In Eph. 3:16, Paul prays that God the Father would strengthen the believers in the churches surrounding Ephesus "with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (ESV). We said on Sunday that this strengthening with power is not physical, but spiritual. It is an exercising of our inner being that is provided by God the Holy Spirit.
So how does this occur? How can we maximize our membership in the Spirit's Gym where he strengthens us with internal power?
Enter the Spirit's weight room of prayer and the ministry of the word together with the rest of the saints. In corporate prayer and the ministry of the word, we strengthen our belief in God's promises, aligning our hearts to his revelation. When we lift the glorious truths of the scriptures with our prayers of faith, our spiritual muscles grow strong. And as in any good weight room, we should strive to work out with others because they can both spot us (making sure we rightly understand the word), and also push us to more intense prayer and longing for God.
Enter the Spirit's cross-fit collective of "the one-anothers." The Spirit uses biblical fellowship, or what we might call "the one-anothers" to stimulate consistent growth in the body. The comradery of the church stirs us up to love and good deeds, leading us to experience more of Christ's fullness in us.
Enter the Spirit's cardio class of ministry service. The Spirit empowers us with spiritual gifts for the building up of Christ's body, and he stretches our dependence upon him so that we can see his power at work (see Eph. 4:15-16). He gets us moving in service so that our hearts remain healthy. This type of workout is non-negotiable if we are going to keep running the race set before us. It will require effort to stay in sync with our ever-moving instructor (the Spirit) and with the rest of the class (the Church), but the result is a stretch and burn that refreshes the soul.
Enter the Spirit's sauna of suffering. We might not like to admit it, but the Spirit uses the heat of suffering to clean out the gunk in our pores, and to produce endurance and dependence on God’s promises through faith. He uses suffering to produce a faith worth more than gold, though it is refined in the fire (see 1 Pet. 1:7).
While I know that at a typical gym you would pick and choose between all these programs (and with Cross-Fit, you wouldn't have to do more than that one... sorry hard core cross-futters for squeezing you into my analogy!), you can't survive with such an a la carte approach at the Spirit's gym. You need it all.
As with much exercise, it might not sound like fun at first. Going to the Spirit's gym requires spiritual discipline over the long haul. But the reward is worth it. By the gracious granting of the Father, the Spirit strengthens us with power in our inner being so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. The result is that we get to comprehend more fully, together with all the saints, the vast dimensions of God's glory, know more deeply the wonders of his love, and ultimately be filled with all of the fullness of God (see Sunday's sermon called "Glory Beyond Imagination" on Eph. 3:14-21).
Is there any area of the Spirit's gym you have been avoiding? What areas will you visit this week?