Summary: Paul prays that we might experience the power of God to enable us to grow in Christ.
Have you ever experienced the problem of your mind wandering as you have sought to spend time in prayer? I think we all have. As you pray for your family, you think of your home. As you think of your home, you think of your living room. As you think of your living room, you think of your T.V. As you think of your T.V., you remember that program you want to be sure and not miss tonight!
Well, take heart! Even Paul’s mind wandered at times (note Ephesians 3:1 & 14). He began to share a prayer for the Ephesian believers in verse 1, only to let his mind wander in verses 2 through 13. Admittedly, Paul’s wanderings were far more spiritually in tune than what I have described as being typical for so many Christians. But, nevertheless, Paul’s mind did wander a bit, and now, he finally gets back to his prayer for the Ephesians.
The key word in Paul’s prayer is “power” (vs. 16; 18). The power he prays for pertains to power to become more like Christ (v. 19).
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” - Colossians 2:9-10 (NASB)
Note how Paul says we have been made complete in Christ.
Christ-likeness is ours, already, it’s simply a matter of our learning how to walk in the reality of what is already ours. When it comes to walking in Christ-likeness, it’s more a matter of receiving than achieving. Paul prays that by God’s power, we would be enabled to learn how to walk in Christ-likeness. Let’s notice how the power of God can bring about Christ-likeness in us.
1. Power to walk in individual Christ-likeness - vs. 16-17
First, Paul speaks of the power of God working in the individual Christian’s life to produce Christ-likeness. Note two things he tells us.
A. The manner of it - v. 16
Through the person of the Holy spirit, God’s power works to strengthen us spiritually and change us from the inside out. In Christ, we have been made new.
As we noted before, we have been made complete in Christ. That completeness is within us. Now, God works on changing us from the “inside out” - He has changed our “want to” so we will do as we “ought to.” One of the evidences that one has been truly saved is that their attitude toward sin has changed. God has changed their “want to.”
“No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experiential acquaintance with Him].” - 1 John 3:6 (Amplified)
Adrian Rogers used to say that the big difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is their attitude toward sin: “The non-Christian leaps into sin and loves it, while the Christian lapses into sin and loathes it.”
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” - Philippians 2:12-13
As we live from the inside out, we allow the new life we have received through Christ to be lived out through us. In fact, we allow Christ Himself, who dwells within us through the person of the Holy Spirit, to live his life through us.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” - Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
Paul’s admonition to be transformed can be better understood through the use of a thermometer and a thermostat. We are being conformed to the world when we live as a thermometer and simply reveal the climate around us. Transformation means living like a thermostat so that God works through you to set the climate of the environment in which you live.
Notice, how there must be a willingness to change from the inside out!
We must present our bodies as vessels through which Christ can live his life through us! That’s why Paul urged the Philippians as he did in Philippians 2:12-13. the power to make us walk in Christ-likeness resides within us through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but the permission to allow those changes must come from us. What is your choice? It is one you make daily.