Inside and Outside

When we are speaking of persons both the inside and the outside are important. Starting with Christ; he is image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). This we might say is the outside. It is what is seen. That is the idea of an image. However, in the case of Christ, his being the image of God was not just a superficial thing. Behind the image was a great reality. In him all the fulness [of the Godhead] was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19).

When we come to ourselves; the way we obtain salvation has both an inward and outward aspect. It is said: "The word is near thee, in thy mouth (the outward thing) and in thy heart (the inward thing): that is, the word of faith, which we preach: that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth (the outward thing) Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart (the inward thing) that God has raised him from among [the] dead, thou shalt be saved. For with [the] heart is believed to righteousness; and with [the] mouth confession made to salvation" (Romans 10:8-10).

If we think of fruitbearing; we find that in the parable of the sower, the seed that fell by the wayside was eaten by the birds. It did not produce fruit because it never took root. The sowing was abortive. The seed that fell on the rocky places did not have any real root so that when the sun came up it dried up. In the first case we may say there was no reality and no profession, but in the second case there was some profession which collapsed when tested. There was nothing real underneath. In the third case there was some reality underneath but there was defect on the outside because the plant was choked by thorns. In the last case there was both root and fruit (the inside - the unseen; and the outside - the seen). We need therefore to have a solid spiritual base inside, but the object is that there should be fruit for God in our lives; fruit that will be evident to all. (Matthew 13:1-23; Luke 8:4-15)

Then there is the parable of the two houses in Luke's Gospel. The man that built on the ground without a foundation represents a person who has no solid base in himself. He is all for what is outward and his profession will collapse when tested. The man, however, who dug and went deep and built his house upon the rock had a solid base and his profession withstood the storm. He was not one who just made a profession. He had a solid foundation underneath. (Luke 6:48/49)

In the Old Testament the law dealt largely with what was outward: what persons should do or not do. The first nine commandments related to acts of the outward man. Only the last; "Thou shalt not covet" dealt with what was inward. Paul tells us that it was this one that found him out (Romans 7:7/8). The Pharisees in the time of Christ were busy making an outward show of religious zeal but inwardly they were all wrong. Christ could see through them and made it quite clear that their righteousness was an outward show and not acceptable to God. He said: "For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness surpass [that] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of the heavens" (Matthew 5:20). Again he said: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within they are full of rapine and intemperance" (Matthew 23:25). This does not mean that Christ was only concerned with what we are inside because he went on to say: " Blind Pharisee, make clean first the inside of the cup and of the dish, that their outside also may become clean " (Matthew 23:26).

It may be noted that though the commandments and ordinances in the Old Testament almost entirely concerned the outward man, there is much in the Psalms and Prophets which show how necessary it is for us to be inwardly right as well as outwardly doing what is in accordance with the law. For instance we have: "Behold, thou wilt have truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden [part] thou wilt make me to know wisdom" (Psalm 51:6) and "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10). Again we have: "Wash thy heart, Jerusalem, from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" (Jeremiah 4:14) and "Turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Jehovah your God" (Joel 2:12/13).

The New Testament stresses what is inward, though what is outward is not neglected. In Romans 2:28/29 we have: "For he is not a Jew who [is] one outwardly, neither that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he [is] a Jew [who is so] inwardly; and circumcision, of the heart, in spirit, not in letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God." It was necessary for Paul to say this because the Jews were concerned so much with what was outward, in particular, their religious heritage which they inherited by natural birth. Faith, which the New Testament makes so much of, is an inward matter and stands in contrast to works which are outward: "For ye are saved by grace, through faith;... not on the principle of works, that no one might boast " (Ephesians 2: 8/9). However, this does not mean that Paul in saying this denigrated works, because he goes on to say in verse 10: "For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works".