THE OUTER MAN DECAYING,
YET THE INNER MAN BEING RENEWED
Verse 16 of chapter 4 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart; but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” The inner man is our regenerated spirit as the life and person with our renewed soul as its organ. The outer man is our body as the organ with our soul as its life and person. The outer man is perishing, decaying, or being weakened, reduced, and consumed. But the inner man is being renewed, refreshed, encouraged, and strengthened by being nourished with the fresh supply of the resurrection life. As our mortal body, our outer man, is being consumed by the killing work of death, our inner man, that is, our regenerated spirit with the inward parts of our being (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; Rom. 7:22, 25), is being metabolically renewed day by day with the supply of the resurrection life.
The outer man has to be consumed. It is decaying and being reduced. The inner man has to be encouraged, refreshed. To understand the full meaning of what Paul says here, we have to put the first four chapters together. In the first chapter he told us that he was excessively burdened, beyond his power (v. 8). Then in the fourth chapter he showed us how he was pressed on every side, or afflicted in every way (v. 8). Verses 7 through 18 of chapter 4 show that the apostles lived a crucified life in resurrection, or the resurrection life under the killing of the cross, for the carrying out of their ministry. Paul was much afflicted and perplexed, but he realized that these afflictions and perplexities were doing a good job to reduce the outer man. But while the outer man was being reduced, the inner man was being refreshed and encouraged day by day. This means that we have to be kept away from our soul, the wilderness, the Holy Place. We must be kept fully and solely in the Holy of Holies. We have to live and act in the Holy of Holies.
To argue with people is to nourish or feed your soulish life. The more you argue, the stronger the outer man is. Sometimes a wife and a husband are tempted to quarrel or debate. Suppose that the wife is angry, but the brother would not say a word to his wife to argue with her. The brother may say that he did not say a word because he has learned to suffer. This way of acting, however, is not the Christian way, but it may be the way of the followers of Confucius or Buddha. If you would ask me why I do not argue with my wife, I would say that I do not like to feed or to nourish my soul. The more I argue with my wife, the more I feed my soul. We have to learn the lesson to starve the soul, to reduce the soul. The outer man should be reduced. We must realize that everything that happens to us has a purpose. God’s purpose is for our outer man to be reduced so that the inner man can be strengthened, refreshed, encouraged, nourished, and renewed day by day.
When our outer man is reduced and our inner man is renewed, we are kept in the Holy of Holies. It is here in the Holy of Holies, in our spirit, that we enjoy and experience Christ. It is here that we experience all the divine things with God and in God. Gradually, we ourselves will become a ministry. We will not merely be a minister, but we will be a minister with a ministry. Then we will minister life, God, and the riches of Christ to others. We will not just pass on certain teachings, doctrines, and knowledge to others. Whatever we do will be a ministering of Christ, of God, into others. This is the need today.
WALKING IN THE SAME SPIRIT
In 2 Corinthians 12:18 Paul said that he and Titus walked in the same spirit. This verse and the other verses we have fellowshipped show us what kind of person the apostle Paul was. He was a person fully, absolutely, and thoroughly living in the spirit. He would never be kept away from the spirit.
(Autobiography of a Person in the Spirit, An, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)