“Hence we collect, that it is not in our power to obey what God commands us, except this power proceeds from him.”
Here the Prophet narrates that he was chosen by the command of God. For God never prostrates his people so as to leave them lying upon the earth, but continually raises them afterwards. As to the reprobate, they are so frightened at the sight of God, that they utterly fall and never rise again. But it is different with the faithful, because the pride of the flesh is corrected in them; then God stretches forth his hand to them, and restores them, as it were, from death to life. And this difference we must mark diligently, because we see the impious often dread the voice of God. But if they disdainfully despise him when speaking, they are frightened by his hand when some signs of his wrath and vengeance appear: but yet they remain lifeless. In like manner the faithful dread the voice of God, but the result is altogether different, as we see here: because after God has humbled them, he commands them to be of good courage, and shows that he intended nothing else but to establish them by his power. At the same time the Prophet teaches that nothing was accomplished by this voice till the Spirit was added. God indeed works efficiently by his own words, but we must hold that this efficacy is not contained in the words themselves, but proceeds from the secret instinct of the Spirit. The Prophet therefore shows us both truths. On one side he says, I heard the voice of God, so that I stood on my feet: God thus wished to animate his confidence: but he adds that he was not raised up by the voice, until the Spirit placed him on his feet
This work of the Spirit, then, is joined with the word of God. But a distinction is made, that we may know that the external word is of no avail by itself, unless animated by the power of the Spirit. If any one should object, that the word was useless, because not efficacious by itself, the solution is at hand, that if God takes this method of acting there is no reason why we should object to it. But we have a still clearer reply: since God always works in the hearts of men by the Spirit, yet his word is not without fruit; because, as God enlightens us by the sun, and yet he alone is the Father of Lights, and the splendor of the sun is profitless except as God uses it as an instrument, so we must conclude concerning his word, because the Holy Spirit penetrates our hearts, and thus enlightens our minds. All power of action, then, resides in the Spirit himself, and thus all praise ought to be entirely referred to God alone. Meanwhile, what objection is there to the Spirit of God using instruments? We hold, therefore, that when God speaks, he adds the efficacy of his Spirit, since his word without it would be fruitless; and yet the word is effectual, because the instrument ought to be united with the author of the action. This doctrine, thus briefly expounded, may suffice to refute foolish objections, which are always in the mouths of many who fret about man’s free-will: they say, that we can either attend to the word which is offered to us or reject it: but we see what the Prophet says. If any of us is fit for rendering obedience to God, the Prophet certainly excelled in this disposition, and yet the word of God had no efficacy in his case, until the Spirit gave him strength to rise upon his feet. Hence we collect, that it is not in our power to obey what God commands us, except this power proceeds from him.
Taken from Calvin’s Commentary on Ezekiel, chap.2:1-2, which reads, “And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me. ” Emphasis (bold type) added.