Ephesians 3: 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
As I was reading this amazing prayer of Paul recently, I noticed the a paradox, in which Paul prays for the Ephesians to “know” the love of Christ which “surpasses knowledge.” Paul also writes that this knowledge beyond knowledge would enable the Ephesians to be filled with “all the fullness of God,” which is another incredible statement I may look at in another post! I think paradoxes often represent deep truths, so let’s look a bit closer.
As is evident here, Paul’s desire for the Ephesians was not primarily for “correct behavior,” but inward enlightenment and rich spiritual experience. I believe Paul was very aware of perhaps the greatest deception of religion; namely that righteousness can be found in the flesh – that is, in proper behaviors and observances. This emphasis on outward behaviors naturally leads to (among other errors) an emphasis on having a correct set of knowledge and “rules.” In desiring the Ephesians to know a love which surpasses knowledge, Paul is saying he desires the Ephesians to devalue “mental assent” of facts, and instead to receive and walk in an inward, spiritual revealed knowing. We can know facts about things, and we can know other things by inward experience and revelation…the latter is the way of the Kingdom of God.
Paul also desired the Ephesians to be “strengthened with might (power) through His Spirit in the inner man…” This leads to the question: power for what? For so many of us, our carnal minds and tenacious religious indoctrination lead us to continually see sin and temptation and the devil as our chief enemies. Therefore, we automatically think any strength God may give will be so that we can resist these things. However, you’ll notice not once in this passage does Paul mention or even imply any of these.
It seems to me Paul was praying the Ephesians would be strengthened with power through God’s spirit because it takes a divine touch and power, beyond mere human power, to break free (and to stay free) from the ways of the flesh, the most deceptive of which is religiosity! By the same token, it takes a divine touch and power to grow up in the divine nature, knowing (connecting with in a deep way) a love which surpasses knowledge and living that love out in the midst of darkness. Let’s not forget, this power has already been provided – we simply must connect with it and let go of the old (repent) to walk in it. If this is fulfilled, and we see believers begin to walk in spiritual knowledge, empowered to let go of religion and to suffer whatever loss is necessary, and to literally become the “body of Christ” and stones making up the temple of God, then the church and then the world will be so much more amazing and glorious than we can imagine.
What I see beginning is an exposure, weakening, and removal of those things which have masked themselves with spirituality and love, but are founded on selfishness and carnality. The greatest deception is darkness and selfishness masked with light and good (perhaps with Bible verses). I include most traditional “churches” in this category, but it’s far bigger than that. I don’t know how gradual or sudden this weakening and destruction might be, but I see it beginning already. The foundations and motivations of all things WILL be exposed in God’s time1 (which takes no concern for our natural lifespans), and only what is truly Spiritual will remain. Right now, that’s not very much of what we see, but it’s there and it’s growing. As I said last time, since everything that is not Spirit in origin will be consumed anyway, let’s not be afraid to question, to go a different way, to be radically different from the ways of flesh altogether, whether the extreme of religious devotion or hedonistic debauchery. Love is its own way, and the Spirit goes where It will.
Suffer now willingly in love, or suffer later by force, but know that in the end, love wins, God is good and we’re all heading there. Take heart, let go of fearful self-preservation, and jump aboard what is inevitable and what, deep down, we all know is the way of righteousness. Love, honor, humility, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, healing, truth…
- 1 Corinthians 3:11-13