Is it really possible for us to be filled with God’s fullness?
And what does it even mean?
A friend of mine, I’ll call her Betty (that’s not her real name), has been reading the Bible, praying, turning to God for guidance, striving to follow Jesus to the best of her ability, for years, decades even, but she still sometimes doesn’t feel she is worthy of God’s love. She doesn’t feel who she is and what she does is enough. And she has a hard time accepting God’s love for her.
Betty has had some amazing experiences of God protecting, guiding, and healing her. She’s really a wonderful person and has helped I don’t know how many people in so many ways.
But because of how a number of people mistreated and took advantage of her years ago, she has a hard time letting go of what I’ll call a victim mindset. And top that off with not being able to forget all the mistakes she’s made in her life.
Unloved, unworthy, not good enough
The sad thing is, Betty is not unique. Over the years, I’ve met people from all walks of life who, to greater or lesser degree, don’t feel complete. They identify themselves with their mistakes. They see themselves as victims of other people or circumstances. They don’t feel loved, good enough, or worthy.
I have struggled with this myself at times.
You can pray, read the Bible, talk to a friend, or even listen to a sermon or a podcast, or go to a Bible conference, and sooner or later you’ll come across the idea that God loves you and forgives you. But sometimes it just seems like words. It seems like something is still missing.
The question is: How do we patch ourselves together and go forward at times like this?
The wrong question
Well, that very question may be part of the problem. The solution is not to patch yourself together.
Who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. Matthew 9:16 NLT
I’ve actually done this. I had an old pair of blue jeans with a hole in them. I sewed a piece of new jeans fabric over the hole, but the fabric of the jeans was so weak and worn out, it wasn’t long before the patch ripped out and made a bigger hole and I had to throw the pants away.
Jesus is saying: Quit trying to patch up your old life. Get a whole new concept of what life is. You need to completely change the way you think and how you see things, including yourself.
That’s actually what he meant when he said we need to repent.
Quit trying to patch up the problem
Too many times we look at our life experiences and think of ourselves as a broken vessel, but we keep pouring water into it hoping it will somehow hold water this time. We try to fix the leaks, but can never quite get them all repaired.
If you had a cup that had a leak in it, and it kept leaking, in spite of all your efforts to repair it, would you continue to use it? No, you would get a new cup. Simple as that.
So why do we keep trying to fix a broken way of thinking about ourselves? There’s no way to fix what by nature is a mental state of brokenness.
We need to quit seeing ourselves from a material, sinful, and victimized perspective. We need a new sense of who we are as a child of God, made in His image and likeness.
It’s not about reforming or correcting a bad mindset, but getting rid of the old mindset and adopting a new one.
When you get a new mindset, things will change
Paul says in his letter to the church in Corinth that when we accept Christ, things change, our perspective changes, how we see ourselves changes.
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:16, 17 NLT
Paul does not say that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a patched up person. He says the old life is gone, not repaired. A new life has begun.
All too often, I think Christians try to take their faith and use it to patch up their lives. They try to do everything the right way, but they’re still holding on to the old way of life instead of embracing a whole new concept of what life is spiritually.
Paul makes this bold declaration
You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, Colossians 3:9, 10 NKJV
This is exactly what Jesus is talking about by not using a new piece of cloth to repair an old garment.
Discover who you already are spiritually
How can you and I apply this idea in our lives?
Well, let’s look at my friend Betty, who I mentioned at the beginning of this episode.
Now, I love Betty and I’m not picking on her, but it seems like she has been trying for years to fix up and repair the old man instead of putting on the new man, to use Paul’s words.
What if, instead, Betty could embrace the idea that she was a whole new creation because she accepted Christ? It would then be a matter of discovering and accepting who she is as a child of God.
Paul doesn’t say we should try to repair the old man or put the new man on top of the old man, the old, material way of thinking. We need to get rid of the material perspective of life.
How on earth do we do this?
Do you belong to Christ?
Paul says it plain and simple: “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
It’s not your personal responsibility to get rid of the old way of life. All you need to do is to “belong to Christ.” Accept Christ. Embrace Christ. Live Christ in your daily life. Follow the teachings and example of Christ Jesus. Then the “old way of life” will melt away just as darkness disappears when you turn on a light switch.
That’s actually a pretty good metaphor. When you turn on a light, you don’t have to race around the dark room corralling the darkness, or collect it in boxes to dispose of. All you have to do is flip the switch. The light destroys the darkness.
When you accept the light of Christ into your life, it is this light that destroys the old, limited, material approach to life. You don’t have to and you can’t. It’s not your job.
To all the Betty’s of the world who are trying so hard to fix and repair their lives, I encourage you instead to focus more on the light of Christ. Practice being in the presence of Christ. Practice being like Christ.
