The Power of Love Heals Broken Hearts and Sets Captives Free
My last message was on the power of God expressed through the gifts of the Spirit provided to the body of Christ for ministry. There is something even more powerful than these gifts. Paul explains here:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, (Eph. 3:14–19).
In this prayer the apostle is telling us that we can be strengthened with the power of the Holy Spirit in our inner man. Our inner man is our soul with its mind, emotion and will. He calls it here our heart. Our soul is what gives us self-consciousness. It’s what makes us who we are as a living being created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). Unfortunately, we are broken spiritually and in need of restoration to our soul. Humans are disconnected from God and need spiritual healing. We have “. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It takes the power of God flowing from genuine love to restore us to His glory, to heal us of our brokenness and set us free.
The purpose of this power is “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts.” The connecting words “so that” show that Christ dwelling in our hearts takes spiritual strength. We must have this strengthening of power in our lives for this gift of heaven to overcome the pressures of hell and the world. Everything in Satan’s world system will come against the growth of love in our lives because love is the one thing that he hates more than anything.
As we exercise faith by receiving the free gift of Christ, He comes to live in our spirit bringing spiritual life into us and providing the potential of Christ actually “dwelling” in our hearts. The word Paul uses for “dwell” means to take up permanent residence. To “dwell” is not merely to “live.” Paul uses a completely different word when speaking of Christ living in us. Christ enters our spirit, specially made to receive the Spirit of God, and comes to live in us. However, God wants to dwell in our lives taking up residence in every room of our heart or soul as we give Him permission. We must humbly open our hearts and let Him in to those areas that need healing. Many Christians have Christ living in them but how many of us are allowing Him to dwell in us through faith?
As Christ makes His home in our hearts, we begin to be rooted and grounded in love. Like the roots of a plant the roots in our heart begin to draw from the life of Christ who lives in our spirit. Finally, those roots grow so strong that they provide a grounding that gives us stability in life and strength through the Holy Spirit. We are rooted and grounded in love which is the same as being rooted and grounded in God because He is love. Love is God manifest and prospering in us.
Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It is much more powerful than the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul alludes to this comparison in 1 Corinthians 12:31 when he says “But earnestly desire the greater gifts and I show you a still more excellent way.” He encourages us to seek and desire the gifts of the Spirit but hints that there is a “more excellent” way. The word for “more excellent” here is the Greek word huperbole from which we get the word hyperbole which is an expression that exaggerates far beyond what we expect. Love is a far better way to experience the power of God. Paul tells us that we can have all of the gifts and do wonderful works but if we don’t have love we will still remain spiritually weak (1 Cor. 13:1–3). We need to be strengthened with power in the inner man.
In other words, love is far better way of experiencing the power of God. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Paul is dismissing the gifts as unimportant. When he gets to chapter 14 he says “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” So Paul is saying, “Don’t try to express these gifts outside of God’s love because He created them to express His love.” But he encourages us to “desire earnestly spiritual gifts” (14:1) because he knew that we live in a world where they are necessary. Gifts will give you external power but love will bring power into your soul for growth in God.
Then Paul says something extraordinary. When we become rooted and grounded in love we will “. . . be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (3:18). Imagine that! There is something that we can comprehend that “surpasses knowledge.” This is supernatural knowledge given to us that the human mind cannot perceive because it is beyond human understanding. There are four dimensions to this love because we see it expressed in our earthly life through the first three but the fourth, its depth, takes us into the very heart of God where human knowledge is surpassed by divine revelation.
At that point we will know love as more than a mental concept because we will know it experientially, as it works in our lives. God’s love is powerful! Expressed in our lives love changes us and our lives begin to express the very nature of God Himself. Love transforms us by replacing the weaknesses of our heart with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22, 23). Because we are rooted in love we become more and more like God. Love is the opposite of selfishness. It motivates us to put others before ourselves. Spiritual gifts are externally powerful but love changes us from the inside out. The gifts will one day cease when this external power is no longer needed but God’s love will last forever as we will be forever changing into the likeness of God (1 Cor. 13:8).
This is what Paul means in the closing of this passage where he says, “. . . that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (3:19). That statement should shake us to the core! We can be filled up to the fullness of God! Notice that Paul says we are filled up “to” the fullness of God, not “with” the fullness of God. This little preposition carries the idea of direction. We are growing “toward” the fullness of God. This same word is used in Ephesians 1:19 speaking of His power “toward” or into us who believe. God’s power is only in us as it flows toward us from Christ. The filling process in our transformation is a continual growth “toward” the fullness of God.
I know this message contains much to take in. To put it simply — as believers in Christ we are planted in the garden of His love and our roots grow down into that love to bring into us the spiritual nutrients of God which will produce in us the nature of God expressed in the fruit of the Spirit summarized in Galatians 5:22, 23. Fruit can be seen, picked and eaten. The expressions of divine love can be seen in our lives and enjoyed by those who know us. In so doing they will be experiencing something of the fullness of God growing on our spiritual branches as we become more and more like the love into which we are planted.
Christ’s life in us is not the end of the story but merely the beginning. Christ in us is the hope of glory, Paul declared. (Col. 1:27). We are in the process of being transformed. As the apostle put it, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
One final word. This growth process only works in the context of healthy life in the body of Christ. Paul put it this way:
. . . we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:15, 16).
The body of Christ grows as its members are functioning properly. Growth will take place only when we are built up “in love.” Love is what causes the spiritual growth. Going to church and doing religious things will not accomplish this miracle. Find closely knit fellowship with believers who are seeking and finding this truth and the miracle of ekklesia will emerge. Amazingly, in the context of this miracle of love, the gifts of the Spirit will be mightily expressed in the power of love. God awaits our obedience.