Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

Prayer for Jesus to Dwell in Believers 

… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith …Ephesians 4:16-17


The verses quoted are part of a prayer for the Ephesian believers. This part of the prayer is a petition Paul places before God that the Holy Spirit would do a work in the inner lives of the Ephesian believers resulting in Christ dwelling in their hearts.


Some may think it is a strange prayer because Christ was already in the believers at Ephesus. However, with the word “dwell,” Paul is making a distinction between Christ being in believers and in His dwelling in them. Paul knew that Christ was in the believers at Ephesus. He evidently knew that Christ was not dwelling in some of them.


Paul’s petition here is for what he commanded in Ephesians 5:18 with the words “Be filled with the Spirit.” Someone has said that Paul means in Ephesians 4:16-17 that Jesus can be resident in a believer without being president. Using that analogy, his prayer, then, is that Jesus might be president of their lives. Paul uses the word “dwell” in the same way in Romans 8:9 and Romans 8:11.


There are three things that the Spirit does in the inner lives of believers that result in Christ dwelling in them.


A believer’s first need is a Holy Spirit produced desire for Christ to dwell in him. His second need is a Spirit given revelation that by being crucified, buried and resurrected as “The Last Adam,” Jesus made it possible for Him to dwell in believers. Because Jesus is “The Last Adam,” we entered His race crucified, buried and resurrected spiritually just as we entered the race of the first Adam with a sin nature and death nature. The Holy Spirit does His third inner work by teaching, prompting, guiding and enabling the believer to respond positively to the teachings and commands of Romans 6:3-13. A positive response to this teaching, prompting, guiding and enabling, results in the believer experiencing his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.


This experience keeps the believer’s flesh—which stands in opposition to Jesus dwelling in the believer’s heart (Galatians 5:17)—out of power. As the believer continues to have this experience, the Spirit of Christ is free to continue to dwell in his heart.