Peninsula Community Church
November 9, 2014
Ephesians – The Inner Man
Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
One of the struggles we often face as believers is to understand what or how we should pray. I have this discussion with folks so often. They question how to pray, when to pray, and when should pray. The blessing for us is that the Bible is filled with examples of how we ought to pray. Paul in particular gives us several examples of how we should pray. Before us today is one such example.
One of the greatest things we can do in our prayers is to focus on others. Paul does that in this passage. In the prayer before us, Paul prays one of the most powerful prayers in the Bible. It is a prayer that should be emulated on a regular basis. This prayer is for others in our life. It is a prayer that we can pray when we do not know what else to pray. It is a powerful prayer of restoration and revival. As I say that let me say that this is not to be considered some secret formula that works in every case, for every person. Nor is it the specific verbiage that make this prayer so powerful. It is the focus and intent of the prayer. It is the focus on God and an understanding of His grandeur.
If this prayer is to be emulated, then let us take a look at the dynamics of the prayer. Paul begins the prayer with phraseology that is not new to Paul’s writings. He clarifies from the beginning that this prayer will be answered through the riches of Christ’s glory. This is both a reason to pray and the assurance that our prayer will be answered.
For a moment, let us look at this idea of riches in Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:7 Paul states that our salvation comes according to the riches of His grace. In Ephesians 1:17-18 we find that our future hope is founded in the riches of His glorious inheritance. It is a guarantee you can take to the bank. In Ephesians 2:18 we find the immeasurable richness of His grace in kindness. In Ephesians 3:8 Paul understands that the preaching of the mystery of the Gospel is rich.
Here in Ephesians 3:14, Paul reminds us that we grow and mature in Christ because we have the bank of heaven at our disposal. This is not a bank of money but of answered prayers and the vastness of God’s love and grace that is distributed to all of mankind. You see our task is to pray prayers of faith that focus on the power of God to bring results. It is not our specific prayer as much it is the heart of faith that calls out to a loving God that wants to answer prayer for us more than we want to pray prayers. We pray in faith and leave the rest to God. Too often we are trying to control the outcome of our prayers but that is not faith. That is not trust in a God that knows best.
So what does Paul pray for? First, Paul prays for them to be strengthened through the spirit in their inner being so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. Would you notice there are two aspects of this strengthening. There is the aspect of being strengthened through the Spirit in our inner being and there is the aspect of making room for Christ to dwell in us.
Why does Paul pray for the inner man to be strengthened? Paul does so because the inner man is where our emotions and reasoning are deposited. The word used here for strengthen is an interesting word in that it means to “become strong.” Specifically, in the Greek, it denotes growth in childhood, especially from the standpoint of mental independence. You see what God is strengthening is the mental processes and reactions we use in life. He knows that if the inner man of reasoning, faith, and right thinking is strengthened, then the rest of what we do will fall in line with God’s will and His work.
Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. He says So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Think about what that means to us. The truth is we can be filled with anxiety, fear, and discouragement. We can be weighed down by thoughts that destroy rather than build up. Our bodies can be literally wasting away but our inner man can continue to be renewed day by day. You see the world can be falling apart around us but we can survive when our inner man is good. As my inner man is restored and strengthened, I have found that I can endure so much more. Here is another aspect to this. When we are strengthened in our inner man, we have the power to resist the devil more so than with our flesh. More than just positive thinking. More than guilting ourselves into change. Here is what Paul is praying. I am praying that their inner being will be strengthened so that you will be an overcomer.
Think about it for a moment. If you trying to diet from the flesh, you will not make it. The smells and desires for food will overcome you. But, let your inner man be strengthened and let your heart be focused on good eating habits, you will survive. We would try to wake him in the morning and it was so difficult. An army of soldiers could come marching through his room and he would not stir. He wanted to wait to the last minute to get up. But an amazing thing took place. One Saturday morning he was scheduled to go to an amusement park with his girlfriend and her family. They were to leave at 5:00AM. At 4:00AM I heard a noise downstairs which I went to investigate. I found my son dressed, his back pack ready, and sitting at the table eating cereal. What changed? His heart was in it. His inner man had been moved and effected by his love for this girl. How much more will we do for God when we set our affections on the things of God and we see our inner man being strengthened?
