ANYONE who serves God will discover sooner or
later that the great hindrance to his work is not others but himself.
will discover that his outward man and his inward man are not in
for both are tending toward opposite directions. He will also sense the
inability of his outward man to submit to the spirit's control, thus
him incapable of obeying God's highest commands. He will quickly detect
that the greatest difficulty lies in his outward man, for it hinders
from using his spirit.
The Importance of Brokenness
Many of God's servants are not able to do even the most elementary
works. Ordinarily they should be enabled by the exercise of their
spirit to know God's word, to discern the spiritual condition of
another, to send forth God's messages under anointing and to receive
God's revelations. Yet due to the distractions of the outward man,
their spirit does not seem to function properly. It is basically
because their outward man has never been dealt with. For this reason
revival, zeal, pleading and activity are but a waste of tune. As we
shall see, there is just one basic dealing which can enable man to be
useful before God: brokenness.
Inward Man and the Outward Man
Notice how the Bible divides man into two parts: "For I delight in the
law of God according to the inward man" (Rom. 7:22). Our inward man
delights in the Law of God. ". . . To be strengthened with power by his
Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16). And Paul also tells us, "But if
indeed our outward man is consumed, yet the inward is renewed day by
day" (2 Cor. 4:16).
When God comes to indwell us by His Spirit, life and power, He comes
into our spirit which we are calling the inward man. Outside of this
inward man is the soul wherein function our thoughts, emotions and
will. The outermost man is our physical body. Thus we will speak of the
inward man as the spirit, the outer man as the soul and the outermost
man as the body. We must never forget that our inward man is the human
spirit where God dwells, where His Spirit mingles with our spirit. Just
as we are dressed in clothes, so our inward man "wears" an outward man:
the spirit "wears" the soul. And similarly, the spirit and soul "wear"
the body. It is quite evident that men are generally more conscious of
the outer and outermost man, and they hardly recognize or understand
their spirit at all.
We must know that he who can work for God is the one whose inward man
can be released. The basic difficulty of a servant of God lies in the
failure of the inward man to break through the outward man. Therefore
we must recognize before God that the first difficulty to our work is
not in others but in ourselves. Our spirit seems to he wrapped in a
covering so that it cannot easily break forth. If we have never learned
how to release our inward man by breaking through the outward man, we
are not able to serve. Nothing can so hinder us as this outward man.
Whether our works are fruitful or not
depends upon whether our outward man leas been broken by the Lord so
the inward man can pass through that brokenness and come forth. This is
the basic problem. The Lord wants to break our outward man in order
the inward man may have a way out. When the inward man is released,
unbelievers and Christians will be blessed.
Has Its Way of Breaking
The Lord Jesus tells us in John 12, "Except the grain of wheat falling
into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much
Life is in the grain of wheat, but there is a shell, a very hard shell
the outside. As long as that shell is not split open, the wheat cannot
sprout and grow. "Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die
. . . " What is this death? It is the cracking open of the shell
through the working together of temperature, humidity, in the soil.
Once the shell is split
open, the wheat begins to grow. So the question here is not whether
is life within, but whether the outside shell is cracked open.
The Scripture continues by saying, "He that loves his life (Greek,
soul) shall lose it, and he that hates his life (Greek, soul) in this
world shall keep it to life eternal" (v. 25). The Lord shows us here
that the outer
shell is our own life (our soul life), while the life within is the
life which He has given to us. To allow the inner life to come forth,
is imperative that the outward life be replaced. Should the outward
unbroken, the inward would never be able to come forth.
It is necessary (in this writing) that we direct these words to that
group of people who have the Lord's life. Among those who possess the
the Lord can be found two distinct conditions: one includes those in
life is confined, restricted, imprisoned and unable to come forth; the
includes those in whom the Lord has forged a way, and life is thus
The question thus is not how to obtain life, but rather how to allow
this life to come forth. When we say we need the Lord to break us, this
is not merely a way of speaking, nor is it only a doctrine. It is vital
that we be broken by the Lord. It is not that the life of the Lord
the earth, but rather that His life is imprisoned by us. It is not that
the Lord cannot bless the church, but that the Lord's life is so
within us that there is no flowing forth. If the outward man remains
we can never be a blessing to His church, and we cannot expect the word
of God to be blessed by Him through us!
Alabaster Box Must Be Broken
The Bible tells of the pure spikenard. God purposely used this
term "pure" in His word to show that it is truly spiritual. But if the
alabaster box is not broken, the pure spikenard will not flow forth.
