Inner Outer Outer Inner
(Previously published as “Walk Before Me and Be Thou Perfect”)
By Fred Pruitt
“I AM the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect.” (Gen 1:17)
Our inner life is our true life.
The immediate temptation in hearing that is, “What about the outer life?” The thought that all of life is only what is true in the hidden and invisible, is instantly suspect. Someone may say, “My inner life is my real life,” but to some ears that can only sound like a copout on life. It sounds like a pile of malarkey. Undoubtedly in some it is.
Of course, probably the most misunderstood word in the sentence is “inner.” What really is “inner?”
We are not really talking about inside our physical bodies, though if there was some sort of location for this “inner,” it would be accurate to say it dwells in our bodies.
It might be bordering on something closer to say it is in our psyches — in our reasoning minds and emotions — and that would also be true, because the “inner” is in all those, too.
Then we all know we are most inwardly spirit, and so we might be pinpointing with more precision to say the “inner” is in our spirit, and of all that we have said above, perhaps this is the most accurate and closest in words that we could definitively be.
But that explanation is deficient also. The plain reason is that the definition of words and our comprehension of their definitions AS definitions, limits them to something objectively conceptual, and just that, but, not the truth itself. That sort of defining is necessary for all basic communication among we sons and daughters of Adam, who, since Babel, cannot communicate with each other except by outer words and outer sounds with outer meanings, which have in them the Word of God in all things, but not contained as limited in the outer words and outer sounds with outer meanings. The Word of God cannot be comprehended that way — by just the outer words, sounds and meaning. (What I mean by that is that we cannot simply look up in a dictionary, either in our native language or a Greek or Hebrew lexicon, get the “definitions” of words, and then think that by that means we have understood what the Spirit is saying. That is something the natural mind can do.)
Which is to say that the “inner” we are describing is not a concept, and is not a “something” to have, or a “somewhere” to go to or into. What it really means is that there is in all things, an inner and an outer. The inner is not simply encased in our “self,” in some niche designed just for it, because the inner is everywhere and is not contained by the self. In fact, in the inner the self loses itself. The inner is everywhere (it doesn’t know a here and a there), and everywhere this inner is we are in it and of it, and in the most absolute sense possible, we are out of it. Though our outer reasoning consciousness of it has nothing to do with the truth of it. Our consciousness does not make it so nor does it keep it from being what it is.
What this inner is, and there is always a center to it everywhere, which is both in our being and also beyond it, is the absolute Truth or Word which brought all things into existence and out of which all things are continuously springing like a fountain. (To verify the truth of this, consider what we have come to know through quantum physics, which has showed us that the deeper we go into the subatomic [microcosmic] world, the more things are visibly in motion and constantly changing in form, like a kaleidoscope, which is a picture in the physical of the truth of the spiritual.) We are both in this fountain as part of its flow and we are in the center of it, too, out of which the outflow comes.
That is our very poor description of “the inner.” What makes it an inner in regard to this world, is that something else which looks and seems exactly the opposite covers it over so that the inner cannot be seen. Only this outer is visible, and in its normal state it appears completely contradictory to this inner as we have described it. Understand, the “outer” I am speaking of is not trees, mountains, and the outside shapes of human beings, just as the “inner” is not the inside of those things. This “outer” is not things, but a way or state of viewing things. It is a consciousness which sees only here and there, yes or no, right or wrong, good or evil, me and not-me.
However, because we are Sons, and the Father has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts so that we also cry, “Abba Father,” God’s intent is our growing up into Him in all things. God cannot be comprehended by a further study of and accumulation of facts, histories, principles and ideas — even though we might rightly seek all those things — but it is rather the Spirit saying in us, in our inner consciousness, “Come up hither,” to a raised understanding and wisdom in the revelation of Him Who WAS, IS NOW, and IS TO COME, and Who is in us as All in all, in that same way.
So in that revelation, though we may have sought for “principles” or “techniques” as ways of achieving goals and growing closer to Him, we have instead found and live out of The Living Principle, He Who is The Goal, The Pearl of Great Price. It is not Bible-thumping and believing a book because it is “literal, inerrant, and infallible,” but of being One with the Living Word, the Real Word, the True Bread from Heaven, who is Himself the only Holy, Infallible One, and who shares His qualities with no “thing” lesser than Himself. However He is all those qualities in all those things, including in all of us, since He has taken us into Himself through the Cross, so that we are now flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones. (Eph 5:30) That Word has come and dwelt among us and has become flesh — in and as us.
It is the ears who hear Him in all voices and sounds and even silence, and eyes who see Him in all forms and in no forms, who know this “inner.” Those are the ears who hear what God said to Abraham, and likewise declare to and of us.
God said to Abraham in Genesis 17:1, “I AM the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect.”
“Perfect.” That’s one of those words that conjures up lots of mental gymnastics. And perhaps the following may be the most common initial human thought to such an edict: “Be perfect? That’s ridiculous. Nobody’s perfect.”
The Christian world has often made a room for it in an imaginary place and time. They will also say, “Yes, of course we are perfect in spirit, but …” So the promise of our perfection, commanded by God, is shifted to another place and time from ours, so that we really have no responsibility to it, and are in effect cut off from it. The church often lives like the world, which has never seen nor knows God’s perfection, except as lip service, and since it neither sees or knows it, it wrongly imagines its (the church’s) words and ideas are “the” truth and worships them as such, and persecutes those who testify of what they have seen and heard from God only.
