The real self (or heart) as seen and known by God, is in contrast to the outer appearance that is visible and known to others (1 Sam 16:7; Ps 139:1-24; Mt 23:27,28).
The greatest battle to be won is within
realm although there will be outer lifestyle changes and effects observed by others as the character of Christ takes increasing control as we submit to His Lordship (Col 3:3-25). The world focuses almost exclusively on the external vanity of the flesh, ignoring the essential qualities of spirit. The real battle is within; in my inner being I delight in God’s laws, but my flesh is weak and it is at variance with and frustrating the heart’s desire (Rom 7:22,23). We choose which will be victorious. Good character is the result of making wise choices on a consistent basis, so it becomes a lifestyle pattern not a momentary season.
The ‘outward man’ is being hassled and worn down by the demands of life, while the ‘inner man’ is being refreshed and sustained by the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Cor 4:16). It is here in the inner man, the temple of the Holy Spirit, that we know the love and fullness of God and are strengthened to do His will (Eph 3:16-20). It is of utmost importance to protect and nourish the spiritual man within so we can give out to hurting humanity from the abundance within (Jn 7:38). We can’t give out what we don’t have. Looking after our spiritual health is our top priority; more than work or ministry.
Take responsibility for your 'command centre'
heart (inner man) more than any treasure for it is the source of all life” (Prov 4:23). Continuously address any inner (private world) issues. Deal with them quickly and drastically. A small weed is easier to remove than a mature plant that has a mass of deep roots and has scattered its seed. Don’t pretend you are exempt from ungodly desires and temptations. Regularly we need to ask, does my inner man truly control my outer man? Self-discipline is needed so we live and walk in the Spirit and the fleshly nature is put to death (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5).
We should echo David’s cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” (Ps 51:10). It is then our responsibility to maintain it as such for God delights in truth and integrity of heart (1 Chr 29:17; Ps 51:6). Enter into confidential accountability with others of your own gender, who can speak into your life and challenge you if they perceive something is not quite right. As Christian’s we are to be our brother’s keeper; not meddling, but rather showing a responsible attitude (Gen 4:9).
The inner life needs to be securely anchored in Christ, our foundation, so when the storms of life buffet the outer man it can remain steady and not succumb to the destructive forces (Heb 6:19). With joy draw spiritual water from the well of salvation that is within (Isa 12:3). We must endeavour at all times to be in vital divine connection with Christ (Jn 15:4-8). We let go this lifeline to our detriment.