Last week, we spent some time talking about how God's plan and his wisdom are foolishness to man, and how that that is by God's design. The most important takeaway from that, I think, is that the world is divided into two groups. One thinks God's wisdom is foolishness and is headed for a dead end, the Bible says they are perishing. The other group, those who have accepted Jesus, we recognize it as the power of God, his plan for mankind.
Then we introduced the second prayer by Paul in the book of Ephesians.
We ended with a Biblical tour to verify that prayer has no required position, standing, sitting, lying or prone on the ground. It is the position of the heart, not the body, that matters. The heart needs to be humble, contrite, bowed. It is a kneeled heart that we need, not a bowed body. And we reinforced that a bullet prayer is just as effective as a long one. God does not require long or short prayers, just prayer, the acknowledgement that we need him. We saw Biblical examples of one-, two- and three-verse prayers by God's chosen leaders and we saw Jesus praying all night long.
Today's Lesson: The Inner Man
So today let's plow on where we left off from last week:
Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your
behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before
the Father... --Ephesians 3:13-14
When he has says the whole family, he is not just talking about the believers. I think he's talking about the redeemed on earth and in heaven. He is including the angels and probably other beings. The family of God includes a lot of things, more than just the redeemed on earth, including angels, and I'm not sure what else.
But the Bible is clear, that the family of God is not everyone ever born. I would claim to you that there is no such thing in the Scripture as the "universal fatherhood of God". You have probably heard that term and you'll see it in some popular Christian press. There is no such thing in Scripture as the universal fatherhood of God that saves all men. No, quite the contrary, John 3 makes it clear that you must be born again.
To call him Father you must be born again and that is a second birth. This Scripture makes that very clear. We are the sons of God, but that is by rebirth, not by our first birth. So there is a fatherhood of God, but it is to all believers who have been born again. That's why we use the term born again. It is a consistent set of idioms. John 3 is worth the study. No matter how many times you may have gone through it, you can study it again and add to your understanding. First John Chapter 3 also deals with this concept.
We're going to discover as we finish up this chapter, which is basically this second prayer by Paul, that there are four petitions which merged into Paul's prayer for you and for me. But they are sequential and one builds upon the other.
Now there is a phrase here that I do not want you to miss. That he would grant you, not out of all his riches, but according to his riches. The structure of the language here is quite distinctive. Let's assume that I was a billionaire. I know that that's a stretch, but let's assume, just rhetorically, that I was a billionaire. And I gave a tip to you out of my wealth. That's fine, OK. But what if instead of giving you a tip out of my wealth, I gave you a tip according to my wealth. In the first case is just a token. In the second case it is proportionate of my wealth. That's quite a different thing, if I'm a billionaire. Do you since the difference? One is a portion of my wealth, one is in proportion to my wealth. A portion of my wealth could be a nickel. A proportion of my wealth would be a substantial amount of money, if I really were a billionaire. Paul's statement here, "in accordance with his riches" implies a much more substantial reward.
Now, "to be strengthened with the might of his spirit in the inner man," this whole idea of "strengthened". The idea of the Holy Spirit, of course, is evidence of salvation. But the power of the Holy Spirit is enablement for mature, intelligent, stable Christians. You see Christians who are not intelligent. You see Christians who are not stable. You see Christians who are not mature. Those are evidences that the power of the Spirit is in fact not working. Those are heavy words. I realize that. I'm not talking about the presence of the Holy Spirit. But the power of the Holy Spirit working in a person's life is something else, quite different.
Jesus performed his acts on this earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan tempted him to use the power of the Son of Man to turn the stones into bread. He could have done it. He could have snapped his fingers and had a well-stocked bakery out in the middle of the desert. The whole idea of Satan's temptation of Jesus is a whole lot more complicated than what we see on the surface. You see, Jesus was doing all of it by the Holy Spirit and under will the Father. And part of what Jesus was doing in his ministry was to walk a walk in our place. There are things that we can't do; we are not the Son of God. There are things that we can do by the Spirit of God. There is a strong theological argument made by many that what Jesus did, he did by the Spirit of God, to make the very point that that power is available to us as believers by the Spirit of God. Luke chapter 4 verses 1 and 14 and Acts 10:38 are verses that would support that theology.
