The 2Cor. 4: 16 New Man
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day (2Corinthians 4: 16 NASB).”
Most of us can relate to the decaying part, but sad to say, the day by day renewing of the inner man has not been the personal experience of many who claim to be Christians.
For many, their “religious” experience is no different than it has been throughout most of their lives. For others, there has been a decline in interest. They do not experience the intimacy with God that other believers speak about.
This really shouldn’t come to us as a surprise since Matt. 7: 13 teaches us that only the minority find the road that leads to life. The verse is primarily speaking of eternal life, and the way (1) to it, is through the gate of faith in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ (2).
Once one has found the road to eternal life, there is another road that he or she must travel on if he or she is to become a disciple.
A disciple is one who learns (3) and applies (4) the Word of God 24-7, regardless of where he or she is or what he or she is otherwise doing. This is what the post salvation spiritual life is all about.
The post salvation spiritual life begins the moment one is born again and is completed when one departs this world.
Just as only a minority find the road to eternal life, only a minority of those who are born again find and/or remain on the road of discipleship during their post salvation spiritual life.
Failing to find the road that leads to eternal life results in the unbeliever spending eternity future in what the Bible refers to as the lake of fire (5).
Failing to find and remain on the road of post salvation discipleship results in forfeiting his or her 1Cor. 3: 15 reward and the Rev. 2 & 3 privileges that are awaiting those who embrace discipleship.
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In varying degrees, most us who are in our sixties have begun to experience the Ecclesiastes 12 aging process of our physical bodies. Take away the make-up, hair dye, wigs, toupees, caps, implants, false teeth, canes, walkers, eye glasses, contacts, hearing aids, and sunglasses, and what you then see is what is left of our physical bodies.
The desire is still there to do many of the things that we had once taken for granted, but we are slowly learning that much of our get up and go, has gotten up and gone. Many of our once enjoyable activities have become more and more like work than enjoyment.
The next thing you know, the list of family members, and the list of friends that we had grown up with, went to school with, or worked with, that have departed and have gone on to their eternal destinies is getting longer and longer as time passes on.
The quality, as well as the quantity of our earthly life span, becomes front and center as we ponder what the remaining years (if any) here on Earth have in store for us.
Scripture teaches us to develop a Biblically based, edified soul structure (6) BEFORE issues of older age (7) become a major distraction.
Only the spiritually mature disciples will be able to honestly say, “To live is (for) Christ, and to die is gain (Phil 1: 21 NASB).”
Only advancing disciples will see their inevitable departure as a precious event (8), and something to look forward to with enthusiastic anticipation.
Until one is ready to die, he or she is not ready to make the best of his or her Earthly opportunities. Enjoying, but not living for, the good things of this world is the outlook that an advancing disciple will have.
The more eternally oriented one becomes, the less of an interest he or she will have in the things that this world has to offer, and the less of an interest that this world will have in him or her.
. . .
An advancing disciple will not want to leave this world before completing all the work that God has given him or her to do. But on the other hand, the advancing disciple will not want to remain here one second longer than what God’s plan requires of him or her.
At any age, and under any circumstances, God will continue to supply ALL that an advancing disciple needs in order to fulfill His plan; but not necessarily the plan(s) that we have made for ourselves.
For example, in our later years, it may be that God places us in a nursing home setting in order to minister to the staff and or fellow residents. A godly attitude concerning death speaks volumes. For many, whom the advancing disciple shares the experience, this will be their last opportunity to be saved before leaving this world.
Its one thing to be evangelized or edified by a chaplain or visiting clergyman, but it is going to attract a larger audience coming from an advancing disciple who is a fellow resident, and who like them, is expecting to depart this world soon.
Along the way, God has a divine purpose for each one of us being where we are at any given time. This is what gives each day of our time here on Earth spiritual significance.
Many born-again believers live out their post salvation spiritual life still focused on self and on the here and now. They will do enough religious stuff in an attempt to appease God, but if the truth be known, their only interest in God is what He might do to fulfill their plans, rather than on what they can do to fulfill His.
Many pray, “THY will be done… (Matt. 6: 10 KJV),” but much of what many of us pray for is for MY will to be done!
The advancing disciple surrenders his or her own plan(s), giving way to the learning and execution of the individual plan that God has in mind. This is what it means to “deny” oneself on a daily basis.
“And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must DENY himself, and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me (Luke 9: 23 NASB).”
