“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man . . . that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:16, 19).
“Before Pentecost the struggle was hopeless. After Pentecost they overcame. The Spirit made slaves into sovereigns, victims into victors, and cowards into conquerors.” — J. Brice
“The path of strength . . . is being made sensible of our own weakness. Then that divine strength, which will never be a supplement of the flesh’s strength, may come in.” — John Darby
“Only an all-powerful God can do the impossible with the impossible.” — Eleanor L. Doan
Paul prayed a remarkable prayer for the believers in Ephesus: “strengthened with might by his Spirit.” He prayed their inner man (spirit) would be empowered by God’s Spirit. This is absolutely amazing! Such lofty truth seems overwhelming — mortals fortified from the inside out? Wow! Outward conduct is comparatively easy to control, but who has the ability to bolster his inner man? Qualities like faith, humility, love, and patience are impossible to generate through self-will. But God is able to strengthen these inner qualities where we find ourselves so anemic. William Bramwell comments, “To be filled with God is a great thing; to be filled with the fullness of God is still greater; to be filled with all the fullness of God is greatest of all. This utterly bewilders the senses, and confounds the understanding; by leading us at once to consider the immensity of God, the infinity of His attributes, and the absolute perfection of each.”
Peter was not alone in renouncing the Lord Jesus; they all forsook the Lord and ran (Mark 14:50). It took tremendous inner reserves to stay true to Christ in those days, just like it does today. How easy it is to condemn cowardice when living in a persecution-free zone. But let a real-life test come your way, and then you discover how much muscle you have in your spiritual fiber. Maybe you have denied the Lord. Is there anyone who has not denied the Lord in some way? Peter denied the Lord three times — I wish I had only denied the Lord three times! But failure is not final, especially in light of this amazing prayer for internal power. Roy Hession has an insightful comment, “The Spirit’s fullness is not the reward of our faithfulness, but God’s gift for our defeat.” Those early disciples all bombed out. Their malfunction in faith was a set-up for the outpouring and pouring in of the Spirit in Acts 1. Their impotence proved to them their need of God’s might.
In many quarters there has been a deafening silence concerning the Holy Spirit. Overreaction to the excesses of some has robbed countless believers of Heaven’s throne gift. But Paul boldly prayed for strength from the Spirit for believers. Not just the Apostles, but all believers. You cannot afford to underestimate the need for His power. Don’t let the extremes of some, or the fears of others, deter you from this built-in interior power plant. His energizing capability is inexplicable and inexhaustible. The Spirit’s force comes into play in your weakness, not in your own strength. That’s why Paul said God’s “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). D. L. Moody put it this way, “God can fill a broken vessel as long as it stays under the faucet.” Inner strength is not the result of spiritual exercise as much as it is the direct animation of the spiritual dynamite inside your being. It is “His Spirit in the inner man.” We are talking about a supernatural force that comes from God alone.
Ian Thomas’s statement hits the nail right on the head: “To be in Christ — that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you — that is sanctification! To be in Christ — that makes you fit for Heaven; but for Christ to be in you — that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ — that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you — that changes your destiny! The one makes Heaven your home — the other makes this world His workshop.”
- Are you conscious of your complete and utter dependence on God’s Spirit?
- Are you meditating on the wonderful thought that you are “in Christ”?
- Empowered by the Holy Spirit, are you being a willing vessel that God can use in the world?
This chapter was written by Evangelist Harold Vaughan