Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Have You Thought About Your Interior Life?
How often do you think of your "interior-life". What do I mean by the term: "interior-life"? The interior life is simply one's mental and spiritual status of their soul. As a human being, you are composite by nature. You are a physical, biological being - having senses, blood, bone, muscle and organs. In addition, you are also immaterial - possessing a personality endowed with freedom of the will (what the Bible refers to as "the soul") and the capacity to know God (i.e "made in God's image" or one's human "spirit").
We all are very aware of what we could call "the outer-life" - i.e the life we lead through our interactions with the world and other people. We try to look right, act right and maintain the correct social skills needed to operate in society. People know how to act a certain way and talk a particular way when in specific settings (church, school, work). The exterior-life is the focal point of our culture. The Bible uses this language of "inner-life" and "outer-life" to describe human beings.
The Bible's usage of the terms "inner-man" and "outward-man"
Concerning the outer-life first, we read for example in 2 Corinthians 4:16 "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." The outer life or "outer-man" is in a state of progressing decay. Even for the Christian, one's physical frame is awaiting that glorious final step in overall salvation - namely the resurrection of the body (see 1 John 3:1-3). We tend to find that our "external life" or "outer-life" dominates our thinking while being unbelievers. When we are converted at saving faith, the Spirit's cooperative work of developing our inward-life can seem awkward and frustrating. We do all we can to preserve our ties to this world and the outward life, but take little thought to our inward life.
So what about the "inward-life" - i.e the soul and spirit? This second area is so often neglected. The interior life covers how we as a living soul are being influenced by either what goes on the deepest part of us (the "spirit") or in our outer-life.
Again, the soul is the seat of human personality. You are not some so-called "ghost in a machine". Rather, your are a soul that receives information from your exterior life and at the same time you interact with whatever is going on the innermost part of you (i.e your spirit). Your brain, a physical organ, is not identical with your immaterial personality (endowed with faculties or functions of willing, feeling and thinking). Both you as a soul and your physical exterior life interact on a continual basis. The soul of a person is that person.
The inward life is spoken of quite often in the Old and New Testaments, with two quick examples serving as major samples:
Proverbs 20:27 "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his being."
Here we see reference to the "spirit of a man" functioning as a lamp or candle. This is where the Holy Spirit comes to live in New Testament salvation (see 1 Corinthians 2:10-13). Now note another reference to the "inner-man" in the New Testament:
Ephesians 3:14-17 "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love."
Paul prayed for the interior life of his readers.
The goal of the Spirit's work in the Christian life is that our soul would be more dominated by our interior life than the exterior life
The interior life of a Christian that is sold-out to Jesus is characterized by their soul (i.e personality, consisting of mind, emotions and will) being more dominated by the Holy Spirit in the human spirit than their exterior life. The Spirit of God is He-in-me. When my interior life is daily in fellowship with the Holy Spirit in my human spirit, my mind, emotions and will respond and interact accordingly. God has given us His book - the Bible, prayer and the local church as resources to which we can exercise our souls (i.e ourselves in our mind, emotions and will) to conform to that interior life governed by the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 1 Timothy 4:13-16; Jude 1:20-23).
Undoubtedly, there will be the continual tug-of-war that the soul of the Christian finds themselves between the interior life and exterior life. The personality of the Christian is in process. There remains that principle of of the former way of doing things before conversion that clings to the soul. As we ever remain in this world: interacting with other people who are themselves influenced by the course of this world; as well as experience the daily warfare of the kingdom of darkness, we find the left-overs of sin functioning like iron-filings. Whenever the world, the flesh or the Devil draws near, that left-over principle of sin-within-us is attracted and wants to respond (see Paul's full discussion of this in Romans 7:14-25).
For the Christian who is growing in Christ-likeness, the need to cultivate one's interior life is a must. The goal of the Spirit's work of sanctification is for our soul to be more influenced by what He is doing on the inside than by those influences that wage war on the outside.