The Framework of the Inner Man
...where the Kingdom of God Sets Up Its Base of Operation in Us
SHORTLY AFTER I was released from the enmity of which I spoke in Putting off the Old Man, the Holy Spirit impressed me to study the phronema (pronounced FRON/emah) in the Greek New Testament. This was a word about which I knew little except that it is translated mind in Romans 8:7. This says, The carnal mind is enmity against God.
Phronema developed from another Greek word, phren. This is the name for that muscle separating the heart and lungs from the abdomen. We call it the diaphragm or midriff. Ancient Greeks thought of it as the seat of passion and fear. As phronema developed in its meaning, it came to include all the activities of the mind, as well as the inner feelings of the soul.
The phronema is the name of the mental makeup behind our thinking. It means our frame of thought. It goes beyond WHAT we think and points instead to the WAY we think. It operates just below the threshold of consciousness, and governs our mind and personality. We can call it the framework of our inner man.
The phronema is to our soul what the framework is to a house. As the frame holds up the walls and openings of the finished house, so our phronema supports our thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Hidden from sight, the frame of a building determines where the exterior materials go and whether they are straight or crooked. If there is inward irregularity, there will be outward irregularity, no matter how precious the surface material.
It is possible for crookedness to remain in our frames even after we become believers in Christ. This is because many of us never learn that God’s Kingdom can change our inner man. Sooner or later, this inner deformity, if left untouched by the Kingdom, will work its way into our thoughts, our words, and our actions—and especially our reactions. Even operations of the Holy Spirit coming through us will begin to be interpreted to suit our bent frame of thought.
But, there is hope. The inward deformity need not continue. In fact, as we come face to face with the Kingdom Christ preached, there is a demand that the crookedness be made straight. With that demand comes the power and the glory of the Kingdom to do the straightening.
The Apostle Paul spoke of this very thing in Ephesians 4:23 when he said, Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. This means, "Allow a new way of thinking and responding to come within you." This is the second of three steps Paul named by which our souls can be made new in Christ: (1) put off the old man, (2) be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and (3) put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24)
The spirit of your mind is the same as our phronema. It’s the control room of our soul.
THE ONLY New Testament passage employing the exact word phronema is Romans 8:6,7 and 27. In these verses Paul used it four times as he spoke of the difference between the new man of the Spirit and the old man of the flesh.
6 To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Literally, "The phronema of the flesh is death; but the phronema of the spirit is life and peace.")
This means: The frame of mind taking direction from carnal desire leads to death, but the frame of mind taking direction from the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Literally, "Because the phronema of the flesh is in discord with God...")
This means: Because the frame of mind taking direction from carnal desire is out of harmony with God, it stands opposed to Him. It does not even have within it the ability to become subject to His law.
27 And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, ("the phronema of the Spirit") because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
This means: The Holy Spirit, as He addresses God on our behalf, knows our spiritual, emotional, and mental makeup. Like a lion tracking its prey by scent, He examines our hearts to search out our troublesome inclinations. As He pleads our cause before God, He both takes into account our inner weakness as well as the demands of the Kingdom.
While phronema is used only in Romans 8, phroneo, the verb relating to it, is present in several important passages. Phroneo means "to have a certain frame of mind."
One of the most significant, and magnificent, insights into the framework of a person’s mind comes from a record of something that happened while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. As a prisoner he came to the end of his natural life, but something had worked its way so beautifully into his inner man that he thought more of reigning and rejoicing than he did of suffering.
Before Paul was killed, a group of Jews visited him to get from him what insight they could. They sought to touch his frame of mind—his phronema—but they probably were not prepared for what they found:
The chief men of the Jews at Rome approached Paul in jail with the following request: "We desire to hear of you what you think." (Acts 28:22). Think is from the Greek phroneo. Their request meant, "We would like to pick your mind and see how you put your thoughts together. We want to know what is your frame of thought. What makes you think, talk, act, and react as you do?"
23 So when they had arranged a day, there came many to him unto his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the Prophets, from morning till evening.
They asked to touch his phronema. In response, he expounded and testified the Kingdom of God. Paul revealed what he thought. Even though he was a prisoner, his frame of mind was that of a king. He thought in line with a kingdom—the Kingdom of God. Even though he had lost his natural liberties and was a prisoner, he still was reigning in life.
Now had it been you or I when men came to hear our thoughts, we might have talked with them of injustice to prisoners, of insanity in the shipping lines, or of our poor health and need for medical attention. Or we may have spoken of the poor conditions in which we were forced to live among vermin, in filth, with food not fit for dogs. But Paul spoke of the Kingdom.
