Righteousness

For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
Romans 7:22
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.
Ephesians 3:16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23

Let us believe and understand that we must focus on our words and adjust our lives to abide in God’s presence. The Holy Spirit redirected me to explore righteousness from a different biblical perspective, determining our success or failure in God’s works. Whether we work for, with, or unto Him, it is crucial to grasp this message. As I discuss four texts, pay attention to how the Bible labels different aspects of our being.
First text: Romans 7:22 – Delighting in God’s law.
Second text: Ephesians 3:16 – Strengthened by God’s spirit.
Third text: 2 Corinthians 4:16 – Renewal of the inward man.
Fourth text: When God dwells in us, it is through His Spirit in our regenerated spirit, which we call the inward man or the spirit man. The outward man refers to our soul, which encompasses our thoughts, emotions, and will. Man is described as a spirit, a soul, and a body in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

Understanding Brokenness

I want to talk about the importance of brokenness in our lives. Many Christians don’t understand the process of being broken by God. Our senses characterize our physical body, while our spirit is God-conscious, and our soul is self-conscious. Until our soul is broken, we cannot be fruitful in righteousness.

Today, I will speak about the spirit and the soul. Our inward man is the human spirit where God dwells, joined with God’s spirit. The soul is the outward man, and the body is the outermost man. The battle has always been for the control of the soul. The Holy Spirit works through our regenerated spirit, while Satan works through the corrupt soul. Many believers have not yet brought their outer man and unbroken soul under the spirit’s control.

Breaking the hard shell of the soul allows the life of Jesus’ giving spirit to be released in righteous works. This breaking happens through daily circumstances allowed and directed by God. Trials and tribulations come from the Lord. Breaking the soul’s power is necessary for the human spirit to express the power and life of Christ.

Now, we all understand that God and designing man intended for man’s spirit to be His home so that the Holy Spirit can govern the soul by unionizing with the human spirit. Through the soul, our spirit uses the body to express God’s life and purpose. Everything is supposed to come from the spirit, with God’s spirit joining together the home of the Lord, controlling the soul, and expressing God’s purposes through the body.

The main point of my message today is that the soul is stubbornly independent and needs to become the broken vessel to release God’s spirit. The soul should be the functioning channel through which the spirit of life flows out. We need to break the independence of the soul so that it can become dependent and set free.

As T. Austin Sparks wisely points out, we must recognize that the soul has been seduced, led captive, darkened, and poisoned due to self-interest. We should not regard the soul as something to be destroyed but rather understand that human nature resides in our souls. Suppression of our nature in one direction will lead to revenge in another.

There is a difference between a life of suppression and a life of service. The life of Christ was not a life of soul destruction but a life of perfect rest and delight. Our ideas about service to God need to be revised, as service is a divine thing.

Spirituality is not a negative life of suppression but a positive life of newness and surplus. The old life has passed away, and the soul needs to be smitten and broken by God. This happens when you learn to take up your cross and not rely on the soul’s self-governing strength.

The soul must never act independently or draw upon its resources. As T. Austin Sparks writes, the soul must be mastered and ruled to submit to God’s higher and different ways.

Consider this: The term “soul” (mind-will-emotions) is mentioned repeatedly in the scriptures. It emphasizes the need to exercise authority over the soul.

For example, Luke 21:19 advises to possess your souls, 1 Peter 1:22 speaks of purifying the soul, and 1 Peter 1:9 mentions the soul’s salvation. Psalm 62:5 urges the soul to be silent before God and follow Him.

These scriptures highlight the importance of possessing, winning, purifying, saving, and guiding the soul according to God’s instructions. Throughout the Bible, it is emphasized that the outward man (soul) must be broken, mastered, and renewed for the Spirit’s use. The surrender of the soul to the Spirit brings joy and strength.

The wisdom derived from a traumatic experience of brokenness leads to higher wisdom. It vindicates the necessity of this suffering. Praise and worship can be expressed, as Mary did in the Book of Luke, saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Do not suppress or despise the soul. Be strong in spirit for your soul to serve God’s joy and purpose.

Find Rest Thy Soul

God has a specific plan to break your soul for you to find rest. This is taught in Matthew 11:28-30. Take up the yoke of the Lord to find rest for your soul. The soul’s greatest value is in serving, not ruling. By taking up your cross daily, the soul becomes a useful servant. The greatest hindrance to fulfilling God’s purpose in your life is yourself, not other people.

