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Paul’s Prayer

Put off the old man and embrace the new

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Publish Date: 
Sun, 02/28/2010
Paul’s Prayer
In opening his letter to the Ephesians, Paul first sets out the work of the triune God in the redemptive initiative and then expresses the content of his prayers for the believers at Ephesus. In this regard he prays for three things to happen in their lives:
  1. That they would have a spirit of revelation (1:15-17);
  2. That they would have an understanding of God’s inheritance in them (1:18); and
  3. That they would have an appreciation of what it means to be identified with Jesus (1:19-23).
Spiritual revelation means understanding the heart of God and His purpose in us. This seems regular and general in nature but my experience has been that most Christians are in need of a spirit of revelation. Our spiritual lives are weak and impoverished because so much of our Christianity is consumed with what we get from God because we are saved. It is an ‘I’ centered Christianity that is very often nothing short of ‘self improvement schemes’.
 
On the contrary, Paul states that we should understand our Christian walk is all about what God gets from us! He is looking for His inheritance in us and this means that He is looking for the emerging of His image in our character. This is what should concern all of us. Sanctification and Christ-likeness is ‘the name of the game’. This means we need to understand that what Jesus did on the Cross was God-ward in nature with man-ward results. That is, Jesus didn’t die to get man out of hell into heaven but He died to get God out of heaven into man!
 
As a consequence of this reconciliation, we are saved from a lost eternity. His death is thus termed a propitiation in Scripture (see Romans 3:25). This was also signified in a dramatic fashion because the veil in the Temple was split from the top to the bottom and not from the bottom to the top when He died.
 
Christians also need to understand the nature of the power of God that works in them. We need to see that we have been raised up in Christ and are seated already in heavenly places. We are set apart far above all principalities and powers. Why would Paul ask us to take this position? Because Jesus died in our place, and when we understand this we also recognise that no flaw in our characters or sin can resist His power in us! Sin’s grip and dominion over our lives has been destroyed and we are truly free. Positionally, we are in heaven and we just have to work this out on earth!
 
Hence in this same letter, Paul commands us to put off the old man and embrace the new. We don’t need anything more than Jesus and we have no excuse for our sinful habits and addictions. In his letter to the Romans, he says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you”. We can truly walk away from our problems if we believe this, but how many of us do?
 
There is no doubt that Paul’s remarkable prayer for all of us needs to be answered in our lives. Will you, together with me, ask God to make it so?

 

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