Lesson 12 – The Issue of the Experience of Christ in Ephesians
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, while 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 we argue, we are strong. Even when we do not argue but simply discuss, we are still strong to say, “I know this or I know that.” When we pray, however, we say, “O Lord, I don’t know how to pray.” we know how to talk, discuss, and argue, but we do not know how to pray. In the church life and even in the family 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 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.
CHRIST’S MAKING HIS HOME IN OUR HEARTS
The result of being strengthened is that Christ makes His home in us. The Greek word in 3:17a is the verbal form of the noun home. The inner man is our human spirit with Christ in it, while the heart includes the mind, emotion, will, and conscience. When our spirit, our inner center, is strengthened, Christ can spread out and take over our mind, emotion, will, and conscience. In this way Christ makes His home in our heart. We may illustrate this with a glove. I may put my hand into a glove, but it is not settled in the glove at first. There is still the need for the hand to “make home” in the glove. Gradually the thumb gets into the glove’s thumb, and then the second and third fingers settle into place, and after some time the entire hand settles into the glove.
Yes, Christ is in us, but He may be in us in an unsettled way. This requires further consecration and more yielding to Him. Our spirit, our inner man, must be strengthened. When we are strong in our spirit, the indwelling Christ has the ground, the opportunity, to spread Himself into and take over our mind, emotion, and will to occupy every part of our soul, that is, to occupy our heart. Then Christ will settle in all our inward parts. He will have not only regenerated our spirit, but He will have indwelt, made home, in our heart. This is an inward matter, not an outward one. Our soul must be taken over; our mind, emotion, and will must be saturated with Christ.
At the beginning of our experience of Christ, we were regenerated. Now we have a regenerated spirit, an inner man, but it is young, weak, and small. Christ is in our spirit, but He is not dwelling there; rather, He is imprisoned there. Our spirit becomes a prison to Christ rather than a home. Once Christ comes in, He may have no freedom to move around. Now we must be strengthened into the inner man. This means that our soulish life must be lowered down, our soul must be weakened, but our spirit must be uplifted. Our spirit, not our soul, must be first. With too many of us, however, the soul is first; it is too strong. It needs to be cast down. When we are strengthened into the inner man and give Christ more ground, then He can saturate our hearts and make His home there.
BEING RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR MIND
Ephesians 4:23 says, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The spirit of your mind is another particular term. It indicates that the spirit is in our mind. Again it is hard to tell whether this is the human spirit or the Holy Spirit. There is the article the, but spirit is rendered in lower case. I believe that this is the mingled spirit. To be renewed in the spirit of our mind means that our mind is taken over by the spirit. It is not that our mind controls our spirit but that our spirit controls our mind. With too many of us, the mind is over the spirit, but if we surrender, yield, and consecrate ourselves, the mingled spirit will control our mind, so it becomes the spirit of our mind. It is by such a spirit that our mind is renewed.
GROWING UP INTO CHRIST
After we are renewed, we will grow with Christ and into Christ. Doctrinally speaking, we are in Christ, but experientially speaking, in so many things we are still not in Christ. Therefore, we need to grow up into Christ in those things. Verse 15 of chapter four says, “We may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.” We need to grow into Christ not only in one thing but in all things.
BEING BUILT UP WITH CHRIST AS THE MATERIAL
By the growth we will be built up to produce a building (v. 16b). We all have to be built up, not with ourselves as the material but with Christ as the material. The more we grow, the more we have Christ, the material for our building up.
FIGHTING THE BATTLE WITH CHRIST AS THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
Christ is every part of the armor. This means that we fight the enemy in Christ, by Christ, and with Christ. This also is an aspect of the experience of Christ.
THE MINGLED SPIRIT
All the foregoing points-what Christ is to us, the ministry of Christ, and the experience of Christ-depend on the mingled spirit. Whatever Christ is today is in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the transmission. Christ ascended to the heights, so how can Christ come into us? He comes as the Holy Spirit, who is the transmitting element. The Holy Spirit in our spirit is the transmission, transmitting and flowing all the time, day by day. There is an inner flow within every Christian, and this inner flow is the transmission of the Holy Spirit, transmitting all the riches of Christ, Christ Himself, into us. . This is just like the current of electricity that transmits the electricity into a building; when the current stops, the supply of electricity stops. In the same way Christ is constantly transmitted into us by the transmitting Spirit. The organ for us to receive the transmitting of the Holy Spirit is our human spirit. The Holy Spirit transmits Christ into our spirit. Therefore, we must learn how to exercise our spirit to contact the Holy Spirit.
If we read Ephesians again and note all the verses about the spirit, we will find these three aspects: the Holy Spirit transmits Christ to us, our spirit receives what the Spirit transmits, and these two spirits-the transmitting Spirit and the receiving spirit-are mingled together as one spirit. It is in this mingled spirit, including our spirit and the Holy Spirit, that we are one with Christ and one with the other saints. Moreover, if we remain in the mingled spirit we will be sanctified and cleansed, and all the spots and wrinkles will be gone (5:26-27). The more we have the inner life, the more the washing power of the living word cleanses all the wounds and washes away all the wrinkles, recovering us to our original condition in life. In this way the church will not only be grown up but also purified-without blemish, spot, or wrinkle-and glorious, fresh, new, and perfect. All this comes from the experience of Christ. The building up and purification of the church is the result, the issue, of the experience of Christ.