His mind was too much in line with God’s purposes to think of self-pity. He was reigning in life with Christ. His circumstances did not alter this, so his prison became a palace from which he could speak of being seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6); of being at peace with all men (Ephesians 4:14); of being part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2: 22)
Having lost the privileges of self-determination, being a prisoner on senseless charges, and soon facing death, Paul could speak of being strengthened in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16); of being tenderhearted and extending grace to one another (Ephesians 4:32); of walking in love (Ephesians 5:20); of not contending with men but with governmental powers in the heavens (Ephesians 6:12)
How could he do this?
His frame was straightened. He had been renewed in the spirit of his mind. The Life living in him now came from the resurrected Christ. His testimony was, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13,14). Paul was in prison but he also was in Christ. Being in Christ brought a new frame of thought to him.
The Kingdom of Christ, brought into the inner workings of our souls, releases us from despair and despondency to a hope that is living and to a strength that increases daily, whatever demands may arise. When this Kingdom is set up within us, its power and triumph touches every incident, pressure, encounter, circumstance, pain, or passion that comes.
Sometimes we suffer pain while our frames are coming into line with the Kingdom. The deepest pain is that of admitting we’ve been holding on to things contrary to the Kingdom. But, when we see these and break with them, the end toward which we are set free to come is sweet and glorious.
AS WE REGARD the Scriptures having to do with the framework of the inner man, we find
The makeup of each person is different, but generally one or another of the following inclinations of the soul will be dominant in each one. More than one, maybe all of them, rise up in some of us.
We should add, however, that some of the natural ways of thinking in certain ones, even outside of Christ, if they come into His Kingdom, can fit very well into the life of the Kingdom. As example is the simplicity of a person with a childish frame. How ready that one is to believe! Or consider the concern of someone with a humanistic frame for his family. Or consider the tenacity of someone with a carnal frame. That one has something built in that, once the work is begun, can hold on till the promise of the Kingdom is sure and real.
We will consider these points of potential trouble more fully, but first, we take a brief look at these five inner structures as we have found them in Scripture. Each of these passages use either the word phronema or phroneo.
(1) Matthew 16:22, 23 points us to a person with a TRADITIONAL frame of mind.
• This demonstrates the inclination to think like one’s ancestors, to have tendencies and ways imposed by culture, race, early associations; or to think in line with any institution, particularly of a religious or political nature.
• This frame of mind puts one’s human development ahead of the Kingdom of God. While many of its tendencies seem right to the individual—because that’s the only way of life ever known—this way of thinking may stand in strong opposition to the ways of God. It will need strong judgment before His Kingdom can come into reality in the individual‘s life.
(2) In Romans 8:5-7 we find a CARNAL frame of mind.
• With this a person is ever bent toward considering his own fleshly needs and the satisfaction of carnal desires. Amazingly, this frame remains in many who try to walk in some of the ways of the Kingdom. This is extremely dangerous, however, for flesh and blood cannot inherit theKingdom. Eventually, this frame of mind will try to exert its mastery over the will and bring the downfall of the person.
(3) Romans 12:3 and 16 tells us of a HAUGHTY frame of mind.
• This causes a person always to consider himself as above or better than others.
• This frame too will try to follow one into the Kingdom, but it only sets up the person for a fall. Because the person in whom it resides never has the admiration or support from others its craves, this is a very painful frame to bear.
(4) Philippians 3:19 informs us of a NAUGHTY frame of mind.
• With this a person is always inclined toward base and impure things.
• This is a frame that tries to remain hidden but, sooner or later, rises up to take over the individual, leaving a wake of destruction in many lives.
(5) I Corinthians 13:11 tells of a CHILDISH frame of mind.
• This leads a person to remain immature in his response to life even though he may grow up physically, mentally, and to some degree, spiritually.
• This is a very painful frame of mind for one to hold, for it ever tends toward separating the person from reality and responsibility. It makes relationships with others difficult and destructive. It holds on to hurts and misconceptions set up in childhood, bringing into adult life immature actions and reactions.
AND RELEASE A NEW AND POWERFUL WAY OF LIVING.
A Traditional Frame of Mind
JESUS TOUCHED the PHRONEMA in Peter one day after he refused to hear what Jesus was saying about the cross. From their conversation we learn about a traditional frame of mind.
22 Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him saying, "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not befall Thee" (Meaning: "You’ll never die this kind of death.")
23 But He turned and said unto Peter, "Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me, for thou savourest not ("You do not have a frame of mind for") the things which be of God, but those which be of men."
Savourest, as it occurs in the above verse, is an old English word. It is from the Greek phroneo. What Jesus said to Peter meant: "You do not think and reason in line with God; you think and reason in line with the traditions of your culture." The New American Standard translation reads: You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s. The New International Version is interesting as it reads: ...You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.
