Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 4:10 Paul says, “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body.” In verse 16 Paul goes on to say, “Wherefore we do not lose heart, but if indeed our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day.” The experience of the putting to death of Jesus results in the renewing of the inward man.
What is the inward man? It is difficult to explain what the inward man is. For more than forty years I have been considering and studying the meaning of the outward man and the inward man in 4:16. Some writings have said that the outward man denotes our natural man and that the inward man denotes our spiritual man. I do not say that this understanding is wrong; however, it is somewhat vague.
If you consider the context of this chapter, the outward man primarily means the physical body. In verse 10 Paul speaks of “bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus,” and in verse 11 he mentions the mortal flesh. Bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus is equal to the consuming, the wasting away, of the outward man. Therefore, the outward man in verse 16 must mainly refer to the body.
Likewise, the inward man in this verse must refer to our regenerated spirit, as indicated in verse 13, where Paul uses the expression “the same spirit of faith.” As we have pointed out, the spirit here is the mingled spirit, the regenerated human spirit mingled with the Holy Spirit. The body is to be consumed, but the regenerated spirit is to be renewed day by day. According to the context, the outward man is mainly the body, and the inward man is mainly the regenerated spirit.
The outward man includes our body and our soul, with the body as its organ and the soul as its life and person. The inward man includes our regenerated spirit and our renewed soul with the regenerated spirit as its life and person and the renewed soul as its organ. The life of the soul must be denied (Matt. 16:24-25), but the functions of the soul, the mind, will, and emotion, must be renewed and uplifted by being subdued (2 Cor. 10:4-5) to be used by the spirit, which is the person of the inward man.
According to Paul’s word in verse 16, the outward man is being consumed, being wasted away, being worn out. By the continued killing, the working of death, our outward man, that is, our material body with its animating soul (1 Cor. 15:44), is being consumed and worn out. The outward man, with the body as its organ and the soulish life as its life and person, must be consumed.
We all have an outward man. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He too had an outward man. His outward man needed to be consumed.
In verse 16 Paul also says that our inward man is being renewed day by day. This renewing of the inward man takes place as the inward man is nourished with the fresh supply of resurrection life. As our mortal body, our outward man, is being consumed by the killing work of death, our inward man, that is, our regenerated spirit with the inward parts of our being (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; Rom. 7:22, 25), is being metabolically renewed day by day with the supply of resurrection life. As the inward man is renewed, the functions of the soul—the mind, the emotion, and the will—are also renewed.
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