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The Old Time Gospel:     "The Inner Man of the Heart"   by T. Austin-Sparks

T. Austin-Sparks

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The Inner Man of the Heart
(Continued)
by T. Austin-Sparks

The Ascendancy of the Spiritual Man Over the Natural Man

There is marked the creation of man in his tripartite being, with his spirit as the sphere of his union with God for all Divine purposes. The nature of this union is set forth below, and is fivefold. In the fall the soul was allowed to take the ascendancy over the spirit; the spirit with conscience, communion, and intuition being subjected to the soul with its reason, desire, and volition. This ascendancy of the soul made man what he is afterward called; the "natural" i.e., soulish (Gk. psukikos) man, and inasmuch as it was the reasoning and desiring and choosing that were inspired and prompted by the devil, and the capitulation was to him, and the spirit union with God was rejected and violated in all its claims, the result is that man is not only separated from God but in his natural state is horizoned by a lower life than was intended. But more, he is then called "flesh"; this is the active law of his fallen condition. It is not something in him, it is himself, the real principle of his being, and it is always set over against "spirit" which is the real principle of life re-united with God by re-generation.

Further, as he capitulated, not only to the soul life, but to the devil, he is ever after, until delivered by Christ, actuated and influenced by "the god of this age," whose methods are not always manifestly against God, but are always in the place of God, even to the extent of projecting a counterfeit religion, with similar phraseology and means. The result of all this, as we have seen, is spirit, or spiritual, death; and the nature of death in the Bible is primarily the separation of the spirit from God. All else that is called death results from this. Lost likeness, fellowship, knowledge, co-operation, dominion, with all that God meant and intended by them, this is the foundation of death. So thus "in Adam all died" "death passed upon all." This may be represented by lines which narrow down as they move towards the Cross. This movement indicates how through the Old Testament age God by types and figures is ever preaching the fact that death is His sentence and must be carried out. There may be seen also lines which widen out from the point of the fall and death. These represent the natural man's mind about himself. He refuses the Divine verdict, and believing and preaching a gospel of the inherent goodness of human nature, seeks to develop a system of improvement by all manner of means. For him, salvation is in himself, and civilisation, education, social reconstruction, mutual improvement, &c., will at length bring in a golden age. He refutes the word of God which demands new birth. He makes sin and evil a negative thing, and so on. Thus man's estimate of himself is ever growing, and the opposite of the mind of God.

In the centre of history God places the Cross and in the representative Person of Christ gathers the whole race under His own sentence and takes it into the full outworking thereof in death. Down through the centre of the Cross is a black zero line. This marks in God's settled judgment the end of the natural man. From that point God has nothing to do with man only on the ground of that life which is begotten from the dead (Rev. 1:5). He demands that there shall be both an acceptance of and a witness born to the fact that when Christ died we died, that we were "crucified with Christ," (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12, &c.). This has been dealt with at length in "Incorporation into Christ," No. 1*. Then we come to this side of the Cross and the lines cross once again. First there is the beginning of the new man, the inner man, the spiritual man. He is "begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead," 1 Peter 1:3. Here begins that spiritual life, walk, knowledge, &c., of which we have spoken, and here therefore begins that life process by which the new or spiritual man takes the ascendancy over the old or natural man by the power of the Cross.

As we "walk in the spirit" we cease to "fulfil the lusts of the flesh." Thus in the spirit by the indwelling of God's Spirit there is, through Calvary, a restoration, and more than a restoration, of the lost likeness, fellowship, knowledge, co-operation, and spiritual dominion.

As the spiritual and inner man is renewed, strengthened, educated, the natural and outer man is brought into subjection and robbed of his dominance, until slowly the soul is made the servant of the renewed spirit, and the body is harnessed as the instrument for doing what the soul has come to understand as the will of the spirit, which in its turn has been "joined to the Lord One Spirit."

There is no time limit to this process or progress. Some have more to unlearn than others. The spirits of many are not as pure as some because they have been muffled and beclouded by much mental and emotional apprehension. One often sees people in a meeting to whose spirit very little gets through because they are judging with their heads according to some accepted tenets, or they are prejudiced, suspicious, biased, or the slaves of a system and not at liberty in the spirit. It is a joy to meet a pure and open spirit. In this sense we have to "turn and become as little children." How pure the spirit of a child is! Therefore how true its intuitions or discernment. Some of us remember now the judgment we passed upon certain people when we were quite young. Our conclusions were quite clear and definite, although we could never have stated them, but looking back with the larger understanding, how perfectly right we were, and time has only corroborated our "feelings." We did not arrive at these by reasoning, or knowledge, or even studied observation, we could never have given our reasons or explained ourselves in the matter. These were the pure intuitions of an unbeclouded spirit. Such is to be our state, not in the natural but in the Divine realm. Lord, make us in this matter to have the spirit of a child, for of such is the realm of the heavenlies!