Peter refused to accept from Jesus what he could not understand about the cross, and how it could relate to the Kingdom. Because of this, Jesus called him Satan, an adversary. Jesus meant, "Your frame of mind fits you for earthly realms, but not for the heavenlies. Therefore, you stand to oppose me and the Kingdom to which I belong. You are so much like a satan that I call you Satan."
This frame of mind is formed by the cultural background of a person. The input of family, race, nationality, and religion, plus what may be put in by education or institutional influence all help mold a traditional frame of mind. Occasionally some traditional ways of thinking can fit into the Kingdom, but more often there is much that opposes it.
The traditional frame of mind is one of the most rigid and unyielding there is. Often with it comes the idea, "If something does not fit into my culture, it is wrong." This blinds a person from seeing any point of view other than his own. Frequently this frame finds association with religion and holds on to strong emotion. This was Peter’s case. What he said to Jesus came out of a religious conviction and was highly emotional. But Jesus said he was speaking from a human standpoint and stood to oppose Him.
No matter what the cultural background from which a person may come, some things of that culture will try and withstand the Kingdom of Christ. This is so whether it be a Hindu village of India, the inner city of New York, or a sweet little Georgia community like the one where Glenda and I sometimes live.
An understanding of this began to come to me one day as I was ministering in Lima, Peru. Never had I met a more responsive and loving people. Yet, I found myself saying to them, "You cannot enter the Kingdom of Christ as a Peruvian."
At first I felt strange saying this. I was a giant in size compared with most of them. I came from a land of plenty compared with the standards on which most of them lived. For me to tell them they could not enter the Kingdom as Peruvians seemed out of place and full of pride.
Then the Lord spoke to me: neither could I enter the Kingdom as an American—nor as a Corley, nor as a Baptist, nor as a man of my own making. They and I must become new in Christ.
As we go into different nations teaching national pastors and workers, we know we are not to take our American culture, nor the culture of the American church. The American culture is not to spread over the world; the culture of the new man in Christ is.
When any person comes into Christ, he comes away from what he has been to become a new kind of person. Paul tells this clearly in I Corinthians 5:17. None of us is exempt. So then, if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature (literally: there is a new creation); the old things are gone. Behold! New things have come into being. The Greek word used twice in this verse for new is kainos. It is distinct from another word, neos, which also means new. Neos means something new of the same kind. Kainos means something new and different from anything ever known before. By making use of kainos, Paul spoke of a new nature not like that found naturally anywhere among men. So he used an exclamation, "Behold! The old things are gone; everything is new—like nothing else you’ve ever known!"
Dear Lord, search me and find everything in me opposing the ways and standards of Your Kingdom as they have come over on me from my cultural upbringing. I lay my life before you that you may bring me—and these I hold before You—into line with what is right in Your eyes.
MANY WHOSE LIVES lean toward Christ, have in them also a strong leaning toward carnality. There seems to be always a war going on between the Spirit of God and their fleshly desires. This leads us to consider another frame of mind that must be processed before a person can function properly with Christ in His Kingdom. It is the carnal frame of mind. Paul spoke of it in Romans.
5 For those whose lives conform to the flesh think at the direction of the flesh, while those who conform to the Spirit, at the direction of the Spirit.
6 And the mind that thinks in conformity with the Spirit tends to life and peace.
7 The mind that tends to think in line with the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not submit itself to the Law of God, nor is there sufficient power resident in it to do so.
It is possible for a person with a carnal frame of mind to find some of his greatest delights in the movings of the Holy Spirit. But, this same person can fall quickly into a kind of despair that finds release not with the Lord but in the carnality still controlling part of his soul.
Many of the steps taken toward the Kingdom by a person with a carnal frame of mind seem always to get lost. The spiritual ground gained over long periods of time is small. This soul does not want to be against Christ, but has something inside that at times—maybe in secret, maybe in fantasy—causes him to give in to the very thing he hates.
Someone with a carnal frame tends to heap condemnation on others.
Paul recognized that a frame of thought like this can exist in believers. He spoke of the people at Corinth who were enriched by Christ in all utterance and in all knowledge (I Corinthians 1:5); who had received the testimony of Christ as it was confirmed by power (1:6 and 2:4); who had come to the full operation of the gifts of the Spirit (1:7a); but to whom he had to say, And I, brothers, could not speak unto you as spiritual persons, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ (3:1)
Some of the marks of carnality in the Corinthian believers were jealousy, strife, and division (I Corinthians 3:3), immorality (5:1), and lawsuits among brothers (6:1). The reason for all of this came from the carnal frame of mind residing in so many of them.
