The Spirit in the Epistles, by Witness Lee


Up to this point, the message on 1 Corinthians may be considered completed. Chapter 7 shows us that such a one who lives in the spirit is not so clear that he is in the spirit. The more spiritual a person is and the more he lives in the spirit, the less clear and less conscious he is that he is in the spirit. This is the case in 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul says concerning marriage, “I charge, not I but the Lord” (v. 10); “I say, I, not the Lord” (v. 12). In effect, he is saying, “This is my word, not the Lord’s.” However, after saying so much, eventually he says, “She is more blessed if she so remains, according to my opinion; but I think that I also have the Spirit of God” (v. 40). This shows that the more a person lives in spirit, the less he is clear in his feeling that he is living in spirit. When someone says to you, “I am absolutely in spirit,” you have to put a big question mark on his word. He is probably mostly in the soul. He does not have the fact of being in spirit; he has only the feeling of the soul. If you read 1 Corinthians 7 again, you will see that the more a person lives in spirit, the more human he is in his living, doing, and speaking. We have a mistaken concept in thinking that if a person lives in spirit, he will be almost like an angel and be different from human beings. This is wrong. When you read the Epistles written by Paul, you can see that he spoke one hundred percent as a man. He did not say that he had the assurance that his speaking was in the spirit. The more spiritual a person is, the less angelic he is. The more spiritual a person is, the more human he is.

I can never forget the word I heard from Brother Watchman Nee over thirty years ago. He said, “Brother, do you know that if we dress ourselves in a less sophisticated way, we will have a greater impact? And if we dress ourselves in an uncommon and peculiar manner and then give a spiritual message, people will be more inclined to follow us?” Previously I did not understand this word, but now I understand it. I realize that people have a strange notion, thinking that if someone is spiritual, he or she is no longer human. This concept is not according to the truth. When the Lord Jesus was incarnated, He became a man, not an angel. He ate, slept, and put on clothes just like a man. He was truly a man. Therefore, brothers, learn not to pretend or imitate. Do not act in a certain way to make others think that you are spiritual. Real spirituality is lived out from the new man within you, while outwardly you are still very human.


Chapter 10 tells us that our spiritual enjoyment, spiritual food, spiritual drink, and spiritual dependence should be in the spirit. Chapter 12 speaks even more thoroughly. On the one hand, we have been baptized in one Spirit, and on the other hand, we are drinking of one Spirit day by day. Baptism is a matter that is once for all, but drinking just once is not enough. We must drink daily. Therefore, although we need the proper outpouring of the Spirit, the outward pouring out is for the inward receiving and taking in. Instead of asking for the outpouring of the Spirit day by day, we should receive, take in, the Spirit from within moment by moment.

Let us refer again to the matter of speaking in tongues in the Pentecostal movement. Those who are in the Pentecostal movement care for nothing but speaking in tongues, but little do they know that speaking in tongues is not drinking of the Holy Spirit. A donkey in the Old Testament also spoke in tongues, yet it did not drink one bit of the Holy Spirit. Even if the speaking in tongues is genuine, at most it is an outpouring. First Corinthians 12:13 clearly shows us that the outward pouring and the inward drinking are two different matters. God has baptized us into the Spirit, and from then on He also has made us to drink of the Spirit. God has baptized us into the Spirit as the living water, and He has also made us to drink of this living water. The Pentecostal movement gives people only a one-sided impression, causing people to care for the outward aspect and altogether neglect the inward aspect. Today God desires to have a great recovery, the recovery of the inward drinking of the Spirit.

The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. (15:45)

Finally, chapter 15 shows that Christ in resurrection is the life-giving Spirit. The Spirit who dwells in us, who causes us to grow and be transformed, and who is building us into the temple of God, as mentioned in chapter 3, is this life-giving Spirit. The Spirit in us to whom we are joined, as mentioned in chapter 6, is also this life-giving Spirit. Furthermore, the Spirit who dwells in our body to make our body exclusively for His use is also this life-giving Spirit. This Spirit is Christ Himself as our portion. We should eat Him as our spiritual food, drink Him as our spiritual drink, and depend upon Him as our spiritual rock. Every day we are drinking of this one Spirit to receive His supply. This is the book of 1 Corinthians.

Finally, we have a word of conclusion. Following the book of Romans, 1 Corinthians shows us that God has given Christ to us to be our portion and our everything. This Christ must be the life-giving Spirit in our spirit. Only by this can we enjoy Him practically, and only by this can He become our real experience. When we experience Him in this way, we grow and are transformed so that we are built up together to be the temple of God. Then the Spirit can dwell among us. Moreover, when we live in this Spirit, we become very human, and we may not even feel very much that we are in the spirit. When we live in the spirit in a deep way, we may not have such a strong feeling about it. This, however, is the normal condition.

(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)