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Ephesians 3:8-21

The Inner Man

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • February 20, 2016

In Ephesians, Paul's writing to the church in Ephesus in order to strengthen their faith and bring them into a deeper relationship to Jesus Christ. He wasn’t writing to correct them as he did other churches; they had a very healthy church there in Ephesus. Paul wrote because he wanted them to go much deeper in their faith. Even if we have a healthy relationship with God, He is not finished with us. There is a much deeper faith that’s possible and He wants that for us. There is a much deeper love that transforms and He wants that for us as well. We need more victory over the flesh and that comes from deeper faith and a closer walk with Christ.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Inner Man

Ephesians 3:8-21

Paul wrote this letter to the church in the city of Ephesus, one of the largest and most influential cities in the Roman empire at the time. Paul spent two or three years there, planting the church and speaking of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the city.

While he was there a major revival broke out, so much so that those artisans and silversmiths who sold statuettes of the goddess Diana were afraid because people were leaving idolatry and even burning their books of incantations.

Paul wrote to them because he was a prisoner in Rome and couldn’t visit them personally, so he sent this letter to strengthen their faith and bring them into a deeper relationship to Jesus Christ.

He wasn’t writing to correct them as he did other churches; they had a very healthy church there in Ephesus. Paul wrote because he wanted them to go much deeper in their faith. In the same way, I think we have a healthy church here. Is it perfect? No, our church is not perfect; no church is perfect and, as the old saying goes, if you ever do find a church that is perfect be sure not to join it because you’ll surely ruin it.

Our church is healthy because the word of God is taught and people are growing in their faith and people are falling more in love with Jesus. But God is not finished with us, there is a much deeper faith that’s possible and He wants that for us.

There is a much deeper love that transforms and He wants that for us as well. We need more victory over the flesh and that comes from deeper faith and a closer walk with Christ.

I.       We Have Boldness and Confident Access

  • Verse 12 - We know that we come to the Father through Christ, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” Jesus said, “no man comes to the Father but by Me.”
  • But the idea that we have bold and confident access to the Father is a remarkable idea and counter intuitive to the way many people think about God.
  • This is part of the “unfathomable riches of Christ” that Paul spoke of; these are the great truths that Paul is bringing to light.
  • Most people see themselves as sinners who have no right to be bold or confident in their access to God. But if you would see yourself as an adopted son or daughter, then you would realize that your relationship to God has been completely defined by that great truth that you are now adopted as a son.

Illus – Aviah has very bold and confident access to me and can walk right into my office. It has nothing to do whether she’s good or bad, but simply because she’s adopted, she’s my daughter and she’s confident because of love.

  • For this reason, Paul wrote, I bow my knees before the Father… This is Paul’s second powerful prayer for them, and also for us.

A.      Strengthen the inner man

  • Verse 16 - Paul prays that God would grant, according to the riches of His glory, that we be strengthened with power in the inner man.
  • If you want to grow deeper in faith and nearer to God, then you need to be strengthened in the inner man.

  • The inner man is strengthened by the Holy Spirit. What difference would it make in your life if you were truly strengthened in the inner man by the Holy Spirit? Strong spiritual bearing comes from having a spiritual foundation and then building upon it.

2 Corinthians 4:16, Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

  • What happens when the inner man is weak? Faith is weakened and when storms and troubles come their faith is shipwrecked, they react in the flesh when offended, emotions become their master and they are easily defeated.
  • Strengthen the inner man day by day. How? The Holy Spirit strengthens the soul; therefore, build your life spiritually and give attention to your soul.

Illus - How much time do we spend on the outer man, primping and prepping our appearance? How much time do we spend on the inner man?

  • Could this be because people can’t see the inner man? Exercise is a good example of the difference between the outer man and the inner man.

1 Timothy 4:8, Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise for this life and that which is to come.

  • There are many reasons for exercise and not all of them are honorable, some just want the appearance.

1 Samuel 16:7, God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Peter 3:3-4, And let not your adornment be merely external - braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

B.       May Christ be ‘at home’ in your heart

  • Verse 17 - be strengthened in the inner man so that Christ may be at home in your hearts through faith.
  • ‘That Christ may dwell’ in that verse means that He is at home there. He’s speaking to believers who have already asked Christ into their hearts; he’s speaking of a deeper relationship to Christ.
  • In other words, is Christ just a guest in your house or is He ‘at home’ there? There’s a big difference.

