Last week I shared how II Corinthians 3:18 said we see the glory of God inside us, as if looking into a mirror, seeing who we are in that glory. As we continue gazing we are changed into His image.
It is an adjustment to religion trained minds to see the Word speaking of us gazing into glory to see ourselves, for this means our wrestling is with Christ trying to grow us from the inside out. Holding out to us the image of what He has done for us that we might be changed into that image.
Religion teaches us to focus on our past or present sins and to try to overcome them, and only then will we grow. Wrong. We need to focus on what He has done and how we can walk in the Spirit and demons and sins and all those old things falls by the wayside as we grow in Christ from within and outward into our lives.
For instance, when someone in church hurts you and they know they hurt you, yet they show up each Sunday with a smile on their face and worship God like nothing happened, your adversary is not 'the spirit of unforgiveness' as some might teach; your adversary is forgiveness - God - that is Who you are wrestling.
"Oh Lord don't make me forgive them! They owe ME an apology!" Sound familiar? Your wrestling is with God, not the devil.
When the Lord starts dealing with your cussing because you used to curse like the roughest sailor, and you find yourself wanting to react to stubbing your toe with a string of obscenities, your wrestling is with Christ in you who is dealing with your mouth, not your old nature. If these examples were not true you wouldn't find yourself saying 'Lord forgive me, I messed up again' - you instinctively recognize the struggle, the wrestling, is with Him.
Consider how carnal the Ephesians were. They burned so many occult books in Acts 19 the economy of the city was disrupted and a riot ensued. Ephesians 4 reads like the Saturday night police report: Thieves, fights, sexual perversion, liars, explosive anger.
Wouldn't a modern church prescribe the following conferences for them to attend: The 'Overcoming Generational Curses' conference. The 'Inner Healing' conference. The 'How to Overcome Habitual Sin' conference. The 'Freedom from Sexual Sin' conference, and so on. Wouldn't they be steered to the 'deliverance room'?
Yet how did Paul pray for them? Did he rebuke demons over them? Did he encourage them to look at their past and figure out how each sin got into their lives so they could renounce each one individually, and along the way offer to interpret each dream for spiritual significance? No!
What he prayed
"For I always pray to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation of insight into mysteries and secrets, in the deep and intimate knowledge of Him. By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints, His set-apart ones. And so that you can know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe..." 1:17-20
That is gazing into glory and seeing our reflection! But look at another prayer for these people in 3:14-19:
"...I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit, Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality.
May Christ through your faith actually dwell, settle down, abide, make His permanent home, in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love. That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints, God's devoted people, the experience of that love, what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it.
That you may really come to know practically, through experience for yourselves, the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience; that you may be filled through all your being unto all the fullness of God, may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!" (Amplified Version, both)
Paul knows their past, but his focus is on Christ who lives within and them knowing Him and the glory within!
I have prayed these prayers for myself, often weekly and often daily, for at least 25 years. Anyone who has heard me teach, live or recorded, knows I start with the prayer of Ephesians 1:17-18 on behalf of those who hear what I teach. I am consumed with the amazing grace and truth of Christ in me, and I want to look into that glory to see all that Paul prayed I would!
Aware of Who lives where
Jesus made the statement in John 8:44 that when the devil speaks he does so of his own, meaning he has no one to agree with him. It takes 2 to be in agreement, and the devil stands 'out there', all alone, whispering lies and innuendos and half truths, just waiting for someone to agree with him. Meanwhile, we have Christ in us and He is trying to get us to grow as per Paul's prayers above.
If a person agrees with the devil, that agreement opens a door into that person's life. It could be something as foundational as a parent saying in anger to their young child, 'You'll never amount to anything'. That is a lie, but if the child believes it, they come into agreement with the father of lies, and once in agreement, the lie becomes truth to them. Then they go through life believing they will never amount to anything.
Then they get born again, now Christ is in them, trying to grow in them. Will they agree with Him and continue to gaze into the mirror of their new Life within, or continue in the lie they've believed all their life?
Then Christian culture tells them just to read the Word, just to stand on the Word, go to this or that school or conference to get the Word, get great teaching of the Word - and they write volumes of notes having learned great things from wonderful Bible teachers, but are nothing bettered. Why?
The New Testament is talking about knowing the Living Word within, but we have lifted the instructions of the New Testament out of context because we have the benefit of the printing press to write out 'the Word'. So all these people are taught to know the written page rather than the Living Page inside them.
Can't hold to both
How can a Christian grow who looks into the mirror and sees Christ in them, while also holding onto the lie that has been truth to them their whole life? Answer; you can't grow that way. You'll be miserable, double minded as James 1 says, unstable and tossed like a wave going back and forth from one to the other.
A Christian must 'un-believe' the lie. This is wrestling with God. He wants you to un-believe the lie. The mirror within shows what we have inside and to what we may attain, a life of wholeness in Christ, changed into His image. We must be willing to let go of the lie we believed all our life, willing to call it a lie, and leave it in the dust by the roadside of our past life.
I came to Christ at age 16 holding onto many lies I had believed about myself, in large part due to my dad leaving our family when I was 11. Children tend to blame themselves for their parent's divorce, and our family was no different. Talk of 'Maybe we should run away' and 'It's our fault he left' were coupled with the rejection we felt when he moved out of his home and moved in with another woman and her two children, raising her two kids as his own. Why did he love them more than he loved us? What did we do wrong?
All these things I carried with me into Christ. With each Thursday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night 'prayer and praise' meeting, as we called it in the mid-1970's, I learned more about that Glory now living inside my spirit. That Life argued with me, wrestled with me about what I believed about myself.
Religion would have me focus on the 'spirit of rejection' and such, but in truth Christ was growing in me from glory to glory, His life quickly confronting and overcoming each lie I believed. Why did I get set free so quickly? Because I saw the truth I had believed in God's light, which showed my 'truth' to be a lie, and once exposed I wanted nothing to do with it. I dropped the now exposed lie like a hot potato and embraced what I saw in the mirror of God's glory and Christ inside my spirit, running as it were to the Father and our Lord.
As long as I stayed in a state of holding onto both lie and truth together I was miserable. But I became so consumed by Christ in me and all that meant, the momentum growing up in me in Christ became unstoppable. Part of that momentum was praying Paul's prayers above not as some religious exercise, but because I saw the truth in them and desired that with all my heart. So even today I pray these prayers for myself as they come to mind, when I feel 'low on revelation', or just to reaffirm my deepest desire to know Him!
I challenge you to pray Paul's prayers as printed above, as they come to mind, and see what the Father does for you - you'll be amazed at the revelation you are flooded with.
The Living Word or the written Word, and how do I un-believe the lie?
That is the subject for next week. Until then, blessings,