A WORD OF BURDEN
Brothers and sisters, you all must clearly see the economy of God. In the outline I did not mention anything about sin, sinners, the devil, or Satan. Today if you ask Christians, “What is the economy of God?”, some Christians who have studied theology will say, “There are two great needs of man today. First, as sinners, we need God’s salvation; second, we have been ensnared and troubled by the devil, so we need God to destroy the works of the devil. Therefore, the first step of God’s plan is to save sinners, because 1 Timothy 1:15 says, ‘Faithful is the word and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ The next step is to destroy the works of Satan, because 1 John 3:8 says, ‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.’” This is what most Christians know concerning the economy of God.
When I was young, I thought about human life and considered it to be a real suffering. But I did not, nor did I dare to, blame God. I only blamed myself that I was born a sinner. Who taught me to lie? I knew how to lie by birth. My mother always taught me to tell the truth, yet the more she taught me, the more I lied. Who taught me to hate? I knew how to hate by birth. My mother taught me to love my brothers and sisters, but the more she taught me, the more I had jealousy and hatred instead of love. Because the financial situation of our family was not so good, sometimes our relatives or friends would give us some gifts. When my mother was distributing candies to us, I wished I could get at least half of them; I was unhappy when I received less. Who taught me this? I knew it by birth. Therefore, it is troublesome to be a sinner, and it is truly not easy to be freed from the entanglement of sin. Not only so, the devil also follows us. We are not able to do good things, but we are fully able to do bad things without being taught. Whose work is this? How is it done? We all have a heart to go upward, and we resolve in our hearts to excel by strenuous efforts, yet our feet are always going downward. Who is doing this in us? It is the combined work of two parties, the sinner and the devil.
You cannot deny that the sinner is you, but you can also say that the sinner is not you. This is really difficult to discern. Ancient Chinese scholars debated whether human nature is good or bad. Mencius advocated that man is naturally good, whereas Hsun-tzu advocated that man is naturally evil. Actually, we are both good and evil. Speaking of our good nature, we human beings are truly good; we like to honor and obey our parents. In the morning we may love them, yet in the evening we may provoke them to anger. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether man is good or evil. This is the result of the trouble brought in by sin and the devil.
Christianity pays much attention to these two things. They preach that Hebrews 2:14 tells us since we have shared in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil. They consider that this is the economy of God. However, this is not the economy of God; this is only the procedure to reach the goal of God’s economy. In order to accomplish His economy, God has to deal with the sinner and destroy the works of the devil. The economy of God is that He wants to work Himself as the Triune God into us that we may become His house so that He may have a home, a dwelling place for His rest, and that we may become the Body of Christ for His own expression. This is what Christianity has not seen. This is my burden; I have not spoken enough about this matter. Although I have published many books about this, I still have many messages within me ready to be released.
Most people in Christianity not only do not see the economy of God, but they do not even see clearly the truth about the sinner and the devil. Some even oppose me for saying that there is sin within man (Rom. 7:17, 20), because they believe that within man there is no sin. This is really pitiful. A peach tree is a peach tree because it has the element of the peach. Likewise, man is a sinner because he has sin within him. How can man be a sinner if he does not have sin in him? I went further to say that the sin within man is the sinful nature of Satan (cf. John 8:44). In Romans 7, Paul personified sin, saying that it is revived (v. 9) and very active and that it can deceive and kill people (v. 11). Therefore, sin is not only living, but it is also a person. Who is this person? Sin cannot be Adam; it is the evil nature of Satan, the evil one. When I said this, it caused more to oppose me. They said that the reason I said Satan is in man is that I am demon-possessed. When I heard that, I was annoyed and amused at the same time. They said this because they have been deceived by Satan and therefore do not recognize that Satan is in them.
This does not mean that today we should not speak about sinners or forgiveness of sins, but our goal is the economy of God. To illustrate, before we can meet in the meeting hall, first we must sweep the floor, clean the yard, wipe the table, and arrange the chairs in an orderly fashion. However, our purpose is not cleaning but meeting. The economy of God is very lofty. How lofty is it? It is lofty to such an extent that we are being made God. Some will say, “You are speaking heresy again; you are teaching polytheism. How can we become God?” But this is a fact. God’s desire is to work in us to the extent that we are as honorable and glorious as He is; we have His life and nature but we have no share in His Godhead. Now He is doing a transforming and conforming work within us; in the future He will come again to glorify our body. The Bible says clearly that we do not know what we will be, but one thing we know is that at His coming back we will be like Him because He will make us exactly like Him (1 John 3:2). Of course, we do not participate in His Godhead to become the object of worship; this is the difference between us and Him. I hope that you all can have a proper understanding concerning this matter.
(The Revelation and Vision of God, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)