Until our outward man–our soul–is broken, the fragrance of Christ in our inward man cannot come forth.
Anyone who serves God will discover sooner or later that the great hindrance to his work is not others but himself. He will discover that his outward man and his inward man are not in harmony, for both are tending toward opposite directions.
He will also sense the inability of his outward man to submit to the Spirit’s control, thus rendering him incapable of obeying God’s highest commands. He will quickly detect that the greatest difficulty lies in his outward man, for it hinders him from using his spirit.
Many of God’s servants are not able to do even the most elementary works. Ordinarily they should be enabled by the exercise of their spirits to know God’s Word, to discern the spiritual condition of another, to send forth God’s messages under anointing and to receive God’s revelations.
Yet due to the distractions of the outward man, their spirit does not seem to function properly. It is basically because their outward man has never been dealt with. For this reason revival, zeal, pleading and activity are only a waste of time. As we shall see, there is just one basic dealing that can enable man to be useful before God: brokenness.
THE INWARD MAN AND THE OUTWARD MAN
Notice how the Bible divides man into two parts: “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man” (Rom. 7:22, NKJV). Our inward man delights in the law of God. “To be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16). And Paul also tells us, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
When God comes to indwell us by His Spirit, life and power, He comes into our spirit, which we are calling “the inward man.” Outside of this inward man is the soul–the seat of our thoughts, emotions and will. The outermost man is our physical body.
Thus we will speak of the inward man as the spirit, the outer man as the soul and the outermost man as the body. We must never forget that our inward man is the human spirit where God dwells, where His Spirit mingles with our spirit.
Just as we are dressed in clothes, so our inward man “wears” our outward man: the spirit “wears” the soul. And similarly, the spirit and soul “wear” the body. It is quite evident that men are generally more conscious of the outer and outermost man, and they hardly recognize or understand their spirits at all.
We must know that he who can work for God is the one whose inward man can be released, just as the fragrance was released when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with oil of spikenard (see John 12:3). The basic difficulty of a servant of God lies in the failure of the inward man to break through the outward man.
Therefore we must recognize before God that the first difficulty to our work is not in others but in ourselves. Our spirit seems to be wrapped in a covering so that it cannot easily break forth. If we have never learned how to release our inward man by breaking through the outward man, we are not able to serve.
Nothing can so hinder us as this outward man. Whether our works are fruitful depends on whether our outward man has been broken by the Lord so that the inward man can pass through that brokenness and come forth.
This is the basic problem. The Lord wants to break our outward man in order that the inward man may have a way out. When the inward man is released, both unbelievers and Christians will be blessed.
AS A GRAIN OF WHEAT
The Lord Jesus tells us in John 12:24, “‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.'” Life is in the grain of wheat, but there is a hard shell on the outside. As long as that shell is not split open, the wheat cannot sprout and grow.
“‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies…'” What is this death? It is the cracking open of the shell through the working together of temperature and humidity in the soil. Once the shell is split open, the wheat begins to grow. So the question here is not whether there is life within, but whether the outside shell is cracked open.