Strange to say, many are still treasuring the alabaster box, thinking
that its value exceeds that of the ointment. Many think that their
outward man is more precious than their inward man. This becomes the
problem in the church. One will
treasure his cleverness, thinking he is quite important; another will
his own emotions, esteeming himself as an important person; others
regard themselves, feeling they are better than others, their eloquence
surpasses that of others, their quickness of action and exactness of
are superior, and so forth. However, we are not antique collectors; we
not vase admirers; we are those who desire to smell only the fragrance
the ointment. Without the breaking of the outward, the inward will not
forth. Thus individually we have no flowing out, but also the church
not have a living way. Why then should we hold ourselves as so
if our outward contains instead of releases the fragrance?
The Holy Spirit has not ceased working. One event after another, one
thing after another, comes to us. Each disciplinary working of the Holy
Spirit has but one purpose: to break our outward man so that our inward
man may come through. Yet here is our difficulty: we fret over trifles,
we murmur at small losses. The Lord is preparing a way to use us, yet
scarcely has His hand touched us when we feel unhappy, even to the
extent of quarreling with God and becoming negative in our attitude.
Since being saved,
we have been touched many times in various ways by the Lord, all with
purpose of breaking our outward man. Whether we are conscious of it or
the aim of the Lord is to break this outward man.
So the Treasure is in the earthen vessel, but if the earthen vessel is
not broken, who can see the Treasure within? What is the final
of the Lord's working in our lives? It is to break this earthen vessel,
to break our alabaster box, to crack open our shell. The Lord longs to
a way to bless the world through those who belong to Him.
is the way of blessing, the way of fragrance, the way of fruitfulness,
it is also a path sprinkled with blood. Yes, there is blood from many
When we offer ourselves to the Lord to be at His service, we cannot
to be lenient, to spare ourselves. We must allow the Lord utterly to
our outward man, so that He may find a way for His out working.
Each of us must find out for himself what is the mind of the Lord in
his life. It is a most lamentable fact that many do not know what is
the mind or intention of the Lord for their lives. How much they need
for Him to
open their eyes, to see that everything which comes into their lives
be meaningful. The Lord has not wasted even one thing. To understand
Lord's purpose, is to see very clearly that He is aiming at a single
the breaking of the outward man.
However, too many, even before the Lord raises a hand, are already
upset. Oh, we must realize that all the experiences, troubles and
the Lord sends us are for our highest good. We cannot expect the Lord
give better things, for these are His best. Should one approach the
and pray, saying, "O Lord, please let me choose the best," I believe He
would tell him, "What I have given you is the best; your daily trials
for your greatest profit." So the motive behind all the orderings of
is to break our outward man. Once this occurs and the spirit can come
we begin to be able to exercise our spirit.
Timing in Our Brokenness
The Lord employs two different ways to break our outward man; one is
gradual, the other sudden. To some, the Lord gives a sudden breaking
a gradual one. With others, the Lord arranges that they have constant
daily trials, until one day He brings about large-scale breaking. If it
is not the sudden first and then the gradual, then it is the gradual
followed by the sudden. It would seem the Lord usually spends several
years upon us
before He can accomplish this work of breaking.
The timing is in His hand. We cannot shorten the time, though we
certainly can prolong it. In some lives the Lord is able to accomplish
this work after a few years of dealing; in others it is evident that
after ten or twenty years the work is still unfinished. This is most
serious! Nothing is more grievous than wasting God's time. How often
the church is hindered! We can preach by using our mind, we can stir
others by using our emotions; yet
if we do not know how to use our spirit, the Spirit of God cannot touch
people through us. The loss is great, should we needlessly prolong the
Therefore, if we have never before wholly and intelligently consecrated
ourselves to the Lord, let us do so now, saying: "Lord, for the future
the church, for the future of the gospel, for Thy way, and also for my
life, I offer myself without condition, without reservation, into Thy
Lord, I delight to offer myself unto Thee and am willing to let Thee
Thy full way through me."
Meaning of the Cross
Often we hear about the cross. Perhaps we are too familiar with the
term. But what is the cross after all? When we really understand the
shall see it means the breaking of the outward man. The cross reduces
outward man to death; it splits open the human shell. The cross must
all that belongs to our outward man, our opinions, our ways, our
our self-love, our all. The way is clear, in fact crystal clear.
As soon as our outward man is broken, our spirit can easily come forth.
