That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
Everyone has an inner man, a better self, a potential perfection within him, which will awake and begin to flower when he feels in his soul the touch of God. There is laid down in the being of each man, or deposited there in germ, an ideal, a Divine ideal, which ought to become, under the nourishing powers of redemption and providence, the real. But there are so many outer men put on by some — one, another, and another yet — that the real inner man might seem to be hopelessly buried.
I. LET US LOOK, NOW, AT SOME OF THESE OUTER MEN PUT ON, WORN FROM YEAR TO YEAR, SO AS EFFECTUALLY TO ENCLOSE, IMPRISON, BURY OUT OF SIGHT, THE INNER MAN WHICH GOD AND ANGELS WAIT FOR, AND WOULD BRING TO THE LIGHT WITH REJOICING.
1. Dress. The first thing one human being sees of another, when they are approaching each other, is the dress. A man is known — a woman is known — by the dress. But the sad thing is that in some instances that is all that you will see, even when you meet, nothing but the dress. All the active powers of the man, the woman, are concerned chiefly about that — the dress of life — what to wear on the person, in the house as furniture, in the garden as adornment, on the road as equipage. Exterior show is with them life, and they are always dressing. They are never away from the glass. The whole surrounding world is to them a mirror in which they see only themselves.
2. Manners. The manners are beneath the dress, come through the dress, make the dress more or less expressive, impressive, and beautiful. Nothing of an exterior nature can be more charming than graceful, polished, easy manners. Now, the Christian teaching nowhere leads us to despise manners. Quite the contrary. But we are regarding manners just now not as an expression of the Christian principle of feeling, but as a substitute for it. Not as a beautiful clothing by which the inner man speaks and makes itself known, but as one complete outer man, which muffles, hides, and sometimes buries out of sight, the glorious inner man of God. Just as life is to some all dress, so it is to some all manners.
3. Mind. Go deeper still, and you will find another outer man, which may go by this denomination — mind; indicating strong intellectual life, love of truth, i.e., natural truth; which presents itself to us in the form of fact and law — the scientific spirit. All this may be with a slumbering inner man. Knowledge is power. But it is not in the deepest sense life.
4. Morals. We are still going inwards in search of that great something of which our text is the name. Now we come into the great ethical region of human nature. Now we look at a moral man — a man who distinctly recognizes the great moral law of God, that stretches over the world and runs through and through it. He recognizes it distinctly, but of course very imperfectly, if yet the inner man, under all this moral action going on above it, lies in the main asleep. Asleep; by fits and starts perhaps awaking, and then falling into slumber again. This, too, as in the other cases, is the sad possibility.
II. THE INNER MAN. How is this to be discovered? How does a man reach the centre and fountain of his own being? find himself? recover himself? bring himself home again to God? There are great varieties of experience. But perhaps these things, or something like them, will be found in all.
1. First — what may be called a soul consciousness — a consciousness of having, or being, a soul. Not merely an animated something, to be covered with dress and beautified with manners. Not merely a thinking something, to be informed by knowledge and guided by morals. But a something spiritual, vast, deep, related to eternity, related to God.
2. The next thing is, the conscious relation to God. In that beautiful parable of the prodigal, touching as it does at so many points the actual experience of sinful men, we find that the wandering son no sooner comes to himself than he begins to think of his Father, and to talk of Him there, in those barren fields among the swine; and of His house, the beautiful home of his youth, and of His hired servants, and of the bread loading His tables — until his soul and his eyes are so full of the beauty and the peacefulness of other days, that the wilderness becomes more dark and dreary and horrible, and he says, "I will arise, and leave all this, and go home again to my Father."
3. The next thing, or the thing which goes along with this very often, is the consciousness of sin. When the inner man is found, sin is found in it, or cleaving to it very closely.
4. Then, further, he becomes conscious of goodness as well as of sin. Not the old formal goodness; but goodness that is fresh and new and living: with love in the heart of it, gratitude lending it a glow and a lustre, faith building it up. This new life of goodness begins just with the other things we have named. Not after them, but with and in them. We are too apt to conceive the religious life as consisting in a series of consecutive exercises, the beginning of the one waiting for the completion of the other. First repentance, then cleansing and forgiveness, then gratitude, then filial love, then active goodness. Not so. The moment a man comes to himself, all these things begin together, and go on together. Some trees in early spring are yet covered with last year's leaves; all withered now and begrimed. What says the new vegetation to these? "I must wait until God sends winds strong enough to sweep them away; rains heavy enough to wash the tree clean in every branch"? Not at all. That new vegetation, that fresh leafage, comes out and pushes them off, and clothes the tree with virgin green, drawing food and beauty from the mould of the earth, from the wandering wind, from the passing cloud. So goodness throws off sin, and dresses and adorns the soul in the beauties of God's holiness. Then what becomes of all the outer men, such as those we named? They all fall in, and, so to speak, become parts of the found and ransomed inner man, which now needs them, which now uses them, for its own development, outcome, manifestation. They cease to have a separate and independent existence. They are controlled, in a measure absorbed, by that central grand something which now becomes the ruling power. It is as when a number of substances lie together in a chemist's vessel, each separate from the others, each refusing to enter into combination with the rest, until some final element — with affinities for them all, with a power to blend them all into something else — is added. Then each yields, is altered, combines, and makes the one grand product that is sought. So a regenerate inner man will not throw aside these outer men altogether, but transform them, mould them to its own uses, make them speak its meanings and flash out all its lights.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;