A carnal frame, because it holds ideas against the Kingdom of Christ, attracts seducing and unclean spirits. The aim of these spirits is to cause trouble, especially in personal relationships. They bring about distorted ideas, causing one person to look on another one to gratify his or her own selfish needs. Spirits plant thoughts about others, often untrue, in carnal minds suggesting they are unfaithful, dishonest, disloyal, not carrying their own weight, or are lustful and conniving. Because of this, a carnal frame of mind welcomes jealousy, strife, division, immorality, and lawsuits.
A person with a carnal frame of mind usually holds on to insecurity and fear. This leads to frequent bouts with depression and pouting. A carnal frame makes demands of others, placing them under bondage to do and be more than they are able.
A carnal frame tends to heap condemnation on others if certain requirements aren’t met. A pastor with this frame of mind (and they do exist) will often verbally beat his congregation over problems with which he is struggling himself.
Because of childhood poverty, some persons have a carnal frame linked with the fear that there will not be enough food. They take enormous helpings at mealtime and eat like gluttons. Their craving for food goes deeper than their physical appetite, although that has become real enough. The root of the appetite goes to a frame of carnality that has little to do with food. It has to do with a longstanding personal insecurity.
Some persons, in their attempt to overcome a carnal way of thinking, develop a haughty pride and seek to elevate themselves by speaking down about others. They often do this without consciously knowing why they’re doing it. Pride like this caused division in the Corinthian church and is without doubt the cause behind much quarreling and division in the church today.
Scripture is clear in presenting carnality as a basis for personal struggle. Paul tells of his conflict with it in Romans 7:14-25. We translate the passage from the Greek because there are some important shades of meaning we need to see.
14 We instinctively know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal. This is because of having been in the past completely devoted to sin, even sold out to it as a slave.
15 As it now stands, I’m not able to form a judgment on what my labors have produced. The thing I want is the very thing I do not put into practice. What I hate is the thing I do.
16 If then I do the thing I don’t want to do, I affirm to the Law that it is good.
17 But now it is no longer myself bringing about the results, but the sin that is dwelling in me.
18 I instinctively know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my carnality. When a desire for something good is present with me, there is no understanding of how to bring it to pass.
19 As a result, I am not doing the good I want to do, but the evil that I don’t want is what I practice.
20 But if I am doing the things I don’t want to do, then it is no longer I doing them but the sin that is dwelling in me.
21 I find this principle, that when I want to do good, evil is dwelling in me.
22 I delight in the law of God after the inward man,
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
The key to Paul’s deliverance is in Verse 24. He admitted his wretchedness. In doing this, he opened the way for his deliverance. Wretched is from an interesting Greek word, talaiporos. It means "miserably tired from overwork." Paul had been working himself to death struggling with carnality.
He compared the struggle between the good and the evil in him to an ancient and horrifying Roman custom. A man convicted of murder might receive his punishment by having the dead body of his victim strapped to his back. The death and putrefaction of the corpse would work its way into the killer until death had claimed them both. To Paul his carnality was like a corpse strapped to his back. He cried out for someone to rescue him. He found that One in Jesus.
Why was the key to Paul’s deliverance in his wretchedness? It was only then that he became desperate enough for a Deliverer. His despair opened to him a new depth of salvation in Christ. (For more on the Carnal Frame and the Works of the Flesh, see Addendum.)
There is an account in Genesis 32 about Jacob who also was a carnal man on whom the Lord had laid His hand. From that account our understanding can grow still further about the way of deliverance.
Jacob and his brother Esau were both carnal, but there was a difference: Jacob was committed to the Lord, Esau to his own purposes. Esau was ready to sacrifice the permanent for the immediate. He didn’t value the Covenant God had made with his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. He didn’t place any value on his own call and purpose, nor did he regard the value of his birthright. He was wild and restless, a man who loved the rough life and what he thought were the good things of the world. One day when he came in exhausted from hunting, he found his brother cooking some red lentil soup. He cried out, "Give me some of that red, ... some of that red. "He wanted it badly enough to sell his inheritance for it. For a mess of soup he sold his birthright to Jacob. Later when we sought to regain it with tears, he couldn’t have it. Carnality takes a bitter toll.
Jacob was carnal also, but he was different. In him there was a desire for God’s call upon his life. He wanted to reach his place in God’s Kingdom so much he would go to any measure to lay hold on it. But, seeking to lay hold on it with his carnal nature brought a painful reward—fear, disappointment, insecurity, distrust, and no clear understanding of God’s ways.
