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by J.D. Phillips

From the text of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, we're taking a look at a few noteworthy lessons these verses hold for us. One important consideration is what Paul calls the inner man.

Many people struggle in confusion over the question of whether man is totally material, or if man possesses an immortal soul. A few prominent religions teach that man is just a physical body, without a soul. Some have even gone so far as to say that the idea of an immortal soul was a product of Greek philosophy and "...under Plato the concept of the 'immortal soul' was fully developed..."

In our text, Paul discusses the outer man and the inner man, making a clear distinction between the two. In fact, the distinction could not be clearer between two aspects of man. One is outer, seen outwardly, visible and noticeable. This is the part that is decaying, perishing, falling apart. This is the part of man that Solomon describes so fittingly in Ecclesiastes 12:1-6, illustrating the gradual demise of the human body with everyday things like the sun, moon, stars and clouds; with imaginative images of almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper and the pitcher by the well being shattered. Then he concludes in verse 7 with this fact: then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. This spirit Solomon refers to is the inner man, the soul.

A second occurrence of the term inner man is seen in Paul's argument in Romans 7:22-23 where he contrasts the soul with the body: For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind... Obviously, the law of God has appeal to the immortal soul, and indeed, the soul will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Note that the immortal soul will be held accountable for the deeds done while in the physical body.

We find yet another reference to the inner man in Paul's prayer for the Ephesian Christians in Ephesians 3:17: that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man... Here we find the explanation of Paul's words in 2 Cor.4:16, the inner man is being renewed day by day. This renewal is synonymous with the strengthening with power through His Spirit. The Spirit's vehicle for teaching, reproving, correcting and instructing in righteousness is of course, the Word of God (2 Tim.3:16-17). As often as we utilize God's Word in study and meditation, our souls are being renewed.

Continued next week...

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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