A GRAIN OF WHEAT ABIDING ALONE UNLESS IT FALLS INTO THE GROUND AND DIES
The Lord Jesus said, “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). This word applies not only to the Lord Jesus but also to us. Today we have the Lord’s life in us, so we are the many grains of wheat. Yet we are unable to multiply, unable to bear much fruit, and unable to produce many grains because we have not been broken through death.
Many of us are very stable, steady, and whole. Many times, however, our stability, steadiness, and wholeness are our problem. For example, although we may have been saved for years, we may not have any scars or any evidence of the work of the cross on us, and our being may still be intact, whole, steady, and unchanged. The only difference may be that before we were saved, we were wild, careless, and misbehaving. After being saved, however, we are no longer wild and careless but rather well behaved. This is merely a change in behavior.
There are two kinds of change that can occur in a Christian. One is a change in outward conduct, and the other is a change in the inward life. A change in outward behavior means that in the past you did whatever you liked, acting loosely and without any restraint. But now, since you have been saved, you feel that your former conduct would not befit a Christian and therefore you need to be more cautious. However, this is merely an outward change; your inner being is still the same. You are still secure and firm, stable and steady, whole and intact. You are still your original person. Our problem is not in our outward behavior but in our disposition, our natural life, and our old self.
GOD DESIRING THAT MAN BE TRANSFORMED IN LIFE INWARDLY
Christianity today exhorts people to improve their outward behavior, but what God pays attention to is far higher than this. God is not after a mere change in man’s outward behavior; rather, He desires man to have an inward transformation in life. He does not want us to merely change our outward living. He wants us to be broken in our inward disposition. The outward change of behavior gains the praises of man, but it cannot please God. What God desires and what pleases Him is not the improvement of our outward behavior but the transformation in life and the breaking of our inward disposition. Mere behavior improvement makes us good persons but not spiritual persons. In order to be spiritual, we need to be broken inwardly. Without being broken, without suffering any blows, and without passing through death, we can be persons who are whole but not persons who are full of life.
What others see in your outward behavior improvement is your morality but not your spirituality. Many times, just as your immorality can become your covering, so your morality can also become your covering. The unbelievers require us to have a high morality, which is reasonable and right. Yet God’s requirement in us is much higher than this. God requires that we be broken and crushed so that the Christ within us—the glorious Christ, the Christ of holiness—may be lived out through us.
GOD DESIRING THAT CHRIST BE LIVED OUT FROM WITHIN US
There are a few kinds of Christians. One kind is the degraded Christian. From the human perspective, Christians of this kind do not look like Christians at all because they live and walk just like the unbelievers. Such Christians are degraded Christians. Another kind are the well-behaved Christians. Formerly such ones were loose, but now they behave properly; formerly they did evil, but now they do good. In man’s eyes, these Christians are above the standard. In God’s eyes, however, they are still below the standard, because what God is after is neither degraded Christians nor Christians who are above the standard.
What God desires is not just that we would be delivered from sins but that Christ would be lived out from within us. This is not a matter of being good or evil, proper or improper, or moral or immoral. Rather, it is a matter of Christ being lived out from within us. We all know that after we are saved, we have God in us as our life. However, is it we who live, or is it God who lives? Is it we who are lived out, or is it God who is lived out? The crux of the matter is whether or not we are willing to be broken and to pass through death. If we are not willing to be broken or to pass through death, God will have no way to live out from within us. However, if we are willing to be broken and to die, God will be able to live out from within us. According to the Bible, to deny the self is to pass through death and the breaking.
We should not merely take care of our human needs; we should also take care of God’s need. When the Lord Jesus was incarnated, He was restricted, constrained, and unable to be released from His human body. However, through His death He was released. The shell of His human body was broken through death so that the divinity within Him, the Christ within Him, could be released. The issue of this release was that God’s life could enter into many people and into us as well. However, immediately after His life came into us, He was confined and constrained in us.
Many people observe Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but they have never experienced the birth of Jesus. What is the experience of the birth of Jesus? When a person is saved, God comes into him. This is the Lord Jesus’ being born in him, the experience of the birth of Jesus. However, whenever Jesus Christ is born in a person, He encounters a problem. He is confined in the saved one. He was born as a Nazarene, and this Nazarene was His problem, His constraint. This constraint needed the breaking, the splitting, of the cross. When the Lord suffered the blow of the cross, His being was broken and split apart, and the life was released from within Him. However, when this life entered into Peter, John, and you and me, it encountered the same problem, the same constraint. We all can testify that Christ has been born in us. However, we do not have the assurance that Christ is being lived out or released from us.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)