God’s fullness in Christ
The more I study the writings of Paul, the more I am convinced he did this.
As a result, he was able to describe Christ Jesus,
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, Colossians 1:15, 19 NIV
Think of that, all God’s fullness dwelt in Christ Jesus. That doesn’t mean all of God was inside Jesus’s physical body. It means in his thinking.
Jesus was fully conscious of God’s fullness.
That’s why he was always able to shine the spiritual light of Truth on the darkness of disease, disability, and even death and dispel them. He fully accepted, embraced, and utilized the fullness of God in everything he thought, said, and did.
When he shined this spiritual light on a person’s problems, he was not fixing a problem. He removed it.
Is it possible for us to follow in Jesus’s footsteps? Can we embrace this same light as he did to discover who we really are as the image and likeness of God?
Yes, of course. And Paul gives us hope on this point. He says,
I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 KJV
Paul is saying that when Christ dwells in our hearts, that when the foundation of our lives is love, God will no longer be a mystery, but we will understand God, not through human knowledge, but spiritually. We will know and experience Christ’s love. And we will be filled with all the fullness of God.
We will be filled with all the fullness of God
Let that soak in for just a moment.
To the human mind, to the old self, from a material perspective, this is impossible. A material mindset cannot perceive things of the Spirit.
But to the new way of life that Jesus invites us to embrace, it is not just possible, it is a spiritual fact, established in the kingdom of heaven for all eternity.
Not humanly, not materially, but spiritually, you already embrace and include and are filled with all the fullness of God. As the image and likeness of God, you reflect God’s entire nature.
But don’t think you can do this all by yourself. The “you” in Ephesians 3:19 in the original Greek is second person plural. It takes all of us to completely reflect God’s fullness. And in effect, we are the body of Christ doing just that.
Now you may be thinking: James, that sounds pretty good, but I’ve got a long way to go to even get close to feeling filled with the fullness of God.
I know what you mean. I have felt that way too at times.
It’s not about space and time
But it’s not really a question of getting from one place to another, even metaphorically. It’s about a shift in your thinking. And it’s not about needing a lot of time for immense spiritual growth and progress. It’s a shift in your mindset.
As long as you think of change as going from one place to another or needing time to accomplish the change, you are trying to patch the old worn out clothes with a piece of new fabric. You’re trying to fix the old way of life instead of replacing it.
How long does it take to turn on a light switch. How long does it take for the light to dispel the darkness?
That’s how long it takes for you to change your thinking. That’s how long it takes to let go of an old thought and embrace a new one.
The reason it may seem to take a long time to replace an old thought is because we don’t really want to let go of it. We don’t turn on the light because we love the darkness or are afraid of the light.
But when you realize the futility of the old way of life, when you’re tired of and no longer want to live in darkness, it can take no longer than a moment to embrace the light of Christ in your life.
A simple prayer to embrace God’s fullness
If you don’t feel good enough, worthy, or loved, I would suggest this simple prayer of affirmation:
I am worthy. I am loved. I am enough. I have all God’s love. I am filled with all the fullness of God.
This may just feel like words, affirming something that seems far away from the truth.
So let’s add a bit of gratitude-in-advance to this prayer.
Thank You God for revealing my worth in a way I can accept it. Thank You for loving me and causing me to feel Your love. Thank you for making me aware that I am already complete as Your image and likeness. Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact You have filled my heart with all your fullness.
What does it really mean to be filled with all the fullness of God?
First, it means that it’s possible to know and experience God’s presence.
Because you are the image and likeness of God, you include every single quality of God, all His love, mercy, grace, wisdom, purity, just to name a few.
The old mindset says you are missing some of those qualities or need to have more love, patience, etc. But the Christly mindset is aware that all these qualities of God are already present in your true identity as a child of God.
The fullness of God is already in you. You just need to acknowledge and find it there and live out from it instead of trying to work your way up to it.
When you hear yourself thinking or saying, “I need to be more forgiving (or fill in the blank with whatever you’re dealing with) try this instead.
Thank You God for giving me the ability to forgive. I love to forgive others and I know exactly how to do it.
That may sound a little odd at first. But the idea is to acknowledge you already have within you the ability or quality from God that seems to lacking in your life.
You are filled with all the fullness of God. You always have been. You always will be.
Ponder this truth. Accept it. Embrace it. Let go of any limiting beliefs that would contradict it.
You are filled with ALL the fullness of God. And because of this, you can see it everyone else too.
Photo credit: Gabriel Lamza
If you have questions or comments please contact me. I’d love to hear from you..
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Matthew 9:16 NLT
16 who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.
2 Corinthians 5:16, 17 NLT
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Colossians 3:9, 10 NKJV
9 you have put off the old man with his deeds,
10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
Colossians 1:15, 19 NIV
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
Ephesians 3:14-19 KJV
14 I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.