The Strengthening of the Inner Man
Ephesians 3:16
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

We are beings of a complex nature. We testify this fact in our common talk. We speak of body, soul, and spirit belonging to us. We describe our body by its various limbs and organs. We describe our mind as possessing emotional parts, intellectual parts, volitional parts. Each of these parts we describe in various ways, according to the numerous feelings and motions our inward nature is accustomed to. So complex is our nature that it is hardly possible to give an account of it sufficiently simplified to be plain to an unobservant man.

I. THE TEXT SPEAKS OF "THE INNER MAN." It gives no definition of what the term includes. Does it mean by "the inner man" all the parts of our being which are not bodily? Or does it mean especially the part which we call the spirit, by which, when it is made active within us, we discern hidden and eternal realities? Or are both these meanings embraced by the term? Probably, I should say, both. The thinking and feeling faculties, the marvellous soul which perceives, searches, imagines, desires, loves, hates, resolves, and so forth — is not to be omitted from "the inner man," which the Spirit of God visits and renews, inhabits and ennobles. Yet "the spirit" has a special place in "the inner man," for it is the crown and glory of our being. Having our spirit "born from above," endowed by the Spirit of God with its proper life and power, and applying ourselves to its exalted exercises, we live in connection with two worlds — the world of sense, and the world of spirit. This, then, is the first care for us — not only that our body be living in health, however congenial and helpful this may be; not only that our mind be alive to all our earthly concerns, and strong to attend to them, however lofty and important they may be: but that our spirit be alive, active, and enthroned in the world within us, having some conception of, and some participation in, the share which God would give us with Himself, in His own thoughts and purposes, His own joys and griefs, His own ways and works. This is our prime concern. This ought to be our prime passion. This is, for us, "the glory that excelleth." This is our way to the priesthood and princeliness which the redeeming God bids us come up to and exercise. Be it our first care that we are born of the Spirit, and living in the Spirit.

II. THE LIFE OF OUR SPIRIT, HOWEVER, BEING BEGUN, MAY BE IN THE FEEBLENESS OF INFANCY. It may be enfeebled when it ought to be maturing through disorders preying upon it from our inferior desires. Indeed, we cannot be "strong in spirit" if we divide the supremacy between higher, and lower interests. All wilful sin injures our spiritual life, enfeebles its conceptions of God, dulls its sense of His presence. The confusion of soul into which we may fall by having received the vivifying and enlightening of the Holy Ghost, and having afterwards overruled the spiritual life within us by the lower life it was beginning to reduce and subject, is indescribable. We say, "What shall we do?" We are tempted to doubt God's power to restore us with the imagination that He has cast us off. We may even come to look down tremblingly into the horrible abyss of despair. And all this misery and confusion of soul is often aggravated by a misinterpretation of those dark words of Scripture which are written concerning backsliders who have utterly fallen away, and have eschewed the blessing of the life they once entered. And I ask anyone who has ever fallen into such misery and confusion of inward strife after he had tasted the peace of Christ's salvation, whether he did not learn in it his powerlessness to recover himself, and did not perceive that the best resolve and effort he could make would be no more than the galvanising of a dead limb unless another strength should be given him, and given him by the same Divine Spirit who before quickened him into a spiritual birth, unless God would hear the prayer which is no more than a broken wail of wretchedness and a struggling desire for healing? If the apostle wrote for any hearts thus fallen he might well write that he prayed for them. The text is a prayer. What else could it be to be sufficient? It is an intercessory prayer we should pray for one another in the gloomy hours of our brother's fall. It is a prayer to "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," who is the only Father who has riches enough in His glory to be able to strengthen us with might in our inner man when we have sapped its power by infidelity to His gift of the Spirit. If in any of us the spiritual power has ebbed and fallen, let this prayer be ours. And let us humbly believe that it is the prayer Christ prays with us, moved by a consistency in love, and hope, and saving energy which we so sorely lack.

III. Having dwelt thus far on the supreme importance of spiritual life, and of the extreme need of its Divine strengthening which is occasioned and evinced by falls, let us in the next place seize a truth which we have barely touched yet. LET IT BE CERTAIN TO US THAT THIS GIFT OF STRENGTH TO OUR SPIRITS BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS OUR PERPETUAL NEED. It is our need not only in that extremity of which we have spoken, but it is a need inherent in our nature, which was in us at birth, which will abide with us through death. Our inner man, our innermost man, wants a life and a strength which is not human but Divine. It wants a strength which is not ethereal but real. It wants a strength which will not lie idle, but will be diffused through our whole man, and be available for our whole life. It wants power of spiritual thought, spiritual perception, spiritual emotion, spiritual control, spiritual activity, spiritual endurance, spiritual influence, such as we see pervading and flowing from the whole character and conduct of Christ. The prayer of the text must be our prayer, because it asks for the power which is our perpetual need, which is the perpetual need of our children and brethren.

IV. Let our attention dwell next on this — the apostle's prayer for his fellow Christians at Ephesus is a prayer for a gift of power from the Spirit of God to the spirit of man. It supposes a communication with us when we are spiritual which is no less than God's own communion with us. There is a spiritual Divine touch, which is such as Christ's touch that healed leprosy and raised the dead. There is a supernatural influence, and energy of the Divine Spirit in our spirits, which may become so real and manifest within us that the physical miracles of Christ rank beneath it.

(J. E. Gibbert.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

WEB: that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man;

The Spirit's Gift of Strength
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