The thing that matters is the kind of person I am. A kind of person is set before us in Christ. His Person is God’s beginning and you can have nothing before a beginning. He is God’s end, and you can have nothing after that. So there is nothing outside of Christ. He is God’s Man. I emphasize again, we must ever remember that it is the nature, the character of the manhood according to God that matters, and if that is true, then this means very deep formation. Conformation to Christ takes place in many ways, but two of the most important elements are:
(a) Through Outward Separation
Deep formation firstly through outward separation: that is one thing that is said about the Lord Jesus, that He was separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26), and using that word ‘separate’, I am only using a more common and ordinary word for the great Bible word ‘consecration’ or ‘sanctification’, which are the same word in the original. Consecration or sanctification simply means set apart unto God. Outward separation to begin with; separate – not going the way of others; not trying to stand well with them; no policy, no diplomacy, being perfectly willing to let a fundamental difference be recognized, and to take all the consequences of being in this world as something other than that which is here.
(b) By Inward Separation
And then deep formation by inward separation: Israel in the wilderness was outwardly separated, but inwardly not so. That is why, in recounting their history, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews connects with the wilderness life of Israel those words “For the Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing, even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow” (Heb. 4:12). You notice the context is Israel in the wilderness, and the meaning therefore is this, that while they were outwardly separated from Egypt and from the nations, they were inwardly not separated; there was something to be done inside to divide asunder between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; a deep inward separation. This cannot be accomplished mechanically. This is some deep inward work of God, getting us circumcised in heart.