The Spirit of Man – The Inner Man
- God-conscious part of man, capable of knowing
and communing with God.
- The eternal part of man, capable of true worship.
When man fell his spirit lost its contact with God. This can only be restored through the new-birth. When a man becomes a new creation, it is his spirit that is born-again, or renewed.
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second ti me into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:1-6 NKJV)
In becoming a new creation man’s ability to contact and commune with God is restored, and the believer’s spirit is joined to the Lord, becoming one with the Holy Spirit:
“But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.”1Corinthians 6:17 AMPLIFIED
At the moment of conception God as the Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9) breathes a human spirit into the natural cells of the newly conceived human life. As a spirit, the new life is eternal in nature in the sense that it will never cease to exist. When, 70 or so years later its biological life finally comes to an end it will still exist as a spirit either in heaven or hell.
To have a relationship with God who is a Spirit (John 4:24) man’s spirit needs to be born-again and recreated in the image of God by the Holy Spirit. This happens as a person receives salvation and his sins are forgiven. At this point, the Life of God comes into the spirit of man.
Watchman Nee, in his book ‘Release of the Spirit’ points out:
“Since neither our emotion nor our thought has the same nature as God, it cannot be joined with Him. The Gospel of John, Chapter four, shows us the nature of God. God is a Spirit. Our spirit alone is of the same nature as God; therefore, it can be eternally united with Him. If we try to get the presence of God by directing our thought, then when we are not concentrating, His presence seems to be lost. Again, if we seek to use our emotion to summon the presence of God, then as soon as our emotion relaxes, His presence seems to be gone. Sometimes we are happy, and we take this as having the presence of God. So when happiness ceases, the presence flees! Or we may assume that His presence is with us while we mourn and weep. Alas, we cannot shed tears all our life. Soon our tears will be dry, and then God’s presence disappears. Both our thoughts and our emotions are human energies. All activity must come to an end. If we try to maintain God’s presence with activity, then when the activity ceases, His presence ends. Presence requires the sameness of nature. Only the in ward man is of the same nature as God. Through it alone can His presence be manifested. When the outward man lives in activities, they can disturb the inward man. Thus the outward man is not a helper but a disturber. When the outward man is broken, the inward man enjoys peace before God.
Our spirit is given to us by God to enable us to respond to Him. But the outward man is ever responding to things without, thus depriving us of the presence of God. We cannot destroy all the things without, but we can break down the outward man. We cannot put a stop to all the things without; these millions and billions of things in the world are utterly beyond our control. Whenever anything happens, our outward man will respond ; thus we are not able to enjoy God’s presence in peace. We conclude, therefore, that experiencing the presence of God is contingent upon the breaking of our outward man.
… Brother Lawrence was engaged in kitchen work. People were clamoring for things they wanted. Though there was the constant clatter of dishes and utensils, his inward man was not disturbed. He could sense God’s presence in the hustle and bustle of a kitchen as much as in quiet prayer. Why? He was impervious to external noises. He had learned to commune in his spirit and deny his soul.
Some feel that to have God’s presence, their environment must be free of such distractions as the clatter of dishes. The farther away they are from mankind, the better they will be able to sense the presence of God. What a mistake! The trouble lies not in the dishes, nor in other people, but in themselves. God is not going to deliver us from the dishes; He will deliver us from our responses! No matter how noisy it is outside, the inside does not respond. Since the Lord has broken our outward man, we simply react as if we had not heard. Praise the Lord, we may possess very keen hearing, but due to the work of grace in our lives, we are not at all influenced by the things pressing on our outward man. We can be before God on such occasions as much as when praying alone.”
Faculties of the human spirit include:
- Spiritual perception and awareness
Faculty of Conscience
“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”Romans 2:14-16
“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart”Proverbs 20:27
Our God given conscience is a faculty of our human spirit. Our conscience is that inner witness designed by God to tell us whether our thoughts and actions are morally and ethically right or wrong. When we have sinned, our conscience is pricked and we feel pangs of guilt. This, of course, is assuming that our conscience is in a healthy state. The Word of God reveals that our conscience can be less than healthy and defines a number of different states our conscience can be in.
Conviction vs Condemnation
As believers, if we sin we experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit that draws us to him that we may confess our sin and walk on in fellowship with the Lord. We need to keep short accounts with God.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1 John 1:9
Condemnation is always the voice of the enemy speaking to our mind. His aim is to accuse us and get us to a place where we feel cut off from God. Any feelings that make us feel like distancing ourselves from God are from the devil not from God. He understands the power of guilt to cause us to feel condemned. We need to run to God when we sin, not from Him!