We now see why it is that the Lord is primarily concerned with our spirit. It is here that the new life resides; it is here that the Holy Spirit operates: it is here that our true education takes place: it is here that we have fellowship with God: it is here that we are to be made strong: it is here that resistance of the enemy is to be established: it is here that authority over malignant spiritual forces is to function. It is this spirit possessed of the resurrection life of Christ which is the germ of the resurrection body; it is here that we are saved in trial: it is here that that sinless, inviolate, life of God is (1 John 3:9, 5:18) not in our "outer" or "old man." It is only as we come to the outer man that the enemy has power over us.

May we just strike a note of warning here. There is a peril that we might live too much in our own human spirit as a thing by itself. For the born again child of God, the Holy Spirit is the Divine indweller of the human spirit, and it is not our spirit but His presence in our spirit that has to be our direction and government. A larger reason for this warning will be mentioned later, but as one very vital principle for safety in this matter let us here emphasise the corporate nature of the Holy Spirit's work. He is essentially the gift to the Body of Christ as a whole, and only indwells individual members relatively. It is Christ corporate Who is anointed in this age to fulfil the eternal purpose, and the Holy Spirit resting in and upon the "Body" (1 Cor. 12:12) energises and endows each member in relation to the whole and to the "Head" (Eph. 1:22). Hence spiritual guidance should be corporate, and the complement, corroboration, and confirmation should be sought in the spirits of "two or three" members. This "discerning of the Body" (1 Cor. 10:16,17; 11:29) is important in the matter of service as in fellowship. God is jealous of proper order in the Body of Christ, and failure to note this is the traceable cause of very much error, chaos, and disruption; as also of failure, suffering, and shame. There are also "joints of supply" in the "Body," and while they do not compose a priestly or ecclesiastical class or order, they are in, by the appointment of God and the seal of the Spirit, a representative position and capacity. God will not have these set aside, but requires that those who are within the sphere of their oversight (1 Peter 5:2, &c.) shall consult with them, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" in the matter of service and conduct, as in matters of truth and doctrine. Where this is possible God locks up His direction to this law, and only trouble can follow sooner or later if the law is ignored. We must not overlook the Divine appointments within the "Body" (Eph. 4:11-14). These appointments were made and these personal gifts were given for the "perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministry, for the building up of the Body of Christ till", till when, the end of the Apostolic age?, "till we attain... unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," and that has not taken place yet.

HAVING been so definite in pointing out that all the Divine operations in the "New Man" are directed toward the complete ascendancy of the spirit over the soul and body, and that the anointing of God rests within and upon the "Inner Man," we can only stress two things. One is that whatever may appear to the contrary in emotion, pleasure, gratification, enjoyment, activity, resolve, etc., only that which comes out from the Holy-Spirit-indwelt-spirit is spiritual and effects spiritual ends. The natural, soulish-man can make an oil which is an imitation of "The Holy Anointing Oil," or fire which is "False Fire," which seems to serve the same purpose and produce similar results. Thus in the same meeting one may speak by revelation under the anointing of the Spirit of God, bringing those present face to face with issues of tremendous significance, and another may launch out on to a churning sea of beautiful ideas and strong emotional currents, and capture the meeting, but for any spiritually discerning people present. The pressure and strenuousness of life lay many open to the peril of such emotional, mental, and volitional stimulants, but it may only be in the religious realm what alcohol or drugs are in the physical realm. The pernicious results are that people must have more and more, and they select such as can produce them, and gather round a man. This is clearly shown by Paul to be "carnal." It is the opposite of "The anointing which ye have received abiding within you, and ye have no need that any should teach you." This makes necessary the second thing, namely, spiritual discernment. We must seek more and more from the Lord a quickening and purifying of spirit, and we must walk after the spirit in whatever discernment we have so that we are saved from the imitation "oil" which deceives and at length lands us either into error or gets us into a spiritual cul-de-sac. Such are they that are "carried about by every wind of teaching." Spiritual discernment is one of the most vital needs of God's people today. Nothing can take its place, not even the wisest and best teaching or counsel. Only those who have it will be saved from the distraction and despair of the bewildering mass of conflicting teaching, "manifestations," and movements of these and the coming days.

There is another thing that Christian workers should remember. It is always a dangerous and paralysing thing to allow soulish human feelings to come in and take precedence over the spirit in relationships, where spiritual help is needed. Compassion, love, sympathy, concern, interest, desire to help, etc., must be absolutely under the control and direction of the spirit. Failure to observe this law has resulted in some of the most ghastly moral and spiritual tragedies in the lives of Christian workers. If we allow either natural attraction or human desire on the one hand, or natural repulsion and human distaste on the other to have any ruling place the consequences may be disastrous, and the result will certainly be spiritual failure. Very often even in the case of a loved relative the human interest has to be made quite secondary, sometimes ruled out altogether, before a spiritual issue can be effected. OUR will and wish has to be surrendered to God's.

