Author: Ron Graham
—The reality of spirit
Ephesians 3:16 says, "May God, according to the riches of his glory, grant you to be strengthened in your inner being through his Spirit". In our modern society there is a recognition and reawakening of the inner being.
For a long time now, our society has been operating largely at the materialistic level. Everything has been centred upon industrialism, politics, money, technology, and so forth. The human spirit and the reality of spiritual forces and kingdoms has been ignored or marginalised.
Today, however, many people are turning back to the inner person, the spiritual being that is distinct from the mortal and physical being.
1 The Soul’s Transcending Journey
Today many people are recognising that life should be thought of, and experienced, as a spiritual Path and a Quest, an inner walk to higher ground transcending this temporal realm.
In the Bible, Christianity is called a "way" (Hebrews 10:20), and Christians are seen as "sojourners and pilgrims" in this world (1Peter 2:11).
Jesus himself said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6). Jesus calls us to follow his way to true and eternal life, and to God his Heavenly Father. It has always been the only true way.
Ancient wisdom spoke of this way which even then was already ancient. "Stand by the ways and see, and ask for the ancient paths wherein is the good way, and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls" (Jeremiah 6:16).
Jesus spoke of the ways from which we may choose. There is the broad, popular, and so-called modern way, which pretends to lead to life but really leads to destruction, for it is the way of earthly things which hold false promise and which perish.
On the other hand, there is the old narrow and difficult path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). This path transcends earthly things. It is the path of the soul led by the Great Shepherd.
2 Material Things Cannot Satisfy the Soul
None of the inner being's needs can truly be satisfied with material or worldly things. Sadly, many people spend their lives fruitlessly trying to satisfy their souls from the physical world.
Either we madly consume and acquire material goods and status, or we gaze at those who do and waste our lives wishing we could get some of the action!
We are like the rich fool who built a great big barn, filled it with stuff, then congratulated himself: "Soul, you have many goods laid up in store for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19). The same night that he said this, his soul was required of him, and he died.
The promises of prosperity in certain passages of the Bible (usually made to the children of Israel) are not what salvation of the soul, or the satisfaction of the inward person's longings, are about. Rather they are a type or symbol of the spiritual.
God promises to satisy the basic needs of the body such as sufficient food and covering, if we will seek first the more important needs of the soul — his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth... but treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:19-21).
3 Three Great Needs of the Inner Being
There are three basic spiritual longings which need to be satisfied: Fraternity, Destiny, and Mystery. In Ephesians 3:14-21 we find each of these three spiritual basics expressed in a most beautiful way.
The first is fraternity
In verses 14-15 we read of "the whole family in heaven and earth" and this family or fraternity is "named" from God the Father.
Further down in verses 18 and 21, we find echoes of this in the words, "with all the saints" and "in the church". All of us need to feel that we belong to a "great family" and that on our path we are not alone but in a great company of brothers and sisters bound together in love.
This sense of belonging is absolutely important. Its opposite is a feeling of alienation and loneliness. People today feel a deep need not just for identification and attachment to a group, but a deep melding with fellow beings.
The problem really is alienation from God because of sin. Jesus shed his blood to reconcile us to God and his household (Ephesians 2:13,16-19).
The second is destiny
In verses 16, 20 and 21, we read of a power and glory which we can have in the inner being, and that leads to "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine". All of us need, and long for, a great and lasting future.
The expectation of this future is essential to happiness. So many people, both young and old, long for, but have no expectation of, wonderful things to come. In fact, many expect something bad. How often do you hear, when something bad happens, the sentiment "Things were going too well. I knew it couldn't last."
The other sentiment, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" is really the same thing, and means, "There you are you see, I can't win, everything is stacked up against me". The problem here is really a feeling of unworthiness. To put it more bluntly, the problem is guilt. This is solved in Christ (Ephesians 1:7).
The third is mystery
Every soul thirsts to know the meaning of life and to be connected to that mystery and its revelation. In verses 17-19 the main point of life is "to know the love of Christ" for the love of Christ is the embodiment of the mystery, and the gospel reveals it to whoever will seek and listen.
The only way you can truly know the love of Christ is to centre your life upon him rather than upon yourself. That will lead you into all wisdom and insight and true knowledge. In Christ the mystery of life is revealed, and you become connected to that mystery (Ephesians 1:9).