But, even though Jacob was carnal, he pressed though to become a man chosen of God. Genesis 32 gives an amazing account of his transformation. Because he was carnal and because he had been dishonest toward Esau, he was afraid. For years he had not seen his brother. Now he was on the way to meet him with the thought that Esau might kill him. Out of fear, Jacob sent all his family and servants on to meet the offended brother while he remained alone over night in the wilderness.
During the night, Jacob had a Visitor and there was a struggle. Scripture simply called the Visitor "a man." And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him. There is little doubt Who it was. Out of mercy, Jesus, who said, "Before Abraham was, I am," came to Jacob. Jesus came to a man on whom rested the call of God and on whom the destiny of a chosen people lay, but who was caught in such a strain of carnality that it was an affront to the call and purpose of God.
Insights from the Genesis story help us. The Man said, "Let me go for the day breaketh. " And Jacob said, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me " (Genesis 32:26). Then the Man said unto him, "What is thy name? " And he said, "Jacob."
What a confession! Jacob means "someone who grabs another by the heel." It spoke of all this man was—a supplanter, a man mean enough to take his weak brother’s inheritance, a man miserably tired from the overwork of accomplishing his own ends. And the Man said, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and has prevailed."
And Jacob asked him, "Tell me, I pray thee, thy name." And He said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And He blessed him there.
There’s something wonderful about the word blessed. The most basic root of the Hebrew word for bless is a word which means "knee." There was something in the primal meaning of being blessed that meant having a bent knee. Could it have been that the Man who wrestled with him bent Jacob’s knee so that his thigh was crippled and he went lame from his blessing? Oh, but he was straightened inside! How much better!
Jacob named that place Peniel, "The Face of God," for he said, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." The Hebrew of the passage more exactly says, "I have seen God faces to faces and my soul is delivered." "Faces to faces" means: "The fullness of His face has looked on the fullness of my face. I have seen all of Him I can bear; He has seen all of me. Nothing has been concealed. In that I am delivered."
What was the secret of Jacob’s overcoming? He wrestled. But too little is known of this today. Too often it is the attitude expressed in "Well this is the way God made me" that prevails. Occasionally there is a man, or a woman, who rises, as did Paul and Jacob, to overcome their carnality—though they go limping from their blessing.
PAUL MENTIONS in I Corinthians 4:6 another frame of mind that causes trouble. He said his desire for the Corinthians was that they might be made free from a frame of mind that set some up and put others down. This leads us to consider:
I Corinthians 4
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes: that you might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed against another.
Allow me some personal reference at this point. Under the light of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, I’ve seen that basic in my makeup has been a haughty frame of mind, given me by some years of encounter with my natural father. He was a blessed man in many ways, but one who compensated for his own lacks by pointing out the weakness of others. For example, I was brought up to think that anyone who lived on "B— Avenue" was "common," and I was to stay away from them. I would not have said this, nor even admitted it to myself, but half-consciously I came to think this way.
Significantly, I noted that most of the Full Gospel churches in town were on "B— Avenue." This helped program me to consider that persons who believed the "Full Gospel" were of a lower class than those who worshiped otherwise. This, of course, did not bear up under the inspection of God’s light.
The need to excel followed me into my laying hold on God. (I do not speak in this way of my relationship with Him now. I’ve come to see that it was He Who laid hold on me, not I Him.) I had the need to pray more than anyone else and the need to study the Scriptures more than anyone else. As good and right as these activities are, they were attached to a frame in me that constantly said, "I am better than most other people."
When I was in college in the early days of preparing for the ministry, I lived on the fifth floor of a dormitory. From my window I could see the windows of another dormitory. I studied late each night and rose early each morning to pray. One morning on arising I looked out and saw a light in one of the rooms next door. I concluded someone must be more diligent than I in seeking the Lord. To make sure no one was more devoted than I, the next morning I arose earlier, but found that the light next door was already burning. For several days this happened. Finally I decided to walk over and find who was praying and studying more than I. What I found was no bedroom at all; it was a lounge where the light burned all night. My haughty frame actually had made me silly in seeking the Lord.
A haughty frame of mind like the one I had carries with it a great sense of insecurity and is never sure of itself. It always needs the approval of others and feels it must continually prove itself to others. Because of this, a haughty frame is never at rest.
This kind of frame also worked in me an intolerance for anyone of lesser skill, drive, or discernment. It caused me to hold in contempt anyone whom I regarded as lazy, or who lacked social grace, or who was prone to mistakes. I never considered that both in them, and in myself, there was a great deal of crookedness that could only be straightened by the Lord.