Anything or anyone that gets in the way of learning and executing the g-e-n-e-r-a-l (9) and the i-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l (10) plan that God has in mind for every born-again believer has to be forsaken if he or she is going to be His disciple.
The first ‘anyone” that has to be forsaken is the one we see in the mirror. As long as we primarily choose to live for OUR selves, OUR plans, and OUR desires, we will NOT primarily be living for God.
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth (self, or anything else at the same time) Matt. 6: 24 NASB (parenthesis mine).”
The first “anything else” is our own plans that are not a part of His. Other people (11) and things (12) will come along that will have to be either eliminated or kept in their proper place on our list of priority.
No one ever said (or should say) that the life of discipleship is going to be an easy path to tread.
This individual surrendering does not come easy. We come into this world with a fallen nature that is inherently self-centered, and hostile towards God and the things of God. We want what we want, and we want it now!
We consider anyone or anything that gets in our way, or who or what will not help us, to be our enemy.
Does this mean that Christian disciples are not to make secular plans or have earthly goals?
Not at all.
“Beloved, I pray that in ALL respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers (3John 1: 2 NASB).”
“... I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10: 10 NASB).”
The more abundant life that Jesus spoke of is the Christ-centered life of discipleship.
Before the advancing disciple commits himself or herself to any given event or activity, he or she will consider rather or not doing so will advance or hinder his or her walk with the Lord.
In the spiritual realm, everything will either have a positive or a negative result. There is no neutral ground.
. . .
God posts His ambassadors in virtually every walk and circumstances of life here on Earth. In order to be or to remain where God wants us to be at any given time, there are preparations and things we must do. Some will be easy and enjoyable; others will be painful and challenging.
David served God while seated on a throne, whereas Paul wrote epistles that were later made a part of what we now know as The Bible from a prison cell. In BOTH cases, these servants of God were where they needed to be at that time in order to fulfill the plan that God had in mind.
Some placements require little secular training, others require much, in order to be placed and to remain where God wants any individual to be at any given time to fulfill His plans.
Some placements may require a change in location for a brief or an extended period of time. Others will keep us right where we are for an extended (or even a permanent) period of time. Like the Hebrews in the wilderness, they changed locations as soon as, but not before, the cloud or pillar of light moved on.
All assignments require a Biblically-edified soul structure and the willingness to apply its principles to all that an advancing disciple does, with the enabling power that God supplies (13).
No matter where an advancing disciple is, or what he or she is doing, be it at home, work, school, or play, participating in the general (14) and individual (15) plan that God has in mind, is what gives SPIRITUAL significance to all that one says or does 24-7.
While the new creation is ready and willing to pursue and participate in the master and individual plans that God has in mind, the old sin nature that remains within us is not (16).
Which one of these two opposing sources of influence that we choose to follow is a moment-to-moment decision we make during the course of each and every day. Over time, we will find that we are becoming either stronger or weaker in our personal walk with the Lord.
This strength or weakness is measured by the amount of accurate doctrine one has in his or her soul structure (17), coupled with one’s willingness to apply it (18).
Discipleship, that is learning and applying the word of God, is a 24-7 lifestyle. We are under constant observation by the omnipresent Lord, and well as angelic, human, and diabolical beings.
It is the difference that people will see in an advancing disciple’s daily life that God will use to draw inquirers, providing the advancing disciple with the opportunity to present the Gospel Message to unbelievers, and to share Biblical principles with fellow believers in our individual peripheries.
If there should be no overt difference between our outlook, attitudes, priorities, and choice of daily activities and the outlook, attitudes, priorities, and choice of daily activities made by unbelievers and worldly-minded folks around us, then it is time for a 2Cor. 5: 13 self-examination!
It was (or will be) where you are and what you are doing when one is born again that God begins to show you the general (19) and individual (20) plan that He has in mind for you.
With the free-will that God has given each one of us, we can choose to participate (or not), but not without experiencing either the blessings or the consequences of that decision.
For not participating, Jonah found himself being tossed into a raging, stormy sea (21).
All born-again individuals are assured of a life in Heaven (22), but many will forfeit the 1Cor. 3: 14 reward and the Rev. 1 and Rev. 2 privileges that are reserved for those who became disciples during their time here on Earth.
As (if) one’s post (after) salvation life progresses, God will make whatever major changes or minor adjustments that participating in His general and individual plans will require.
