A VESSEL, A CAMERA
Second Corinthians 4:7 says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” We are the vessels to Christ. As vessels we contain a wonderful treasure, the Christ of glory, who is the embodiment of God to be our life and our everything. If we read the first ten verses of chapter 4 carefully, we will realize that this vessel is exactly the same as a camera. Four main items needed for a camera to take a picture are the lens, the film, the shutter to open the camera, and the light. Through the light the scenery is brought into the camera and impressed on the film, producing a picture. Without the light the scenery could never get into the camera. I once took a camera with me on a trip, and I took many pictures. When I had the film developed, the pictures were all blank. I wondered what happened. Eventually, I realized that I did not take away the lens cover.
In the spiritual realm, the mind with all the thoughts is the lens, and a right spirit in a right heart is the film within. You need to have an open mind with a right spirit in a right heart. Then you need the shutter, which means you need to open yourself to the Lord. The divine light is waiting for this. When you open yourself to the Lord, when your mind with the thoughts is open, and you have a right spirit in a right heart, the divine light brings Christ into your spirit and impresses Christ into your spirit. Now within you there is a picture, an image, and this image is the very treasure contained in these earthen vessels.
Your mind with your thoughts needs to be so open, and your heart needs to be right with a pure and proper spirit. Day and night you need to open yourself to the Lord; then Christ, the heavenly, divine scenery, will be impressed into you again and again. Do not say that you have already been saved and that Christ is in you already. Christ is in you, in your spirit, but He is not in your heart so much. You need again and again to have an open mind with all your thoughts regulated by Him, and you need a proper heart with a pure and open spirit. All day long you need to use the shutter, which means that you need to open yourself to the Lord. Then Christ as the heavenly treasure will be impressed into you.
After we allow Christ to come into us, we need to be broken. The vessel needs to be broken so that the treasure might be expressed. The first part of chapter 4 tells us how Christ as the treasure can come into us. Then the last part tells us how this treasure can be expressed by the vessel being broken. Verse 7 says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.” Then in verses 8 through 10 are words such as pressed, unable to find a way out, persecuted, cast down, and always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus. In verse 16 Paul tells us that the outer man is decaying. This is not only the reducing of our outer man but also the breaking of the vessel.
God is doing a work not only to reduce us but also to crush us, to break us. We should not try to keep ourselves so complete, so whole. We have to be broken. The Lord wants to break our outer man, the natural man, including the soul and the flesh. Our human element, the soulish life, the fleshly element, all have to be broken. In a positive sense we are a camera with a lens, with the proper film, and with a shutter allowing the light to come in and bring the divine scenery, the divine image, into us. After this, however, we have to be prepared to be broken, to be crushed, to be destroyed. In the third chapter the problem is the veil. In the fourth chapter the problem is the outer man. The veil as we have seen is religion. The outer man is the self with the natural life, with the soulish life, and with the flesh. To know what the natural man, the flesh, and the soul are is one thing, but to experience the breaking of the outer man, the holy brokenness, is another thing.
In following the Lord, we should not expect that all the time we will have a “safe journey.” In taking the way that leads to life, the narrow and constricted way to follow the Lord (Matt. 7:14), we will be pressed, unable to find a way out, persecuted, and cast down. We will be put to death, destroyed, crushed, broken. We may ask how this will happen. I do not know the way that this will take place. Only He knows. The Lord has myriads of ways to crush you and to crush me. One may say that it is awful to get married. Then I would say that it is pitiful not to marry. Someone may ask whether it is better to marry or not to marry. I do not know. But I can tell you not to try to escape the Lord. The more you try to escape, the more you will be involved. If you escape from being pressed, you will fall into being unable to find a way out. If you escape from being persecuted, you will be cast down. We need to realize that we are not in our own hands. We are in His hands. No one knows what tomorrow may bring. Even David said in Psalm 31:15, “My times are in Your hand.” We need to praise Him, however, that His hand is the sovereign hand, the gracious hand, and the merciful hand. We should not be afraid. We need to be at peace to take whatever He measures to us, to take whatever He assigns to us. Because we have the treasure within this vessel, the destiny for this vessel is to be broken.
To be a person in the spirit, in the Holy of Holies, we need to be captives, letters, mirrors, and vessels to be broken. We need to bring all of these points to the Lord and pray thoroughly. We need to pray ourselves into these points so that we realize subjectively that we are rebellious captives, letters under the inscribing of the Spirit of the living God, mirrors with unveiled faces turned to Him, and vessels who are always under His dealing, under His breaking, to fulfill His burden to express the treasure within. All of these items are glorious. As a conclusion to the fellowship in this chapter, it would be helpful to sing and to pray Hymns, #403.
(Autobiography of a Person in the Spirit, An, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)