Part 22 of 25

Renewal of Our Whole Person

Scripture makes clear that man as a whole is tri-part, consisting of “spirit, soul, and body” (1Thes 5:23). Paul refers to a man’s “soul-self” as his “inward man” (2Cor 4:16) and also as the “inner man” (Eph 3:16), saying believers need strengthening and renewal by “His spirit” (Rom 8:2). His Spirit is “the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2a), which indwells the spirit of every rebirthed child of God.

2 Cor. 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward (body) man perish, yet the inward (Gk. esothen – our soul man, derived from inside) man is renewed day by day.

Ephes. 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit (working) in the inner man; (Gk. eso, inside, soul/mind, self)

Our “inward” and “inner” man” is the self-man of the soul, the ego – the individual. The “inward” or “inner man” of the soul is in contrast to our “outward man” of the body. It also is in contrast with our human spirit, which is united to Christ’s Spirit of life, (1Cor 6:17), fully “regenerated” (Titus 3:5), and “completed” ( Col 2:10), as a finished work in believers from the moment of their regeneration.

In each day of our lives on this earth, God is working to renew our soul. Our “inward man” has been the deceived to act as an independent self; the man of the soul mind, emotion and will. Until renewed by “the spirit of life,” the “self” is always egocentric, and self-concerned to the utmost. How many times do we hear ourselves say “I think, I feel, I want?”

The soulish man may well be an “unrenewed Christian,” one who is “natural.” The “natural man” in 1Cor 2:16 in Greek is “psuchikos,” meaning “man of the soul (psuche).” Such Christians still live by their own resources, unaware, ignoring or over-riding the sense he has by the indwelling life of Christ in their own spirit. They miss out on the benefits of enjoying His life as their source and guide in living.

Even after being born-again, we ignorantly look to the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” as taught by the religionist who most often yet clings to the Old Testament Law. They apparently do not knowing that the law actually empowers sin. “…the power of sin is the law” (1Corinthians 15:56)

The law fails because it provokes “us” to do “works” in order to serve God, thinking we are then pleasing God; we do these works without depending upon the Lord and for our gain. The law feeds our inborn self-dependence. Law, whether the natural law, Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments, and man’s religious laws with traditional ordinances, are all lifeless and impotent; they offer no life or power for living and overcoming our sinful self-loving self.

Concerning the conflict continually going on between the Sin nature in the flesh body of all men and new Christ-nature in every believer’s spirit, Paul writes in Galatians.

“For the (Sinful) flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these (two) are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).

Romans 7:18-23 describes the conflict we experience by the indwelling Sin nature in our flesh (Rom 7:17-23). Regarding this conflict in Paul’s own personal experience, he writes: “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law (natural operation) of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:19, 22, 23).

It has been taught by some that we need not experience this continual strife between the Sin nature and the new Christ-nature. They say: “Get out of Romans 7 and into the 8.” I would remind them that the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 7 and Romans 8 at the very same sitting; that in the original language the letter goes right on without interruption - without even a chapter division. Thus, the same apostle who exclaims; “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1) refers in the same letter, only a few sentences before, and in the present tense, to “the law (operation) of sin which is in my members,” freely acknowledging the present operation of that “law of Sin” in his members, as we have seen above. In fact, Paul goes on in Rom 8:3 to give us the precise location of the Sin infection as being “…Sin in the flesh.” Romans 8:3b … God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: Sin has been sentenced, condemned and confined to the flesh.

How then shall we get out of Romans 7 and into Romans 8? Paul experienced both at the same time, and so do we, for while we are free from the condemnation of sin, sin itself nevertheless continues to work within us, so Paul says we must constantly mortify the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13).  Why “the body”? It is because the body of flesh is the precise location of “Sin’s operation.”

Paul describes the impossible situation of an “independent” believer who agrees with God’s law in his soul’s mind, while he is absolutely powerless to overcome Sin dwelling in his flesh body.

