Most people desire a change on the outside. A woman may go on various diets to lose weight. A man may go to numerous sales seminars to become top salesman. A teenager may join a gang to get away from a broken home and find some sense of belonging. A pastor may read dozens of commentaries in order to preach his Sunday sermons. All of these are examples of efforts to change the outside from the outside.
I gave my life to Jesus when I was nine years old, but did not surrender my life to ministry until I was in college. When I surrendered my life to ministry, my Dad who was a minister, and other ministers told me to get a Bible education and build myself up physically. I did these things, but soon discovered that God was more concerned about an inside change than an outside change. God allowed the enemy to take away my health and closed the door on ministry. I came to the place where I could not be the minister, proper husband, father, or bread winner who I wanted to be and that God wanted me to be. Then one day after much struggling, I told God that I gave up, and that I was throwing in the towel. I had tried everything that I knew, but nothing worked. Therefore, I told God that if anything was going to be done in my life that He would have to do it. God began to change my life from the inside out. I began to look to see what God could do in and through my life, and there were many dramatic changes.
The following Scriptural study is based upon the "inside out" principle. To begin, we need to understand God created man to have three parts: spirit, soul, and body (I Thessalonians 5:23). God sees us from the inside to the outside. On the basis of the Ephesians 3:14-21 we need to come to understand a mystery. This mystery deal with a fellowship of Believers in Christ, the effectual working of God's power, the unsearchable riches of Christ, the wisdom of God, and the fact that we have access to God. Indeed, this may seem like a real mystery.
Therefore, we need to understand that when we give our life to Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), that the Spirit of God unites with our dead spirit, gives it eternal life, and we become a child of God in the family of God. Our race, color, nationality, or sex doesn't matter. We become part of the family. Even death does not separate us from the family. We have one Father who is in heaven.
Now, God wants to work from the inside (the spirit-man or inner man), through the soul (mind, will, and emotions) to the outside (the body). This work of God is not based upon our merit (something earned), but is a gift of God. Furthermore, God bases His work upon the riches of His glory. His riches are unlimited! These riches are unsearchable (Ephesians 3:8). God said, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3). God said that He would give Jesus the spoil and that Jesus would give it unto us (Isaiah 53:12). Paul declared that God has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
God wants to begin the work in the inner man. The inner man is a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). The inner man is being renewed day by day (II Corinthians 4:16). The inner man is born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-8). The inner man has eternal life that shall never perish (John 10:28). The inner man is born of the seed of the Word of God that is not capable of being corrupted, lives forever, and abides forever (I Peter 1:23). The inner man is incapable of sin (I John 3:9). The inner man has the capacity to hear and obey the voice of God (John 10:27). It is washed, sanctified (set apart unto God), and justified (I Corinthians 6:11). The inner man is able not to sin (by the grace of God) (I Corinthians 10:13). The inner man is a treasure in the vessel of the body (II Corinthians 4:7). The inner man is empowered by the "resurrection power" of God (Romans 8:11). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit reveals these truths to the Believers (John 16:14-15).
God's desire is for every Believer to be strengthened with POWER (the New Testament word from which we get words like dynamic, dynamite, and dynamo) by the Spirit in the inner man. There was a story of an old cowboy who visited an Indian reservation. He sat down with the chief to have a meal. As they were eating, he noticed that a couple of the chief's dogs got into a fight. The dogs were going around and around. The cowboy asked the chief, "Which dog do you think will win?" The chief without hesitation said, "The one that I feed the most." The application is that there is often a struggle that goes on within us between the inner man and the outer man. Which will win? The one that we feed the most! We are to take off the old and put on the new. "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). Peter tells the women, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (I Peter 3:4).
Returning to the basics, God wants to work from the inside out. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). It is sometimes difficult to grasp this mystery that God lives within the Believer enabling him to will and do what God would have him to do. By experience, we know that we often don't have the will-power to do what God would have us to do. Therefore, we are to yield our will to His will (in us), then do His will by His power. God wants to change us from the inside out. Remember that Moses came down from the Mount, with his face glowing. The energy of the Glory of God was absorbed by Moses. As we purpose to spend time in the presence of God, we are energized with His power on the inside, that should radiate to the outside.
God not only wants to dwell within the spirit-man and to strengthen it, He wants to move from the inside to the outside. He wants to dwell in our hearts (souls) by faith. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20). We should note that the verse speaks of fellowship, not relationship. Jesus already, by the Spirit, lives within the inner man. He then knocks on the door to the soul (mind, will, and emotions). Jesus wants to be lord over our mind (our memory, reasoning, and imagination). He wants to be lord over our emotions (to bring healing and peace). He wants be lord over our will (our decisions). However, only we can open the door to allow Jesus in. It takes faith to let go of self and to let him become lord of the soul. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
Furthermore, God wants us to be rooted and grounded in love. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus as the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:6-7). The type of love is the self-giving love (agape type). Our roots are to go down deep into love. Love is to be a foundation for living. We should remember that "love" is the first fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and that faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). God wants us to comprehend (fully receive) with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of this love (Ephesians 3:18).
Actually, this is the same as the love of Christ. Jesus so loved us that he left his home in heaven. He put on humanity and experienced hot, cold, hunger, thirst, sorrow, and pain. He was tempted, mocked, and ridiculed. He was rejected, framed, and sentenced to be executed for crimes that he did not commit. He suffered the shame and death of the cross, the full penalty for our sins. Why? He loved us. He wanted to give us forgiveness and cleansing. Then he was resurrected that he might offer to us his resurrected life (eternal life) and the gift of the Holy Spirit. He wanted to give us his inheritance in the kingdom. Hear the words of God, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
God not only wants to live within us and wants us to know the love of Jesus in our hearts, He also wants to fill us with all His fullness. Only if we comprehend the love of the Father, will we seek to ask for the gift or promise of the Father which is the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this is known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "And, behold I send the promise of my Father upon you ..." (Luke 24:49). Jesus also said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). We should note that there is a difference between receiving the down payment (earnest) (II Corinthians 1:22, 4:5) of the Holy Spirit at salvation and receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit and being filled. However, we are to be "filled will all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19) (Ephesians 518). Elijah, the great prophet of the Old Testament, received a portion of the Spirit, while Elisha, his disciple, received a double portion of the Spirit (II Kings 2:9-14). However, we are to filled will ALL the fullness of God. This is more than we can fully comprehend. Furthermore, we are not to be filled just so that we can declare, "I am filled." We are to be filled to do the work of God in our bodies. Remember, God wants to work from the inside out.
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (Ephesians 3:20). God wants to work inside us that He may be able "to do" His work through us. The word "exceeding" means superior in quality. God wants to do his superior work through us. The word "abundantly" implies "above measure" in quantity. You see, God wants to do His best work and more work through us than we could ever ask or imagine. What does God want to do in and through our lives? We haven't dreamed that big yet! Where does the power come from to do this work? It comes from God who works within us working from the inside out. If we want an outward change, we must ask God to do His work from the inside out.
When God does the work, all we can
do is to stand back and give God the praise. "Unto him be glory in
the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.
Amen" (Ephesians 3:21).