so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV)
We are currently reading a prayer by the apostle Paul for the Ephesians. Yesterday he prayed that they would be strengthened through the Holy Spirit. The result of such strengthening (“so that”) is Christ dwelling in their hearts.
This verse is not a salvation verse. We often hear that people need to ask Jesus into their hearts as a metaphor for being saved. But such logic is never found in the Bible. This is the only verse in the Bible that refers to Christ dwelling in someone’s heart and it is written to people who already believe.
The Greek word translated “dwell” here is κατοικεο (pronounced: kat-oy-keh’-o) and means “to inhabit; to feel at home”. When a person is saved, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, immediately takes up residence in that person [Ezekiel 36:27; 1 Corinthians 6:19 et. al]. That is the work of God. But it is the responsibility of each believer to make Him welcome.
Before a person is saved they are spiritually dead [Ephesians 2:1]. Yet Christ takes up residence inside that person. He doesn’t wait for that person to clean up their life. Then, just like a homeowner restores a dilapidated, condemned building, God begins a work of renovating that person’s spirit by bringing it back to life.
That renovation can only occur when we allow ourselves to be strengthened by the Spirit, as we read yesterday. But we are naturally resistant to such changes. That is why we need faith.
Faith is required if we are going to make our lives a welcoming home for Jesus. Biblical faith is not passive. It does not mean we continue to live as we were while God does what He does magically. Biblical faith is active. It is an active, moment-by-moment, reliance on God.
When we have faith we will be more inclined to make our lives a pleasing home for Jesus. Anyone who accepts Jesus’ death as necessary and complete for the forgiveness of their sins has the Holy Spirit living in them. But without on-going faith, a person will not experience complete fellowship with Christ.
It is only when we surrender our lives to Him, through faith, that He can truly take up residence in our souls. Jesus must be the very center of a believer’s life. We are to let Him become the dominating factor in our attitudes and conduct. To do that we need to welcome Him in, through faith.
Faith is the front door to our hearts. The more faith we have, the more open and welcoming that door is.
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