Thomas S. Myers
Plugging Into The Power of God
During the Civil War, a Union soldier from Ohio was shot in the arm during the battle of Shiloh. His captain saw he was wounded and barked out an order, "Gimme your gun, Private, and get to the rear!" The private handed over his rifle and ran toward the north, seeking safety. But after only going about two or three hundred yards, he came upon another skirmish. So he ran to the east, and found himself in another part of the battle. Then he ran west, but encountered more fighting there. Finally, he ran back to the front lines shouting, "Gimme back my rifle, Cap'n. There ain't no rear to this battle no where!" When it comes to the troubles of the world, life is unfair and "there ain't no rear to this battle nowhere!" When it comes to living, you just can't run away and hide.
This passage of Scripture is a very powerful section of Scripture. It is very rich and abundant in spiritual truth. It is a prayer of Paul that must not be avoided.
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 (in order) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 (in order that you) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, (in order) that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (KJV)
As I read Paul's prayer I added the phrase "in order that" 3 different times. Because in the Greek language there is a key word that is repeated 3 different times. You find it at the beginning of verse 16, at the beginning of verse 18, and in the middle of verse 19.
That should tell you something about Paul's prayer. Paul's prayer is a sequence of progression. That is something is being built which leads to something else being built, which leads to something else being built. There is a sequence, a progression that is being built.
I like to think of Paul's prayer like electricity. In order to use electricity the electricity must be flowing. But also in order to use electricity you must plug into the electricity. But in order to use electricity you must turn on the appliance. There are a series of steps to using electricity.
Paul's prayer is like that. There are a series of steps to utilizing the power of God. Actually there are 5 steps.
Now I know very little about electricity. I know enough not to mess with it. All I know about electricity is where to plug in something. But if I knew everything about electricity, like which wire is the positive and which wire is the negative. And if I knew what the different color wires stood for. If I knew everything there is to know about electricity and walked up the electrical socket and said, "Electricity flow." That will not get the electricity flowing.
The point is this. It does not do you any good to know all about electricity unless you plug into the electricity. The whole point of Paul's prayer is not enough to just know all about God, you need to plug into the power of God.
In the Ephesians chapter 1, 2 & 3 is a description of you and I. Paul tells us that we were chosen before the world was created. He tells us that God has placed His Spirit with in us. He tells us that Jesus Christ resides within us. And in chapter 4, 5 & 6 is the blue print telling us with all God's power here is where we are to go.
You can know all about God's Word, but you will never be able to utilize the power God's power until you plug into the source of the power. And that is what Paul's prayer is about in verses 14-21.
He is quite a sight, my neighbor. An elderly, frail man, he spends hours mowing his lawn with his small hand mower. It is impossible for him cover the acre of land around his house. Much of it is succumbed to weeds that are waist high. He resigns himself to keeping cleared only a small section around the house. It doesn't have to be that way. I have often volunteered to help, but he always assures me that he can handle the situation. There I am, my power mower, ready to move in. But all that power is useless to my neighbor as long as he insists on relying on his own strength. As I watch him, I cannot help but think of our lives as Christians, whether is be here in France, or anywhere else God may place us. We face difficult situations which, like weeds, can grow out of control and overwhelm us. Yet Paul affirms, "
Now there would be a terrible problem if people know all about electricity, but they never plug into the source of power. And in the same way it would be a tragedy if Christians would know their Bibles backwards and forwards, but they never functioned according to Ephesians 3:14-21.
But the sad thing is there a multitudes of Christians who know their Bibles backwards and forwards, but they never plug into the power of God.
I want to share with you today about plugging into the power of God.
Now the first thing you need to know is that there is a progression to plugging into the power. The progression begins in verse 14 and ends with verse 20.
FIRST -- PAUL'S FERVENT PRAYER.
14 For this cause .. (KJV)
The question is for what cause? What is it that motivates Paul to pray this powerful prayer? What is that moves Paul to cry out to God?
To find out what it is you have to go back to the first verse of this chapter. Look at verse one.
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, (KJV)
Paul was going to pray here in verse one, but then he thought, before they can have God's power in their life, they need unity in their life. So from chapter 3:2 through 13 you have a parenthesis. There is not even a verb in verse 1. So from verse 2 through verse 13 Paul talks about unity.
That brings up a principle. And it is this: If their is disunity in a church, the power of God is short circuited. Did you know that you can personally can stop the power God here at Crossroads? When you begin to criticize and grumble you actually stop the power of God.
Notice the posture of Paul's prayer. Look at verse 14.
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (KJV)
Paul is not prescribing a required posture for prayer. He did not always pray while kneeling. The Bible does not prescribe a particular posture for prayer. Actually God's Word illustrates and teaches a wide variety postures for prayer.
In Mark 11:25 Jesus said spoke about standing and praying.
