Putting on the New Man (continued)
b. A Corporate Consciousness
Then this new man,being corporate and collective, being related and interrelated in this way, represents a life of fellowship. It demands a corporate consciousness which is one of the most important things. In the Lord's purpose everything depends upon this corporate life. The Lord Himself can never reach His end by individuals, and you and I can never reach that ultimate end as individuals. While it is true that Adam, the old man, is a corporate unity, the consciousness of the old man is not a corporate consciousness; it is an independent consciousness, a divisive consciousness. We must have a corporate consciousness in order to reach God's end. There are quite a number of the Lord's own dear children who remain far too long in a state of spiritual immaturity. They never grow much beyond childhood spiritually. You may know such for years, and find them to be just the same simple children today as when you first knew them. Now, it will be said: It is very right and proper to be a simple child of the Lord! Well, let us always have a childlike spirit, let us always seek to be of a pure, simple spirit before the Lord, but let us remember that there is a difference between childlikeness and childhood. There is all the difference between keeping that simplicity, purity, openness, teachableness of the child, and a delayed understanding , an overdue ability to grasp spiritual things and to assimilate food for those more advanced in years. The trouble with so many people, or the cause of their delayed maturity, is that they are merely going their own sweet way; that is, they are butterflies, simply flitting from one thing to another with no corporate life, no related life. A butterfly is quite a pretty thing as it flits about, but there is all the difference between a butterfly and a bee. A bee, too, may go from one thing to another, but it does so to very good purpose. The bee's life is a corporate life, the butterfly's is not a corporate life; it is an individual life.
Delayed maturity, stunted spiritual growth, is very often due to this lack of a corporate sense of life which is bound up with the life of the Lord's people in a definite and positive way. That is the way of enlargement. That is the law of the new man. We arrest our spiritual growth when we set aside the necessity for a life that is linked with the people of God in quite a definite way. That is the background in Ephesians. The whole of the fourth chapter is devoted to this vital matter. The new man is there set forth as the Church, the Body of Christ, and this new man is to grow unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. It is the corporate man that grows to that stature; individuals cannot do so. Only in relatedness do we move into the fullness of Christ.
Beware, then, of missing that very important law of spiritual enlargement. This is what is meant by putting on the new man. We are right, then, in asking the question, Have we really put on the new man? Have we really put on a Body-consciousness, a related-consciousness, a fellowship-consciousness that belongs to the new man? It may not always be possible for us to enjoy the immediate, local, geographical fellowship of a large company of the Lord's people, but that is not the point; we are talking about a consciousness.
(continued with # 25 - (c. A Disposition)