GOD CREATING MAN WITH THE PURPOSE THAT MAN MIGHT TAKE GOD AS HIS CONTENT AND THEREBY EXPRESS GOD
To repent means to cause our mind, which was going the wrong way, to turn around. Due to our misconceptions, we think that morality is our goal and is the meaning of our human life. However, the divine revelation in the Bible shows us that God is man’s goal, man’s center, and man’s meaning. God should be his content. The Bible does not say that God created man according to the image of morality. Rather, it says that God created man according to the image of God. This means that God created man that man may express God. For man to express God, he must have God as his content. If we do not have God within us, there is no way for us to express God. What is expressed outwardly altogether depends on what has been formed within. Therefore, it is not a matter of morality but a matter of God.
When man fell, he fell into sin. Confucius and Mencius also were born among fallen men. Hence, their concept was that man needs improvement from a fallen condition to a moral condition. Because they did not know God, they tried to change man altogether by teaching benevolence and justice according to their moral concepts. This is the work of Confucius and Mencius: teaching morality and, in particular, benevolence and justice. However, the Bible reveals that God is the source and that He created man for His own purpose, that is, that man might be filled with God, take God as life, and have God as his content for the expression of God.
MAN’S NATURAL CONCEPT BEING TO DO EVERYTHING BY HIMSELF
When I was first saved, I heard about abiding in the Lord. My concept was that from morning to evening I should not lose my temper, I should always be gentle toward others, I should speak at a slow pace and with a moderate tone, I should not do things in haste, and I should walk neither too fast nor too slow and make no loud sound. At that time the books in the Bible I liked to read the most were James and Proverbs. All typical Chinese appreciate the book of Proverbs. Therefore, the Chinese New Testament is printed with Proverbs as an appendix. The book of James resembles Proverbs. James says, “But let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (1:19). The elderly James truly was experienced. To only listen and not speak means that one could never get angry. The best way for an angry person to control his anger is to keep his mouth shut. No matter how much others may offend you, if you simply hold on to this secret of keeping your mouth shut, you will not get angry. However, once you open your mouth and the words start to flow out, your wrath will be released. Therefore, I totally agreed with what James said, and I even practiced this at times.
Later I discovered that what I was practicing was neither abiding in the Lord nor enjoying the Lord’s life. I misunderstood its meaning. As a result I practiced many years yet had no success. The Bible says that when the Lord was suffering persecution, He was “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter / And like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers” (Isa. 53:7). He was truly like a sheep. To abide in the Lord is to be like a sheep, but I was like a fast horse. How can I be a sheep? Therefore, although I fully believed in the Lord, never doubted, and behaved as a Christian, I was often discouraged because I felt that I could not make it. For a period of time I was very disappointed. Still I continued to practice and learn slowly.
What I am fellowshipping with you is based not only upon the Bible but also upon what I have learned. Perhaps some would say that the title of this message is very strange. This is so, but it is through experience that I know the truth which I speak. According to what was taught in the past, if we truly want to practice abiding in the Lord, we should rise up early, pray first, then wash, and then sit down to read the Word. However, I can guarantee that you might be able to practice this for three days, but you will not be able to continue it for thirty days. Maybe you can do it for even thirty days, but you will not be able to carry it out for three months. I myself have practiced this way of rising up early to pray and read the Bible, perhaps more than all of you. The first two days I would do well, but it did not last, and I could not continue.
Finally, I came to realize that it is not a matter of practicing certain things, not a matter of sinning or not sinning, not a matter of having morning revival or not having morning revival, and not a matter of praying first after getting out of bed. I discovered that even though I practiced all these things, I was still “I,” and I remained unchanged. It was I who prayed before washing, and it was definitely I who read the Word after praying. Although outwardly I did many things, inwardly it was still I.
Although I continue to encourage you about things—because people need encouragement and cannot do well without it—I know that in the end all encouragement will not avail. At the most you will be burning only for five minutes. Not only so, even with us Christians who love the Lord and who are zealous for Him, our zeal often does not last for more than five days. Therefore, many times before five days are up, we have to change our “gimmick.” In the practice of the church life, the elders often change their gimmick, perhaps every five months, because no gimmick can last from the beginning of the year to the end. Whatever practice we try to maintain, eventually our zeal for it will diminish. The reason for this is that I am still “I.”
(Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)