Part Four: The Means to the Colonization
The next question that comes to mind is how does something so divinely wonderful as Spiritual Colonization take place? We have clearly seen how it happens from God’s vantage point, but what of myself? Am I to simply stand by passively and let it take place? Am I to simply “let go and let God”? Absolutely not, and Paul makes it clear by indicating next the medium of this residency, this Spiritual Colonization, which is “through faith.”
Although what Paul is describing here is something that is done to the believer, which is carried out upon them, it is not something in which the believer plays no role whatsoever. Rather, like all the other workings of God in the life of the believer, we have a responsibility to respond to God’s actions with reactions, which spring from faith. While the Holy Spirit is the medium or agent through which the divine acts upon man, faith is the medium through which the Christian reacts to God.
That faith is the continued medium that determines and directs the believer’s actions can be plainly seen in that faith is that which initiates one into a relationship with God in the first place. If the relationship is one of faith, for it to change to another type of relationship would call the entire relationship into question in the first place. This is the basis of Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:1-5 that having begun by faith it is impossible to be perfected in any other means other than faith itself.
However, the need for the faith is broader than just the fact that our relationship with God is initiated by it. What Paul is praying would take place here, this colonizing work of Jesus Christ in the Ephesians’ heart is a spiritual act, although it affects the physical sphere of living. It is a spiritual reality that manifests itself in the physical world. The inhabiting of a person’s personality and being by Christ, cannot but show up on the outside of them, in their behavior and disposition. But, even so, it is still a wholly spiritual act. And not just a spiritual act, but a spiritual act springing from God Himself.
This type of relationship demands faith. There is no way for a man to approach or interact with God except by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” So faith is necessary because God is being reacted and responded to. The Christian must believe and trust that God is doing this work, although he cannot feel it being done and cannot always sense the changes occurring.
Also, since this colonization by Christ is tied to our spiritual strengthening, which in turn is linked to prayer and the Word of God, faith is necessary because interaction with God in prayer and the study of and listening to the Word of God cannot take place without it. Approaching God as we saw above mandates faith; so prayer, which is communal conversation with God, must require it. Studying and listening to the proclaimed Word of God also mandates faith, since these are spiritual exercises and disciplines.
There is yet one more thing that faith allows you to do, that without it what Paul is saying here will be greatly hindered. Faith moves the words of the apostle on the pages of Scripture to your own personal belief and reliance. In other words, faith considers the statement as true and appropriates them. They are not just for Christians in general, but for me in particular. Faith says, “This settling down of Christ in the human heart is for me,” and then appropriates it.
So what do I do? I respond through faith, since our relationship with God is already defined by faith and approaching and interacting with Him requires faith. I must trust that what God said He was going to do and how He said He was going to do it are true, and with faith I must respond to it as I would respond to any other set of realities in the physical realm. Faith helps me be realize that this is not just some philosophical wish the apostle had, but rather is a personal reality that I myself am to claim as a believer.
How do all these things regarding faith meet and work in this regard? Well, for example, God tells me in His word that I am dead to sin and alive to Christ, who Himself is in me. Well, I do not wait around until I feel like I am dead to sin, until I get a sense of my deadness, or until Christ becomes real to me. Rather I do what Paul said in Romans 6:11. I respond in faith to what I have read and “Even so I consider myself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” trusting that God’s power will supply my lack in implementing it.
Thus, Spiritual Colonization begins when the believer, through repentance and faith, comes to Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, thus submitting themselves to the gospel call. This inevitably leads to a colonizing of the believer, in which Christ makes the believer’s heart more and more compatible with His own image. Christ comes into the believer’s life to colonize his entire being, remaking even our personalities into His own likeness. Essential to this process is the believer’s response to God’s work in his life by believing and acting on the promises of His Word.