For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)
Paul prayed that the inner being of the Ephesians would be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Why did they need this empowerment? So that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith. Paul established in the first few verses of his letter to the Ephesians that Christ was in their hearts (Ephesians 2:5), so what did he mean by praying that Christ would dwell in their hearts? Since they have Christ living in them and by that virtue the Holy Spirit dwells in them as well, it seems that Paul is praying that they would live out what God had already empowered them do to; that God’s power would be manifest in them or evident in their lives and affect their behavior.
The word dwell in verse seventeen means to make a permanent home, reside or inhabit. The Amplified Bible renders Ephesians 3:17 this way: May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.
Paul is praying that their inner being would be strengthened so that Christ would be made to feel at home in their hearts; not in salvation, but in sanctification (the process of holiness). To simplify the idea we might say that Christ moves into the home of our hearts to give us new birth (salvation) and begins to clean the rooms (sanctification).
Notice that Paul didn’t pray for the outer man to be strengthened because the outer man in breaking down (2 Corinthians 4:16). He prayed for the inner man or being to be strengthened. The inner man is strengthened and changed as God’s glory (character) is formed in us (2 Corinthians 3:18). Not that we become sinless, which will not happen until we are changed at the coming of Christ, but, that we sin less. It is our inner being that the Spirit empowers to delight in the law of God (Romans 7:22).
Being obedient to God’s Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit strengthens or empowers the inner man. It is through that power that we overcome temptation and sin. Paul wrote to the Galatians, But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 ESV) And to the Romans he wrote, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5 ESV)
Jesus said, 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. (John 14:23 ESV)
Has Jesus made a permanent home in your heart? Is he comfortable living there?
Scriptures for meditation: