He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
Have you ever stopped to consider the sheer strength and power of God?
It’s good for us to reckon with how his strength surpasses everything else that can seem so strong compared to us. Whether it’s Olympic weightlighters, or the jaws of a great white shark, or an earthquake or volcano, or the eroding power of falling water, or the muscular frame of an 800-pound gorilla, it’s not too difficult for us to be impressed by such strength, and then easily reason that the creator of such things must be infinitely stronger.
But God doesn’t mean for us to think of his power merely as a physical thing. If he did, the Bible would be a very different book. It would read more like a science textbook and spend more time telling us about the kind of things we learn from the natural world. Romans 1:19–20 says that “what can be known about God is plain” to all of us, because God has shown us “his eternal power and divine nature . . . in the things that have been made.” The physical strength of God should be apparent to us all in nature. But in the Scriptures, God means to teach us about his strength in ways more important and significant than just the physical.
Through the Storm and Through the Fire
One essential way in which God shows his strength is in the moral realm. We call it holiness. And he shows his strength not just defensively, but offensively. Not only does God himself not succumb to the power of sin, but his power is stronger than the power of sin. His strength breaks the strength of sin. His ability to redeem surpasses the ability of sin to ruin.
Another way in which God shows himself strong is in his ability to sustain us in life’s most difficult circumstances. There is “the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11), and his power is at its most powerful when we are in our greatest times of need.
The real proving ground for his power is not our peaceful, sunny days, but the times when the clouds gather. He most flexes his strength not in the calm, but in the storm. Not in the cool of our lives, but when we find ourselves in the fire.
Jesus Is Stronger
And what brings together for us God’s strength in both breaking our sin and in sustaining us in our greatest suffering and pain, is the great summary way in which God shows himself strong: in the cross of Christ.
When Satan seems to be his strongest, Jesus stands ready to show himself stronger in one way after another. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but Jesus opens the eyes of the blind. “The prince of the power of the air . . . is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), but Jesus is at work in us, slowly shaping us into sons of righteousness. As 1 John 4:4 gives us these massively encouraging words, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”
As strong as Satan may seem, as powerful as sin’s pull may be, as enslaving as our shame may be, as dire as our circumstances may feel, Jesus is stronger. He is stronger than Satan, stronger than sin, stronger than shame, stronger than any storm and fire of our suffering and pain, and stronger even than death itself.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55–57)