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Lesson 129 of 225
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To Your Fingertips

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Emotional Stability No. 4

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

I remember so often at home I was always ready to dream, and my mother in her kind of cynical, but really down-to-earth way would say, “Yes, but Ernest it has to get down to where you live. It has to get down to your finger tips.” And of course, as all budding idealists would, I would feel rather resentful of that whole idea. But that’s really what we’re talking about in these evenings. Is our faith just something that we talk about and that we proclaim, or is it really in our fingers, our hands, and our day-to-day dealings with each other? And only if it is, is there any kind of life that passes from one to another.

This morning we were talking about honor. It’s a popular phrase today which I don’t terribly like, but it has a lot to do with body language. It has a lot to do with the unseen things, or the unsaid things. They do a great deal to show whether you honor a person or respect a person, or not. It seems that it’s the same with this life of Jesus coming through us to others. It has more to do with the unsaid things than it has to do with the spoken things.

What Watchman Nee is pointing out in his book we’re studying, The Release of the Spirit, is our personality equipment is badly suited for that – because for years it has been used for the very opposite. It has been used really to deify ourselves, to gratify ourselves, to set forth ourselves, and to make Gods of ourselves. So our minds, and emotions, and our wills have been ground into that pattern for years. Then suddenly Jesus finds himself incased in what becomes a prison. Of course we know it so often ourselves.

In The Release of the Spirit on page 34, Nee writes that the only answer is for the inward man where the spirit is — where Jesus is — and the outward man, to become one. About more than half way down the page he says, “Until this happens, the inward and the outward man are at odds with each other, each acting independently of the other.”

Actually, it’s just so easy. We dumb men are expert at this, and I’m sure you ladies have some experience of it too. But you find yourself playing to the gallery. You find yourself having developed little eyes that look out to see if somebody is laughing at your joke, or look out to see if somebody thinks you’re a great guy, or you’re watching out to see: are you saying what other people want you to say?

And I certainly remember for years, I was very captured by that, or imprisoned, or enchained by that. I certainly remember for years being very concerned about what people thought and, “How did they react to this?” and if I said the right thing.

Sometimes I’d like to say, “Oh well, my mother. She has an inferiority complex, and she passed it on to me.” But really, there comes a time where you have to stop blaming your mother and everyone else, and you have to say, “Okay, the inferior complex — if it’s anywhere, it’s in you. There’s this desire to please and to say the right thing. And am I saying the same things that the crowd are saying?” So your mind and emotions are trained to do that.

Then suddenly, you found the Spirit of Jesus in you. And there come certain moments in a conversation — even in an evening like this evening — where someone says something, and you know Jesus doesn’t necessarily want to go that way. But the old mind and emotions are like little

trained monkeys, just all ready to jump right down the same road.

You find that your mind and emotions — your outward man — are going their own independent way. It’s as if you inside Jesus are almost saying, “Wait. I don’t want to go that way. That’s not what I want to do. I want to say this.” And that’s what Nee means. He means that even for people who are fully surrendered to Jesus, there is a problem that they find with their outward personality equipment — that has been trained in the direction of self-deification, instead of Christ-deification.

Of course he puts it pretty strongly. He says that, “Actually those powers of yours are so strong and have been so bred into you for so many years, that they have to be broken, just broken.” And of course, we’re very reluctant to believe that.

Yet that’s what has to happen. Time after time after time, we have to go home, and turn on our sides in the bed and think, “What a clown I was. Why did I say that? Why do I just keep blabbering away the way everybody else seems to want me to blabber? Why can I not be what Jesus is?” And again, and again we just have to come to those times where we at least have revelation. But what Nee is saying is, “God will continue to bring you into situations which will break you of those powers.”

In other words, you’ll have disastrous relationships. You’ll have disastrous experiences. You’ll find yourself encased in little pockets where nobody else can relate to you, or you can relate to nobody else, and you’ll feel, “I’m being squeezed to death.” That’s part of what God means when he talks about this. You might look at it in the Bible. They are verses that we’ve read so often, but they’re just so deep, that you need to keep looking back at them in moments like that.

It’s 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure,” Jesus, “in earthen vessels,” inside our personalities, “to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed.” I think we come to those moments, and we think, “This couldn’t be just a breaking of my personality powers. This is a downright defeat. This is a failure on my part to trust God” — and it may well be that — but we see it primarily as a defeat. While we do, it’s because the self is still governing things. The self doesn’t see it as, “afflicted in every way, but not crushed.” But we see it as really being crushed.

It reminded me of what I felt with the Campus Church {church Rev. O’Neill pastored} situation at times. I remember, God showing me, “I’m shaking what can be shaken.” And it suddenly dawned on me, “And I’m holding on to it, and you’re shaking me too.”

That’s what it means. You don’t see it as being “afflicted, but not crushed.” But you’re holding on to it. The self is really with that little imitating monkey that is trying to please everybody.

You’re really identifying with that thing that God is trying to break. So of course he’s going to break you too if you won’t let go. So that’s part of what Nee means — that the things that we come into in our daily experiences are often breaking experiences that God is allowing to come, to break off the part of us that is not under his control. And it’s important for us to pray, “Lord, give me revelation so that I can see that.” Because until you see it, you won’t be willing to cooperate with God in the actual breaking of those powers.

Nee goes on, “When we are broken, the outward man is brought under control of the inward, thus unifying our personality so that the shattered outward man may be a channel for the inward man.” The shattered outward man. I think we’re a little bit reluctant to believe that, because we learn about nervous breakdowns, and we think, “No, no. I’m here to be competent, cool, calm, and collected. I’m here to be a smoothie. That’s my job. Now don’t get too excited here. You certainly don’t want your outward man shattered.” Yet it’s important for us to see that that’s what it means.