God loves us who are committed to Him so much that He will not allow this frame to continue. He will work enough humbling experience into us to crumble the haughtiness. Yet He will work mercifully and with skill in bringing us to the place where we can walk in the dirt with the most common man and still reign over princes who rule in the land.
ALSO RESIDENT IN SOME is a tendency to be taken up with the base things of the world and moral filth. This is because of:
Paul speaks of this in Philippians 3:19, where he describes those whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly (their appetite) and whose glory is their shame; who mind earthly things.
That such should find entrance into the church is born out by the testimony of many who, like an Elmer Gantry invented in a novel by Sinclair Lewis, preach and then lust. Alas, how often does fornication flow in the stream of Christian service!
Why do some possessing spiritual gifts and truth fall into immorality? It is because a base frame of mind has never been straightened even though truth and ministry gifts have been applied to its exterior.
There are many who take great strides toward Kingdom life, and experience some of its realities, but who continue the struggle with moral uncleanness. This fascination with vulgarity and indecency almost always begins with fantasy and daydreams. As long as these remain a mental activity, the matter is usually not considered serious enough to receive attention. Unfortunately, there are few in whom these continue simply as an activity of the mind.
It is possible to have enough commitment and dedication to meet the most demanding standards set by the church, and yet maintain a frame of mind that thinks on things lustful, indecent, improper, and very offensive to the Holy Spirit.
This is very dangerous.
Dedication to Christ, and to His church, imposed from outside the soul can leave the control room of the soul untouched. The war that will rage in such a person eventually will wear the soul down. When the dedication tires or wavers, as is certain to happen in such a one, the indecent thoughts will arise and exercise their rule over the will. They only wait for the moment of fatigue and spiritual depression.
Sometimes it takes outward moral failure to open up a soul with a naughty frame to the grace of God. Then, even though grace and forgiveness is real, a trail of sorrow and regret often remains. Ministry like that described in Putting off the Old Man is then needed.
There is little discernment in the Body of Christ with regard to naughtiness. Even leaders are overcome by it. All too frequently, ministers lead congregations with apparent success while living double lives. The first time I became aware that things like this exist was a number of years ago during a small Bible conference. Different ones ministered. A man of whom we’d all heard came among us. He’d been featured in an early edition of the Full Gospel BusinessMen’s VOICE magazine, a publication demanding our respect. Traveling with this man was his "wife" whom he affectionately called "my Beloved."
Never had I heard a man speak so intimately of love. Before the group and in every conversation he told of the glory and beauty of God’s love as it finds expression in human relationships. He said the love he shared with his "beloved" went beyond physical expression. He spoke of the persecution that had come to them because they had decided to walk in this love. Even their children had been taken from them.
The women present were especially moved. Some of them wept. I felt strangely cold and could not respond. But I was more prone at that time to judge myself for not responding to such a beautiful ministry than to consider something might be wrong in it.
The man and his "beloved" found it necessary to leave before the conference concluded. They were scheduled to minister in other places. After their departure, some who remained discussed them. One said, "Did you ever see a man so in love with his wife?" Another said, "Did you ever hear such a message on love?" Yet another said, "Did you ever see anyone suffer so for the Gospel?" I felt condemned because I could not respond.
There was present in that conference another man in whom the Holy Spirit moved with discernment. He said, "That couple was not real. Their testimony was false."
Others responded with, "How could you say such a thing? Didn’t you feel the love in them?"
Later the report came that this man’s real wife had been left in a mental hospital. She had broken down while living with him because of his double life. His children had been taken from him because he was not caring for them. And the woman with whom he was traveling as his "beloved" had formerly worked as his secretary. They were not husband and wife, nor was theirs a valid ministry to the Body of Christ. Though they claimed their love was "pure" and above physical expression, later she gave birth to a child of their union.
One of the saddest things about this story is that there was so little discernment in the believers who heard this couple. They could not detect the wrong. But it was also sad there could be such a beautiful ministry attached to such a naughty frame.
In Scripture are two powerful examples of persons with naughty frames who also sought to lead Israel— Balaam and David. They both prophesied, though Balaam was never called a prophet. He was called a soothsayer (Joshua 13:22)
Numbers 24 records the "prophesying" of Balaam. Some of it was so beautiful it took on Messianic proportions, but let us see what it accomplished among the people. Numbers 24:25, the last verse of the chapter, tells that after he finished speaking, Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place. He left the camp after giving his "prophecy." The first verse of the next chapter tells what effect he had on the people. And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab (Numbers 25:1).
In Revelation 2:14 Jesus said Balaam taught the people to commit fornication. Now there is no record of such teaching. Instead, what he was as a person taught the people. A minister with an unbroken naughty frame imparts his way of thinking to the people who receive his ministry.
