This is Part 2 of a four part series on Ephesians 3:13-20. To read part one, go here.
In the first installment of this four-part series on Ephesians 3:13-20, we established that Paul’s suffering was for both his and the Ephesians’ glory. Additionally, we saw from Scripture that we need to be strengthened in order to follow and obey Jesus at any cost. This is all well and good to write and talk about, but we must proceed to actually doing it. So then, we must ask where, how, and why will we be strengthened?
Today we will examine where and how we are strengthened. First, let us remind ourselves of the Scripture we aim to address with these three distinct questions, because the answers are all there. “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” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
Typically, strength manifests itself externally. Events such as the World’s Strongest Man display incredible feats of physical strength. But this is not what Paul is praying for. He prays that God would grant that the Ephesians would be strengthened in the inner being. This creates a vital distinction.
The outer being constantly changes. It is transient. We age. We change clothing styles. We return to clothing styles. We swap preferences. We can be injured, sick, persecuted, suffering, and lose jobs and family and friends. Paul prays not for the eradication of troubles that war against our outer being. Rather, he pleads for a strengthening of the inner being that will triumph over the beat-up, bruised, and broken down outer being.
The inner being cannot be taken away. Those who believe in Jesus will never die. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?'” (John 11:25-26). We only experience transformation and change in the inner being when yield to something that shapes and forms us (Isaiah 64:8). Whether the world or the Lord, this decision determines the trajectory of our inner being.
The inner being is alive! Something lives inside of us and makes a home there. Jesus can dwell in our hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17), but we know that demons have homes in the land of the living as well (Matthew 8:28-34). Jesus can change us and “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9) and everything proceeds from the heart (Matthew 15:18-19), because what you feed the inner being dictates the works of the outer. If the inner being is healthy, then we will bear much fruit. “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).
How will we be strengthened in our inner being? We cannot do it on our own. We need help, and the help comes from the Helper. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). We are strengthened “with power.” This power completely changes us. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
We go to the ends of the earth for him. Our circumstances have no claim on our joy and our life anymore. No matter what the world takes from us – our jobs, our health, our friends and family, our dreams, our possessions – we have a power through the Holy Spirit that strengthens us with a strength that reigns supreme over the storms of life, because our house is built upon the Rock (Matthew 7:24-25), and in him and the strength that proceeds from his Spirit, we have a firm foundation.
Next time, in part three of this series, we will discuss why we are strengthened and for what purpose the Lord strengthens us.