One of the most glorious moments in my life was when Jesus was transferred from an external Jesus to an internal Jesus. This has had huge implications on how I view myself.
As a teacher I am well acquainted with concepts. They are important tools in giving an object or a thing a certain definition or give an outline of a thing we investigate or attempt to get to know better. What is important to know is that a concept isn’t the thing itself. The Bible’s chief area of interest is persons. What is a person? What is the difference between a person who has come into Christ and a person who still is in ignorance regarding Christ’s finished work? What features a person who is a new creation?
In an attempt to describe a person the Bible uses concepts such as vessel and branch. Those concepts are not the person, but they give us a certain idea about who we are in Christ and how we are both filled with Him and how His life flows through us. If we are to get a better idea of who we are we have to examine 1 Cor 5:16: “Therefore from now on we know no man after the flesh; Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet Now we know Him thus no longer.”
Those who were Jesus’s contemporaries knew Him according to the flesh, that is, in this context, His personality, character traits and appearance. The main problem with perpetuating a relationship to a historical Christ is that we always will be trying to the best of our abilities, which the Bible calls nothing, to imitate Him. Hence, Christendom becomes a self-improvement program. Those of us who have walked that path intimately know the futility of such an endeavor. It also means that we try to maintain a relationship to an external person instead of finding Him in us.
The Bible is rich when it comes to giving us insight into the works He did, but it is quiet when it comes to His inner life. Why? His works demonstrated once and for all that He was the Son of God and moreover gave witness to who God is. The Bible is quiet about His inner life because in us, where He now dwells, He makes Himself known to the world in a multitude of ways. Our inner life is one of the things which constitute our makeup as persons. This is most significant, because since we are not to imitate Jesus we are completely free to be ourselves. There is no blueprint offered in the Bible on how our inner life should be, except that some character traits will manifest as we grow in Christ and this process is accelerated when we recognize that we are dead to the law.
Paul declares: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Rom 7:4) The law denotes the external life which is characterized by its quest for self-improvement. The law, that is, the external life, will not contribute an iota towards fulfilling God’s promises in us and through us. Our death to the law points to a potential shift from external to internal in our consciousnesses and hence an entering into total liberty as persons free to be ourselves. In addition, and this is an immeasurable paradox, not under the law we bring forth fruit onto God. By taking us through the wilderness of the law God reveals our self life, so that it can be exposed as nothing. That is our starting point so that we by faith can recognize His life coming through us in our humanity.
When we have shifted from external to internal we realize that the issue isn’t whether we are spiritually mature or not, but that we are Christ in our forms. There is no longer a standard we have to level up with before God can use us. He comes through our unique personality in the same manner as He came through Jesus’ personality when He was in the flesh. In this new reality it dawns upon us that we now are Christ in the flesh; that we are spiritual beings manifesting ourselves in human bodies with human capacities. With this mindset we reckon ourselves as an asset to God and not a liability. We recognize our imagined failures – our negatives – as an opportunity for God to come through and turn every situation into a positive. We are now free to enjoy ourself without any inhibitions.
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luk 17:20-21)