Three passages in the New Testament tell of Balaam. II Peter 2:15 tells of the way of Balaam.
Jude 11 tells of the error of Balaam. Revelation 2:14 tells of the doctrine of Balaam. In each passage, we find there are those who follow Balaam and there are those who follow those who follow him. The way and the error and the doctrine of Balaam continue as long as those who have naughty frames and love the wages of unrighteousness continue to minister.
What about David? He too had a naughty frame. How did he differ from Balaam? In two ways: (1) he was committed to the Kingdom of God and (2) he repented of his sin. Psalm 51 gives us insight into his repentance.
Verse 5—"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity. (David meant, "This I confess: Sin is in the very framework of my personality."
Verse 6—"Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts." (David meant, "I understand that You, O Lord, want to establish your truth in the framework of my soul.")
Verse 10 —Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. (David meant: "I bring my inner man to You so you can make it into a new creation.")
What a similarity between David and Balaamn! And yet, what contrast! They both were crooked to the core, but David learned a secret. He expressed it in Verse 17 of the above Psalm—The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
IN I CORINTHIANS 13:11 Paul reveals another frame of mind residing in the makeup of many persons. This is:
I Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
Thought is from phroneo. The statement means: "I had a frame of mind like a child."
It is possible to achieve greatness in intellectual and physical realms, and even to some extent in spiritual realms, and still remain a child inside. Many never grow up emotionally and spiritually and so never put away childish things. Their frame of thought remains that of a child.
A childish bent in one’s inner frame can cause a husband or wife to pout for days without telling the other why. When it finally comes to light and after much damage is done to the relationship, it might come out that it was something as trivial as that of the wife who ate a hamburger on Friday offending her husband who for religious reasons did not eat meat on Friday. He refused to speak to her for days before he would tell her why.
Sadly, pouting is a childish method following the private lives of many ministers. Restrained from using the methods of retaliation and fighting employed in many godless marriages, they resort to this more silent, but terribly cruel, method.
Pouting springs from an area of being that refuses to grow up. It finds itself in company with things like temper tantrums, touchiness, selfishness, arguing, always being on the defensive, and fighting. Persons with childish frames of mind are rarely able to see things from another’s point of view. Sometimes they resort to fits of anger when forced to face someone who will not give in, or to whimpering and whining when not allowed to carry out their own plans.
A childish frame of mind can develop in a person to make up for some lack in his or her early years. Things like early poverty, lack of security or love, the absence of parental discipline, or too much disciplined, can all leave their permanent mark on a mental frame. Other things like traumatic fear, severe scolding that turns into humiliation, plus the many resentments that develop in young years also help to bend one’s inner man out of shape.
Some things occurring early in the life of some come like shocks knocking the framework of the inner man into contortion. Many souls seek to build lives with such crooked frames it is a small wonder they ever reach any achievement at all. Inner deformity like this will court self-pity and try to find help from any source available. How destructive this can become!
Lessons We Have Learned
SOME OF THE greatest lessons Glenda and I have learned have come out of desperation. In some areas we have been terrible offenders. But in these offences, we have been forced to find answers. Time and again we have found that answers to our inner problems come out of a close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And, we have come to know there is hope for bent and wounded souls.
Sometimes the answers come unexpectedly. One time I asked Glenda to wake up in the middle of the night that we might pray together. It had suddenly come to me that some of my troublesome ways of thinking had come out of some unpleasant times in my youth. Seeing my bent frame and seeing my need for help was a great step toward becoming whole. Who knows why I was convicted in the middle of the night. Perhaps it was then my soul became still to hear the Lord.
Glenda grew up with little parental care or discipline. Born the tenth child to a mother and father prone to alcohol, she learned little about proper family relationships with mutual love and interaction. When she was growing up, she tells she often got out of responsibilities, like washing up dishes or cleaning house, by throwing temper tantrums. Since these were never followed by discipline, it became fixed in her frame of thought that anger could make the way for her will. This worked its way into her inner person and became part of her subconscious way of thinking. When she became an adult, the childish frame remained to cause trouble.
Couldn’t we expect the mercy of God to overlook the ways of thinking that take hold during some childhood misery? Won’t He receive into His Kingdom anyone with a misshapen inner man? Yes! Indeed! He does receive people with broken and deformed inner selves, but the mercy of His Kingdom demands that the deformity be exposed and broken, and then straightened.
So, What is the Possibility for the Framework of Your Inner Man?
THE WORKING of the answer must come from God to each person. We would not dare attempt to set down a formula that will work for everyone. Some of us are so complex in our inner makeup and have frames so crooked that only the Holy Spirit Himself can bring about a straightening.