Consider a brother as an example. All who know him acknowledge that he
a keen mind, a forceful will, and deep emotions. But instead of being
impressed by these natural characteristics of his soul, they realize
they have met his spirit. Whenever people are fellowshipping with him,
a spirit, a clean spirit. Why? Because all that is of his soul has been
Take as another example, a sister. Those who know her recognize that
she is of a quick disposition, quick in thought, quick of speech, quick
to confess, quick in writing letters, and quick to tear up what she has
written. However, those who meet her do not meet her quickness but
rather her spirit. She
is one who has been utterly broken and has become transparent. This
breaking of the outward man is such a basic matter. We should not cling
to our weak, soulish characteristics, still emitting the same fragrance
even after five or ten years of the Lord's dealing with us. No, we must
allow the Lord to forge a way in our lives.
Reasons for Not Being Broken
Why is it that after many years of dealing some remain the same? Some
individuals have a forceful will; some have strong emotions; and others
have a strong mind. Since the Lord is able to break these, why is it
that after many years some are still unchanged? We believe there are
two main reasons.
First, many who live in darkness are not seeing the hand of God. While
God is working, while God is breaking , they do not recognize it as
from Him. They are devoid of light, seeing only men opposing them. They
imagine their environment is just too difficult, that circumstances are
to blame. So they continue in darkness and despair.
May God give us a revelation to see what is from His hand, that we may
kneel down and say to Him, "It is Thou; since it is Thou, T will
At least we must recognize whose hand it is that deals with us. It is
a human hand, nor our family's, not the brothers' and sisters' in the
but God's. We need to learn how to kneel down and kiss the hand, love
hand that deals with us, even as Madame Guyon did. We must have this
to see that whatever the Lord has done, we accept and believe; the Lord
can do no wrong.
Second, another great hindrance to the work of breaking the outer man
is self-love. We must ask God to take away the heart of self-love. As
He deals with us in response to our prayer, we should worship and say,
"O Lord, if this be Thy hand, let me accept it from my heart." Let us
the one reason for all misunderstanding all fretfulness, all
is that we secretly love ourselves. Thus we plan a way whereby we can
ourselves. Many times problems arise due to our seeking a way of
an escape from the working of the cross.
He who has ascended the cross and refuses to drink the vinegar mingled
with gall is the one who knows the Lord. Many go up to the cross rather
reluctantly, still thinking of drinking vinegar mingled with gall to
their pains. All who say, "The cup which the Father has given me, shall
I not drink it?" will not drink the cup of vinegar mingled with gall.
can only drink of one cup, not two. Such as these are without any
Self-love is a basic difficulty. May the Lord speak to us today that we
may be able to pray: "O my God, I have seen that all things come from
All my ways these five years, ten years, or twenty years, are of Thee.
hast so worked to attain Thy purpose, which is none other than that Thy
life may be lived out through me. But I have been foolish. I did not
I did many things to deliver myself, thus delaying Thy time. Today I
Thy hand. I am willing to offer myself to Thee. Once again I place
in Thy hands."
to See Wounds
There is no one more beautiful than one who is broken! Stubbornness and
self-love give way to beauty in one who has been broken by God. We see
in the Old Testament, how even in his mother's womb he struggled with
brother. He was subtle, tricky, deceitful. Yet his life was full of
and grief. When a youth, he fled from home. For twenty years he was
by Laban. The wife of his heart's love, Rachel, died prematurely. The
of his love, Joseph, was sold. Years later Benjamin was detained in
He was successively dealt with by God, meeting misfortune after
He was stricken by God once, twice; indeed, his whole history could be
to be a history of being stricken by God. Finally after many such
the man Jacob was transformed. In his last few years, he was quite
How dignified was his answer to Pharaoh! How beautiful was his end,
he worshipped God on his staff! How clear were his blessings to his
After reading the last page of his history, we want to bow our heads
worship God. Here is one who is matured, who knows God. Several decades
of dealings have resulted in Jacob's outward man being broken. In his
age, the picture is a beautiful one.
Each of us has much of the same Jacob nature in us. Our only hope is
that the Lord may blaze a way out, breaking the outward man to such a
that the inward man may come out and be seen. This is precious, and
is the way of those who serve the Lord. Only thus can we serve; only
can we lead men to the Lord. All else is limited in its value. Doctrine
does not have much use nor does theology. What is the use of mere
knowledge of the Bible if the outward man remains unbroken? Only the
through whom God can come forth is useful.
After our outward man has been stricken, dealt with, and led through
various trials, we have wounds upon us, thus allowing the spirit to
emerge. We are afraid to meet some brothers and sisters whose whole
being remains intact, never having been dealt with and changed. May God
have mercy upon us in
showing us clearly this way and in revealing to us that it is the only
May He also show us that herein is seen the purpose of all His dealings
with in these few years, say ten or twenty. Thus let no one despise the
Lord's dealings. May He truly reveal to us what is meant by the
of the outward man. Should the outward man remain whole, everything
be merely in our mind, utterly expect the Lord to deal with us