In Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9, we are told that there is only one way to deal with the old man, which, as we know, includes the religious nature; the old man must be "put off." Now, we all agree that the old man, the adamic nature, must be "put off," but how do we "put off the old man?"
First of all, in order to put off the old man, we need to discern just what the old man is; and in the measure that there is an increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being, in that measure we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to discern that which is of the "old man." And in the measure that there is an increase of Christ's reality in our lives, in that measure we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to "put off the old man."
And how do we have an increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being? Well, if we willingly yield to the purgings and chastenings of the Lord, if we willingly yield to God's Way of dealing with us - which is always the Way of the Cross, and its principle of self-denial - then, the Word of God makes it clear that there will be an increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being (Luke 9:23; Romans 5 through 8; Hebrews 12; etc.)
Consequently, let us say again, the more we yield to the way of the Lord's purgings and chastenings (child-training), the greater increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being; and the greater the increase of Christ's reality, in and through our lives, the more we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to discern that which is of the old man, and, thereby, "put off the old man." Therefore, it is the increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being, through the means of purging and chastening, that enables us to discern that which is of the religious nature, both in our own life, and in the lives of others.
Remember, in a Christian, the religious nature of the old man is that which takes hold of the Holy things of God when there is not enough of the reality of Christ in our lives. Therefore in the Book of Job, we find satan, "the leviathan," coming against one man in order to stop Christ's reality from being expressed in Job's life; and in Revelation, we find satan, that "twisted serpent," bringing to bear all of his consummate power against the churches of every age and generation in order to stop the Church from becoming the living reality of Christ.
In the Book of Job, the Lord tells us that "the leviathan" is "king over all the sons of pride"; and in a Christian, pride is self-righteousness - it is a religious self-achieved-righteousness. And, beloved, if any of us thing we are past this, that we are more mature than this, let us remember Paul who is one of the greatest examples in the Bible of one who endured until God had His End. Let us remember that at the end of his life, this one who had said, " ... for me to live is Christ (is the reality, is the living expression of Christ)," this one also cried: "... that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any (self-achieved) righteousness that can be called my own" (Phil. 3:9). Self-achieved righteousness must have been a problem for Paul (as it is for all of us) or he would not have prayed in such a way. But, at the same time, we also find Paul praying the answer to the problem of any self-achieved righteousness when he prays for a greater measure of the reality of Christ to be expressed in and through his life.
" ... that I might come to know Him in an experiential way, and to come to know experientially the power of His resurrection and a joint-participation in His sufferings, being brought to the place where my life will radiate a likeness to His death ..." (Phil. 3:10)
Now, with this in mind, let us return to Job and his friends and discover how God brought about the reality of Christ in their lives; and this will help us to see how the Lord is working in our lives to bring about a greater expression of Christ. When the Lord is leading us into a deeper realm of purging, because there is not enough of the reality of Christ in our lives, we have found that the faithful respond to this in different ways. Remember, the faithful of God are those who have chosen to endure until God has His End through His Way. So, let us examine some of the ways that the faithful respond to God's dealings.
Many of us who have chosen to remain faithful unto the Lord begin to feel condemned as we realize we need so much more of the work of the Lord in our lives. We feel that we must have failed the Lord somehow or we would already have enough of the reality of Christ in our lives. And if we are not careful, we will become discouraged with our walk before the Lord.
Then, there are those of us among the faithful who, because of self-righteousness, do not really feel that we are lacking in the reality of Christ in our lives. And there are also those of us among the faithful who, honestly, do not consciously realize that we do not have enough of Christ's reality in our lives. However, in both instances, even though we cannot see this lack in our lives, we can quickly see that others are lacking in this area and, much like Job's friends, we do our unsuccessful best to advise, admonish, correct, and comfort others who are having problems.
Again, there are those of us among the faithful who are going through a very hard time, but we do not realize that we do not have enough of the reality of Christ in our lives to see us through. And, like Job, we try to justify ourselves because we have been as obedient to the Lord as we know how.
And then, there are some of us who are doing all we know to do in order to remain faithful unto the Lord, but at one time or another we find ourselves in the throes of all these and even other positions. There are many more realms we could discuss, but this gives us the general idea of some of our responses when God is revealing that we need His further dealings in our lives.
So, whether we are like Job, or whether we are like Job's friends, or whether we are a little like them both, or whether we are like some of the others in the Bible who had "a Job experience" - if we have chosen to be faithful, then God Who Is Faithful will do Hid deep purging work in our innermost being; for this is the only way that there can be a continuing increase of the reality of Christ in our lives.
Beloved, one of the reasons that the Holy Spirit chose to write the Book of Job in poetry is because God is dealing with Job's innermost being. And the inspired poetic form, the emphasis and metric exactness used by the Holy Spirit, reveals the depths of Job's innermost being - it reveals that which is in Job's heart, that which is in the very depths of his spirit and soul.
Remember this, when God begins to deal with Job in such a way, Job is not an immature, inexperienced man: Job is a responsible man, he is a businessman, and he has ten grown children. Neither is he an immature, inexperienced Christian for God Himself calls Job, "My servant," My bondslave. As his Lord's bondslave, Job has freely chosen that his will be swallowed up by the will of Another. As his Lord's bondslave, Job has freely chosen to serve the Lord to the disregard of his own interest. As his Lord's bondslave, Job is bound to his Lord not because he has to be, but because of the deep love and devotion in his heart for his Master.
But God has even greater things planned for Job and for his friends, just as He has greater things planned for the faithful of each age and generation. God desires that they become vessels of eternal intercession: purged vessels, chastened vessels, cleared vessels; vessels through whom God, by His Spirit, can have a free, unhindered flow.
(continued with # 16)