Paul now transitions to help us understand why this is necessary and why it is important. The purpose of being strengthened is to be a dwelling place for Christ. For Christ to dwell in us means that He is no longer a visitor. He is no longer one that has to be invited in, He has come to reside or dwell in us. When we accept Christ, we are filled with Christ. He comes to live within us. He is with us in our private time when no one else is watching. He is with us when we transact business with others. He is with us when want to gossip and talk about others. It is interesting to note that the Greek word used here for dwell represents a completed act and not a progressive act. The work is already accomplished. To often though, we live like Christ never entered our lives. We push Him away rather than drawing closer. We try to hide Him when we are around people that may not accept Christ. We turn to other solutions for life’s problems rather than depending on the one that is in us.
A number of years ago we were invited to a family member’s home for the weekend. We were a guest in their home but we did not feel like a guest. In fact it was a very awkward time. When it came time to eat dinner, the main reason we were there, we were placed in the kitchen with our children and Michelle’s grandmother while the rest of the family was in the dining room. We could hear the laughter and the clinking of silverware. We hear the drone of cover station that we were not privy to. We felt isolated and not welcomed. You see one of the problems was that they had invited their daughters boy friend over who was Jewish. They had a fear that we would say or do something that would offend him. Too often we invite Christ in into our lives but we do not give him a seat at the table. We are afraid that he will interrupt our lives but when we are built up in our inner man we will not be afraid of what Christ may do or what He may do through us.
In the second part of this prayer Paul prays that they will be rooted and grounded in love. We are to be rooted in love. The purpose of roots are to provide nourishment and they are to provide support. When we are rooted in love, we will receive the nourishment of love but we will also give it out. The roots receive the nutrients from the soil in which they are planted. If the soil is bad the tree will not be sustained.
This idea of being rooted in love reminds me of Psalms 1:3-4. David proclaims that the believer is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. This means that our nourishment through Christ is His love. God does not just love, He is love. He demonstrated that love by sending His son to earth. We demonstrate our love for God by being rooted in Christ which is His love.
We are also to be grounded in love. This a construction term. The foundation of our understanding must be grounded in love. This is not so much an emotional grounding as it is the stability of living in God’s love. True love brings true stability. What are we to be grounded in? We are to be grounded in love. Our foundation must be Christ. When we are grounded in God’s love, we become unshakable and unmovable like that tree planted by the streams of water.
Have you ever known someone that seems to be all over the place emotionally? One day they are up and then they are down. One day they are on fire for God and then they are cold as ice. One day they are ready to storm the gates of hell and the next they are cowering in fear and shame. Perhaps, the problem is that they are not grounded in Christ’s love because when we are grounded and rooted in love our life will be more stable and secure.
Third, Paul prays that they would be able to comprehend the expanse of God’s love. For those who were here on Sunday evening heard Louie Giglio tell us how great our God is and yet how He loves and cares for each of us. Paul says something fairly amazing here. He says that this understanding of love must surpass knowledge. We need to experience His love. Paul’s desire was that they would have the strength to comprehend the breadth, height, and depth of God’s love. And His love is unfathomable in one sense. The only way to truly know His love is to experience His love. It seems to me that when we fully comprehend the love of God, we will not be able to contain it. We will be effected emotionally, mentally, and physically.
And finally, Paul prays that they would be filled with the fullness of God. This fullness of God is the completeness of God in us. This is an interesting proposition since we were filled with all that God has for us and filled us with Himself when we came to know Christ. The problem is that we leak and use up what God has given us. We can become broken cisterns that struggle to maintain a spiritually healthy life. But God is calling us to be filled. Later in Ephesians Paul says that we are to be filled with the spirit. The idea expressed here is that we are to be filled but we are to continue to be filled with the spirit. Just this week we had to add water to our pond. Why? The water was leaking out and it was evaporating. We must be filled over and over again.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
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