Monday, July 25, 2016

In the inner man - Ephesians 3:14-17

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." (Ephesians 3:14-17)
Paul finally returns to the thought he started thirteen verses ago. The, "for this reason," is two fold. It is because the mystery of God has finally been revealed, that being that salvation has to come to all mankind, not just a select few. Salvation was not just for the Jews, but for the gentles as well. The promise made to Abraham that, "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed," (Genesis 22:18) had finally come to pass. Additionally, not only was all mankind now invited to salvation in Christ, but God was setting about to build and knit together all believers into one body in Christ. We have not only been saved, but we have also all been called to unity and communion in one universal body of Christ. We are all together, one  body and one temple of God in the Spirit.

Because of this, Paul chooses to pray. Paul was a man of incredible gifting and anointing. As an apostle, he was called to the equipping of the saints. His job was to teach and instruct in such a way that those who heard him were equipped and furnished with all they needed to live a christian life and to perform the work of ministry that Jesus had called His Body to perform. Paul was also anointed for the impartation of spiritual gifts to those among whom he ministered. Paul wrote of his desire to come to the Romans saying, "For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established." (Romans 1:11) However, in spite of all this, Paul realized that there were something that he simply could not provide or impart to those among whom he ministered. For all the anointing, giftings, and grace he possessed, there was that which was needed that he was wholly incapable of providing; there are some things that only God could provide.

We must always remember that we are not always the solution to the needs and problems or others, There were something Paul could impart through teaching and gifting, but there were other things that people needed that only God could provide. We are not always the answer to what people need and we must not become puffed up in our estimation of ourselves as if we have all the answers and all the goods that others need. We must never neglect the importance of prayer and supplication to God that He might perform in others what only He can do. We must do what we can, but we must also trust and believe God for what only He can do in the live of others. This revelation can bring us great comfort and peace knowing that we do not have to be all things to all people. We are not responsible for all things in the lives of others. We must do our part, but we can also rest in the knowledge that God is working even where we cannot.

Paul's prayer was that our inner man would be strengthened so that, through faith, Christ might richly dwell within us. The Christian walk is not always easy and it takes strength and endurance to live it out day by day. This strength is to be found in the inner man and is a strength that only God can provide. It is also a strength that is based on faith and not on law, works, or external ceremony. Paul understood that for our salvation to be genuine it had to touch us deep within, conforming our inner man to the image of Christ. It is not enough to outwardly appear to be Christ-like, we must be so in truth in the depths of our heart. For some, religion is merely outward conformity to a system of laws and ceremonies. Salvation comes through an external act, such as baptism, and then the life is sustained through a passive participation in ritual where the real acts of religion are performed for us by a select few. Such religion is outward and ignores the true need of our souls for salvation. Paul's prayer was not that we would be strengthened for the observances of external religion but for the sustaining of faith and hope, through which Christ dwells in us through His Holy Spirit.

Finally, Paul acknowledges that, though we differ in many ways, we are all one family, one race, and one people before God. Paul teaches us that, "He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth." (Acts 17:26 NKJV) All of mankind was created from "one blood." Externally we may appear to be different, but we are all the descendants on one ancestral family. We all share a common ancestry thus making us all one. God does not see race, ethnicity, or nationality. He sees only men and women; the common ancestry of that which He created; that which He created and that which He loves. The message of the Gospel is that there is only one family of mankind. No matter how we look on the outside, we are the same on the inside and equally loved and cared for by God. The message of the Gospel unifies us rather than divides us. Such a message is good news and has the power to bring healing to the world around us.

David Robison

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