It is He who opens some doors and closes others. It is He who gives and it is He who takes away, in order to fulfill HIS plans, not ours.
When going through periods of secular promotion or demotion, gain or loss, sickness or health, trials and tribulation, all that an advancing disciple will need to be assured of is that God is in charge and that whatever is taking place is a part of His plan.
The greater the challenge, the more faith it takes to have faith in the principles of Romans 8: 28.
Keep in mind that even the timing and circumstances of our physical death is a part of the individual plan that He has in mind. For Him, the going home of a born-again believer is a precious event (23).
In the meantime, being where God wants him or her to be, and doing what God wants him or her to be doing, is what the life of discipleship is all about.
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The decaying of the outer man can refer to the natural process of aging, but there is an inner change that takes place as one spiritually matures and advances in the post salvation spiritual life.
As (if) one spiritually matures, his or her thinking becomes more and more aligned with the 1Cor. 2: 16 mind of Christ, as will his or her actions.
“For as he thinks (good or bad) within himself, so he is (Prov. 23: 7 NASB parenthesis mine).”
. . .
The fallen nature does not cease to exist after one is born again. In fact, the fallen nature increases its pressure, keeping pace with whatever progress a born-again believer is making along the road to spiritual maturity.
Even secular psychologists will agree that stress is the result of unresolved issues.
If one does not sense an inner conflict, it could be that he or she had turned down the volume of the voice of God. Every time we say NO to appeal from God, we develop another layer of wax in our spiritual ears.
Rather or not we are caving in to the pressure of the voice of the fallen nature, or choosing to follow the leading of God the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the decisions we make every day.
If it is not our old self (with its fallen nature) being reformed, then who or what is this 2Cor. 4: 16 “inner man” that is supposed to be experiencing renewal every day?
This inner man is the “new creation” that is created by God at the moment one is born again (24). Note that until one IS born again, there is no inner man, as the individual is spiritually dead, and in need of regeneration (25).
“So now (after being born again), no longer am I the one doing it (when submitting to the leadership of God the Holy Spirit), but (it is I when submitting to the) sin (nature) which dwells in me (Romans 7: 17 NASB parentheses mine).”
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5: 24, 25 NASB).”
Being born again (26) is the result of a one-time decision we make when presented with the unadulterated Gospel Message. We are free to choose to believe it or not, but we are not free from having to make that choice. There are eternal blessings or consequences riding on the choice we make.
Living a life that is submitted to the leading of God the Holy Spirit (or not) is the result of the moment-to-moment decisions we make, choosing to follow Him when presented with a moral issue.
Our daily and ongoing choices determines the quality of our post salvation spiritual life, resulting in eternal blessings or consequences
The sin nature still remains and will compete with the new creation for control over immediate thoughts and actions, for as long as we remain in these mortal bodies, here on Earth.
Paul wrote about this ongoing conflict (27) between the two natures within him, almost thirty years after he had become a new creation in Christ.
At the very moment one is born again, the believer becomes the permanent recipient of eternal life (28); receives a regenerated spirit (29); and is sealed (identified-baptized) (30), as a child of God.
For a born-again believer, the salvation process has been completed and is eternally secure (31), but the internal struggle between the 2Cor. 4: 16 new man and the old sin nature has only just begun.
(1) John 14: 6 (2) John 8: 25 (3) 2Pet. 3: 18 (4) James 1: 22 (5) Rev.20: 15 (6) Matt. 7: 24 - 27 (7) Eccl. 12 (8) Psalms 116: 15 (9) Matt. 28: 19, 20 (10) 1Cor. 12: 5, 7, 18 (11) Luke 14: 26 (12) Mark 4: 19 (13) John 15: 5 (14) Matt. 28: 19, 20 (15) 1Cor. 12: 7, 11, 18 (16) Rom. 7: 17 - 23 (17) Matt. 7: 24 - 27 (18) James 1: 22 (19) Matt. 28: 19, 20 (20) 1Cor. 12: 4, 5, 7, 18, (21) Jonah 1: 15 (22) Romans 8: 1 (23) Psalms 116: 15 (24) John 3: 5, 7 (25) Titus 3: 5 (26 John 3: 5, 7, 16, 18) (27) Romans 7: 21 – 23 (28) John 3: 16-18 (29) Titus 3: 5 (30) Eph. 4: 30 (31) Romans 8: 1