A change of heart

I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

God's people will continue to struggle with the influence of those 'religious individuals' around them who seek to 'bind' them with rules and regulations. In Paul's epistle to the Galatian church, he recounted the purpose for the Law of Moses - to point out the need for a Savior - but he also reminded them how impossible it is to ever keep ALL of the Law. In fact, he goes so far as to say the Law was meant to be kept in its entirety, but no one was actually able to do that, so depending on those rules and regulations as your means of being made right with God was quite foolish. Grace came to us through the sacrificial offering of Christ dying on the cross. Grace differs from the system of works in the Law - one is God doing it all for us, the other is us trying to do it all for God!

In our passage today, we observe Paul's earnest desire for each of us to understand the unlimited resources available to those who enter into this relationship with God through faith in the finished work of Christ. His Holy Spirit comes to empower us to live right - something we find very difficult without his presence guiding us out of 'slavery' to the way of living by 'rules and regulations'. There is something powerful that happens when we stop 'trying to work our way to God' and we begin to trust that God has already worked his way into our hearts. We begin to find rest and a sense of peace that permeates our every fiber. Is sin still a constant temptation to us? Yes, as long as we live on this earth, sin will tempt us, but with God's Spirit within, sin need not win.

The 'inner strength' that comes from being empowered by the Holy Spirit is more than our 'internal willpower'. Our own willpower is quite ineffectual in changing our motives. Our motives are changed when God's Spirit energizes our thought life, moves upon our emotions, and settles into our heart. The desire to 'live right' or 'upright' is not something we can 'will' ourselves into - it is a condition of the heart that is accomplished when God's love begins to permeate the mind, emotions, and spirit of man. Religion keeps us bound to 'doing' and 'redoing'. Relationship with God sets us free to realize a change of heart we can never accomplish on our own. Just sayin!

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