For this reason I bow my knees to the Father…that He would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man… Ephesians 3.14, 16
Christian growth is bi-directional. That is, it occurs from the outside-in and the inside-out. As for the former, when we impose disciplines on our bodies – for reading and prayer, fasting, bearing witness, and so forth – we engage our bodily members in deliberate actions which, continued over time, will have their effects on how we think, what we desire, and what we value.
Outside-in change is important, but it’s not complete without inside-out change, change that begins in the inner person and works its way out in our words and deeds.
As Columbanus put in his Sermon II, “For of what use is the religion of the outward man, if there is not also shown an improvement in the inner? That person can be false and a thief, that person is false and a hypocrite, who displays one quality in his bearing and another in his character.”
In “bearing” a man might look like a true minister of the Word. But in “character” – in the inner man – he might be something completely other. This was a jab at the local preachers Columbanus and his students encountered as they worked in Gaul, where the faith had been long in decline. The local ministers there were respected, relatively wealthy, and they “dressed the part,” so to speak. But they were empty within, and Columbanus was not shy about confronting them or complaining to the Pope in Rome about their laxity. One can go through the motions of being a man of faith, and not be a man of faith at all. True piety begins within, and we must work hard to sustain it there always.
Columbanus: “Then let us not be like whited sepulchers, let us study to show ourselves splendid and adorned within and not without; for true religion resides in lowliness not of habit but of heart.”
Resources for revival
From the Celtic Revival
Here’s an excerpt from Crosfigell, our twice-weekly teaching letter featuring insights from the writers of the Celtic Revival:
Happy, righteous, blessed, and perfect is the man on whom is the fear and dread of the mighty Lord, and who desires greatly to fulfill the command and teaching of God, as it is laid down in the canon of the Old and New Testaments.
- Anonymous, Vita Brendani, Irish, 17th century, from an earlier ms.
We don’t hear much about the fear of God these days, although it is plainly taught, as our anonymous writer knew, in both the Old and New Testaments. As Moses understood, we’re not likely to love or obey the Lord if we don’t maintain a healthy fear of Him (Deut. 10.12-21). Jesus taught us to fear God as well (Lk. 12.4, 5), as did the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 7.1). Must be something to it.
Check out our Celtic Legacy podcast and the other resources available on our dedicated Celtic Revival home page.
In every age, the Church is in danger of falling captive to cultural diversions, just-off-target views, and outright lies. In our book, The Church Captive, we explore some ways this has happened in the past and raise the question as to whether we have become captive in our own day to something other than the mind and will of Christ. Learn more about The Church Captive and order your free copy by clicking here.
T. M. Moore.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Plummer, p. 44.