The Inner Man of the Heart
There is no subject more vital in relation to fulness of life and
effectiveness of service in Christ than this that we are now to
consider. It embraces all the practical meanings and outworkings of
the redemptive purposes of God in and through the Cross of Christ.
The phrase "The inner man" is not infrequently used in the Word of
God, and, as we shall see, is but one expression used in connection
with a theme of extensive range. But here at once let it be seen as
that which first of all discriminates between the "inner" and the
"outward" man. This discrimination in the scriptures,
however, is not that made by the psychologists or philosophers as
such, whether they be ancient or modern, pagan or "Christian." These
recognise but mind and matter: for them the "inner man" is the soul,
and the "outward man" the body. Not so in the Word of God. There the
"inner man" is the spirit, and the "outward man" the soul and the
body, either or both. These two terms or designations are
respectively synonymous with "natural man" and "spiritual man," and
these two are put asunder by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of
God (Hebrews 4:12). It is just as dangerous to yoke together what
God puts asunder as it is to put asunder "what God hath joined
together," and in this particular matter more chaos, paralysis, and
defeat are due to the confusing of these two than ever we shall be
able to measure, in this life.
The only oneness of the three, spirit, soul, and body, is in that
they compose or comprise one man. The literal translation of 1
Thessalonians 5:23, is "Your whole person," or "Your whole man," or
"The whole of you, spirit, soul, and body"; and three distinct Greek
words are used, as elsewhere. The Word of God does not use words at
random, just for variety's sake. Basic spiritual laws are involved
in its words. The very word "natural" as applied to man, as we know,
is the Greek word psuckekos, the Anglicised form of which is
psychical. "Spiritual" is the adjective of "spirit," and "soulish"
is the adjective of "soul." In James 3:15, "sensual" is used, but
"soulish" is more accurate, and it is interesting and significant to
note in passing that these two descriptions are given to wisdom.
That which makes man unique in the whole realm of creation is not
that he is or has a soul, but that he has a spirit, and it may be
that uniting in one personality of soul and spirit makes him unique
beyond this creation, in the whole universe. Soul is never spoken of
in relation to God as God. Angels are spirits. Christ did not
pour out His spirit, but His soul unto death; His Spirit He handed
back to the Father of spirits. It is hardly necessary to describe
the soul here, although we want to help from the very foundations.
What a great - and in most people - almost complete, place and
dominance is held by feelings and emotions. On the one hand, fear,
grief, pity, curiosity, pleasure, pride, admiration, shame,
surprise, love, regret, remorse, excitement, etc. Or in another
direction; imagination, apprehensiveness, fancy, doubt,
introspection, superstition, analysis, reasonings, investigation,
etc. Or in a third direction, desires; for possession, knowledge,
power, influence, position, praise, society, liberty, etc. And still
in another direction; determination, reliance, courage,
independence, endurance, impulse, caprice, indecision, obstinacy,
etc. These all in their respective directions representing the
emotional, the intellectual, the volitional, are the components of
the soul. Now consider how much of this has its place in
Christian life and service, from the first step in relation to the
gospel through all the course of Christian activity. It is here that
we ask for patience in pursuing the subject when we make the
tremendous affirmation that all this - the sum total of human
feeling, reasoning, and willing may be placed to the account of the
matter of salvation, either for ourselves or for others, and yet be
utterly unprofitable and of NO account.
We recognise that if the full impact of this declaration, with all
its implications was to come by revelation to the "inner man" of
Christian people and workers it would be nothing short of
revolutionary in all methods, means, and motives. Surely, for
instance, we know by now that remorse and regret for sin leading to
tears and resolutions, does not mean salvation. Decisions,
confessions, and religious feelings, are no criteria, any more than
are reasoned conclusions, intellectual convictions, mental
acceptances, aspirations after the sublime, the beautiful, the
"good." Does someone enquire then "do you rule out the intellect,
the reason, the emotions, the human will or resolution?" and our
answer is emphatically we do rule all this out as an initial and
basic factor in the matter of salvation, it is secondary, later, and
even then only a bond-slave and not a master.
Let us ask some questions which will clarify the matter. What was it
or where was it that death took place when "death passed upon all,"
and it came true that was said "in the day that thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die"? Was it the body? Obviously not. Was it the
soul? If our foregoing description truly represents the soul, then,
again, obviously not. Repudiating the suggestion that the words were
but a sentence of death to be carried out at some future time, there
remains but the third part of man's "whole," namely his spirit. That
was the topstone of God's creative work. The organ in man of all the
Divine activity; the sphere and instrument of all the operations of
God. God is a spirit, and only spirit can have access to or
fellowship with spirit.
Only spirit can know spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11.
Only spirit can serve spirit. Romans 1:9, 7:6, 12:11.
Only spirit can worship God Who is Spirit. John 4:23,24. Philippians
Only spirit can receive revelation from God Who is spirit.
Revelation 1:10. 1 Corinthians 2:10.
We shall return to this later.