“For I delight in the law of God (outer law regulations) after the inward man (Gk. eso is the individual inside man – soul/mind self): 23But I see another law (regulating principle or nature) in my members (body), warring against THE LAW OF MY MIND (my knowledge of good and evil), and bringing me into captivity to THE LAW OF SIN (THE REGULATING SIN PRINCIPLE OR SIN NATURE) which is IN MY MEMBERS (of my body).” Romans 7:22-23

This is the frustration of the independent, self-reliant, Christian. For the independent man of the mind, his flesh is more powerful than his soul’s will. Turned up willpower and resolving to try harder will never work. If we in ourselves are weak against the Sin in the flesh, how then do we as Christians go from being impotent independent self-reliant selves, to “put on the new man,” the spiritual man?

Well, we “learn” to abandon self-reliance by the experience of suffering failure through the circumstances and situations of everyday life. Each circumstance is designed for us to come to a place of giving up “trying,” to “let go,” and to “sink into” trusting Christ. To trust and rest in Him for our daily living is what it means to “put on the new man.” The words “put on” seem to imply a work for us to do but in truth it is far from a work. But, it is not a work, but rather a giving up of self-effort. The Strong’s definition for “put on” is from the Greek word “enduo,” meaning “TO SINK INTO AS SINKING INTO A GARMENT.

“And have PUT ON the new man (AS SINKING INTO A GARMENT), which is renewed in knowledge (Gk. epignosko, full experiential knowing) after the image of him that created him:”(Col. 3:10)

Is “sinking into” an overstuffed chair a work? It is not a work but rather a cessation of self-reliance – we let go of standing and the chair now holds us. We “put on the new man” by letting go to trust Christ.

Not knowing the fullness of the Paul’s mystery gospel of the literal life of “Christ in you,” we will only continue to depend upon “ourselves.” It’s as if we are saying “No I won’t sink into the chair – I’ll stand.”

The indwelling of Christ is the most often mentioned truth of Paul’s epistles. The “god of this world,” Satan, has deceived us into thinking that we must make the Christian life work for ourselves. We ignorantly think, “With enough effort, we can make it work.” So, we endeavored to live the Christian life in our own strength. As my good friend Bill Landon once said, “It won’t work because it was never meant to work.” If we’re honest with ourselves, we must “we” are lacking. If we are not yet honest, suffering failure makes us honest. We then may admit we just don’t have the resources from within ourselves to live righteously upon this earth with peace and rest. We need to see the truth of Hebrews 4:10 “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works….”

God in His mercy has ordained circumstances and situations of life to come to us to expose the lack of our self-resources, and conversely, our need of dependence upon the indwelling Christ as our life and innermost guide for navigating life. It is by our recognized need, our failure to have peace and rest in those circumstances and situations of life that forces our hands to “let go,” to trust Him as our all.

When there is nothing left but God, that’s when you find out that God’s supply of the indwelling Christ is all you need. Suffering failure is for the purpose of making us honest, so we will see our need of relying upon His capable indwelling love and life. Suffering by the common everyday life circumstances and situations helps us see and admit to our need, and to find another One who is “the Way” to live life.

The pain of suffering is the signpost of change in our lives. C.S. Lewis wrote these words concerning “The Problem of Pain.”

“[Pain] removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.”

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

The reward of suffering pain, which results from our pursuing our self-interested ways, is that we are prompted to consider “the error of our ways.” When we suffer the pain of failure it should cause us to “consider our ways.” (Hag 1:5, 7). It is then that the Lord most likely is speaking in you. Don’t let that moment pass; it’s a precious moment that likely will be life changing as we yield to Him and let our heart commune with Him. When we have come to see the truth of our neediness and admit it, we should then be prompted to turn our heart to the Lord; this is genuine repentance. The Lord then empowers us to change our ways. His “light of life” exposes us, irradiates us, and lights our path. He can only supply those who will receive. He can only fill the lowly, humbled, places.