THE RENEWING OF THE INNER MAN
Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 3:6, 17-18; 4:7-8, 14-16; 12:9
THE ENJOYMENT OF CHRIST AS OUR PORTION
IN SECOND CORINTHIANS
First Corinthians is a foundation for the book of 2 Corinthians; therefore, 2 Corinthians is much deeper than 1 Corinthians. First Corinthians shows us that Christ is our divine portion (1:2, 9, 30). He has been given to us as wisdom, including righteousness for us to be justified and regenerated, sanctification for us to be transformed and brought into a full realization of Christ, and redemption for us to be redeemed or transfigured in our body (v. 30). Christ has been made such a portion to us as the life-giving Spirit (15:45) that we may contact Him through and by our spirit. We are one spirit with Him (6:17). Now He is waiting for us to enjoy Him all the time. These are the basic points mentioned in 1 Corinthians. These points concerning Christ are the foundation for Paul to build upon in the second book. This foundation is Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-11) not only as our Savior, Master, and Lord but also as the portion given to us by God as wisdom, including righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
As we look into the contents of 2 Corinthians, we must keep in mind the foundation given in 1 Corinthians. Second Corinthians 3:6 says, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” It is the Spirit, the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b), who gives life. Second Corinthians 3:17 says, “The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The Spirit here refers to the Spirit in verse 6. The Lord is the Spirit who gives life. Verse 18 continues, “But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” The Lord Spirit may be considered a compound title indicating strongly that the Lord Christ is the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Lord Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 the treasure is mentioned: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.” Christ as the Spirit, the Lord Spirit, mentioned in 3:17-18, is our treasure, our unsearchably rich portion. How do we enjoy Christ as the treasure within us? We enjoy Christ by being in spirit. Even this word may be a doctrine to us. The condition among many in Christianity is not very powerful because there is too much knowledge apart from the living person of Christ. This knowledge distracts people from Christ. God’s intention is not to give His chosen people doctrines, teachings, or gifts. God’s intention is to give His chosen people the living Christ Himself.
GOD’S INTENTION FOR US TO LIVE BY CHRIST
As human beings, before we were regenerated, we were born and raised by our parents to live by ourselves, that is, by the life in our soul. Some of us lived in a good way, and others lived in a rather poor way. Regardless of whether our living was good or bad, we lived by ourselves. We lived by the self, the fallen soul. One day we were saved. To be saved means that we experienced God’s salvation, which is Christ Himself, and Christ alone. God’s salvation is Christ Himself with redemption, forgiveness, justification, regeneration, and many other items. Things such as redemption and forgiveness are not salvation itself. Salvation is a living person—Christ Himself.
After we are saved, we have two things within our being—our self and Christ. Following our being saved, God’s intention is that we live absolutely not by ourselves anymore but by Christ. This is simple in teaching or doctrine, but it is not so simple in our daily walk. Many teachings in Christianity focus on different aspects of human life yet neglect the central aspect of living by Christ (Phil. 1:21a). Our real need today is to live by Christ. If we are honest and faithful, we have to admit that we do not live by Christ from morning to evening.
THE OUTER MAN AND THE INNER MAN
The apostle Paul in the book of 2 Corinthians builds upon the foundation laid in the book of 1 Corinthians by pointing out the contrast between the soul and the spirit. However, in 2 Corinthians Paul does not refer to them as the soul and the spirit but as the outer man and the inner man (4:16). Instead of referring to the soul and spirit as mere parts within the human being, he refers to them as two men—the outer man and the inner man. If the soul was just a part within our being, our dealing with the soul would be simple. The same would be true for the spirit. However, the spirit today is not simply a part within us; it is a man. We should realize that each one of these two, the soul and the spirit, is a man. Therefore, we have two men within us—the outer man and the inner man. The life of the outer man is the self, and the life of the inner man is Christ. We have two men with two lives within us. The self-life is the life of the soul, and Christ is the spiritual life of the inner man.
The unbelievers, who do not have Christ in them as their life, do not have the controversy between the outer man and the inner man. They just live by themselves. As Christians, we are complicated because we have received another life into us. We have two lives within us. Therefore, we are bothered by the Lord within us all the time. If we had not received Christ, we would simply live by ourselves and not have any bothering. Since we have received Christ, however, we are involved with Him and are bothered by Him all the time. Now that we have received Christ, we will be involved with Him for our entire life. We may want to divorce Him, but He would not divorce us. The reason we are bothered is that, although we have Christ as our life, we often do not like to live by Him. So there is a controversy, a problem. On the one hand, we like to have Christ as our life, but on the other hand, we may not like to live by Him. We have received Christ, but instead of living by Him, we live by the self.
(Christ our Portion, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)