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Who Is "The Inner Man"?
And What Is He Like?

- Christ In Us The Hope of Glory

Let's start this journey with three of the most perplexing passages in the whole of Scripture.

(1 John 3:9 NKJV) Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

(Romans 7:14-25 NKJV) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. {15} For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. {16} If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. {17} But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. {18} For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. {19} For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. {20} Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. {21} I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. {22} For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. {23} But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. {24} O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? {25} I thank God; through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

(Matthew 11:11-13 NKJV) "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. {12} "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. {13} "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

The Eternal You

Ah you say... the editor has flipped! How can he possibly string these three passages into anything coherent? Well let's try! Firstly, we will look at what it means to be "born of God". 1 John 3;9 tells us that when something is "born of God"it receives a nature that does not sin. In fact the "inner man"/"new nature" is unable to sin. In the spiritual realm the "new man" is a product of God, produced from His "seed" (Gk. "sperma") and bearing His likeness and thus behaving like Him. That which "behaves like God" does not sin. The ‘new man" is "created in righteousness" and is righteous. It does not sin. This makes sense - that which is exactly like God in nature - will not and cannot sin. The "bit of you" that will inherit a resurrection body and that I will talk to in the Zion above in ten thousand years time - that part of you, is sinless and always has been. The "real you", the "eternal character", that is you in Christ - is sinless.

Let me be clear - I am not talking about sinless perfection. The inclusion of the Romans 7 quote above should give you a clue to that. I am not saying that true Christians do not sin, they do. I am saying that Christ in you does not sin. He didn't sin on earth and He doesn't sin now. The apostle John is no "sinless perfectionist", he knows his charges better than that! (1 John 1:7 NKJV) But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." So we see that John did not believe in "sinless perfection" - the believers still needed the cleansing of the blood of Christ! However he saw the glory of the "seed of God"- the new nature that was being formed in them.

The Mystery

Though John writes extensively about the incorruptibility of our new natures he admits to having very little idea of what the end product would be like.. John says(1 John 3:1-3 NKJV)" Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. {2} Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. {3} And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."The apostle John admitted "it has not yet been revealed what we shall be". The full knowledge of who we really are in our "eternal character and destiny" is hidden from us. It is a marvelous and tantalizing mystery that awaits the Second Coming for its full revelation.

There is one known amongst all the unknowns and John states it as "when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is". That is the purifying hope that frees us from the love of this world. John is not alone in his assessment of things. Paul reaches a similar conclusion when he says: (Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV) "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. {2} Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. {3} For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. {4} When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." Paul says that for now our true selves, our "life " is "hidden" - in Christ with God and that we shall only find out what it will be like when Christ returns and we appear with Him in glory..

Giving The Spirit The Whip Hand

In the Romans 7 quote at the beginning of this article Paul says " Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me." He distinguishes between "himself" and ‘his sin" in what for years appeared to me to be a bit of a "cop-out". How could someone dare to say "It is no longer I who sin but sin that dwells in me...' it sounded like a theological excuse for a lack of self-control. But Scripture is not like that - and everything is for a purpose. Paul is revealing to us here the difference between his flesh which was "born of woman" and is passing away with its lusts and the spirit which is "born of God" and abides forever.

Paul concludes that "in my flesh is no good thing". The flesh, while not in its intrinsic nature corrupt, has become thoroughly corrupted by sin and become a dwelling place for sin. Our bodies, and our minds are huge data storehouses of multi-megabytes of sin, sinful thoughts, sinful habits, sinful actions and so on. The growing and forming Christ within us is opposed by the worldly treachery of the flesh in a two-way tussle (Galatians 5:16-18) This tussle is the subject of Romans 6-8. Romans 6 boldly states that we are "dead to sin".

(Romans 6:10-12 NKJV) "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. {11} Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. {12} Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts."

The ‘new nature" in us is "dead to sin". It does not communicate with sin. Just as a person sleeping heavily is to be "dead to the world" so the new man, which has died and risen with Christ is "dead to sin' and not influenced by it. We are to reckon this as our true self. We are to write in the ledger of our minds. "The real, eternal me is dead to sin". We are to do our spiritual calculations as if we are dead to the influence of sin and living forever.

Therefore, we are not to let sin reign in our mortal body so as to obey its lusts. We are to give the whip hand to the new man. Instead of letting our flesh dominate our spirit we are to enforce the spirit's righteous lifestyle with its outcome - eternal life. When sin tries to tell us that we are its slave and must do its commands we are to look in God's ledger and reckon ourselves dead to sin. We are to call sin a liar! Sin can claim to be our master - but it is not. It was, and we still fear its voice. But we are a "freed slave" we can walk away without fear. We have a new master to obey.

(Romans 6:20-23 NKJV) For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. {21} What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. {22} But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. {23} For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Freedom From Condemnation

Romans 7 analyses the desperate battle between the mind which wishes to obey God and the "body of death" indwelt by sin, that opposes it and ends with the cry "who will deliver me from this body of death"? Romans 8 supplies the answer:

(Romans 8:1-2 NKJV) "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. {2} For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

The inner man is not under condemnation at all. Our true selves are free from guilt and free from any participation in the sins of the body. There is no "guilt by association". The new nature is holy even if the flesh is corrupt.

(Romans 8:10 NKJV) And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8 then develops the theme of how to maximize our life in Christ.

Click here to continue to Part Two

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(If you do further study on this issue please use a fairly literal translation such as the KJV, NKJV, or NASB , the NIV is a good dynamic translation but its substitution of ‘sinful nature" for "flesh" and its parsing of the Greek verbs in 1 John undermines many of the points this article is trying to make.)

 

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.