PRACTICING TO DENY THE SELF
If you denied your natural thought, the spirit within you would rise up. Because we are so much in the soul—in the mind, emotion, and will—our human spirit does not have the chance, the ground, to do anything. We must practice continually to deny our mind, our emotion, and our will. When I love a brother so much, that may be natural love. If I give up that love, my spirit will have a chance to express something of the Lord. If I give up something in my soul, then my spirit will express something of the Lord. This is why the Lord tells us that we have to deny ourselves. We have to deny our soul, to lose our soul, because we regenerated persons have another part, an inmost part, which is the quickened, regenerated spirit with the Holy Spirit of God indwelling it. We have such a wonderful part of our being, a spiritual part, a living part, a quickened part, yet we do not know it and do not give it the chance or the ground to do anything.
If you are not happy with a certain brother, it is simply because you are in the self. If you deny yourself, you will love that brother very much. At other times, however, you love certain brothers so much simply because you are in the emotion, in the soul. If you would deny your emotion, deny your self, your love toward that brother would be transformed from the soul into the spirit. The lesson for us to learn today as Christians in order to experience life is to learn how to deny the soul. The soul is the self, and the self consists of three things—the mind, emotion, and will. To deny the soul simply means to deny your mind, emotion, and will.
LIVING IN THE SPIRIT
We should live in the spirit. Galatians 2:20 says, “It is no longer I.” “I” is the self; the self is the soul, and the soul consists of three parts. “No longer I” means no longer the mind, emotion, and will but “Christ who lives in me” (v. 20). Christ lives in me, in my spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). We have to learn how to deny the “I,” the self, the soul, and live by Christ in the spirit.
THE LIFE AND FACULTIES OF THE SOUL
Some might think that if we deny the soul, we will not be able to live. But we must realize that there is a difference between the life of the soul and the faculties of the soul. The life of the soul is one thing, and the faculties of the soul are another thing. An illustration might help us to see this difference. I knew a married couple in China. The brother was so spiritual, and the sister, as a wife, was so submissive. Whenever you went to their home or met with them, you had the sense that the husband was the life to the wife. The wife had her own life, but she gave up her own life and took her husband as the life. She never said anything on her own. She always said something according to what her husband said. If you asked her, “Sister, do you like this piano?” she would say, “My husband likes it.” Perhaps you would ask, “Do you like this meeting hall?” She would respond, “My husband says it is wonderful.” With her, it was always “my husband, my husband,” yet she spoke. She gave up her life and took her husband as the life, yet she still used the faculties of her soul.
We brothers always thought the sister was wonderful because she always took her husband as her life. She just lost her own life. She gave up her own life, but she still used her faculties. She still used her mind, emotion, and will, but she gave up her own life and took another life as her life.
GIVING UP THE NATURAL LIFE
The natural life, the life of the soul, has been crucified on the cross (Gal. 2:20). Now we have to take the Lord as our life. We must give up the natural life, the life of the soul, and take the Lord in the spirit as our life. This does not mean, however, that we must give up the faculties of our soul but the life of the soul. All the faculties of our soul still remain as the organs to be used by the Lord in the spirit.
AN UPLIFTED UNDERSTANDING
The more you are one with the Lord in the spirit, that is, the more spiritual you are, the more keen you will be in your mind. Before you take the Lord as life, you are quite dull in your thinking, but if you deny yourself and take the Lord as your life, you will be very keen in your thinking. In China quite a number of older sisters never had any kind of education, yet they loved the Lord to the uttermost and knew how to give up themselves, taking the Lord as life. After two or three years they became very keen in their mind, in their understanding, especially in the things of the Lord. They became experts. But with those who have little love for the Lord, even if they have a Ph.D., there is little comprehension of spiritual things. When you talk with them about the things of the Lord, they say, “What is this? I cannot figure it out.”
(Our Human Spirit, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)