Before closing there are just two things which one feels should be mentioned. Having seen that the basis of all fellowship and co-operation with God is spiritual, in and through the born-again spirit, we must realise that this at once defines the real nature of our service. The background of all cosmic conditions is spiritual. Behind the things seen are the things unseen. The things which do appeal are not the ultimate things.

"The whole world lieth in the wicked one." There is a spiritual hierarchy which, before this world was, revolted against the equality of the Son with the Father in the Throne, and in spite of the hurling out of heaven and the eternal doom which followed, has been in active revolt and antagonism to that "eternal purpose" right through the ages. A certain judicial hold upon this earth and the race in Adam was gained by Satan through the consent of that first Adam, through whom the purpose of God should have been realised on this earth.

Thus we have Paul telling the members of the Body of Christ, The Last Adam , that their "warfare is not with mere flesh and blood, but with principalities, and powers, the world-rulers of this darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies."

What a lot is gathered up into that inclusive phrase "This darkness." How much is said about it in the scriptures. The need for having eyes opened is ever basic to emancipation (see Acts 26:18). The cause of all "this darkness" is said to be "Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies." Literally translated the words are "the spiritualities" or "the spirituals," meaning, spiritual beings. "Wickedness" here does not just mean merely inherent wickedness or evil, but malignance; destructive, harmful.

"In the heavenlies" simply means inhabiting a realm beyond the earthly, not limited to earthly geographical localities; moving in the realm surrounding the earth and human habitation.

"World rulers" means that these malignant spiritual hosts are directing and governing the world wherever the government of Christ has not been superimposed through His Body, the spiritual Church.

"Principalities and Powers" (authorities) represent order, rank, method, system. Satan is not omnipresent, hence he must work through an organised dividing of the world under these principalities and authorities, and he himself "goes to and fro in the earth," and has seats here and there (Job 2:2, Rev. 2:13, etc.).

The Apostle declares that the explanation of situations is to be looked for in the unseen, behind the actual appeareance.

What looks like the natural has its rise too often in the supernatural. Man is always trying to give a natural explanation and therefore to put things right by natural means. But when he comes up against a situation in which interests of the Christ of God are involved, he is floored and beaten. Such situations are become the commonplaces, nay more, the overwhelming order of the day amongst "Christian workers" in these days, both abroad and at home. We have no intention of dealing with the subject at length here, but state the fact, and remind the Lord's people especially that in more realms than that of Divine activity, "What is seen hath not been made out of the things which do appear," but that multitudes of the things in daily life which are inimical to spiritual interests must have their explanation from behind. Let us emphasise that this spiritual union with God in the super Cosmic significance of the Cross of Christ means that our supreme effectiveness is in the spiritual realm. We who are the Divine "spirituals" are to be energised by the Holy Spirit to take ascendancy in Christ over the Satanic "spirituals," and thus know something more than mere earthly dominion but "seated together with Him in the heavenlies" (as to our spirit) we are to learn to reign in that greater "kingdom of the heavens" of which the earthly millennial kingdom is only an earthly coun­terpart.

Again, let us affirm, that all the energies of God in our spirit are toward a corporate spiritual union with Christ whereby the impact of His victory and sovereignty shall be registered among and upon the "principalities and powers," etc., and their domination paralysed, and ultimately destroyed.

The last word is to point out that it is because man has, and centrally is, a spirit that he can have inter­course with fallen spirits, We believe that this explains the whole system of spiritism (spiritualism) and that the supposed departed with whom spiritualists communicate are none other than these "spiritual hosts" impersonating the departed, whom they knew in lifetime. Leaving the many phases of this thing in its outworkings and issues at the end of the age, let us note the terrible nemesis in wrecked minds and bodies; haunted, driven, distraught, reason bereft souls; crowded asylums, prisons; suicides, moral and spiritual wrecks, etc., is because that which was given to man specifically for union, communion and co-operation with God, namely the spirit of man, has been used as the medium and instrument for this demon invasion and control of his life. The tremendous warnings and terrible judgments associated with all kinds of spiritism; necromancy, witches, "familiar spirits," etc., are because of the spirit complicity, dalliance, consorting, with fallen spirits whose purpose is always to capture men and women through their spirits. This they will do even by adopting the guise of an angel of light, and talking religion. Strange, isn't it, that fifty years ago men threw off the belief in the supernatural in the scriptures, and today they and their school so strongly embrace spiritism? Surely this is "the working of error" sent that they who received not the truth for the love of it "might believe A LIE" "in order that they might be condemned" (2 Thess. 2:11).

It was the spiritual background of their life which led to the destruction of the Egyptians, Canaanites, etc., and this was spiritism in different forms; but it was their being joined to demons that involved them.

The most spiritual people apart from new birth union with God are in the greatest peril here, and even the Lord's own people by reason of their very spirituality need to constantly abide in the Cross of Christ that they shall not become exposed to "The wiles of the devil."

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