It’s a revelation that your soul and spirit are not in harmony. They tend to go in opposite directions, making it difficult for your outward man to submit to the control of your regenerated spirit. As a result, you are incapable of obeying God’s commands and face difficulty in getting involved in the works that God has planned for you.

Many born-again Christians struggle to do even the most simple works of righteousness because their spirit is not enabled to have revelation, discern spiritual conditions, and boldly speak God’s word to others. Reading the word is essential for separating the soul from the spirit. Due to the lack of submission of the outward man, your spirit does not function properly.

Your involvement in various activities related to God, like revivals, prayer, studying the word, and zealous activities, is a waste of time for you. The only thing that can make you useful to God is brokenness. Your inward self needs to be released by breaking through your outward self. Recognize that the problem lies within you, not others.

Your soul must experience brokenness for your spirit to be set free. Scripture confirms this. Without breaking the outward self, you are not qualified for righteous works. Only when your outward self is broken can your inward self emerge and bear fruit. This is crucial for being effective in God’s work and blessing others.

Let’s understand the natural versus spiritual principle. Nature breaks through the shell of a grain of wheat to allow growth. Similarly, the outer shell of our human life needs to be broken for our inner eternal life to flourish.

If we hold onto our soul life, we will lose it. But if we recognize that our eternal life is within and allow the breaking to happen, we will experience eternal fruitfulness. It is crucial to break the outward man, to have a permanent breaking of our soul, to bear fruit in our walk with God.

Let me address those who have received the Lord’s life, meaning they are born again. Among believers, there are two conditions: some have confined and restricted life, while others have allowed life to be released through the soul. The question is not how to obtain life but whether we have learned to express it. This requires a broken soul.

Broken Vessels

When we talk about a broken soul, it is not just a matter of words. The Lord must break us. Have you ever prayed for the Lord to break you so that you can be useful and fruitful in His works of righteousness? The purpose of God is for His glory to cover the earth, but we have imprisoned His life and glory within us. His blessings and the expression of His life are hindered when our soul remains unbroken.

The alabaster box in the gospel represents the unbroken soul. Just as the pure spikenard cannot flow forth from the box, the pure fragrance of worship cannot be experienced if the outward man is not broken. Many Christians treasure their outward appearance and value it more than the inward man, which hinders their works of righteousness and affects the church.

Jesus taught that the outer shell must be broken, which applies to our soul. Instead of treasuring our cleverness, emotions, or superiority over others, we should have the overwhelming desire to worship and smell only the fragrance of the ointment.

Worship is inhibited when the shell is not broken. The Holy Spirit works through various events and difficulties to fulfill the importance of brokenness, breaking the outer man so that the inward man can come forth. Many things we attribute to the devil are the disciplinary workings of the Holy Spirit to bring about brokenness.

Yet here is our dilemma. We worry about trivial matters, complain about small losses, and have negative attitudes towards insignificant things. However, the Lord always finds a way to use us and prepares us for that purpose.

Even when His hand touches us, we become unhappy and may even quarrel with God himself. Since we were saved, the Lord has touched us many times in various ways to break our outward man. This is confirmed in 1 Peter 4:12-13, which tells us not to be surprised by our trials. Instead, we should rejoice because we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

According to 2 Corinthians 4:7, we are like clay pots that hold a treasure, and the power of God is manifested through us when our human vessel is broken. The purpose of the Lord’s work in our lives is to break open our earthly vessel, as mentioned in Mark 14:3 and John 12:24. This is not a secret but a truth that we should study and understand.

Have you experienced the brokenness of the outward man? If not, you cannot bear fruit or be involved in righteous works.

The Path of Brokenness

Brokenness is the path to blessing and fragrance, leading to righteousness and fruitfulness. Embracing brokenness entails enduring wounds and offering oneself fully to the Lord’s service.

Many Christians lack knowledge of God’s purpose because they have never experienced brokenness. Understanding God’s purpose involves recognizing His aim to break our outer selves and allow His to work through us.

Life’s experiences, even the troubles and trials, are for our ultimate good and the breaking of our outward selves. It takes time to grasp this concept fully. We must not resent the difficulties but see them as God’s best for us.

