In Psalm 51:6, David has an astonishing epiphany. When you look at the sacrifices of Leviticus 1-7, God does not ask for the hide of the animal to be sacrificed on the altar. Rather, He commands that it be burned with the dung outside the camp. The flesh, or the hide, is the part that you and I would consider to be most choice. Yet, what God requires to be placed upon the altar is the inward parts – the liver, kidneys, the fat around these areas, etc. God is not interested in our outward appearance, but rather with our inner man. God desires truth in the inward parts, and that is what He considers as the fragrant and pleasing aroma.
As a youth in Christ, I desired holiness and righteous living. To my despair, this was seemingly unattainable. What seems so casually commanded in the New Testament was becoming my unbearable burden. The onus was upon my shoulders to live in a manner worthy of the calling that I had received. And yet, none of those verses in the New Testament mean that. The whole point is that we live what we are. You have been made a new creation, and therefore you shall live like it. With truth in the inward parts, it is not a matter of desiring to have a better lifestyle, or making sure to examine whether what we believe is truth. It finds its way into every aspect of life. Sometimes that is seen by others as unacceptable.
One of the most obvious places that we have this display is in our very ways in which we think of and relate to God. There are people who have replaced knowing God for knowledge about God, simply so they have a formula to know how God works. There are people who have called the church buildings and systems “God”, and even though they know that God is not the building and system, they cannot separate the two. Thus, when something happens within that system, or if an inconsistency is shown in their doctrine, it is not the system that is flawed, but God Himself. When God is known through the sacraments and traditions of church practice, and our relationship with Him must be weighed with our devotion to “go to church”, or any other form of gathering, we have neglected truth in the inward parts.
“The beauty of holiness is brought to its optimum in the combining of truth and righteousness together with grace and humility.”1 The beauty of holiness is found in the expression of truth and righteousness, not from a laborious sort of self-control, but rather from grace and humility. In the true expression of grace walked out, walking humbly before our God, we find truth and righteousness are indeed in those actions. It is on the basis of grace, through faith, that we are saved, and that same grace is what continues in expression through our lives. What exactly is it that Paul is pressing in Ephesians 2 when he makes this claim? You read the chapter and find that he has this glorious view of grace, and that it isn’t some cheap forgiveness for the sake of relationship. Paul actually believes that grace has effected something within the one who has received it.
This grace, through faith, has caused for us to no longer be the same thing we once were, following the patterns of the principalities and powers of the air, those darkened forces that the whole world is under. We have now been liberated, taken out of and into a new mode of being. That new mode of being is the wisdom of God, rather than the wisdom of the principalities. It is on the basis of love, the great love with which God has loved us, that we have been given this mercy and grace, that we might be His workmanship – a term used solely of Israel and creation in the Old Testament – predestined for good works to walk in. And what are those good works to walk in, you might ask? They are the acts of the righteous life lived out. They are the acts of truth in the inward parts.
It is not enough to herald a message of love. We must first understand that in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Truth in the inward parts does not come from a meticulous study and analysis of “the truth”. It comes from the deep dwelling of Him who is Truth. We cannot command to love one another, nor make statements of how love covers a multitude of sins, if we do not first understand the love with which He has loved us, and the power that is in that to equip us as more than conquerors. Similarly, we cannot comprehend truth, nor understand truth in the inward parts, if we do not first understand that He is truth, and that He has sent to us the Spirit of Truth, even baptizing us in that Spirit.
1 Lars Widerberg, Apostolicity chapter 10, pp 1.