There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”Romans 8:1
Conditions of the Conscience
A good conscience
1 Tim 1:5 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”
1 Tim 1:19 “having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,…”
1 Tim 4:2 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”
Before we were saved many of us sinned in a certain area so many times our consciences became so callused that we hardly felt any qualms whatsoever about the particular offence.
If we constantly override our conscience, it becomes less and less sensitive to our sinful actions. This is dangerous, as God’s commandments are for our good and, if our conscience is not fulfilling its office, we will reap death in some form or other.
We should pray for the spirit of conviction to be continually upon our hearts that our conscience would be tender before the Lord at all times.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
1 Cor 8:7 “However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.”
A weak conscience is one that has not received enough revelation knowledge to come to a right moral and ethical position regarding certain practices. In the case described above by Paul, the matter in question was the eating of food offered to idols. Paul had a strong conscience because he had an abundance of revelation knowledge, and understood in his heart that an idol was nothing, therefore food offered to an idol was of little consequence. He chose however to conduct himself sensitively in order not to hurt or confuse those whose conscience was less grounded in this spiritual reality.
The consciences of others
Paul warns us that even although we have knowledge we are not to use our liberty if it will cause those who are of a weak conscience to stumble.
1 Cor 8:9-11 “but beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?”
Faculty of the imagination
The imagination in worship
The primary purpose of our imagination is to contain our concept of God, which is built up line upon line as God reveals Himself to us through His Word and by His Spirit. We worship God holding this image in our mind’s (or rather, spirit’s) eye. The imagination’s highest function is in worship.
John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Our imagination as a faculty of our spirit facilitates our worship of the Lord.
If not given over to God in holiness, the imagination can become the seat of idolatry in our lives. It can be filled with lust, vengeance, vanity and many other selfish expressions of idolatry.
Winkie Pratney once said, “Whatever you give your imagination to gets your worship, and whatever you worship you give power over you, and whatever has power over you will get you.”
[See Ezekiel chapter 8 and the references to ‘chambers of imagery’ and idolatry.]
The imagination as our spiritual eyes
“But as it is written: eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” 1 Cor 2:9-10
The imagination is the eyes of our spirit. We are born again with 20/20 vision! We can all see in the Spirit, and behold things that before our salvation were hidden from us. This involves seeing revealed truth through visions, dreams and the revelation gifts of prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom and the discerning of spirits, as well as directly from the Word of God. It must be stressed, however, that the Word of God should be the focus of our spiritual eyes for receiving revelation from God, and that the Word is the judge and measure of all other forms of revelation.
The power of the imagination in visualisation
Gen 11:5-6 “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
The power of the imagination can be seen in the building of the Tower of Babel. There, a strong leader in the person of Nimrod was able to cast his vision to the people in unity. In this situation, God declared that anything they could imagine would be possible.
If this is true of the heathen without God, how much more for the people of God who have the opportunity to put their faith and hope in God, and realise the visions and dreams that He has for them!
Visualisation has been hi-jacked by the world by everybody from salespersons to new-agers. However, it has always been an integral part of the exercising of faith and hope in God’s promises.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The “substance” of the things we are believing for and hoping for is seen with the eye of our spirit not with the natural eye.
2 Corinthians 4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Through the Word we shape our inner image of reality. The Word is powerful and active, and paints on the canvas of our imagination divine truths that then shape our actions and attitudes, and ultimately our destiny.
Spiritual perception and awareness
Just as our natural physical body is aware of the physical world around it through the five senses, our spirit man is also aware of the realm of the spirit through his spiritual senses. Every sense that our natural man has our spirit has also.
John 3:6-7 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Our spiritual senses can be sharp, dull, or, somewhere in between.
Heb 5:14 “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Heb 5:11b “….seeing ye are dull of hearing.”
The key to sharpening our spiritual senses is to use them.
Meditation in the Word, prayer, speaking in tongues, praise, worship and fellowship together with other Christians, and our service for the Lord will all sharpen our spiritual senses.
Perhaps one of the most significant faculties of the born-again human spirit is the ability to commune with God. This is not necessarily just referring to prayer (in the conventional sense), as communion can take place at any time in any place (the student is referred to the classic work by Brother Lawrence, “The Practice of the Presence of God”).
Christ now lives in us by His Spirit and the possibility of deep and intimate friendship and communion are open to all who will invest time in the divine relationship we are privileged to enjoy.