John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

  • There were two Greek words which conveyed the idea ‘to dwell;’ one was used for someone living in a place as a guest or a stranger and the other gave the idea of being at home, to dwell permanently.

Illus - Have you ever been somewhere and immediately feel uncomfortable, ill at ease, like you don’t belong there?

  • When Christ ‘dwells’ in your heart in that sense, there’s a sense of welcome and agreement and in the same way you are ‘at home’ with Him.
  • When you invite Christ to be ‘at home,’ He doesn’t come in as a guest, He is the Master of the house.

Illus - Are you ‘at home’ with the idea of Christ making Himself ‘at home’ with everything in your life? If you know that He loves you and is for you and desires to bless you, then you’ll be ‘at home’ if he looks through the refrigerator, what if He went through your financial records or looked at your Internet history? He loves you.

C.      Be rooted and grounded in love

  • Paul also prays that we be rooted and grounded in love. If Christ is “at home’ in your life and you are ‘at home’ with Him, it speaks to a depth of trust and relationship on which you can build your life.
  • The idea of being firmly rooted is that roots that grow deep make the tree firmly planted so that it is always full of life; bearing much fruit.

Illus – In the Northwest we have many fir trees and while they are beautiful, they are also not very strong. That’s because their roots are extremely shallow and they can easily topple in a storm.

  • Being deeply rooted means that there is a depth in our relationship to the Lord that’s based on a deep and trusted love.

Psalm 1:3, He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

  • To be grounded in love means that there is a deep foundation built on the Rock of Christ. You know there is a strong foundation when that house is not destroyed by the storms that come against it.

Luke 6:47-49, Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like; he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well-built.

II.     Experience the Love of Christ

  • Paul prays that we be rooted and grounded in love so we may be able to comprehend the breadth, the length, the height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.
  • The words ‘know’ and ‘knowledge’ are different words; they come from the same root, but have different meanings.
  • To ‘know’ is to experience the love of Christ that surpasses all ‘knowledge’ - mental apprehension.
  • There is a great difference between the mental apprehension of theological knowledge of Christ and experiencing His love.

Illus - You can study the caloric and nutritional contents of food, you can read labels with lists of contents, but you haven’t experienced it unless you’ve tasted it and therefore you haven’t known it.

  • When you experience the love of Christ that takes hold of a broken life and brings radical transformation, it goes far beyond knowledge.

A.      Be filled to the fullness of God

  • Verse 19 - Paul prays that we would experience the love of Christ so that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Illus - I used to teach a class called What a Christian Believes and I would often compare the Christian faith to other religions. Someone asked, “Does Christianity have meditation like Eastern religions?”

  • In Eastern religions they meditate by emptying their mind to become one with the universe. The Christian fills his mind with God’s word to fall in love with the creator of the universe.

Psalm 19:14, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

  • To be filled up to all the fullness of God means that God fills with His Spirit; He builds up, edifies and strengthens. In other words, we are filled up by what we take into our lives.

Illus - The other day our granddaughter, Aviah, and I were in her room listening to Jamie Grace, singing, laughing, and dancing. At one point she said, “You want me to ‘get into’ this music so I don’t get into worldly music, right, grandpa?” I responded, “You’re absolutely right, I love you and I want your soul to be filled up with that which brings joy and peace to your heart.”

  • What fills you is what comes in to your soul through what you see and what you hear.

Romans 10:17, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

B.      Now unto Him who is able

  • Verse 20-21 - Paul finishes this prayer with a powerful grand finale.
  • Paul is preaching about the unfathomable riches of Christ and when he gets to this great point it’s like he has to stop and declare the glory of God in it all.
  • If a Christian can come to the point where he truly believes that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, he has reached a great point of maturity of faith.
  • It’s not that God is able to do all that we ask or even think, He is able beyond that, in fact abundantly beyond that, well, actually, exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think… According to the power that works within us.
  • Faith that believes that God is able is faith that believes that, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Illus – For all of recorded history it was considered impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes. Many tried, everyone failed. That is, until May 6, 1954 when Roger Bannister, believing that it was possible, did the impossible. Within a year four other runners broke through because they knew it was possible.

  • With God it’s all about faith. That’s why Paul prays for them, open the eyes of your heart and know that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond…

1 Corinthians 2:9, As it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Ephesians 3:8-21     NASB

8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

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