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Who Is "The Inner Man"?
And What Is He Like? - Part Two

Living From Christ Within Us

 

The Role Of Our Thoughts

The mind is critical to the success of this venture as it is our "contact point' with the Spirit. (Romans 8:5-13 NKJV) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. {6} For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. {7} Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. {8} So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. {9} But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. {10} And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. {11} But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. {12} Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. {13} For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

"Born Of Woman" vs. "Born Of God"

This leads us to the third of our opening bible passages - Matthew 11:11-13. John the Baptist who was the greatest of those "born of women" and the last of the prophets. Yet Jesus said that "the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he." At first sight the proposition that some of the more annoying Christians we have met could be greater than John the Baptist is, to say the least, astonishing (your editor has a cynical streak).

But consider... those "born of women" can have the Spirit upon them, worship God and be prophets but they are not "new creations".There is a huge qualitative difference between a "born again believer" and John the Baptist. The born again believer is "born of God" (not merely "born of women") and has a God-conceived nature that is eternal. They are not necessarily "better than" John the Baptist as viewed from outside. But when viewed from inside or from above they are "greater" inasmuch as the nature conceived within the Christian is far greater and can be said to dwell in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6.7). This nature is Christ in us...

(Colossians 1:26-29 NKJV) The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. {27} To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. {28} Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. {29} To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

The Maturing of Christ In Us

Notice Paul's concerns here - Christ in you is the hope of glory. It is the glorious indwelling nature, born of God, Christ in us , that gives us the hope of being sinless, immortal, imperishable and inheriting a resurrection body fit for "the saints"(hagioi- holy ones). Paul works hard to see that Christ in us is "perfected"(Col 1:28, above). It seems that Jesus Christ ‘grows in us'. Paul writes to the backslidden Galatians:

(Galatians 4:19 NKJV) My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you".

This at first, may seem paradoxical. How can one have Christ and still need Him to be "formed"? Just as Jesus grew in wisdom and stature during his earthly ministry so it seems Christ in us "grows" into a "mature man" through the disciplines of the faith and the word of God. This forming of Christ in us involves ministering to one another and edifying one another.

(Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV) "Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (teleois - mature) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; {14} that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, {15} but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;".

Particularly important to this is "being filled with the Spirit" and encouraging one another in the Word..(Ephesians 5:18-20 NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, {19} speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, {20} giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" and (Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. {17} And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Suffering seems also to play a part in this. During His "earthly years", Jesus Christ was "perfected" through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10 NKJV) "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." and naturally this applies to us as well. (1 Peter 5:10 NKJV) But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

The Old Man Is Dead, Live Like The New Man You Are

Paul called Christians holy because they were. Their inner nature , born of God, is holy just as God is holy. All that is inconsistent with this holy and new nature must be shed..Paul develops this at some length in both Ephesians and Colossians e.g

(Colossians 3:1-10 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. {5} Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. {6} Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, {7} in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. {8} But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. {9} Do not lie to one another, since 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".

Enemies Of Your Soul

Finally to return to where we began in 1 John. (1 John 2:15-17 NKJV) "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. {17} And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." John lists here three decisive hindrances to the formation of Christ in us - the love of the world manifested as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;". The lust of the flesh centers us on that part of our nature that is mortal, indwelt by sin and perishing when we die. Its a sweaty word ‘epithumia' and denotes the inordinate possessive desires in our flesh that war with God and holiness, these include sexual lusts, anger, alcoholism, drug addiction, gluttony and laziness. The "lust of the flesh" see the world as appetites to be satisfied and things to be consumed.

The lust of the eyes relates to greed self-gratification, money and material acquisition , getting, grabbing, cheating and coveting. The desire is generated by the material world outside and enters into the soul "through the eye gate." In the midst of Jesus' discourse on God and Mammon there is an "apparent interruption."

(Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV) "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. {23} "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

The ‘lust of the eyes' is the basis of materialism and is a great danger to the development of Christ in us. It is so directly opposed that Jesus can say categorically that "You cannot serve both God and Mammon" and Paul calls the love of money "the root of all kinds of evil" ( 1 Tim 6:10).

The last of the enemies of the soul is "the pride of life" - status seeking, selfish ambition,"megastar: behavior", concern about ‘the pecking order', opulence, the sins of power and ruthless competition.. The Christian caught up in the "pride of life" see the world as consisting of empires to be built and monuments to be made. Unfortunately this can easily be channeled into building "Christian empires" and "Christian monuments". All these things are passing away.(see the article on the Kingdom of God in this issue). They will be of absolutely zero value to us after our death. Christ in us is not formed by glorious human achievements.

The epistle of James seems particularly directed at rebuking the "pride of life". Here are a couple of examples:

(James 4:4-7 NKJV) Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. {5} Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? {6} But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." {7} Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

(James 1:9-11 NKJV) Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, {10} but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. {11} For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits."

Stand Firm

The eternal part of us does not benefit from all our consuming, acquiring and achieving. To grow in Christ you must forsake these three enemies of your soul - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. You must ask God for a renewed mind (Romans 12:1,2). This renewed mind will have a mindset that is fixed "on things above" (Colossians 3:1-4) which are of the Spirit - not the flesh (Romans 8:5-8). The outcome will be life and peace, a "harvest of righteousness' and the evidence of being a new creation in Christ Jesus.

The epistle of 1 John ends with an encouragement and an exhortation - (1 John 5:18-21 NRSV) We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. {19} We know that we are God's children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. {20} And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. {21} Little children, keep yourselves from idols." And with that encouragement and exhortation I will finish as well.

Click here to go back to Part One

Click here to go to Theological Articles

(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.