Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Lesson 02 - Powerless

Lesson 2 – Powerless

Principle 1: Realize I’m not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” (Matthew 5:3)

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)


In Principle 1, we realize we’re not God. We admit we are powerless to control our tendency to do the wrong thing and that our lives have become unmanageable.

One of the things I most enjoy doing is teaching the Bible in our County Jail to the inmates. Very early on in this ministry, I had a room full of inmates in the Bible study, and I asked them the question “What can I do that will help you the most?”. To a man they all said “Help us figure out how to stop doing the things we don't want to do, that get us in here.”

The inmates in the county jail were expressing their frustrating inability to control their tendency to do the wrong things due to their powerlessness, and as a result their lives are unmanageable.

Interestingly, the inmates are trying to get a hold of their lives in the same way that they are trying to get into heaven. When I ask how they are going to get into heaven, the majority has always replied that they hope they are good enough, and that their good deeds outweigh their bad, and that they will just keep trying harder and harder to be good.

But trying harder is a frustrating exercise in futility, it just isn't going to work. How many would agree that if you could resolve your issues by trying harder you would have done it already? We can't because the reality is we are truly powerless.

John 15:1-6 clarifies this situation beautifully.

In John 15:5b, Jesus says “apart from me you can do nothing”. You could say, apart from me you are powerless.

In John 15:4 Jesus says “No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine.

You cannot overcome a powerlessness and unmanageable life unless you have another source, namely, the Vine.

In John 15:7b Jesus explains that “remaining in Him” enables us to “ask whatever we wish, and it will be done for you.

And there is the secret to answered prayer to overcome powerlessness and an unmanageable life. Remaining in Him.

And of course, who is the vine? Jesus is. John 15:1b “I am the true vine”.

That's it. The solution is as simple as that. If you agree with Jesus, that we are powerless without Him, and that our lives are unmanageable without Him, we have completed the first step and principle to recovering from whatever hurts, hangups and habits we have. Lesson 1 spoke of Denial, and Lesson 2 speaks of Powerlessness. Future Lessons will speak about growing from and abiding in the vine.

Tonight we are going to go through the POWERLESS acrostic and find 9 things that happen when we admit we are POWERLESS.

Secondly, we will focus on four actions: two things we have to stop doing and two things we need to start doing in our recoveries. We need to take these four actions to complete Principle 1.



Only ifs








The first letter in tonight’s acrostic is P.

Pride ends in a fall, while humility brings honor” (Proverbs 29:23, TLB).

Pride says “I can do it myself, I don't need to be connected to the vine”. But the reality is that us human beings were literally designed to live in in concert with the Holy Spirit. Pride set's us up to be a one man band, but humility allows us to receive.

Next we begin to lose the If ONLYS. That’s the O in Powerless.

Luke 12:2–3 (GNB) tells us: “Whatever is covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. So then, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in broad daylight.”

The context of this passage is the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Jesus is providing instruction for the disciples before He sends them out. The Pharisee's hypocrisy will be uncovered and their secrets made known.

Hypocrisy is defined as “pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.”

If only they hadn't walked out”,

if only they hadn’t walked out.

if only I had stopped drinking.

if only this. If only if that.

These are the sort of statements that the Pharisee's would make. If one was to say “If only they had not walked out”, it implies virtue and ability on the part of the speaker that they don't have I.E “If only THEY”. Even “If only I had stopped drinking” implies that we have the ability ourselves to change our own behavior. But this avoids the real issue, which is that without Jesus we can do nothing.

The next letter in powerless is the W, which stands for WORRYING.

Matthew 6:34 (TLB) tells us, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”

When we admit we are powerless, we are also acknowledging that there is one who is greater than we are who cares about us and is all powerful. When we turn to focus on and abide in Jesus, we acknowledge His awesome power towards us. We replace worry with trust. We will learn more about this in the next Lesson, Hope.

The next thing that happens when we admit we are powerless is that we quit trying to ESCAPE. That’s the E.

For the light is capable of showing up everything for what it really is. It is possible for the light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also” (Ephesians 5:13–14, PH).

This is a good news passage. It speaks about how the Holy Spirit can reveal to us what is really going on in us. This is a natural outworking of abiding in the true vine, Jesus. Abiding in the light may reveal things we would prefer remain hidden, but it brings mental and physical healing.

The process you go through, moving from darkness to light, can even bring healing to others as you use it for an example of how God helped you through your testimony.

The R in powerless stands for RESENTMENTS.

Ephesians 4:26–27: “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

This context of the passage is living life as a new creation. In Eph 4:23-24 Paul says that we are “made new in the attitude of our mind”, and we “put on the new man”.

As a person learning to live a life abiding in the vine, receiving the spiritual nutrients accordingly, we should guard against anger.

Holding on to anger leads to resentments, and resentments are like a disease attacking the branches of the vine. Resentments prevent life from coming through the vine. It is better to attempt to resolve issues, even if the other is not receptive, for that will help prevent the resentments from affecting the connection between you and the source of life.

The L in powerless: LONELINESS.

Continue to love each other with true brotherly love. Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:1–2, TLB).

If you want to have a lot of friends, make it a goal to be a giving and loving person. Remember that abiding in the vine and receiving God's empowering strength applies here. We love people with the love that God has poured into our hearts. We set ourselves in that direction.

When you admit you are powerless you also give up another E, the EMPTINESS.

Jesus said, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10, TLB).

The idea here translated “all it's fullness” is “superabundant” in quantity and “superior” in quality. It is life in excess. This is an amazing promise that we receive by faith.

The promise here is that when we abide in the vine, we will be full to overflowing, for Jesus is the substance of life. Emptiness resides where there is no Jesus.

The first S stands for SELFISHNESS.

Luke 17:33 (TLB) tells us, “Whoever clings to his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life shall save it.”

Consider this passage juxtaposed with John's instruction to abide in the vine. Clinging to this life is akin to the selfishness of doing things our way, which leads to corruption, decay and death.

Loosing our life is akin to the selfless way of abiding in the vine, and allowing ourselves to be transformed into the image of Christ which leads to life.

This is the message of the gospel and the way to life. It is sowing to the spirit and not the flesh. It is identifying with Christ in His death and so with His resurrection.

The last thing that we give up when we admit that we are powerless is SEPARATION.

For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away.… Nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us (Romans 8:38–39, TLB).

This passage speaks of God's everlasting love towards us. It matters not what we are going through, nothing will deter God's love towards us. It is everlasting and overcoming.

Four Actions

To summarize what we have covered so far:

Stop: Living in Denial and quit denying the pain.

Stop: Trying to bring healing and recovery to ourselves. Healing and recovery cannot happen if we are not attached to the vine, abiding in Jesus.

Start: Admitting that we are powerlessness. Our sense of power interrupts God's true power.

Start: Admitting that our lives have become unmanageable, and that we need Jesus to manage our lives.


Powerless. It is the state that mankind has been in since the Fall. But Jesus through His death and resurrection has provided a remedy. He is the remedy through the Holy Spirit that lives in us. The answer that he gave to all of us is to abide in Him to avail ourselves of His power.

Have you done that? If not, today is the day.

Altar Call

      1. First, we must know that we are a sinners.
        Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

      2. We must know that the wages of sin is death.
        Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

      3. We must know that Christ the Savior died for us and for our sins while we were in our sinful state.
        Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

      4. Salvation is a free gift from God, through Christ.
        Rom 3:24-25 ... all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood--to be received by faith.


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