But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). —Galatians 5:16
Willpower sure sounds like a great thing. We are led to believe that we have enough of it to fight off every temptation that comes our way. And sometimes it works. But let me tell you a little secret about willpower. Willpower is your best friend when things go well, but it’s the first friend to check out when you get weary. I have found that if I really don’t want to do something, my mind gives me plenty of reasons why I don’t have to. My emotions even join in, saying, “I agree because I don’t feel like doing it anyway.”
Our soul (mind, will, emotions) would love to run our lives, but the Bible says we are to be led by God’s Spirit. We are never instructed to be willpower-led, we are told to be Spirit-led. Willpower and discipline are important and vitally necessary to a successful life, but willpower alone won’t be enough. Determination gets you started and keeps you going for awhile, but it is never enough to bring you across the finish line. Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV) says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.
What happens if, instead of turning first to willpower in your time of need, you turn to God instead? God releases His power into your willpower and energizes it to bring you across the finish line. Willpower does not get the credit for our success, God does. Jesus said in John 15:5, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. This is one of the most important and most difficult lessons we must learn if we want to enjoy the life Jesus died to give us.