And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. --Luke 4:14
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. --Acts10:38
There are 59 references to the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. That is one fourth of the references to the Holy Spirit in the entire New Testament, in case you wondered.
The Inner Man:
Something else he mentions here in this verse, that we should focus on, is that we are strengthened with power through his Holy Spirit in the inner man. Let's look at this question of the inner man as Paul uses it. All of Paul's prayers in his prison epistles deal with the inner man. These prayers deal with the spiritual need of the inner man not the physical conditions. There is nothing wrong with praying about material needs, economic needs, relationship needs, need for a job, and so on. But the most critical things in your life, which is what Paul is focusing on here, are the needs of the inner man. Why? Because the outer man, the physical man, is passing away day by day by day. You've probably noticed that. I have. Second Corinthians 4:16 documents that.
If you study the inner man it is very interesting.
From here you could springboard to Exodus 16, the whole idea of the manna. God chose to feed the children of Israel out in the wilderness. He could have used a lot of mechanics. He could have given them fly rods, or rifles or nets. He could have given them all kinds of different ways to feed themselves, but he chose a rather unusual way to feed them. He had this manna six days a week. It was interesting that it was designed such that everyone had to get their own. You could not get it for someone else. It would not to keep, it would go bad. You had to get it every day. The only day that you could get two days worth was on the day before the Sabbath when you could get two days worth and it would last over the Sabbath. It was very strange stuff. And of course it's not only an interesting miracle in the Old Testament, it is a huge lesson for us here. That is that everyone has to get their own. And you have to do it every day. You can't read ten verses of the Bible today and have it count for anything tomorrow. In other words, you need to feed yourself every day, a little or a lot. There are many lessons that you can learn out of the study of manna. These lessons we sometimes listen to and nod in agreement, but it really doesn't impact our day-to-day routine.
So the inner man must be cleansed, exercised, fed, and so on. Second Corinthians 4 tells us that it must be fed daily:
If we wanted to, we could spend a great deal of time on this question, but there's more material to be covered. The inner man sort of correlates with our software architecture. You and I are temporarily resident in what would be analogous to hardware in the computer world. Our bodies are the box in which we dwell. The real you is software not the hardware. Software has no mass, it can be sent through the airways. If you load a computer disk with software it does not weigh any more after it's loaded than when it was empty. Software doesn't weigh anything. But the software having no mass has no time and therefore is eternal. It stays there forever until something is written over it. Your inner self, the true you is eternal. The question is where we will spend eternity. We're all interested in understanding ourselves; that's one of the things that drives us to reading and studying psychology and lots of the other things that we spend time on. We're interested in how we are put together. The only way that you can figure out how software is organized and how it's supposed to work and how to use it, is to read the owner's manual. And we have an owner's manual. God gave it to us. And most of you have one on your laps. Our owner's manual is the Bible.
A case can be made that understanding what the Bible calls our temple can help you understand your internal architecture. The Holy Spirit designed the temple as well as the tabernacle, but the temple has some features that the tabernacle does not. Seven times the New Testament tells us that our bodies are the temple of God. That might be an idiom, or it may be far more important and far more enlightening than any of us understand. If you really want to dig into this question you should get a couple of books written by Nancy Missler's that are based on using the temple to understand ourselves. One is entitled The Way of Agape and the second is entitled To Be Transformed. Both lean on the physical structure of the temple to help us understand how God organized us, what is the inner man, how he put us together. Only the word of God can unravel the mystery of our creation and design. If you have a better understanding of this, it can assist you in your Christian walk. Chuck Missler also has a short briefing paper entitled The Architecture of Man that deals with this matter.
The inner man of a lost sinner is dead, but comes alive upon accepting Jesus.
Then what does it mean to have the Holy Spirit empower the inner man? That our spiritual faculties are controlled by God and he is exercising them in having us grow in his Word.
...we will pick up with verse 17 and look at what else we learn from Paul in this verse.