May God “grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).
The Apostle Paul’s wish for the Ephesians was that they may be strong and have adequate power and inner strength. Physically speaking, there are people who are strong and can do things that amaze us, whereas a weak or sickly person is sometimes not even able to stand on his or her own two feet. We know that being strong is associated with power, might, or ability that a weak person is not capable of.
In our Bible text, the might or strength spoken of is not physical but being strong in the inner person, strong in the Spirit. The world is full of sin and unrighteousness. In one’s own strength, a person who has not been born again is sold out to sin. It is, however, God’s intention that His will be done on earth. This means not only abstaining from evil and wrong, but also practicing what is good and what is right.
The popular teaching, which claims that on this earth it is impossible to live without sinning, wrongly insists that weakness and the failure to withstand temptation should be the Christian norm. Yet in Ephesians 3:16, Paul shows us that God “according to the riches of His glory” can strengthen us with might to be strong. This is God’s desire for us.
In 1 Timothy 1:12, Paul says: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” For what purpose did God make Paul strong or enable him? What did Paul do before his conversion, and how did that differ from his life afterwards? Once he persecuted Christians, and after his conversion he became a faithful Christian, a minister, and an apostle.
John writes: “I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14). Here John attests that he is writing to Christians who are strong and have overcome the wicked one. He does not plead with them to overcome evil, but he states that they have done so.
We can become strong in this life in order to overcome the wicked one and the temptations that come our way. We have no need to wait until a so-called millennium for the devil to lose his power. We can find the strength to overcome temptation and sin now and lead a life of victory. The scriptures mentioned above verify this.
Although the Bible teaches that a victorious life is possible, some may ask how can this actually be put into practice? The reason that many people find it hard to lead a victorious life may indeed lie within themselves. Many honest seekers actually try to live victoriously by relying on their own power. That is a great mistake.
The Apostle Paul states that the inner man is strengthened through God’s Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). That is where the source of our strength lies. No wonder Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). After being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter never again denied his Lord but willingly suffered with Him, and he even died for Him.
We need the Holy Spirit. Our strength lies in Him. Many who profess Christ try to live a holy life without the Spirit. We would not expect to harvest apples without an apple tree. The source of the fruit must be present. The “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Since Paul calls these virtues the “fruit of the Spirit,” the Holy Spirit is analogous to the tree which causes the fruit to grow.
Souls that are filled with the Holy Spirit will naturally bear the fruit of the Spirit. That is why the Apostle Paul stressed the importance of every believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit as soon as possible. In Acts 19:1-2, at his first meeting with the disciples in Ephesus, Paul asks them right away if they had received the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we are not able to live a life which is pleasing to God.
In his sermon in Acts 2, Peter instructs us how to receive the Holy Spirit. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). First he says: “Repent.” By repenting, we receive forgiveness and are born again. After repenting, he says be baptized. When the time has come that a person is willing to do the will of God completely, he or she is able to receive the Holy Spirit.
Jesus once warned His disciples not to cast their pearls before the swine (Matthew 7:6). God also follows this principle. The Lord will not give the Holy Spirit unless a person turns their back on sin, unrighteousness, carelessness, and apathy towards the Holy Spirit. Before we put milk into a container, we first make sure that the container is empty and clean so that the milk will not be spoiled. How much more should we make sure that our life is clean and prepared for the gift of the Spirit.
The reason so few Christians have received this precious gift of the Holy Spirit is usually the fault of each person individually. They must be careful to submit all, even the little things, in obedience to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit wishes to lead, rule, and guide the individual. Therefore, all our desires must be subordinated to the leading of the Spirit and the teaching of the Word. That is the worthy and reasonable condition of the heart in order to receive the Holy Spirit.
If you wish to receive the Holy Spirit, then fall on your knees, not to break out into a desperate cry, but to immerse yourself in God. Become still in your heart and conscience and ask the Spirit to show you if there is anything that would hinder His coming. If the Spirit shows you something you still need to rectify or subordinate to God’s will, then be willing to do it. Give up your selfish ambitions and humbly submit your whole being to His rule and leading. He will then count you worthy to make your heart His home.
Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? Can He really lead you, guide you, and instruct you? Do you listen to His voice in all things in order to follow Him? Do you do what He asks you to do? Do you speak when He wants you to speak, and do you hold your peace when you should not speak? What a wonderful life is that life which is totally sanctified and fully submitted to God.