In this way we seem to make the word of God a lie, and don’t really know the Word except dimly in heart, only God knows, and in making the Word of God a lie, we hold up idols to replace it — books and systems and personalities — which are idols of sad ignorance of the truth, and make things which are not God to be God. They only know the outer bread and see it only as such, and don’t know the True Bread which is the true food, and is in every one of us as our real food.
“Be perfect,” God told Abraham. Noah was “perfect in his generation.” (Gen 6:9) Solomon told the people to “be perfect in their hearts.” (1 Kings 8:61) The Old Testament is full of this expectation throughout.
“Be perfect,” Jesus told the children at the Sermon on the Mount. (Matt 5:48) He said we were “made perfect in one” (Jn 17:23) in His last prayer for us on earth. Paul said he spoke wisdom to them that were “perfect.” (1 Cor 2:6) Paul said he presented every man “perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Col 1:28) He also said we were to grow up to a “perfect man.” (Eph 4:13). And these are just a few instances of which there are MANY! This is God’s commandment and expectation of us — and therefore we are in unbelief if we believe He cannot fulfill it — in us!
The first things people think of when hearing we “are perfect,” are all the “things” we do or think that to us are not, in any way that we can see, perfect. That’s why it is such an absurdity to most people to hear these admonitions of scripture. It MUST be for another time and place, we think, because nobody on THIS PLANET could ever be or could ever stand a chance of being perfect, as we understand perfection
(Jesus Christ excepted of course. I always chuckle at people saying Jesus was perfect and we should emulate his behavior every day. Jesus offended almost everybody, except the sick and hurting. Most of those of His generation, who saw Him in the flesh, thought He was anything BUT perfect. Even His own disciples were always trying to tone Him down, to Horrect him, like the multitudes, often thinking He was “too this” or “too that,” or “not enough this” or “not enough that.” And they think the same of us who contain Him, too. Yet He stuck to the perfection of God that was in Him, and we are exhorted to the same as well.)
But who can blame us for thinking this way? Every day we yell at the kids, kick the cat, cuss at somebody in traffic, cut a corner or two at work or school, be insensitive or inconsiderate toward those we love the most, have a little too much to drink, forget God in our daily living, fail often to say what we should, and more often say the things we “shouldn’t.” Of course we don’t all do all those things, but I think it would be a rare one of us who couldn’t come up with a list at least this long of solid evidence that we are NOT perfect. And not even to mention the “big” things as well.
The plain fact of the matter is, and we all know this, (though some of us might think for a time that that kind of perfection is attainable), is that even if we could get a handle on, say, yelling at the kids, something else would turn up. It is a ladder we can’t get up one rung without slipping down three below.
And by that means, in that arena, it will be the same until we leave this life. As long as we are self-attentive and behavior-oriented, we can never know or experience the perfection of God, even though we are in it and of it. Unlike the world, which we are also in, but NOT of. However, as long as we are in consciousness and faith as I have described above, self-attentive and behavior-oriented, constantly judging all things, ourselves and others, by our limited sight and understanding of just outer appearances, we are in the condition Jesus described as seeing evil, instead of single — only God — and therefore what we see we project and live out of. (Luke 11:34).
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Of course throughout the centuries that declaration has been most often seen as something else “we” must do, to somehow “purify our hearts,” by prayer, meditation, or other means. But purity of heart is simply our true condition in Christ, and all we need to do is “see” it. We don’t see it with our natural eyes, but with the eyes of faith, which comes from God.
Likewise Paul later says, “Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto the defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15). And Paul is simply agreeing with David, “Unto the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; unto the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.” (Ps 18:26).
Purity, perfection, holiness, truth, are not seen with the vision of man by man. They are in the vision of God, which sees only God by His Spirit in us. Therefore the only way to see and by seeing to KNOW these things, is to see with the vision of God, which is in us. Perfection is a Divine Pronouncement upon all those that are His! Who are we to deny the Word of God by conditions?
Is this not unbelief, and the REAL SIN? We think God is displeased and angry with us if we snap at our spouse, or bounce a check, or other silly thing like that, but God is only interested in our seeing Him only, even in all those things. We believe Him against all appearances, or IN all appearances. His vision is our vision, and He sees no evil. He sees us clean. He sees us perfect. He sees us righteous. He sees us complete. He sees us as His image and likeness. And insofar as we join in His vision by simple faith, we see the same.
Some will immediately react to this as if this is some sort of philosophical mumbo jumbo, just a way to excuse or justify ourselves, but let not the tempter fool you. It is death to the honest self to see and declare God’s perfection in the face of apparent human imperfection. We ARE aware of ourselves, of what appear as our shortcomings, our weakness, our liabilities. We are more aware of the earthen vessel in our daily lives than we are the treasure it contains.
But the treasure is still there. And this treasure is the real truth, and the earthen vessel that contains it, i.e. Him, is exactly the earthen vessel God has fashioned it to be, and is perfect in His sight.
Therefore let us join in with God our Father and Jesus Christ our Righteousness, Holiness and Sanctification, and the Holy Spirit who continually testifies of Christ in us and brings it to pass, and in that joining in oneness, walk as Abraham was commanded and enabled to walk. When He says “before me” He means people see us, but it’s Him, and when He says, “be thou” that is the same as “Let there be,” only He is personalizing it to you and me — YOU BE. This is the Word of God, which is the real infallible, inerrant, and literal truth.
“Walk before Me and be thou perfect!”