Not everyone with a carnal mind has the desperation of Jacob, nor the seriousness of his problem. Not everyone has the wretchedness of Paul, nor can they open right up to the depth of revelation that came to him.
Nor can everyone with a haughty frame like mine wait for the humiliation of failure and the refusal of the Lord to take away His calling, so that from the dust heap of loss they can take up the pieces of a broken life and put them back together.
Not everyone with a naughty frame like David knows how to long for inner wholeness and then write beautifully about it so that others can know there is hope for them also.
Not everyone knows how to become still enough like the old brother who went periodically into the woods to crawl into a hollow log and wait fifteen days for his spirit to become still enough for the Lord to speak to him.
But there is something that can start the work in every one, even the most oppressed. It will work for all, only it takes a little discipline. It is contained in the following simple procedure. It is a small step anyone can take but it can result in the making anew of the inner man.
This step regards the fact that the Lord works most powerfully in us while we are still before Him, which many have difficulty becoming. However, there is a time everyday when we each become still. This can become a time of being made new. It is when we sleep. It is a discipline that, if continued for six months—quite privately—can make one into a new person.
As a discipline, pray this prayer each time before retiring. "Lord, send Your Holy Spirit to work in my inner man while I sleep. Straighten and heal within me anything that grieves You and that makes me unfit for your Kingdom."
There are SEVEN MAIN AVENUES
by which Deliverance and Healing can come.
Briefly stated, they are:
(2) By the casting out and driving away of unclean and seducing spirits
(3) By acknowledging the work accomplished through the Lord Jesus in His death on the Cross and in His Resurrection.
(4) By receiving the engrafted Word of God and walking in its power.
(5) By allowing the Holy Spirit and the operation of His gifts to move without hindrance.
(6) By associating with and functioning with the Body of Christ.
(7) By taking time each day, even for a few moments, during your best hours, to be still before the Lord, read His Word, and pray.
Through each of these the Lord works to set us free from a broken and deformed inner man, making us ready for His Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul, like the Prophet Elijah, was a man subject to like passion as we are. He admitted his weaknesses. But, he found answers—in Christ.
Through what he came to know of the living Christ, he developed into a man with an inner frame in line with the Kingdom of God.
It may be while Paul was prisoner in Rome that he became still enough for the Lord to work in his inner man. It was while he was in prison that he wrote to the Philippians. In that Letter he revealed details about his frame of thought. The controlling force in his life had come to be not from the flesh but from the indwelling Christ. The breakings and disruptions brought upon him served well to crowd him into this.
Since much of Philippians is an insight into the framework of Paul’s inner man, we should consider some of what he said. In 3:7-14 he tells what had worked into his frame of thought with regard to some of life’s most important issues. They are the same issues in which many of us become perverted when our inner man remains crooked.
Some of the issues Paul addressed were: One’s Position in Life, Possessions, What Makes a Person Right with God, and Personal Goals and Ambitions. These are basic matters that need to be settled before the power of Christ’s Kingdom can work its way into any life.
J.B. Phillips interpretation of this Philippian passage is excellent. We borrow from him to give Paul’s testimony.
From Philippians 3:7 we find Paul’s frame of thought concerning his Position in Life and concerning his Possessions: "Every advantage that I had gained I considered loss for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ."
In Philippians 3:9 we find what he said about Being Right with the Law of God. "My place is in Him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ."
From Philippians 3:10-14 we find his response concerning his Goals and Ambitions: "How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power of His resurrection: now I long to share His sufferings, even to die as He died, so that I may perhaps attain as He did the resurrection of the dead. Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have ‘arrived’ spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ Jesus grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward, the honor of my high calling by God in Christ Jesus." Then Paul said, "Let us therefore, as many as be mature, have this same frame of mind" (Philippians 3:15)
In PHILIPPIANS 2:5 Paul told the perfect condition into which the framework of our inner man can be brought. He said, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus". The word mind is from the Greek phroneo at which we looked in the beginning. The statement means: "Let the same way of thinking, the same frame of mind, the same phronema, which was in Christ Jesus be in you. Let it control your thoughts, your ideas, your ambitions, and your desires. Let it work its way into all your life."
Paul doesn’t elaborate on how we may achieve this. For him the key was in one word: let. This means "allow it to happen." Allow the mind of Christ to work its way into the framework of your inner man.
It can happen. Be still and let it
PRAYER: Lord, I remain still before You so You can show me the crookedness of my inner man. I cannot straighten myself out, but You can. Thank You for bearing patiently with me. Now I ask You for mercy— healing mercy, in Jesus Name.
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