If we’re going to be possessed by the Lord of glory, and the tender shepherd of Galilee, then it means that our outward man — the way our mind, emotions, and will have worked together for years — has to be shattered and broken. Of course, we always think in our conceited way, “Lord, I’m Eric Liddell {Olympian athlete and Christian man from Scotland}. I’m Eric Liddell. I am a fast sprinter. I am here in the Olympics. I have been a rugby player. I’m here, Lord. Use me now here when I’m full of strength, and full of power, and I’m in the prime of my life. Use me and set forth Jesus before the whole world through me.”

And we always think, “That’s the way God will do it. He won’t do it through a shattered personality, and he won’t do it through an Eric Liddell — who has a tumor on the brain and is dying in some confusion and some shame at his own mental confusion, in a Japanese prison camp.” But who of us in this room would question that God did not use Eric Liddell more powerfully after he went to heaven than when he was here on earth? But we are very reluctant to believe that God is able to break through with his life through a shattered personality. So we’re very reluctant to present our personalities to God and say, “Lord, shatter me if you need to. Break down all the powers that I am putting in place of you.”

So that’s what he means by a shattered personality. He explains it a little: “Now it must be recognized that a unified personality may often characterize an unsaved person.” And you can see that. There are many people who aren’t Christians who have unified personalities. “But in this case the inward man is under the control of the outward man.” So of course, the inward man is utterly dominated. “Though the human spirit exists, it is so beaten by the outward man that it can at best only raise some contentious protests.

So, most of the integrated personalities that you see outside Jesus are in that situation. They just go with the flow. The outward man is governed by the outward world, and he governs the inward man. “The inward man is utterly dominated by the outward man. However, after one is saved, it is God’s intention that he should experience a reversal of this order. As much as his outward man controlled the inward before he was saved, so now his inward man should hold absolute sway over his outward man.”

And then he uses the little illustration. “We can use bicycling as an illustration. On flat ground, we pedal the bicycle and the wheels roll along the road. . . . Similarly when our inward man is strong and the outward man is broken, we ‘pedal’ and the ‘wheels’ roll along the road. We can decide whether to continue or stop and how fast to go.” The inward man is in control.

In the case of a bicycle on a down slope, however, the wheels rotate without pedaling at all, for the road seems to urge us along. In like manner, “if our outward man is hard and unbroken, it will be like coasting down an incline out of control.”

“Should the Lord be gracious to us and level out the slope” (of our experience) “by breaking the

outward man, so that he can no longer give counsel and make decisions independently, we shall be as those who are able to properly use their spirit.”

Of course, I took the example of wanting to please people, and that’s a pretty crude one. It seems to me there are all kinds of finer situations. There are moments in a store with a customer where Jesus would go along with them so far. He would go along in conversation with some of these generalizations they make. He doesn’t agree with the things they’re saying, but he goes along with it.

Then there comes a moment when his spirit would disagree and would voice that. And if we do, then his life is manifested, and the conversation can often lead on to something real. Or it can leave an impression with that customer that they will think about next week and that some other people will build upon for a revelation of God.

But at that critical moment, it’s vital that our outward man is broken, and that even though we’ve gone with the conversation so far, we are able to voice Jesus’ real view of things at that moment.

It could be a view of politics. It could be a view of just the way we get on together as human beings. It could even be a view of the product you’re selling. But there often come moments when Jesus himself would voice something that really we know will stop the flow a little. At that moment our personality — the bicycle — is running down hill and it just carries itself along {– if we don’t let our inward man direct our outward man – by saying what Jesus would have us say}.

There are certain moments I think in looking for the right motel, in looking for the right service station — when Jesus himself would just go the way it’s going. He would just go along with it. And then there are certain moments when he would stop. Certain moments when he would run off on a tangent — out in some other direction. It’s critical that at those moments our outward man is moldable and under his control.

So it is a fine thing. I think it goes with Smith Wigglesworth {an evangelist who lived in England}. We often think of Wigglesworth as being a wild man. You remember, at times he would do things that we would say, “That’s ridiculous! That was done in the soul and the power of the flesh.” There were times in his meetings when he would take a person who had something wrong with their legs and he would actually almost run them around the hall. And we would say, “That’s ridiculous. That’s back to that old pretending, that psychic power — trying to psych them up to walk.”

But repeatedly you sensed that the man was under the control of Jesus’ Spirit, and was willing to do things that his own personality would not normally do. Yet at other moments he was surprisingly tender and quiet and gentle with people. So that’s part of what we’re talking about. But Jesus being able to touch the world actually has to be through our hands, through our eyes, through our feet, through our tongues, and through our ears. He actually wants to touch the world.

But his touch can only come if we are at his disposal, and if our outward powers have been broken and brought under his guidance. So it’s a great life he has called us to. But it does involve a complete change and a complete transformation. And it certainly means that we no longer think of our personalities as sacred and belonging to us. This change leads us to pray that God will bring us into the place where he’s able to move freely through us. But I’ve certainly seen that if you don’t go on to this, then you can step back even from your submission regarding your selfish will.

You can step back from even a clean heart if you don’t go on in this way — because of course the Holy Spirit cannot be stopped or blocked without being grieved. And as soon as you start grieving him, you’re moving back from him and you’re moving away from life and towards death. So it does seem all of a piece. It’s a whole ball of wax. It’s a whole work that God has done to us in Jesus on Calvary.