THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE ETERNAL LIFE
Hence, in the New Testament, the apostle John first wrote his Gospel telling us that Jesus Christ was God who came in the flesh and died for us; then in resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit to give us the eternal life. When we believe and receive Him, He comes into us as the life-giving Spirit and gives us the eternal life. Thus, we are regenerated to become the children of God. Then John continued his writings with 1 John, telling us that whoever is regenerated with the life of God to be a child of God has this eternal life inside him and that this life brings a fellowship.
Most people do not adequately understand the meaning of fellowship; the average Christian may even think that it means “social contact.” The Bible, however, does not say social contact but fellowship. In Greek, this word fellowship is koinonia, which refers to several people or objects that can be mixed together and mingled thoroughly. For example, lightbulbs are mingled into one flow, because within them they all have the current of electricity from the electric plant and are all blended in one flow; hence, they have “fellowship” with one another. Therefore, we may explain fellowship as a flow, but we cannot say that it is a social contact.
The best illustration of fellowship is the circulation of blood in the body. The blood in the human body circulates very quickly; before we have finished speaking one sentence, the blood has already been circulating. That circulation is a fellowship to the body. The circulation of blood is a flow, but to all the members of the body it is a fellowship. Because of this fellowship our ears and our feet are connected even though they do not grow next to one another. When I am speaking here, my mouth is not the only part working, all of my members are cooperating. Even my hair is moving, and this is all because of the circulation of the blood that joins all the members in one fellowship and makes them one.
REMAINING IN THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE DIVINE LIFE BY CONFESSING TO GOD
The divine life, like the current of electricity and the circulation of blood, is always flowing. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin.” This means that when we believed in the Lord Jesus, the eternal life entered into us and brought with it the fellowship of life. Therefore, we must remain in this fellowship, and then the Lord’s blood will cleanse us from our sins. Regrettably, this fellowship within many saved ones has stopped and is interrupted. With regard to the spiritual life, these people are deadened.
Furthermore, although we have believed in the Lord Jesus, our sins have been forgiven, and we have been saved, our inward nature still exists and the root of our sinning is still there. In the last century, there were some in Christianity who said that once a person is regenerated, sin is eradicated from him. This kind of teaching still exists today. However, John says that we who are saved and regenerated and even have God’s life within us do not have sin eradicated from our being. He says, “If we say that we do not have sin, we are deceiving ourselves” (1 John 1:8). In Greek, the word for sin here is singular, referring to the sinful nature. This sinful nature is the root of the sinful deeds (v. 7) we commit.
Because man has a sinning life, he commits sins. The older a person becomes, the more abundant his fruits of sin are. Before God every person has sinned; there are no exceptions. Of all the people born on earth, there is none who does not steal or lie. It is natural for people to lie; it is unusual when they do not lie. The so-called tactful people are just good liars. Courtesy is often a game of playing politics. If someone would say that he has never stolen anything or that he has never lied, he is the top sinner because he has not told the truth. We believers in Christ do not like to scold others. Rather, we like to speak the truth in love, and what we actually want to do is to preach the gospel and proclaim the truth. All the people in the world are cheating one another; only the Lord’s life is truth.
With the exception of the Lord Jesus, we do not believe that there is any perfect, holy person. Only the Lord Jesus is absolutely without sin. As those who have been saved by grace, we have the Lord’s life and His Holy Spirit. We need to pray unceasingly, to be in fear and trembling, and to exercise to walk according to the Spirit. However, whenever we are a little careless or loose, our flesh immediately comes out. I can testify that even though I do not commit big sins every day, at the end of each day before I go to sleep, I still need to confess and repent. Although I did not steal anything or tell any lies, I am not happy within. Of course, this unhappiness is not from the Lord but from myself and my flesh.
For the sake of my health, my wife does not allow me to eat carelessly. Sometimes people give me things to eat, but she hides them from me; then when the grandchildren come, she brings them out. When I find out about this, my heart is not happy. Of course, it is not the Lord Jesus who is unhappy within me; rather, it is I who am unhappy. Although I have not committed a gross sin such as fighting with my wife, I have committed the cultured, refined sin of being secretly angry and unhappy within. Therefore, every evening as I consider, I always discover that I did a number of things not in my spirit and without living Christ; I was altogether in myself. I confess all these things one by one.
I believe that many brothers and sisters love the Lord and have been in the church life for many years, yet they have the same “sickness” and are in the same condition that I am in. This is our problem. Even though the brothers know that they should live Christ and walk according to the Spirit, they get angry inwardly when their wives hide things from them. The sisters all say that they want to live Christ and walk in the Spirit, but whenever they pick up the telephone and begin talking, they cannot put it down. These matters all indicate that we truly need the Lord’s salvation.
Perhaps we have been saved for many years. We love the Lord, are experienced in spiritual matters, and have some experience in life, but as soon as we leave the fellowship of the divine life, we have no way to walk in the light. We may use a lightbulb to illustrate this. It does not matter how long a lightbulb has been shining or how experienced it is; as soon as the electrical current is cut off, it cannot shine. Our breathing is another illustration. No one can say that because he has breathed for many years and is very experienced, he can stop breathing for a few days. It does not matter how much experience you have in breathing; as soon as you stop breathing, you will immediately die. In the same way, we cannot depend on our years of experience in the matter of the fellowship of the divine life. We must continue non-stop in this fellowship.
We all must see that even though we have been saved, we must humble ourselves. We still have the sinful nature, and we still commit sins. Perhaps we do not commit big sins or gross sins, but we constantly commit small sins. Sometimes we get upset just because of what other people say, and we become unhappy within. All people are the descendants of fallen Adam. Even if we are moral and righteous, no one is without sin or offense before God. Our nature is just sin. Therefore, we must confess our sins daily before the Lord. We have discovered all this from our actual experience.
By way of illustration, an apple tree is not an apple tree because it bears apples; rather, it bears apples because it is an apple tree. Even if, for some reason, it does not bear apples for many years, it is still an apple tree. In the same way, you may be very moral and righteous today because you are in a good environment which does not give you the opportunity to commit sins. If your environment were to change, however, you may not be so good. Moreover, we have the sinful nature within us and are sinners by birth. Hence, whether or not we sin in deeds, still we all are sinners.
This is why we deceive ourselves if we say that we do not have sin. If we say that we do not have sin, we consider God a liar, because the Bible clearly says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….Through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and thus death passed on to all men because all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23; 5:12). The fact that all men die proves that all have sinned. How can a person say that he does not have sin? If he really had no sin, then God could be considered a liar because He said that all have sinned.
(Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)