“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith … “(Eph. 3:14-17).
The mystical union, doubtless, underlies the passage before us. But yet it scarcely forms its special teaching. For St. Paul is writing to those who undoubtedly “had the Son.” And for them he prays for a new beginning, a new development; that Christ may “take up His abode ” (so literally) “in their hearts by faith…”
…It [also] means the divine reality of the love of the new heart to this great and blessed Christ; no mere emotional tenderness towards a humanitarian aspect of the name Jesus, but, observe, towards the “Christ,” the King Messiah, the anointed One of God. It means the ocean-tide of the regenerate affections heaving towards Him. It means what the context seems specially to indicate an intuition, a direct gaze, into the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, into the personal application of that love; “Who loved me.”
But is even this all? I think not. Observe the phrase, “that you may be strengthened with might by His Spirit.” Here is a something, then, that needs not illumination only, nor explanation, nor invitation, but strengthening with might, if Christ is thus to enter in. What does this imply? That this indwelling is a thing from which the heart without such strengthening shrinks…
As in other things, so in this, the Spirit must “help our infirmities” (Rom. 8:26) and here I see the truth that in this dwelling of Christ in the heart there is involved that self-surrender which without the Spirit’s grace is unwelcome, impossible, but which the Spirit makes to be a thankful opening of the doors in peace to the infinitely worthy and welcome presence of the King. For if Christ inhabits the heart, it must be not only to console, but to take power and reign. And it needs a divine force beneath our will to make us, without reserve and with open eyes, assent to this and welcome Him in.
These things, at least, I read in this wonderful phrase, and they all bear upon Christian holiness. Realization of eternal life in the Lord is here. Spiritual love to the holy Christ, the idea with which the context glows is there; love continually re-generated as faith lays hold on truth and promise. And the solemn peace of self-surrender is there, the opening of the heart’s door to One who must be Master where He dwells.
Touching upon another point, we briefly notice the Greek original of the word “dwell” (katoikeo). It denotes permanent, settled residence. Why should He be as a wayfaring man that turneth aside for the night”? (Jer. 14:8). He is to be at home. The experience is to be, not intermittent, but equable; and this passage, infallible with the voice of Almighty God, is warrant that it may be. Realization of spiritual fact, the sense of spiritual love, spiritual self-surrender, may be for us, beginning now, permanent realities.
…The thought points to blissful facts of holy experience, definitely deepening views of the King in His beauty, and definite development of that likeness to Him which comes of “seeing Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
Deep indeed is this one brief word of God … Let us take it up here, each for himself, in the immediate presence of Christ. With Him all thoughts of the way of holiness must begin and end.
Well said the Scottish saint, Robert McCheyne, one who lived in the inner sanctuary,
“Christ for us is all our righteousness before a holy God;
Christ in us is all our strength in an unholy world.”
Part 2 of 2
From Chapter 7 of Thoughts on Christian Sanctity, LONDON SEELEY & Co, ESSEX STREET, STRAND 1888.
“H. C. G. Moule… became first principal of Ridley Hall Theological College, Cambridge, in 1881, and Norrisian Professor of Divinity in 1899. Moule was a convinced evangelical, but was understanding of other views… He was closely associated with the Keswick Convention. Although he was a profound scholar, he could speak and write for ordinary people…” -http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/moule_h/index.htm
Ephesians 3 graphic is courtesy of www.Heartlight.org.