Daily trials are meant to bring us the greatest benefit. God’s motive behind all things in our lives is to break our outward selves and allow our spirit to come forth, enabling us to exercise and release the spirit consistently. This leads to fruitfulness and effectiveness.

To break the outward man, the Lord uses two means: gradual and sudden. Some experience a sudden breaking followed by a gradual one, while others face constant daily trials until a large-scale breaking occurs. This process usually takes several years and cannot be rushed.

However, we can prolong it by not consecrating ourselves to the Lord. It is important not to waste God’s time and hinder the church by relying solely on our intelligence or emotions to move people. True repentance comes from the spirit, not the power of the mind or emotions. Let us not needlessly prolong this process and instead wholeheartedly consecrate ourselves to the Lord.

Pray for the future of the church, the spread of the gospel, and for God’s way to be instilled within us. Offer ourselves unconditionally and without reservation to the Lord, allowing Him to have His full way through us.

The Pathway of the Cross

The cross signifies the breaking of the outward man, reducing it to death. It breaks everything belonging to the outward man – opinions, ways, cleverness, and self-love.

The purpose and way of the Lord are clear: when the outward man is broken, the spirit easily emerges. For example, a person’s soul characteristics are dealt with by God, resulting in a released and transparent spirit.

The pathway of the cross involves dying to the outward man and the circumstances and dealings of God in one’s life. It is the pathway of discipleship, where one takes up one’s cross. Without recognizing the position of identification with Christ’s death and resurrection, confusion and self-effort arise.

The breaking of the outer man is fundamental in the scriptures yet often neglected. We should not cling to weak soul characteristics after years of being born again. It is crucial to understand that the Lord is trying to break us and not view trials and sufferings as strange. Allow the Lord to break through the outward man’s shell.

Why is it? After many years of the Lord’s dealings, why do so many believers remain unchanged? Some have a strong will, others have powerful emotions, and some have a strong mind. If the Lord can break these, why do many still resist change?

I believe there are two reasons. First, they live in darkness. The Word of God tells us to walk in love, faith, and light. Many believers fail to see God’s hand at work and mistake it for opposition or difficult circumstances. They lack revelation and understanding that God is breaking their outward man. Without this insight, they fight against God instead of cooperating with Him.

Second, self-love hinders the breaking of the outer man. We must ask God to remove the heart of self-love and willingly accept His dealings in our lives. Misunderstandings and disappointments arise from our secret love for ourselves. We may seek ways to escape the working of the cross, thinking there is something higher, but we must come to the cross and surrender to God’s way. Self-love is a fundamental issue for many believers.

We must recognize that all things, including hardships and difficulties, come from God. By walking in the light and letting go of self-love, we allow God to live His life through us. Let us offer ourselves to God, embracing brokenness and allowing Him to transform us into vessels of beauty.

To understand Jacob’s life in the Old Testament, we see how he struggled with his brother before birth. Jacob was cunning and manipulative, but his life was filled with sorrow and grief. He fled from home and was cheated by Laban for 20 years. He experienced the premature death of his beloved wife, Rachel, and the enslavement of his favorite son, Joseph. Later, his other son, Benjamin, was detained in Egypt.

Jacob faced misfortune after misfortune, being struck by God multiple times. However, after many trials, Jacob was transformed. His dignified answer to Pharaoh, his worship of God in his old age, and his blessings to his descendants all show his maturity.

Conclusion

We all have a bit of Jacob’s nature within us, and we hope that the Lord will break our outward man so that the inward man can emerge and be involved in righteous works. This is the only way to serve the Lord and lead others to Him effectively. The knowledge of the Bible alone is limited in its value. Only when the outward man has been broken through trials can the spirit within us be revealed.

May God show us this way and help us understand the purpose of His dealings with us. Let us not despise His dealings but be wise and open to His revelation. We are called to be vessels for God’s Spirit to flow through, but our cleanliness and brokenness determine the effectiveness of His flow. Therefore, let us seek to be broken and study God’s word to divide soul from spirit. This will lead to purity and effectiveness in the works of righteousness.

Become enlightened about the power of brokenness and learn how it can lead to a life of fruitfulness and effectiveness in serving God. Watch the full sermon “Righteousness” here.

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