but what if you feel like you lost the power in your willpower and find yourself “giving in” more than “resisting and pressing forward?
God has not left us alone to survive in life relying solely on our own strength and willpower. Consider what a follower of Jesus Christ has been given, namely: power from God, power in weakness, and power within.
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) — 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Corinthians 12:9–10 (ESV) — 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Ephesians 3:20 (ESV) — 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
So when you lack willpower, which is an attempt to stir up personal determination or drive to either go forward to accomplish a certain thing or to resist something that you know will bring you down, then it’s time to step back and rely upon the power that God. He has overcoming power for each one of us who have called upon the Lord in salvation, who have seen that their own willpower will never get them into a relationship with God but have seen that God is the one who has accomplished salvation through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit within, who makes us willing.
Psalm 110:3 (ESV) — 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.
So it’s God’s power within that makes the difference. No wonder we are warned about false doctrine that tries to make godliness as something that is worked up rather than something worked within by God.
2 Timothy 3:2–5 (ESV) — 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Where’s the willpower? Isn’t there something we must do? Certainly, but the willpower is first in the submitting everything to God in relying upon His power and grace then secondly responding with determination to do whatever He sets forth for us to do.
Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
2 Peter 1:3–11 (ESV) — 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
That long passage in 2nd Peter reminds us that God has given us everything we need to carry out His will, so we need to make every effort to apply what He has given. In doing so, we find our lives are empowered – even our willpower is empowered with His power. What is that power within us like? It’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Whoa!
Ephesians 1:19–20 (ESV) — 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
It’s not a matter of us coming up with more willpower, it really is a matter of tapping into the power that is already within us, the power of the Holy Spirit, who is there to prompt us, lead us, help us, encourage us, and assure us.
If your willpower needs a power jolt, then it’s time to come back to the basics and realize you were not designed to live life on your own. You need a super abundant supply of power to help you live out a life of determination and resolve. That super abundant supply of power is the power of God, not something you stir up on your own. Relying upon the “arm of flesh” (your own power) is destined to fail. Instead, rely upon the work and power of the Lord Jesus Christ and the promised Holy Spirit within.
A great example is the call to be content in the Bible. You can be as determined as you try to be content but never get there. Your willpower will not cut it. However, relying upon the power of God makes the difference.
Philippians 4:12–13 (ESV) — 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
The Lord Jesus Christ is there to empower you – not as your copilot but as your Lord and Master.
- Check out the PowerBreak Podcast where you download podcasts or from our website. It’s a twice a week show featuring a discussion program of a recent PowerBreak blog and an interview program featuring a story of perseverance – all to encourage you and help you finish strong in the race of life.