“INTO THE INNER MAN”
This phrase, especially the word into, troubled me for years. Why did Paul use the word into rather than in? No doubt he chose the word into intentionally. Gradually through experience I began to understand the thought behind the words.
When we are weak, we are outside the inner man. We are in our mind, or emotion, or will, or heart. If we are considering how inadequate the elders are or how insubordinate the sisters are, we may be assured that we are in the mind. Whatever we are thinking will lead to trouble. Flee from the mind! Escape to the spirit! We are weak when we are in our mind.
The mind is the highway on which the brothers drive. Most sisters, in contrast, are in their emotions. They consider why this or that sister does not pay any attention to them, or why the elders respect another sister more than them. There are also a few brothers and sisters who stay in their will. Their aspiration is to be better than all the others in the church. They resolve not to criticize the elders, even though they feel the elders are not doing a good job.
These descriptions give us a picture of the general condition of a local church: most brothers in their mind, most sisters in their emotion, and a few brothers and sisters in their will. What a weak condition! That is why Paul prayed that God the Father might grant us to be strengthened into the inner man.
THE WAY TO BE STRENGTHENED
Exhorting or admonishing the saints does not help to bring them into the inner man. Telling the brothers and sisters not to gossip, for example, seems to lead to more gossip. The best way to be drawn into your inner man is to pray. Forget your situation. Do not consider your condition. Do not be concerned about your gossiping tongue. Pray! “Lord, I need You. I want to breathe You in. Impart Yourself into the depths of my being. I long to see You. Meet me as I pray-read Your Word. Add more and more of Yourself to me.”
If you spend some time praying this way, you will find that you are transferred from your mind, or emotion, or will, or even your heart, and into your spirit. The interest in gossiping will be gone. You will be strengthened by the Spirit of God with power.
The Father longs to see us live this way. His good pleasure is that we be strengthened into the inner man according to the riches of His glory. Morality and ethical virtue cannot compare with the expression of the divine life through us. It is not a matter of staying away from department stores or from places of worldly entertainment because we do not love the world any more. That attitude is too shallow. What we do is the outcome of our being strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man.
When we are thus strengthened, Christ will make His home in our hearts and we shall be filled unto all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17, 19). This is the church life. By being filled with God’s riches, we become the expression of those riches. We are strengthened into our inner man, Christ makes His home in our heart, and we are filled even to the extent of the full expression of God.
Do not think such a living is beyond us. If this were not possible, it would not be mentioned in the Word. This is the normal church life, fully expressing the Triune God. The Lord’s recovery is not for doctrines nor for outward practices. It is that we may experience this very strengthening into our inner man, that Christ may occupy our whole being until eventually we are filled with God unto His full expression. Do not be discouraged about the elders. Do not worry about the condition of the church. Do not talk about this brother or that sister. Pray, “Lord, thank You for my regenerated spirit where Christ dwells. Do strengthen me according to the riches of Your glory, by Your powerful Spirit, into my inner man. Spread out from my spirit and settle also in my heart. Make Your home in my whole inward being, that I may be filled with God, unto His full expression.”
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 37, by Witness Lee)