25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (KJV)
When David prayed about the building of the Temple, the Bible says in 1 Chron. 17:16
1 Chronicles 17:16
"He sat before the Lord"
As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal, The Bible says He
39 And he fell on his face, and prayed...
The thief on the cross prayed as he was hanging on the cross (Luke 23:42). All this indicates that it is not the posture of the body that is significant, but the attitude of the heart.
But in Scripture, bowing the knees signifies several things that may have prompted Paul to mention that position here.
First, it represents an attitude of submission, the psalmist says, "Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Ps. 95:1–6)
Second, we see references to bowing the knee before God in times of intense passion and emotion.
And as Paul prayed for the Ephesian church while writing this letter to them, the apostle felt led to bow his knees before the Father on their behalf. Not because that position or any other is especially sacred, but because it spontaneously reflected his reverence for God.
There was a group of Christians arguing about what was the right way to pray. One said, "I think God hears your prayers best with your arms lift up. Another said, "I think we should kneel and bow." The argument went on and on as the best posture of prayer until someone said, "one time I fell backwards into a well, head first, and my foot got caught in the rope. And so there I was with my head pointing straight down, and I prayed the most effective prayer I have ever prayed."
The posture of prayer is not the issue.
Paul then praises God. Look at verse 15.
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (KJV)
Now we come to the releasing of God's power in our life. And there are 5 steps. In verse 16 through verse 20 there are a series of purpose result clauses. In other words, you must do this in order that this may happen, in order that this may happen, in order that this may happen. There is a sequence of events that must be followed in its proper order. The first steps is inner strength (16), indwelling Christ (17a), incomprehensible love (17b - 19a), infinite fullness (19c), and internal power (20).
FIRST -- STRENGTHEN YOUR INNER MAN.
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (KJV)
What is the inner man? The inner man is the real you. The inner man is your soul, your thought, your actions. The inner man is what make you. The outward man is the color of your hair, your height, your weight, the color of your eyes. The outward man we are able to comb our hair, we brush our teeth. We cloth our outer man, we feed it we exercise it and we bath it. But the inner man is that which is soul and spirit. The outer man you can touch. The inner man you can only touch it with spiritual things.
And what Paul is saying here we are to strengthen the inner man. That presents a rethinking here. You see we think that we need to spend a considerable amount of time on the outer man. We work at looking good. We cloth it, we dress it, we feed it, we comb it, we part it, we primp, we pat it, we wash it, we dry it, we smear it with cream. We are always concerned about the outer man. Some people spend a lot of time on their hair. Some spend a lot of time working on their face. Some spend a lot of time working on the clothes that cover the outer man. But Paul says we need to spend some time on the inner man.
The point is this: Our outer man is in a continual decline.
Paul says that the outer man is perishing all the time.
We know how to strengthen the outer man. We can style our hair, , and dress the outer man. But how do you strength the inner man? How do you strength the inner man?
Do you know how? First by filling your mind with the Word of God.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (KJV)
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (KJV)
When you spend time in the word of God, the end result is found in Eph 3:16.
"...strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.
You strengthen your inner man by filling your mind with the Word of God.
Now add up all the time that you spent on the outer man today. Add up all the time you spent on your hair, your face, your teeth, your body, your clothes. Now add up all the time you spent on the inner man. You will never get God's power in your life until you focus on your inner man.
The result: "STRENGTHENED"
The Greek word for "STRENGTHENED " means to be made strong, to increase in strength, to grow strong. You will never be able to stand firm in the faith. You will never be solid in the Christians life, until you allow the Spirit of God to strengthen you.
That is the first step to having God's power in your life. Paul is praying, "Lord, I want you to release your power in the life of the believer." Most Christians never experience God's power. They limp along, feeling inadequate always faltering. To them Ephesians 3:20 is just a dream.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (KJV)
And did you know that was a time when the Apostle Paul knew nothing about being strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
Listen to the struggle that Paul went through In Romans 7:19.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (KJV)
Has that ever described you? It described the apostle Paul. Paul wanted to live a godly life. But instead of living a godly life, he continually sinned. But if you anything about the life of the Apostle Paul you know that somehow he became strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man. Some how the apostle Paul became victorious.
What happened? Ephesians 3:16!
Paul learned how to be "STRENGTHENED WITH MIGHT."
God's work begins with salvation, and after that His main field of work is still the inner man, because that is where spiritual life exists and where it must grow.
Although the outer, physical man becomes weaker and weaker with age, the inner, spiritual man should continually grow stronger and stronger with power through His Spirit. Only God's Spirit can strengthen our spirits.
When the inner man is fed regularly on the Word of God and seeks the Spirit's will in all the decisions of life, the believer' can be sure he will be strengthened with power through God's Spirit. Spiritual power is not the mark of a special class of Christian but is the mark of every Christian who submits to God's Word and Spirit. Like physical growth and strength, spiritual growth and strength do not come overnight.
I want to ask you to do something. Would you being willing to pray this prayer. First, Would you be willing every day this week to pray this prayer? That you would be strengthened by the Spirit of God in the inner man. Ask God to help you pray it everyday this week. Second, ask to help you consecrate on the inner man not the outer man.