THE EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST
The biggest point in Ephesians is the experience of Christ. Concerning the experience of Christ there are seven items. Five of the items are: being strengthened into the inner man (3:16), being renewed in the spirit of the mind (4:23), growth (v. 16), building by the growth (2:20-22), and fighting the battle (6:12). These five items—strengthening, renewing, growing, building, and fighting—are the different aspects of the experience of Christ, but before we experience these, we must realize two additional items. First, we have to realize that we are in Christ. In Ephesians the phrase in Him or in whom is used many times (1:4, 7, 10-11, 13; 2:21-22; 3:12; 4:21). All the experiences of Christ are based on the fact that we are in Christ, that is, incorporated with Christ and one with Christ. If I am incorporated with someone, then legally and judicially speaking, I am one with him; whatever he has is mine. Christ has ascended and has been made Head over all things. To be incorporated with a poor man is pitiful, but to be incorporated with a billionaire is very wonderful. Praise Him, Christ is more than a billionaire, and we are incorporated with Him!
People often ask us what the name of our church is and what we are doing. We may say we are Christ Incorporated, and day by day we are doing the business of the Christ incorporation. This is our business. We are “buying” and “selling” Christ, “dealing” with Christ, “making concessions” with Christ, and “trading” with Christ. Dear brothers and sisters, I wish to trade nothing but Christ with you. Today we are incorporated with Christ; we are in Christ.
The second item we must realize is that Christ is in us. Not only are we in Christ, but Christ is in us. This is a mutual “in.” We are in Him, and He is in us mutually. Christ wants to make His home in us. Verses 16 and 17a of chapter 3 say, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.” We are wholly in Him, and He is wholly in us. We must see these two facts. Once we have seen these two facts, we need the five factors mentioned above—strengthening, renewing, growing, building, and fighting. These five aspects of the experience of Christ are based on the facts that we are in Him and He is in us.
Being Strengthened into the Inner Man
To be strengthened is the start of the real experience of Christ. Verse 16 speaks of being strengthened into the inner man. The inner man is a very specific term. Originally, before we were saved, we did not have such an inner man. We had a human spirit, but we did not have an inner man. We had only the human life in our soul, so our soul was a man. Formerly, though, there was no life in our human spirit, so it was not a man; it was only an organ. At the time the Lord Jesus came into our spirit, He imparted Himself into our spirit as life. Now there is another life in our spirit. We have the human life in our soul, making it a human person, but now we also have Christ as the divine life in our spirit, so there is now a divine person in our spirit. Our regenerated human spirit has become no longer just an organ but the inner man. This is the start of our experience of Christ.
However, a person may be immature; a person may even be a baby. Some persons are strong, and others are very weak. Some persons are grown up, but some are immature. All are persons, but there is also the matter of age and health. We have been regenerated, and we have an inner man, but with some the inner man is weak and young, even childish or babyish.
We are often weak in our spirit but strong in the soul. We can demonstrate this in the following way: When we come together, we always like to talk. We are strong in talking. This proves we are strong in the mind and in the soul. If we try to have a time of prayer, however, everyone will be silent. The best way to silence people is to ask for a time of prayer. Without a time of prayer, the brothers and sisters will talk unceasingly, even if we try to silence them. The best way to silence them is to say, “Let us pray.” Then everyone will be as silent as the tombs in the cemetery. This is because to pray is to exercise the spirit. The talking and the silence are proof that we are too strong in the mind and soul and too weak in the spirit. That is why we need to be strengthened into the inner man.
We need to be weakened a little in the soul, the outer man. We are too strong in the outer man. When a husband and wife argue, they are strong. Even when they do not argue but simply discuss, they are still strong to say, “I know this or I know that.” When they pray, however, they say, “O Lord, I don’t know how to pray.” They know how to talk, discuss, and argue, but they do not know how to pray. In the church life and even in the family and marriage life, we can see the weakness of the inner man. We are too strong in the soul, so we need to be weakened and lowered a little. Many times in my family life I have been tempted to argue, but I have learned the lesson to say, “Lord, lower me and weaken me a little. I like to be weak. I like to be brought to the cross to be slaughtered. I like to be weak in the soul but strong in the spirit.” This is the way the Lord Jesus was. In a proper sense, when He was brought to the cross to be slaughtered, He was weak in His soul, in Himself, but He was strong in the spirit. Our spirit, our inner man, needs to be strengthened and enlarged.
(The Experience of Christ in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)