Posted in Bible, ecclesiology & sacraments

Ephesians 3:19 – God cannot fill what is not empty

This year, my wife and I swore off soda.

Maybe you call it “pop” or – if you’re a Southerner – it’s a “Coke.” But it’s all the same thing, those highly sugared, carbonated drinks to which so many of us seem to be addicted.

We’re learning a lesson: When what is unhealthy gets jettisoned, what is healthy can take its place. So instead of soda, we’re drinking more water, milk, and juice, and feeling better for it.

To make room for good food, get rid of the junk.

As in the realm of the body, so it is in the realm of the spirit. Ephesians 3:19b is part of a larger prayer for holiness. In that verse, Paul prays for the Ephesians, that they will be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (NIV). In context, it’s clear that the sign of that fullness is the love of God “that surpasses knowledge” (v. 19a).

And yet…

How many of us are so filled up with the junk of this world that there is little room for God?

Television? Internet? Smart phones? Songs praising what we once considered shameful?

189795_glass_2_filling_with_waterThe media themselves are neutral. Each can be used to glorify God, yet is that their practical effect in our daily lives?  Does what we consume make us more sensitive to the voice of God or do our media choices make God seem more distant, more irrelevant?

The revival that broke out in 1970 on the campus of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky was characterized above all by a deep sense of sin. When the holy presence of God fell upon the chapel service that February 3, students began with deep repentance confessing sins. Only then did they come to a joyous sense of both the forgiveness and fullness of God.

We say we want revival, that we hunger for the fullness of God in our hearts and lives. Yet how can God fill what is already cluttered with junk? Before we can know filling we must know emptying. We confess and God cleanses away!

God cannot fill what is not empty.

Many things that fill our lives we should not discard. They are wholesome and honor God. Yet harmful practices that distance us from the Lord must go if the Lord’s holy, loving presence would take their place.

These days, it takes courage to call sinful and damaging what the world labels fun and harmless. Yet that’s exactly the  kind of people God desires, one that – as necessary – will head north when all the world seems to be flocking south.

Are you filled with so much, yet strangely unsatisfied? It’s time to take inventory. God is calling each of us to confession and emptying so that God can fill us with Himself, the only one who can satisfy.





Greg is interested in many topics, including theology, philosophy, and science.

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