Let it be clearly recognised that God determined to have all His
dealings with man and fulfil all His purposes through man by means
of that in man which was "after His own likeness," that is, his
spirit; but this spirit of man for all such Divine intentions must
be kept in living union with Himself, and never for one instant
infringe the laws of its Divine union by crossing over to the outer
circle of the soul at the call of any emotion, suggestion, argument
or desire coming from without. When this took place death entered,
and the nature of death, as the word is used in the scriptures, is
severance in the Divine union of spirit. This does not mean that man
no longer had a spirit, but that the ascendency of the spirit was
surrendered to the soul and this at a time when the soul had
accepted from without by desire, and reason, that which was intended
to draw away from fellowship with God. "Drawn away by his own lusts
This is where the "fall" begins, all else follows. From that time
the inclusive designation of man in a state of separation from
spirit union and life with God is "flesh."
When Paul speaks of the "flesh" he does not refer to flesh and blood
in the natural body, but to denote the principle of human life which
takes the place of the spirit in its primary state and purpose; and
this "flesh" principle or state - variably called "the old man,"
"the body of sin," "the body of flesh," "the body of death," "the
natural man," is the centre of the residence of the enmity against
God. This enmity is there, even in such as sing hymns, say prayers,
delight in God after an outward manner, go to church, have a passion
or genius for religion, and it only requires the true spiritual
meaning of the cross of Christ to be applied in order to make it
manifest. Death then, in scriptural meaning, is loss of
correspondence with God in spirit, and the spirit of man falling out
of that union ceases to be for man the vehicle of God's revelation,
the sphere of God's life in man, and the instrument of God's
activities through man; and there is no other. This leads to another
question: What is the nature of the spirit? There are three main
departments or faculties of the spirit, conscience, intuition,
communion; but there are numerous other capacities, as we may see
It is here that we find the scriptural description of man to run
entirely counter to the conclusions of "scientific" psychology. We
have observed that the psychologist will not allow the threefold
description of man as spirit, soul and body, but only soul - or mind
- and body. And yet now he has to confess to the existence of a
third element. He recognises it, finds his chief fascination and
interest in it, "builds up a whole system of philosophy around it,
and often borders on calling it by its right name. He however
recoils and calls it "the subconscious mind," "the subjective mind,"
"the subliminal self," "the secondary personality," etc. Listen to
some of the things which indicate the length to which such teachers
go: "The soul consists of two parts, the one being addicted to the
truth, and loving honesty and reason, the other brutish, deceitful,
"There is a schism in the soul." "The existence of a schism in the
soul is not a mere dogma of theology, But a fact, of science." "Man
is endowed with two minds, each of which is capable of independent
action, and they are also capable of simultaneous action; but, in
the main, they possess independent powers and perform independent
functions. The distinctive faculties of one pertain to this life:
those of the other are specially adapted to a higher plane of
existence. I distinguish them by designating one as the Objective
Mind, and the other as the Subjective Mind."
"Whatever faculties are found to exist in the subjective mind of any
sentient being necessarily existed potentially in the ancestry of
that being, near or remote. It is a corollary of this
proposition that whatever faculties we may find to exist in the
SUBJECTIVE MIND of man must necessarily exist, in its possibility,
potentially, in the mind of God the Father Almighty."
When one reads things like this, two things press for expression,
first the exclamation "Oh why don't you name it aright and call it
'the spirit'?" The other, "what a tragedy that such men should have
gone to pagan philosophers such as Plato, who never heard the men of
the Bible or read them, for the basis of their system, instead of
going to the Bible itself." What a peril it is for "Christian" men
to preach the results of human research and learning and bring the
Bible to it instead of bringing it to the Bible!
For us here the Bible name and nature of this third reality is held
to. It may be thought to be immaterial what it is called if the
result is the same, but we hold that it is vital to recognise that
we are dealing with two things absolutely distinct and separate and
not with two sides of one thing. This will be seen as we go on.
There is a peril in speaking of "Divine union in the upper
reaches of the soul," for there is no such thing. Divine union
is with spirit, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,"
and however highly developed the soul life is, there is no "Divine
union" until the spirit has been brought back to life.
This then opens a further question: "What is it that is 'born
again'" when that essential and indispensible experience takes
place? (John 3:3,5, etc).
Nicodemus stumbles on the physical question, but is soon told that
"that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of
the Spirit is SPIRIT."
It is not the body then, neither is it the soul. "The sinful body of
the old man was destroyed" Romans 6:6 and "They that are Christ's
have crucified the flesh, with the affections thereof." The
passages on this are too many to quote, but look up "Flesh," "Old
man," "Natural man," etc.
The answer to the question is emphatically that new birth is the
importation of Divine life to the spirit of man. That spirit,
because of atonement made for the sin of the soul, and the
carrying away of the dominant flesh principle by Christ into His
death, is begotten again of God in the resurrection of Christ from
the dead to share His resurrection - deathless - life. Only on the
ground of Christ's resurrection and our incorporation into it as the
superlative act of Almighty power is there union with God, and this
act initially takes place in our spirit. From that time it is "in
the newness of the spirit," "walking in the spirit," in fact, as the
Word makes clear, everything is to be in the spirit for those
that are now "spiritual."
We regret that space does not allow of our completing the subject in
this issue, but it will be continued "in our next," and we shall
then complete what we have begun on the nature of "spirit,"
and proceed to show further scriptural divisions between soul and
spirit, see how it is that because man has a spirit he is open to
the impact of all spiritual beings, especially to evil spirits when
he refuses the Spirit of God. We have also to see how the entire
concern of God is with our spirit or "inner man," and then how only
that which proceeds from our spirit by the operation of the Holy
Spirit effects any spiritual end.