Article by Janet Smith â€“ January 12, 2012
Ephesians 1:18-23, I pray that the eyes(1) of your heart(2) may be enlightened(3), so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
The Greek words for “Eyes” “Heart” and “Enlightened” provide fuller meaning
Eyes(1): Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, #3788, Gr. optanomai; eye; by implication, vision.
Heart(2): Strongs #2588 kardÃa â€“ heart; “the affective center of our being” and the capacity of moral preference (volitional desire, choice, desire-producer that makes us tick, i.e our “desire-decisions” that establish who we really are.)
Enlightened(3): Strongs #5461 Cognate – enlighten; (figuratively) God sharing His life, exposing and overcoming darkness â€“ like the ignorance (prejudice) caused by sin. Bring to light, illumine. From 5457 – phá¹“s, light; in the NT, the manifestation of God’s self-existent life; divine illumination to reveal and impart life, through Christ.
In other words, Paul is praying that God will change my heart as only God can. He is praying that the deep center of my being (my heart; the place where I make decisions from desire that establish the truth of my identity) be divinely illumined by God’s revealed and imparted life, through Christ. Paul prays that my heart’s desire (and subsequent decisions) be completely influenced and affected by God’s imparted life, through Christ instead of being influenced and affected by my old, carnal, selfish, sin-sick nature.
How does God change, i.e. circumcise my heart and transform me?
By drawing me into circumstances that require me to relate to him through faith, trust, and complete dependence on him. This ever-increasing state of faith, trust, and dependence extracts (or circumcises) off from my heart, that which through sin and my fallen-man-nature, is apart from (uncircumcised) and independent of God. By trusting in and depending on God, and not trusting in the limited, temporal resources of the world, others, or myself, I shed the old, dead skin of my sinful nature. This “shedding process” allows Christ to renew my mind through the increased presence of his Spirit who I am making room for in my heart of trust and dependence.
In the moment when opportunities to trust and depend on God are presented, I enter into the shedding process when I believe the truth of who God is and what he has promised. I simply choose to “go there” with God in my mind instead of indulging in the fear presented within the language of contradicting lies from the enemy of my soul. The lies always attack the nature and character of God and/or my identity in Godâ€”my created place in his heart. The process of transformation is this: When the opportunity comes, I choose to believe and trust God while I reject the power of fear that perpetrates lies about God’s trustworthiness. This is how God circumcises my heart and transforms me. And each person’s transformation process is unique.
Colossians 2:9-15: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (See also Romans 2:28-29)
Ezekiel 36:26-27: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
This is why James 1:2-4 tells me to “consider it pure joy” when I face many trials
God is sending me opportunities to come to know him more through trials that provoke greater trust and dependence. It’s as though I am to lean so hard on him that I would fall over without him next to me. If life did not hold extreme challenges (“opportunities”), I would not grow in my trust and dependence on God. I Peter 4:13 echoes James call to take an optimistic view of trials, telling me to “rejoice that I participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that I may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” By leaning hard into Jesus, I am making room for the glory of God to fill me by viewing extreme circumstances and sufferings as “opportunities” to know God more deeply and to carry more of his ever-increasing presence.
Why doesn’t God just change my heart in an instant? Why the seemingly long, dragged-out process?
Plain and simple: FREE WILL. Of my own volition (volition defined: the power of using my will), I must daily choose to receive God’s gift of love and enter into (or conversely, avoid) his opportunities to be transformed. He doesn’t force them on me. I must regularly subject my free will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ who invites me into an intimate relationship with him. I may feel compelled to enter inâ€”but he never forces me. Therefore, as both a gentle and all-powerful, Sovereign King, he waits for me to respond to his compelling invitations. This process will take the amount of time that I, in my free-will-to-choose cause it to take. Ironically, those of us who are called to be leaders in the Kingdom of God are innately strong-willed! Thus, the process seems to take way longer and feel far more extreme than we ever thought it would. Undaunted by my push-backs, questions, and groaning, God works seamlessly within the context of my personal “dynamics” and always seems to effectively work all things together for my good.
What will a transformed heart mean to me?
1. I will know what is the hope(1) of his calling(2)
2. I will know what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance(3)
3. I will know what is the surpassing greatness of his power
What does knowing these things do for me?
Knowing these things, i.e., the hope of his calling, the riches of the glory of his inheritance, the surpassing greatness of his power, helps me know God better and thus, increases my faith in him and deepens my love for him. The more I know God, the more I will trust God and love him. The more I trust and love God, the more fully I will experience his presence. The more I have made room for the love of God to fill my heart, the more the God of love is attracted to his love in me and will fill me. This is the path to complete union with Jesus, just as he prayed in John 17.
In short: more love in me means more of Jesus in me.
By choosing to know him more through daily, one-at-a-time, believing-trusting-depending-on-God decisions, I am transformed. The time it takes to be completely transformed is in God’s handsâ€”and I can trust him to lead the charge and finish the work he began in me. Philippians 1:6, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
God is in the NOW. I must be with him NOW with no worries about tomorrow or the next day.
He’ll be there with me tomorrow just like he is with me now.
I often tell myself, “Just calm down! NOW is all you need to be concerned with.”
Janet Smith â€“ gardenministries.org Â©2012
Hope(1): 1680 elpÃs (from elpÅ, “to anticipate, welcome”) expectation of what is sure (certain).
Calling(2): 2821 klá¸—sis (from 2564 /kalÃ©Å, “to call, summon”) â€“ calling; used of God inviting all people to receive His gift of salvation â€“ with all His blessings that go with it.
Inheritance(3): Cognate: 2817 klÄ“ronomÃa “an heir, apportioned inheritance by the casting of lots” i.e. the portion God assigns (selects)